Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines

This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.

Access to ThruLines Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.

This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dear Ancestry,

I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.

I realize, at this time, ThruLines is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.

The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.

This is the issue I have with ThruLines’ “step bug”

I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.

  1. The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines is:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines.]

  1. This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my Thrulines. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines.
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.

I understand the idea of ThruLines and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.

However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.

Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,

Best wishes,
Cathy


I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue.  This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines?

Don’t miss part two tomorrow.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Rewriting the Biography: A Darling Little Boy

Rewriting the Biography has become a catch-all for not only the biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) but also his children and their descendants. I took a break from working on this series after doing the census work and posts for his sixteen children.

While I was working on these last year, Patricia Simms Williams shared this lovely tribute written by her grandfather following the death of one of his children. The Genealogy Sketch box puts this family in perspective to James SIMS, Patricia, and myself.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Charles Edward SIMMS
Parents: William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS
Spouse: Lydia Ellen WILLIAMS and Cora Estella HURLEY (*)
Children: Ophelia Virginia, Chusvert, Laura, Cecil James, Charles Erman, Carman, Claude, and Cluster Erwin
Whereabouts: West Virginia counties: Fayette, Nicholas, Braxton, and Greenbrier
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd cousin 3 times removed

1. James SIMS and his wife Phebe
2. Martin SIMS and Susannah JOHNSON
3. Nelson SIMS and Nancy JONES
4. William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS
5. Charles Edward SIMMS and Cora Estella HURLEY
6. Charles Erman SIMMS and Nina Mae MILES
7. Patricia Ann SIMMS

Charles Edward SIMMS was born in 1866 to William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS. His father died in 1870 and his mother remarried in 1872. He had two siblings and 5 half-siblings.

Charles married his first wife Lydia Ellen WILLIAMS in 1887. She gave him two sons and a daughter before her death. Charles married again in 1896 to Cora Estella HURLEY.

By 1900 the two sons from his first marriage had died and his household included his wife Cora, his daughters Ophelia from his first marriage and Laura B. from his second marriage. Cora was listed as the mother of two children, one living. This would mean Charles had lost three children by 1900.

In 1902 a son was born to Charles and Cora. No record of birth has been found for him nor a record of his death in September 1905. His name and years of birth and death have been passed down in the family history. Cecil James SIMMS died after his father came in contact with measles while stopping off at a neighbor’s house.

This is his recollection and tribute to his son. The scans of the pages with the handwritten poem did not include a title. I’ve taken the liberty to give it this title.

A Darling Little Boy

Returning once unto my home
Along a muddy way
The path that through the fields did come
I took that fatal day.

Near by a neighbor farmhouse stood
I, weary, sad, thought best
to stop with them partake of food
and gain a little rest.

Fate lays her hand in silent state
Unwarned on all of earth
Regardless of the small or great,
Or those of noble birth

Fate, silent stroke here fell on me
I, measles did inhale,
The bellows of life troubled sea
Rose by the stirring gale.

There was a flower in my home,
A darling little boy;
No dearer object there could come,
This precious little toy.

I used to take my darling son
When near the close of day
The busy cares then being done
And sing in joyful lay.

“I never will cease to love him
My, Jimmy, my Jimmy!
I will never cease to love him
He’s done so much for me.”

But when the sickness seized this flower,
It drooping, withered, died
We strove to save it from that power;
It perished by our side.

We sadly laid him in the grave
To wait that coming day;
And trusting Jesus power to save,
Our heats will ever say:

One by one the Savior gathers,
choicest flowers rich, and rare,
He’ll transplant them in his garden,
They will bloom forever there.

Charles Edward Simms (1866-1936)

This poem conveys Charles’ feelings, his love for his son Jimmy, and the sadness of losing him. It was written like a hymn which is not unusual as Charles was a preacher and teacher. In the years which followed Charles was also a manager for Singer sewing machines as well as a jewelry shop owner.

Following the death of his only living son in 1905, Charles’ wife Cora gave him four more sons. Charles, Carman, Claude, and Cluster. Claude died of influenza in 1918 during the epidemic at the age of 4 years and 15 days. Charles and Cora’s daughter Laura had died the previous year. Patricia wrote:

Laura was not married to Joseph Edward Bruffey, the father of her son Joseph Eugene Bruffey. For some reason, Laura’s mother Cora didn’t want her to get married. Laura had polio as a child, childbirth was hard for her and she died the following day after giving birth to Joseph Eugene. The Bruffey’s wanted to raise the baby but grandma Cora refused to let them.

After all of these losses in Charles’ family, his children Ophelia, Charles, Carman, and Cluster lived long lives. Ophelia lived to be 82, Charles 69, Carman 70, and Cluster 93.

When Patricia shared the scans of the poem with me, she wrote:

It should be shared with someone who will take care of it after I’m gone.
By featuring it here, I hope it will not be lost to future generations interested in our SIMS ancestry.
© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E : Sarah Jane Foster vs John W. Clonch

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. A judge of the Probate Court of Gallia County issued the marriage license. They were joined in marriage by Robert WORH, a justice of the peace. The marriage record does not include the names of parents.1

Their first child, a son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862.2 A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

This post includes the chancery records found by Ralph L. Hayes in Mason County’s courthouse over two decades ago.3 He was kind enough to share them with me and gave me permission to use them.

Dramatis personae

These are the persons who played a part in the chancery case Sarah Jane FOSTER vs John W. CLONCH in 1864:

  • Sarah Jane FOSTER , age of 21, married John W. CLONCH also 21 on 20 February 1862. She was the plaintiff (oratrix) in this case.
  • John W. CLONCH , the oldest son of William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS, and husband of Sarah Jane FOSTER . They married in Gallia County, Ohio. He was the defendant in this cause.
  • John W. FOSTER assumed to be the father (or brother) of Sarah Jane and seen as the next friend in this cause.
  • Sarah DEWITT, a young lady of about 24 years who was questioned as a witness.
  • Peter DEWITT, a man of 36 years who was questioned as a witness.
  • William Alexander CLONCH, the two-year-old son of John W. and Sarah J.
  • Lavinia PATTERSON, also known as Lavinia DOSS (her mother’s surname) and Lavinia CLONCH (her father’s surname). She was a sister of John W. and Alexander and wife of James William PATTERSON. She was a witness.
  • Rebecca LEMASTER, sister of Mary Ellen CLONCH. She was one of the persons implicated in the questioning of the witnesses.
  • Mary Ellen CLONCH née LEMASTER, the wife of Alexander CLONCH. She was no longer living with him and having an affair with John W. CLONCH.
  • Alexander CLONCH, the second son of William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS. He married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863. He is not named in the proceedings but referred to as the husband of Mary Ellen.
  • William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS, parents of John, Alexander, and Lavinia. They were never married and their children were known by both surnames.
  • James DEWITT and Rebecca ATKINSON, parents of Sarah and Peter who were witnesses. It was at their house in the Clendenin township that some incidents took place.

Iudex, advocatus, et notarius publicus 

The judge, lawyer, and public notary who were mentioned in the proceedings.

Daniel Haymond POSLEY (1803-1877) was a judge of the seventh judicial circuit of West Virginia. Before this chancery case, he was the Lieutenant Governor of the Restored Government of Virginia (the Unionist government of Virginia during the Civil War) until two weeks before West Virginia became a state. After this chancery case, he would go on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1866, serving from 1867 to 1869. Mr. Polsley was the judge for this case.4

Benjamin J. REDMOND was a Notary Public born in 1840. During the war between the States, Mr. REDMOND served the government as provost marshal of Mason County. After this chancery case, from 1868-1870, he served as a justice in the Robinson district followed by four years as president of the Mason County court.5

William H. TOMLINSON, an attorney at law who questioned the witnesses for the plaintiff.6

 

 

Joseph S. MACHIN, a Notary Public for the county and state and a Master Commissioner for Chancery for the County of Mason.

Vinculo matrimonii

The Chancery Records concerning the divorce of Sarah Jane CLONCH from John W CLONCH.

To the Honorable Daniel Polsley Judge of the Circuit Court for Mason County Humbly complaining thereto unto your Honor your oratrix Sarah J. Clonch wife of John W. Clonch, who sues by John W. Foster her next friend that she is now twenty four years old at the age of twenty one she left her fathers house, and was married to the said John W. Clonch and since that time has been to him a constant, faithful and dutiful wife and has borne him two children to wit: William A. now two years old and an infant daughter three month old. Her husband on the other hand has been negligent and insufferable abusive and violent to her within the last two years frequently beating and choking her for no cause whatever on her part. he has left his house and home taking with him her oldest child and living in adultry with another woman, your oratrix further alledges that he has been seen in the bed with his own brothers wife and has failed to furnish support to your oratrix and her child that she is obliged to labor for their entire support, or they would come to starvation. The only property owned by your oratrix and her husband is the household and kitchen furnature and one horse, the most of which your 


oratrix brought from Her Father’s and helped him to same. To the end therefore oratrix prays that the said John W. Clonch may be made a defendant to this bill and acquired to render a full true and perfect answer to the same upon his corporal oath; that he may be enjoined and restrained from interfering with or in any maner (sic) molesting her and her child that is with her; that your Oratrix my (sic) be entirely divorced from him and the marriage be dissolved (two lines marked out) that he may be compelled to deliver up her child to her and to surrender to her and them for the maintenance of herself and her children The property aforesaid mentioned; and for such other and further relief as her case requires, and to equity may seem meet; May it pleas (sic) your honor to grant & @ And your oratrix will ever pray & @

West Virginia Mason County to wit This day Sarah J. Clonch, personally appeared before me B. J. Redmond N.P. and made oath that the allegations in the above bill are true to the best of her remembrance information and belief.

Given under my hand this 18 day of July 1864
B. J. Redmond N.P.


Sarah J. Clonch
vs In Chancery
John W. Clonch

This cause came on this day to be heard upon the bill, the exhibits filed and examination of witnesses and was argued by council for the plaintiff. On consideration whereof the Court being of opinion that the plaintiff is ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (marked out: all the allegations in the bill mentioned against the defendant and fully ?) doth adjudge order and decreed that the marriage heretofor solemnized between Sarah J. Clonch and John W. Clonch be and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Sarah J. Clonch is forever divorced from her husband. The said John W. Clonch X (in the right margin: X and it is further a? ? that the complainant is entitled to the care and custody infant children in the bill mentioned and that) (text marked out: and all the right title and interest of the said John W. Clonch in or to the household and  kitchen furniture shall belong to the said Sarah J. Clonch and the two children in the bill mentioned shall remain in the care and custody of the said Sarah J. Clonch) the said John W. Clonch do surrender up the said William A. Clonch (marked out: infant son) to the care and custody of the  said Sarah J. Clonch and that the plaintiff recover from the defendant her costs by her expended in the prosecution of this Suit


Cover sheet for the depositions in the chancery record

Sarah J. Clonch
vs …….De?ed
John W. Clonch
Sept Term 1864

 

 

 

 

 



The depositions of Sarah Dewit and others taken before me Joseph S. Machin, a Master Commissioner for Chancery for the County of Mason and State of West Virginia pursuant to notice hereto annexed at the office of Wm. H. Tomlinson in the town of Point Pleasant on the 15th day of August (fold in document may have a missing line) and 6 o’clock p.m. to be read as evidence on behalf of Sarah J. Claunch in a certain suit in equity depending in the circuit court for the County of Mason wherein Sarah J. Claunch is plaintiff and John W. Claunch is defendant.
Present Wm. H. Tomlinson attorney for plaintiff, Sarah Dewit, being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question by Wm. H. Tomlinson for defendant. What is your age?
Answer – I do not knew exactly, but think I am about twenty four years of age.
2nd Question – By same. Do you know the parties to this suit?
Answer – Yes Sir, I do.
3rd Question – By same – Did you ever see the defendant, at your mother’s house in company with Rebecca Lemaster on or about the first day of July 1864, and if so, state how long they were together at that place and under what circumstances?
Answer – I saw them there together, they set up all night together.
4th Question – By same – While they were setting up together state whether he was laying


in her lap or her in his, and whether he was hugging her or what they even doing?
Answer – She was laying in his arms.
5th Question – By same – Was there a light in the house or was there note?
Answer – Sometimes there was a light and sometimes none.
6th Question – By same – Was it a light given by the fire or candle?
Answer – It was given by fire.
7th Question – By same – Who put out the light?
Answer – I do not know.
8th Question – By same – How often have they been there together at your mother’s house?
Answer – They were there together occasionally but do not remember how often.
9th Question – By same – Did you ever see them hugging and playing together at other times than the one answered?
Answer – Yes, I have seen them playing and romping together.
10th Question – by same – Was Mrs. Claunch his wife present at either of these times?
Answer – No Sir, she was not.
11th Question – By same – Did you ever see John W. Claunch and Mary Ellen Claunch, his sister-in-law passing by your mother’s house with his arms around her, and hers around him?
Answer – They were going along after dark, as well as I could see hugged up together, and this I think occurred during the Spring of 1864.
And further this deponent saith not.
………..her
Sarah + Dewit
……….mark


Peter Dewit, being duly sworn, on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question – By Wm. H. Tomlinson attorney for the Plaintiff. What is your age?
Answer – I am about thirty six years of age.
2nd Question – By same – Are you acquainted with the parties to this suit?
Answer – Yes Sir, I know them.
3rd Question – By same : Were you at your mother’s house at anytime when John W. Claunch and his brother’s wife were there together, and if so, state under what circumstances you saw them?
Answer – I think I never saw them there together.
4th Question – By same – Did you ever see John W. Claunch the defendant to this suit within the last year hugging and kissing any other other (sic) woman other than his wife?
Answer – I saw Rebecca Lemaster setting on his lap mighty close together and he was hugging her, and this happened after night.
And further this deponent saith not.
……..his
Peter x Dewit
…….mark

Lavinia Patterson, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question – By Plaintiff’s Counsel. What is your age?

Answer – I am eighteen years of age.
2nd Question – Was you at home one night


within the last year while your brother John W. Claunch defendant to this suit was complaining of being unwell, and if so did you see Mary Ellen Claunch his sister-in-law go to bed to him?
Answer – I seen her lay down on the same bed with him, and they were then together about one hour.
And further this deponent saith not.
…………her
Lavinia x Patterson
………..mark

State of West Virginia
Mason County, to wit:
I, Joseph S. Machin, a Notary Public for the county and state aforesaid, so hereby certify that the foregoing depositions were duly taken, sown to and subscribed before me at the times and place mentioned therein.
Given under my hand, this 15th day of August 1864
Joseph S. Machin Master Commission
in Chancery

Costs:
Sarah Dewit witness 1 day 0.50
Peter Dewit witness 1 day 0.50
Lavinia Patterson witness 1 day 0.50
Ferriages each 10 cents 0.30
Jos. S. Machin Comm. charges 2.25
Total $4.05

This is a true statement of costs
Jos. S. Machin, Master Comm.
August 15/64


The Chancery case was recorded in the orders book of Mason County for the September Term of 1864.7

In Chancery
Sarah J. Clonch
vs
JohnW.Clonch

This cause came on this day to be heard upon the bill, the exhibits filed and examination of Witnesses and was argued by counsel for the Plaintiff on consideration whereof the court being of opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for: doth adjudge order and decree that the marriage heretofore Solemnized between Sarah J. Clonch and John W. Clonch be and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Sarah J. Clonch is forever divorced from her husband the said John W. Clonch: and it is further ordered and decreed that the complainant is entitled to the care and custody of the infant children in the bill mentioned and that the said John W. Clonch do Surrender up the said William A. Clonch to the care and custody of the said Sarah J. Clonch, and that the plaintiff recover from the defendant her costs by her expended in the prosecution of the suit.


At the March term of 1865, Sarah J. CLONCH returned to court to have her son William A. CLONCH surrendered to her by his father John W. CLONCH.8

On Motion of Sarah J. Clonch and for reasons appearing to the Court it is ordered that John W. Clonch be summoned to appear here on the first day of the next term to shew cause if any he can [illegible] he shall not be find (sic, fined) and attached for refusing to surrender William A. Clonch his infant child to the custody of its mother in pursuance of a decree of this court rendered at the September term then of 1864.


Sarah J. FOSTER and her son William A. CLONCH

Following the divorce from John W. CLONCH, Sarah disappeared without a trace – at least in the census and records available. Her daughter remains unnamed. Her son William Alexander CLONCH was missing in the 1870 and 1880 census. He did not live with his father. Was he living with his mother who may have remarried?

In any event, the son William A. CLONCH married twice. First to Ellen FOWLER9 and second to his first cousin Emma Sidosa LEMASTER (also known as CLONCH).10 The marriage records do not include the names of parents. Emma was the daughter of Rebecca LEMASTER and Alexander CLONCH. He died in 1925 and left a will naming his wife Emma as his only heir.11 On the death record, his parents were listed as John Wm CLONCH and Sarah FORRESTER (sic).12

John William CLONCH

Following the divorce of Sarah and John, Alexander CLONCH and Mary Ellen LEMASTER separated. They had been married less than a year and did not have children. They were not divorced until March 1880.13

Mary Ellen (still married to Alex) went to live with the newly divorced John W. CLONCH. They had thirteen children between 1865 and 1892. Finally on 7 May 1895 John, 54, and Mary Ellen, 47, married in Gallia County, Ohio.14

In the name of all CLONCH descendants, I would like to thank Ralph L. Hayes for ferreting out the records to back up this CLONCH family story. It sounded fantastic and a bit unbelievable but the records he found in the old dusty unindexed boxes in the courthouse backed it up. How many more stories are hidden away, waiting for someone to tell them?

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (Digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio.), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SKRT?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), Mason County, West Virginia, Birth Register, page 69, line 27. William Alexander Clonch birth record. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2955142&Type=Birth : accessed 15 March 2019). 
  3. Sarah J. Clonch vs John W. Clonch, September Term 1864, Chancery Records of Mason County, West Virginia. Digital images of photocopies of the original records found in the court house by Ralph L. Hayes. Received per email 22 February 2019 from Ralph L. Hayes with permission to share on Opening Doors in Brick Walls blog. 
  4. Daily intelligencer. (Wheeling, Va. [W. Va.]), 15 June 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026845/1863-06-15/ed-1/seq-1/
  5. The weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 26 May 1864. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1864-05-26/ed-1/seq-6/
  6. The weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 20 Aug. 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1863-08-20/ed-1/seq-1/
  7. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), Image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Image 303 of 949, Folio 421, March Term 1865. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  9. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SV7T?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-6T5%3A121350101%2C121651001 : accessed 23 March 2019), Gallia > Marriage records 1884-1890 vol 6 > image 132 of 338; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  10. Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-3J1F?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-6BY%3A121350101%2C121580101 : 15 July 2014), Gallia > Marriage records 1890-1895 vol 7 > image 159 of 339; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  11. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C99Q-BS?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MLC%3A179687901%2C179798901 : accessed 23 February 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 005 1916-1930 > image 153 of 240; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  12. WVCulture.org, William A. Clonch death record details (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=2126490 : accessed 29 March 2019) and Death Certificate No. 8914 for William A. Clonch (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2126490&Type=Death : accessed 29 March 2019) 
  13. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99VP-2SNQ?i=320&cat=659762 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  14. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (Digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio.), Gallia > Marriage records and index 1895-1899 vol 8. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22447-41148-85?cc=1614804&wc=M94Q-VH7:315901437 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Harvey and Hariett

Last week Edmond‘s name was released from the last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark written in 1841 and recorded in 1844. Elizabeth mentioned Frances C. Harrison and her husband John in the will.1

As I tried to follow Edmond either forward in time or back, I found John Harrison was listed in the 1840 census of Mason County. In his household were one male 10 thru 14, one male 50 thru 59, one female 50 thru 59, one female 70 thru 79, and 4 slaves. The enslaved persons in the household were 2 males under 10, a male 24 thru 35, and a female 10 thru 23.2

Was the older woman in the household Elizabeth Clark? If this was the household Elizabeth was living in, would Edmond be the young man age 24 thru 35? Or was John Harrison the holder of all four slaves?

There is a reason I looked into the Elizabeth Clark will. In 1850 my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Beasley, widow of Dennis Clonch (also seen as Claunch), was enumerated as Nancy Clonch age 75 in the household of John W. Clark age 56. Also in the household was her 12 years old grandson Dennis Clonch.3 Nancy died in the 1850s. John W. Clark was seen in the household of her son William Clonch in 1860.4 Who was this John W. Clark and was there a family connection between him and the Clonch family? Could there be other records which would clear up the matter? Those were the questions I asked as I searched for other Clark persons in the county.

At this point, I found the will of Elizabeth Clark and the census record in which she may have been enumerated. Who were John Harrison and his wife Frances C. and why were they mentioned in the Clark will?

A marriage record was found in Mason County for John Harrison and Frances Oldakers. They were married by B. K. Craig in 1834.5 As both persons were in their 50s in the 1840 household, there was the possibility one or the other was widowed prior to 1834.

Off to the Will Book for another will

John Oldaker wrote his last will and testament in June 1833 and it was recorded in November 1833.6 Did he leave a widow?

The Last Will & Testament of John Oldaker of Mason County, Virginia – 1833

I John Oldaker of the county of Mason & State of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament in manner & form following that is to Say.
I give and bequeath all my estate that shall remain after my Just debts are paid to be disposed of as hereinafter mentioned. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker all my estate real & personal (except Items hereinafter disposed of) for & during her natural life & after her deceas (sic) I give and bequeath the same to my grandaughter (sic) Frances J. McMullin (except Items hereinafter disposed of). I give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring together with the sum of one Hundred Dollars.
I give and bequeath to my friend & brother in law Benjamin K. Craig my Rifle gun with the aparatus thereto belonging. In case my Grandaugher Frances J. McMullin should die under the age of twenty one years old & without a Servicing heir of her body, I give & bequeath all that otherwise would be her right & title in and to my estate to my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Polly A. Craig, his wife & their heirs. It is my will & I do hereby give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker the wright & power to convey by warrantee Deeds certain tracts of land sold by me viz. one tract to Carter Newcomb lying on Eighteen mile creek for which the said Newcomb holds my Title Bond with conditions, one other Tract to Robert Summers lying also on Eighteen mile creek for which the Said Summers holds my Title bond with conditions on their the Said Newcomb & Summers complying with the conditions in Said title bonds their Deeds are to be made. And Lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Matthew D. Brower executors of this my last will & testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seal this 15th day of June 1833.
. . . . . his
John X Oldaker Seal
 . . . .mark
Signed Sealed published & declared by John
Oldaker, as & for his last will & testament
in the presence & hearing of us at his request and in his
presence here subscribed our names as witnesses.
Henry Harriss
R. Summers
Wiliam Wallace
At a court held for Mason county Nov. 4th 1833
The last will and Testament of John Oldaker decd was proved by the oaths of Henry Harriss and William Wallace subscribing witnesses thereto. And is ordered to be Recorded. Upon the motion of Benjamin K. Craig an executor named in the will of Jno. Oldaker decd who made oath thereto & together with James Craik his Securety who entered into & acknowledged their Bond in the penalty of Two thousand dollars conditioned as the law directs certificate is granted him for obtaining a probat of the Said will in due form of Law.
Teste
Thos. Lewis clerk

New Relationships

Frances C. Oldaker was the widow of John Oldaker. What was her maiden name? John Oldaker mentions his brother-in-law Benjamin K. Craig and his wife Polly A. Craig. Was this the same B. K. Craig who married Frances C. Oldaker and John Harrison in 1834?

Benjamin K. Craig married Mary A. Clark in 1826.7 If Benjamin was John’s brother-in-law, could his wife Polly A. (Mary A.) have been Frances’ sister?

This would explain Frances C. Harrison aka Frances C. Oldaker being mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Clark. There was no mention of children in the 1841 will nor did Elizabeth include a relationship descriptor for Frances other than her being the wife of John Harrison. Was Elizabeth an unmarried sister of Frances and Polly? Or an aunt or even their mother?

John Oldaker left Harvey and Hariett to his wife Frances C. in his will in 1833. Frances married John Harrison the following year. In 1840 enslaved persons were found in the household of John Harrison – a man and a woman along with two young boys. Could this couple be Harvey and Hariett whose fate was left in Frances’ hands per her first husband’s will? Or could the man be Edmond mentioned in Elizabeth’s will and the other three enslaved persons of Harrison?

The Census and Slave Schedules

No entry was found in the index of the will books of Mason County for John Harrison or Benjamin K. Craig. Neither were found in Mason the 1850 census.

Polly A. Craig died in Putnam County, West Virginia, on 10 November 1865. Her death was reported by her son Lewis Craig. He gave her deceased husband’s name as Benj. K. Craig and her parents as William & E. Clark. Polly, per her son’s information, was born in Culpepper County, Virginia.8

With this information I located the widowed Polly A. Craig in Putnam in 1850 with three children.9 She was also on the Slave Schedule with two children, an 8 yo male mulatto and a 6 yo female mulatto.10

While browsing the schedule I noticed the name John Harrison with a 32 yo black female, 11 yo black male, and a 3 yo black female. 11 Checking the census, I found John and Frances C. were living in Putnam County in 1850.12

There is a known anomality on the 1860 census of Putnam County. The enumerator recorded all persons with an initial instead of first name and middle initals. This makes it difficult to find persons when searching for first names. However by limiting the search to the surname only, I found Polly A. Craig with her children13 as well as John and Frances C. Harrison. 14 Polly and John were also on the slave schedule. Polly with a 15 yo female mulatto (possibly the 6 yo from 1850)15 and John Harrison with a 12 yo female black (possibly the 3 yo from 1850).16

The will of John Harrison was written 11 April 1867 and recorded 10 May 1867 in Putnam County.17 He mentioned his wife Frances C. Due to the lateness of this will he did not mention enslaved persons.

Edmond, who was supposed to be freed per the 1841 will of Elizabeth Clark, was not with either the Craig or Harrison families as a free person. There is no male old enough to be Edmond on the slave schedule for either Polly A. Craig or John Harrison.

From the numbers found on the slave schedules in 1850 and 1860 for John Harrison it is possible Harriet named in the Oldaker will was with John and Frances C. in 1850 with two children. She is not with them in 1860. As with Edmond, there were no males old enough to be Harvey.

Frances was found in the 1870 census in the household of her step-son Josiah Harrison.18 Frances’ first husband had given her in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring. It would seem that Harvey and Hariett were no longer with Frances C. at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

One final note for anyone searching for Edmond, Harvey, and Hariett. The Craig and Harrison families likely did not move from the time of the above mentioned will until 1850 as Putnam County was created on 11 March 1848 from Kanawha, Mason and Cabell Counties.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 
  3. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_959; Image 297; Virginia, Mason, District 38, image 47 of 165, Sheet No. 385A, Lines 28-30, HH #333-334, John W. Clark household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  4. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1361; FHL Film: 805361; Virginia, Mason County, District 2, image 25 of 68; Page No. 46, Lines 21-30, HH #345-316, Wm Claunch household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  5. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970. Marriage of John Harrison and Frances C. Aldakers (sic, spelling per index) (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175291&Type=Marriage : accessed 20 March 2019) 
  6. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  7. WVCulture.org, (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_mcdetail.aspx?Id=12175454 : accessed 24 March 2019) and http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175454&Type=Marriage : accessed 24 March 2019) 
  8. WVCulture.org, 1865 Death Record of Polly A. Craig (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=4787281 : accessed 26 March 2019) and (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4787281&Type=Death : accessed 26 March 2019) 
  9. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 272A; Image: 213 
  10. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 8 of 8 
  11. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 3 of 8 
  12. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 280B; Image: 230 
  13. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 893; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  14. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 794; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  15. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 3 of 4, right line 32 
  16. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 2 of 4, left, line 14 
  17. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-H19H-5?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MNG%3A179687101%2C179700701 : 21 June 2016), Putnam > Will book, v. 001 1847-1937 > image 45 of 204; citing Putnam County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  18. Ancestry.com. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1698; Page: 248A; Family History Library Film: 553197 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Edmond

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia – 1841

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

I Elizabeth Clark of the county of Mason & state of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament.
I give and bequeath all my estate except Edmond who shall be free at my decease & a bond against Zachariah Garten of twenty five dollars with interest for three years to Frances C. Harrison.
The above named bond I bequeath to John Harrison husband of the said Frances C. Harrison of the county of Mason & state of Virginia. In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this 30th day of Sept. 1841.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . her

. . . . . . . . . . .Elizabeth + Clark Seal
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mark
Signed Sealed & publicly declared by Elizabeth Clark as & for her last will and testament in the presence & hearing of us, at her request & in her presence have subscribed our names as witnesses.
James Koontz
William Harrison
William Oldakers

At a Circuit Superior Court of Law & Chancery for Mason county held at the Courthouse thereof April 16, 1844.
The last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark deceased was proved by the oaths of James Koontz and William Harrison two of the subscribing

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

witnesses thereto and is ordered to be recorded.
And there being no executors named in said last will & testament, and the said testatrix having died more than three months ago, and no person applying for administration it is ordered that administration of the estate of said decedent with her will annexed in due form be committed to Peter H. Steenbergen sheriff of this county.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Copy Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Georg W. Stribling clk

The Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Clark was written in 1841 in Mason County1 during the time when the county was part of Virginia. Mason County borders on Ohio, a state which abolished slavery in its original constitution when it was formed in 1803.

Edmond who shall be free at my decease

I found it heartwarming that Elizabeth Clark did not give any further description of Edmond as was usual in records of the time. She wrote simply that he should be free after her demise.

No trace of Elizabeth Clark was found in the 1840 census. John Harrison was found in Mason County in 1840.2 Both he and his wife were 50 thru 59 years old. There was a young boy aged 10 thru 14 as well as four enslaved persons in the household: 2 males under 10, 1 male 24 thru 35, and 1 female 10 thru 23. There was also an older woman, age 70 thru 79 years. Could this have been Elizabeth Clark?

Also on the same census sheet are Thomas Garton mentioned in the will, as well as two of the three witnesses, William Harrison and William Oldakers.

Mrs. Clark died about the end of 1843 or the beginning of the year 1844. Was Edmond mentioned in her will still living? Did he have family living with a slaveholder in the area? What became of him when she died?

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story – An Update

Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.

Cousin Bait!

I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.

By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.

In the meantime…

I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.

I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.

Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

ThruLines™ Introduced by Ancestry: TrueLines or TrueLies?

Last week was an exciting week for many genealogists who attended the RootsTech conference or, like me, who followed the live stream from home. My interest was focused on DNA related news. Ancestry added MyTreeTags™, New & Improved DNA Matches, and ThruLines™ to their site. The most talked about is ThruLines™ which is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

I found a few things about ThruLines™ which were helpful but there was something which upset me so much that I stopped checking. I took a few days to calm down before I gave feedback to Ancestry on their new ThruLines™ tool. First the good and the bad, then my feedback.

TrueLines or TrueLies?

There are several reasons for my snarky title. I may know and you may know that ThruLines™ is not the same as true lines or true lies. But do all users, especially those who are very new to family history research, realize this new feature is like the Ancestry Hints and Shared Ancestors Hints? It isn’t a fast and easy fix. We still need to do research.

The Positive

ThruLines™ has helped me to find two cousins descended from my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM’s half-sister Ocie Ola INGRAM. Ocie has been ignored by many in their trees. The marriage of her mother to my great-great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM took place in 1888 and no 1900 census listing has been found to show the family group. As far as we know, they had only this one daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1904. I have tried to follow Ocie’s children and grandchildren but I would probably not have found these DNA cousins without looking through thousands of matches. ThruLines™ pulled them right up and with the correct connection even though the matches did not have public trees back to the INGRAM common ancestor.

I’m now seeing 63 of my 64 maternal 5th great-grandparents in the ThruLines™. The missing ancestor, Gerard MALAMBRE, was found in other trees with a different surname spelling. It wasn’t a surprise to find all maternal ancestors except this one listed. Not many people who have worked on these lines have their trees on Ancestry. I have very few maternal matches, mostly 5c and 6C, from clusters of descendants of a few immigrant families in America.

The Negative

Ancestry’s New & Improved DNA Matches and ThruLines™ are ignoring my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as the parents of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY. In the case of this family line, ThruLines™ resembles quick & dirty tree work which shouldn’t be public or searchable unless it has been proven.

Don’t get me wrong. They haven’t changed my tree. People who are new to genealogy research and those who do not know how to use this tool will take this seriously. They will accept these errors without bothering to verify.

Screenshot of Common Ancestors of a match on AncestryDNA. According to Ancestry family trees, these are common ancestors.

The white boxes are actual entries in my tree while the dashed boxes are from information they have knitted in from other trees. The third cousin match has a private tree which likely includes William A. W. DEMPSEY as he is showing up on the match’s side. Why, if we both have this name in our trees, does the common ancestor show up as a Private person three generations further back? Why not William A. W. DEMPSEY?

ThruLines™ shows Emmanuel DEMPSEY of Logan County, West Virginia, as the father of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY and this is reflected in the Common Ancestor match above.

I was hoping this new feature would help with my great-grandfather’s father William A. W. DEMPSEY’s brick wall. I was able to get the error above fixed. A person with a large tree likely accepted a Potential Father and Potential Mother and attached the wrong parents to my great-grandfather. The owner is not a direct descendant. The tree is so large I could not figure out how or if he is related.

I placed a comment on the tree with the wrong father for William Henderson DEMPSEY. The tree owner was quick to thank me for the help. He unlinked him and added the correct parents. There are still a few issues which I have further commented on. The owner appears to be willing to work on fixing his tree.

In ThruLines™ Emanuel DEMPSEY, his parents James DEMPSEY and Dorcas HAGER, his grandparents John DEMPSEY and Rachel SOLOMON, as well as the HAGER and VANNATER grandparents, have disappeared as potential ancestors. On a positive note, I was surprised to see this happen overnight.

I’m very disappointed I’m not seeing my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as ancestors. There are hundreds of matches who descend from Sarah’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (WOOD, McGRAW, HONAKER, HONEGGER, WISEMAN, and DAVIS) and they are not being found with the ThruLines™ tool. Matches I need to sift out of the rest to be able to find fourth cousins who descend from William’s unknown parents or more distant cousins who descend from his parents’ ancestors.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

This is not the only 2nd great-grandparent who is missing. My Gordon Washington ROOP was married twice and there are DNA matches coming from both wives. However, ThruLines™ is only recognizing his second wife, the step-mother of my great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP. This means I have the wrong potential 3rd, 4th, and 5th great-grandparents. Once again this is a branch of the family which has hundreds of matches, descendants of PETERS, LIVELY, CASH, PROFFITT, ROBERTSON, and COCKRAM. The branch and all other matches are missing. Yes, they are still there but difficult to ferret out.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

What I Am Doing to Make this a Good Experience

This could be a good feature when used correctly. When we find cousins who are DNA matches and fit into our tree we cannot accept the connection without following the records to prove the relationship. I’m worried about the people who accept shaky leaves, potential parents, and now a line back to a potential common ancestor using 2, 3, or 4 trees. I don’t want to throw away the good with the bad. I’ll take a close look at each ancestor and the matches they are supposedly coming from.

I’ve had a public tree with only ancestors linked to the DNA test I manage. I don’t have any other public tree on Ancestry. In the past days, I’ve added known and proven matches to fix some ancestors on the ThruLines.

It’s strange that the lines with the most descendants are not showing up correctly. I’m hoping this might turn out to be more positive – with people cleaning up their trees so that the correct connections get noticed.

My Feedback to Ancestry

  •  I’m finding ThruLines useful in that it pulls up distant matches which would not have been found due to the thousands of matches which are impossible to sift through.
  •  I would not say that it adds value to my Ancestry experience. It only reminds me of the many errors in trees. Mine is not perfect and the reason I  attached a public tree to DNA with only ancestors. In hopes this will help improve ThruLines, I have started to add the siblings of ancestors with DNA connections and the descendants who are DNA matches.
  • Since the public tree I’m using is based on well-researched work on my part, I hope it is being managed appropriately by Ancestry and not being used to suggest false potential ancestors as I am seeing up to 4 different trees are being used to show a line down from a potential to a match.
  • I DO NOT want a quick and easy way to add an ancestor or a match to my tree or anyone else’s tree. I believe people should take time to analyze and then add to the tree. Any trees with quick & dirty work should be made private and unsearchable.
  • I strongly disagree that having a common ancestor with a match is proof that the DNA is coming from this ancestor. The only way this can be proven is by using a chromosome browser for comparing with other matches with the common ancestor.
  • Although I am not overall happy with ThruLines at this early time, I strongly agree that we should check back often as more people take the test.

Final Thoughts

New & Improved DNA Matches gives us the ability to sort matches using colored groups. MyTreeTagsTM should help eliminate the need for strange ancestor names and keep our research and connections to new matches more organized. The lists of matches who descend from common ancestors seen in ThruLines™ will help both our research and proving of ancestors.

Will all the hoopla about these recent additions to the Ancestry experience distract us from the lack of a chromosome browser? Perhaps for a while but I’m still referring matches to my Dear Cousin post.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah

As with so many of my families in West Virginia, the Clonch family of Mason County did not hold slaves. I’m always on the lookout for records with slave names in the location I’m researching and like to skim through the Wills Book to find other inhabitants of the county who may have been slaveholders. Although Mason County was formed in 1804 the will books begin only in 1833. The first record in Will Book 1 with names of enslaved persons is the will of Elizabeth Bryan.

Elizabeth Bryan wrote her last will and testament on 10 December 1829 and likely lived another four years as it was only proved on 6 March 1833 and 2 April 1833 and ordered to be recorded 2 April 1833.1 She mentions two sons, Robert and Charles, a grandson Robert, and a great-granddaughter Nancy Mason. More importantly, the names of five enslaved persons, Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah were given.

1829 Last Will and Testament of Elizabeth Bryan of Mason County, West Virginia

I Elizabeth Bryan of the county of Mason and State of Virginia do hereby make and declare this my last will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all other wills by me made at any time heretofore.
First I give and bequeath to my son Robert Bryan my Negro Boy Peter and to my Grandson Robert Bryan (son of my said son Robert) my other Negro Boy Willis.
Second I give & bequeath to my Great Grand Daughter Nancy Mason my Negro woman Milly & my negro Girl Sukkey together with my wearing my wearing (sic) apparel of every Kind & It is my futher will that my friend & neighbour John Cantrell & his wife take my said Grand daughter & her negroes hereby bequeathed her and raise and educate her in such decent & industrous manner as may be fitting her circumstances & theirs and have the use of Said negroes for their trouble & expense until my said Great Granddaughter shall arrive at Lawfull age or marry at which time she is to receive said Milly & Suky & the increase of said Sukkey if any to do with them as she may think proper but should my said great Granddaughter die before arriving at Lawfull age or having issue then it is my will that Milly be free & that Sukky & her increase if any Revert to my son Robert Bryan or his proper heirs but should Milly before that time have issue it is my will that all such issue or increase belong to Mrs. Mary Cantrell or her proper heirs it is also my further will that should I die before two years from this time that the negro Milly hereby bequeathed to said Nancy Mason shall remain with my Son Robert for that period counting from this date & then go to John Cantrell as heretofore directed for the purposes aforesaid.
My Negro woman Hannah I leave to my son Charles.
In witness whereof I hereby set my hand and seal this tenth day of December 1829.
Signed Sealed & acknowledged…………….Elizabeth Bryan Searl
in presence of us
William (his mark) Rottenberry
Silas (his mark) Harris
John Cantrell

At A Court continued and held for Mason County March 6th 1833 A writing purporting to be the last will & testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd was this day presented in open Court and was proven in part by the oath of William Rottenberry one of the subscribing witnesses thereto and said over for further proof.
…………………A copy
……………………Teste
………………………Thos. Lewis Clk

And at another day To wit At a Court Continued and held for Mason County April 2nd 1833. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Elizabeth Bryan decd which was in part proved at the last March term of this court, was this day further proved by Silas Harris another subscribing witness thereto, which is ordered to be Recorded.
……………..A Copy
………………..Teste
…………………..Thos. Lewis Clk

Discrepancies and Questions

Sukkey was seen as Suky and Sukky in the will but in all cases, Elizabeth appears to refer to the same woman.

I question whether Nancy Mason was a great-granddaughter or more likely a granddaughter. No marriage was found for a Bryan bride to a Mason groom. Without more information on the Bryan family, it is difficult to determine the relationship between Nancy Mason and Elizabeth Bryan. Since Milly and Sukkey were to go with her to the neighbors after Elizabeth’s death, her relationship might be of importance to people seeking Milly and Sukkey.

Bryan in the Mason County Census

Preliminary research on the Bryan family in Mason County around 1830 did not turn up any helpful information. I located possible 1830 and 1820 census listings in which Elizabeth appears to be living in the household of Robert Bryan. In 1830 and 1820 there was a Charles Bryan in Mason County as well as a John Bryan and Andrew Bryan.

1830 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (poss. wife of older male)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1 
Slaves – Females – 36 thru 54: 1
Slaves – Females – 55 thru 99: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 14

1820 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: Robert Bryan
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (Robert)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (poss. wife)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (poss. Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 1
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 1
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Slaves – Females – 45 and over: 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 7
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 12

In 1810 in Mason County, a James Bryan appears to be a likely match for the husband of Elizabeth Bryan. Two young men and a young woman are also in the household. The two young men are possible matches for Robert and Charles mentioned in the will.

1810 United States Federal Census
Mason County, Virginia
Name: James Bryan
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2 (Robert and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5
Number of Household Members Under 16: 1
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 10

Other Bryan Families in Mason

Another Bryan found in Mason in 1810 was Andrew, a name also seen in the census of 1820 and 1830. An 1809 record for the marriage of Andrew Bryan and Parthenea Meigs in Mason seems to fit. Later he was the only Bryan on the census of Mason County in 1840 (obviously widowed with children) and alone in the 1850 census.

Quick searches at Find A Grave picked up information stating Maj. Andrew Bryan was the brother of John Bryan.2 Andrew’s wife’s maiden name was Clendenin and she was apparently previously married to a Meigs.3

John Bryan died in Mason County before 1 September 1834; a will was found which mentions property including Negroes but does not include names.4

With these names as a reference, I located a family tree on Ancestry which shows James Bryan and Elizabeth Singletary were the parents of sons Robert, Charles, John, and Andrew as well as three daughters who do not have marriages listed. I did not do further research to prove the family relationships.

Robert5 and Charles6, who were not found in Mason in 1840, went west to Washington County, Missouri, in the 1830s according to the tree, i.e. after the death of Elizabeth. In 1850 a Robert Bryan is on the Slave Schedule in the county however there were two men of this name in the county at that time. I have not been able to determine if this person who had a female mulatto age 33, a male mulatto age 10, a male mulatto age 5, a female black age 2, and a male black age 4 is the Robert Bryan who was the son of Elizabeth Bryan seen in the featured will.

I hope my finding the sons of Elizabeth moving to Missouri may help anyone seeking Peter, Willis, Milly, Sukkey, and Hannah.

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

It’s been four years since I wrote the original three posts in which I shared the names of enslaved persons of my SIMS family. I have not counted every single name but I estimate about 220 names have been released in the 49 posts I’ve written since 2015.

The purpose of these posts is to share the documents and release the names in hopes of helping a descendant’s search. Personally, I try to do a bit more research when time allows and include it in the post but this is not a criteria.

If your ancestors or their neighbors or anyone you encounter in your research had enslaved persons, please join me by contributing their names to the Slave Name Roll Project.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-D8?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 25 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 23 February 2019), memorial page for Maj Andrew Bryan (1790–25 Jul 1851), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252499, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  3. FAG, memorial page for Parthenia Clendenin Bryan (1779–9 Aug 1839), Find A Grave Memorial no. 140252263, citing McCulloch Cemetery, Southside, Mason County, West Virginia, USA; Maintained by Katie Litchfield (contributor 47758703). 
  4. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  5. FAG, memorial page for Robert Bryan, Sr (unknown–7 Dec 1871), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262866, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 
  6. FAG, memorial page for Charles Bryan (16 Jul 1809–17 Oct 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5262850, citing Bennett Bryan Cemetery, Cadet, Washington County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by Larry G. Flesher (contributor 43207742). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story

The stories passed down by descendants who have researched the CLONCH family history are fantastic and a bit unbelievable. Ralph L. Hayes heard of the scandals which went on in the family and shared the stories in mailing lists and genealogy forums on the internet nearly two decades ago. Being a good researcher, Ralph went to the courthouse in Point Pleasant in Mason County, West Virginia, to ferret out the records to back up the family history. He found the divorce of his 3rd great-grandfather “only by going through some OLD dusty unindexed boxes in the courthouse.”

Seeking Documentation

I’ve wanted to find the documents Ralph discovered as the story of the CLONCH brothers is so difficult to believe. Since FamilySearch has added more collections from Mason County to their online records, I’ve been looking for this and that record to better tell the story.

Ralph L. Hayes is my fourth cousin. He descends from John William CLONCH (1840-1919) and Mary Ellen LEMASTER (1847-1921) while I descend from Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) and Tabitha Ann COOLEY (1861-1913). John and Alex were the sons of our 3rd great-grandparents William CLONCH (1807-1863) and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS (c. 1816-c. 1892).

If you’ve been following recent posts about William CLONCH’s estate, you’ll have learned William and Mary were not married but had eight children, seven grew to adulthood and married, six had children. William kept the family together beyond the grave by leaving a will in which he stipulated the land the family lived on was to remain in the family. Did he know at the time of his death in 1863 that his two oldest sons would become part of an incredible story equal to a primetime soap opera?

I wrote A Little “Peyton Place” (Part I) and A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II) in December 2013 but the posts only recount what Ralph learned while researching and don’t include documentation.

Living overseas and nowhere near the American courthouses of the counties my ancestors lived in, I must rely on record collections found online. FamilySearch’s catalog is my go-to place whenever researching and gathering records to tell their stories.

Two Marriages

1862 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Mason County.1

1863 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

Alexander CLONCH married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863, also in Gallia County.2

Two Divorces

Neither of the marriages lasted. In the September Court of 1864 John and Sarah were divorced.3 The records of the circuit court in which Ralph found more details are not yet online but I found another mention a few pages further in the Chancery orders4 and in a fee book.5 [Click on over to the links in the citations below to learn why this divorce produced more records.]

Alexander and Mary Ellen never had children even though by 1880 they were legally married a little over seventeen years. To be more precise, they never had children with each other. Alex’s brother John and Mary Ellen had eight children between 1865-1880 and Alex had 3 children with Mary Ellen’s sister Rebecca from 1868-1876. Many online trees list Rebecca LEMASTER as Alex’s second wife. A marriage record was not found in West Virginia or Ohio. Is it possible they were married and the record has yet to be found?

I think not. Alexander was still married to Mary Ellen LEMASTER when her sister Rebecca gave him three children. Alex and Mary Ellen’s marriage was not dissolved until the March term on 1880, when the divorce was mentioned in the Chancery orders.6

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

March term 1880

Alexander Clonch
     vs                                          In Chancery
Mary E. Clonch

This cause come on this day to be heard upon the bill, exhibits and depositions filed therewith and the process having been duly served upon the defendant and she still failing to appear answer or demur to plaintiffs bill and the cause set-for hearing and was argued by counsel on consideration of all which the court is of the opinion that the

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in his said bill, it is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that the marriage heretofore solemnized between the plaintiff and defendant be dissolved and annulled and the plaintiff forever divorced from his said wife from the bonds of matrimony and that she be forever barred of dower in any lands the plaintiff had or now has or hereafter has and the plaintiff recover from the defendant his costs including a fee of ten dollars as prescribed by law in and about his suit in this behalf expended and that execution issue therefor & c.

Importance of the Records

Why was finding this record so important to me? Five months after the above divorce, on 19 August 1880, Alexander CLONCH married Tabitha Ann COOLEY, my great-great-grandmother. They were the parents of nine children, six of whom married and had children, including my great-grandmother Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950). Also with the above record I have proof for the part of the story which goes:

The marriage was dissolved, Mary did not appear and she does not get her dower and must pay costs.

One document at a time, the complete story may one day be told.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Alexander CLONCH
Parents: William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Spouse: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY
Parents of Spouse: John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY
Whereabouts: Mason and Fayette, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 2nd great-grandfather

1. Alexander CLONCH
2. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
3. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
4. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SKRT?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  2. Ibid., Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 19 of 276. Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Lemaster, 10 November 1863. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-SVR3?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 19 February 2019). 
  3. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), <i>FamilySearch</i> (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Jane Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  4. Ibid., image 303 of 949, folio 421, March Term 1865. 1865 John W. Clonch ordered to surrender his child William A. Clonch to the mother Sarah A. Clonch.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7K6Z?i=302&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  5. “Fee books, 1804-1881” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the West Virginia University Library, Morgantown.), Film 174649, DGS 7616441, Fee Book 1859-1867, 1859-1869 1860-1866 1862-1868, image 76 of 425, page 62, bottom of page. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9VR-Z4TY?i=75&cat=248082 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  6. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929”, Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99VP-2SNQ?i=320&cat=659762 : accessed 6 January 2019). 

I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia

Since learning land records of Mason County, West Virginia, are online at FamilySearch for the years 1803-1901, I’ve been trying to find answers. I wanted to figure out how the land assumed to have been owned by my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH came to be owned by him and his heirs. I also wanted to know what became of it in 1892. I covered these questions in my posts:

Time to Move on to a New Research Task?

I thought I was at a good stopping point and was thinking about new research tasks when I published the last post. But comments made had me doing new online searches for taxes on land, etc. This led to my discovering a site which pointed me to almost the exact location of the land once owned by my CLONCH ancestors. Before I share the site, bear with me while I show you how I plotted the land.

Abstracting the Call Lines

This is part of the 1885 land deed which gives the description of the boundaries of the 148 acres tract my 2nd great-grandparents Alexander and Tobitha CLONCH conveyed to Mary E. DOSS and her DOSS children: John William, Alexander, Lavinia, Betsy Jane, Thomas E., Joel, and Charles H.

I used Jacob Boerema’s tool Transcript to transcribe all of the land deeds in my previous posts concerning the land of William CLONCH. Here is the transcription of the above snippet.

Beginning at a small white oak
corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence
with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants
fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on
a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63°
E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dog-
wood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E
crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run
at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same
at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak
N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84
poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with
his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak
corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of
the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning con-
taining One hundred and forty eight acres

Converting Poles to Feet

I put the call lines into a table and converted the poles to feet using Convert Pole to Feet.
Call lines in the deed
S5E 124 poles
S63E 120 poles
N34.5E 116 poles
N44W 52 poles
N17W 84 poles
S65W 94 poles
N85W 33 poles
Call lines converted to feet
S5E 2046f
S63E 1980f
N34.5E 1914f
N44W 858f
N17W 1386f
S65W 1551f
N85W 544.5f

Plotting the Tact

I then went to Tract Plotter and inserted the call lines in feet. After checking the box Show Labels, I submitted the call lines and the following plat was generated. The blue notes were added using Evernote (which I like to use for this type of quick annotating).

The land was now plotted but where was it located? I knew it was somewhere along Crab Creek in Clendenin District of Mason County, West Virginia. Still, this is a large area and I wasn’t able to find other geographical locations (Bryant’s Run) to zoom in on a specific area.

West Virginia Property Viewer

This is where the cool site I found comes into play. The West Virginia Property Viewer is an interactive map to search and display property ownership and location information in West Virginia. You can zoom in on the map of the state by county or use the search feature to search in a county for an owner’s name, parcel number, or parcel address. A search for CLONCH brought up a few owners in Mason County including one very interesting parcel. A tract of one acre on Crab Creek used as a cemetery and exempt from tax. The owner or name of the piece of land is Clonch Cemetary.

The tiny purple square of land known as the Clonch Cemetary (sic).

The land surrounding the cemetery is owned by a Patterson, a great-grandson of Lavina Ann CLONCH and James William PATTERSON. It’s a parcel with 76.54 acres, a bit larger than the 42 acres deeded to the Pattersons in 1892 and less than the original 148 acres owned by the heirs of William CLONCH. The fact that this is the location of the Clonch Cemetery, also known as the Patterson Clonch Cemetery, makes me certain this is the land William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS lived on over 150 years ago.

In the pop-up at the bottom of the map, information about the parcel is listed. An interesting feature is the parcel assessment report which can be accessed by clicking at the bottom of the pop-up. In the assessment, under General Information, the deed book and page number can be found. In the case of the Clonch Cemetary there is no deed listed. The Patterson land has a deed book and page number which could be consulted – if the records were online for the time period.

Other Uses for the Site

Very often in county genealogy groups on Facebook, I see people asking for the location of cemeteries. West Virginia Property Viewer would be the perfect place to look them up.

Nicholas County Public Records Search includes online versions of the deed books of the county. You can sign in as a guest to search the site. A piece of land can be followed from the present time owner to the first owner and vice versa. With the assessment report’s information on the deed book and page, the starting point is easy to find.

West Virginia Property Viewer was found on Map West Virginia where all of their maps are free for use by the public.

A quick online search turned up other county and state parcel or property viewers. Am I the only one who did not know about these sites?

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.