Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (Part 3)

George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, was born in Amherst County, Virginia, about 1831. He moved to Fayette County about 1855 before West Virginia became a state. After the 1870 census, George disappeared or died without records. He was discussed in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of George W. DEMPSEY, my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). Her story was told in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2).

Mollie’s father was Wesley G. DEMPSTER, a man who appeared in Scott County, Virginia, shortly before the 1880 census. He likely died between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887. A death record was not found.

Mollie married at the age of 16 and had a family of nine children born between 1898 and 1917. Six of these children have descendants who’ve had their DNA tested. Descendants of the other three may have tested. They haven’t been found on the match lists of the tests I have access to.

Can DNA unravel the mystery of George W. Dempsey’s disappearance?

It’s complicated! I’ve been learning about DNA since the end of May 2016 when my brother turned his AncestryDNA test over to me. It has been a slow, uphill climb learning to work with the DNA results. I know this post may be hard to follow, I hope I haven’t made it too complicated. I’m assuming my readers have a basic understanding of autosomal DNA.

AncestryDNA

This is an example of one of my notes on Ancestry for a match:
[C8] 1C (Lois) Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
In brackets is the cluster number (from the first time I clustered my matches) followed by the level of cousinship. In parenthesis is the name of the child of the most recent common ancestors (MRCA) that the match descends from followed by the MRCA.

My private but searchable family tree is attached to the DNA tests I manage. Confirmed matches are connected in this tree. The tree is also used to work out unknown matches.

As I have few maternal matches and my mother has tested, all maternal matches are starred. This allows me to use all 24 colors for custom groups for my paternal matches. I created custom groups for each of my paternal 4th great-grandparent couples. The four blue colors were used a bit differently than the green, pink, and yellow as there is a brick wall at the 3rd great-grandparent level for my William A. W. DEMPSEY. He is not from the same line as Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.

16 custom color groups for the paternal 4th great-grandparent couples

Ancestral Quest’s Color Coding feature made it easy to work out the custom color groups on Ancestry.

My paternal grandfather’s pedigree.
My paternal grandmother’s pedigree.

Paternal first cousins share the DEMPSEY-ROOP couple with me and are given each of the 16 custom groups (4 shades of the 4 colors). Second cousins who share DEMPSEY-INGRAM receive 8 custom groups (4 shades of blue and of green). Third cousins who share INGRAM-DEMPSEY receive 4 custom groups (4 shades of green). This is one way to visually cluster matches.

Note: The same system can be used for both maternal and paternal matches. In this case, the 5th generation (3rd great-grandparents) is used instead of the 6th generation (4th great-grandparents) as seen in my example.

This is my top match in the group of matches who descend from Mollie on Ancestry. The top shared matches (ICW = in common with) with Match 1 are two of my first cousins with whom I share grandparents Fred R. DEMPSEY and Myrtle H. ROOP. The next two ICW matches are both 1C1R but not from the same generation. This is confirmed by the colored groups. The match with only blue and green is a 1C1R through my paternal grandfather’s parents.

AncestryDNA

I have guest or collaborator access to a few of my DEMPSEY cousins’ AncestryDNA. They have given me permission to use their tests as examples along with their first names or initials. In the image above, the two cousins with trees are the 1C1R (E.D.) and 1C (Laura) in the table below.

DNA matches descending from 6 of Mollie’s 9 children were found to match 6 tests I have access to. E.D. (1C1R) is my father’s paternal first cousin. She is a generation closer to Seaton and Clementine than myself, my brother, my first cousin Danny, and my second cousins, Laura and Sheila. The second cousins are E.D.’s nieces through two of her siblings. If they had been her children I would not have used them as they would carry the same DNA and would only duplicate the results. All of the cousins have their DNA uploaded to Gedmatch or MyHeritage except for Sheila.

Shared Clustering Tool

My brother’s and my AncestryDNA tests were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool. Clustering has given me a relatively good idea of where in the family tree a match or group of matches fit in.

Jonathan’s method uses all matches and shared matches (ICW) down to 6-8 cMs on Ancestry to form clusters that point to a shared ancestor. A cluster represents a DNA segment shared by the clustered matches. Even though Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser, the segments can be ascertained (guessed) by comparing to matches who’ve transferred their AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or Gedmatch.

The data needed for clustering was downloaded from Ancestry using the Shared Clustering Tool. I’ve been manually adding new matches since Jonathan disabled downloading of data from Ancestry in May 2020. Soon after this, Ancestry sent cease and desist orders to many third-party tools.

Early this month, I subscribed to DNAGedcom for $5/month to get an up-to-date list of matches and of ICW matches from Ancestry using the DNAGedcom Client. The ICW match list can be used to generate clusters using the Shared Clustering Tool.

Screenshot of part of a cluster report generated by Shared Clustering Tool. Clusters have a blue outline and may overlap. The green highlights in this clip were added later.
Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT)

Becky Mason Walker’s Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is the repository I use to manage my DNA tests.

The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import all DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. With all information in one place, the tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions.

The Barron-Dempster matches who descend from Mollie were found to be in clusters [C54], [C29], [C30], and [C8]. All notes on Ancestry have been imported into GDAT. Since my notes begin with the cluster number, I can sort matches to view a list of only the relatives (matches) in a particular cluster.

Screenshot of GDAT Relative List sorted to show only [C54] matches with privatized names.
Cluster [C54] is large with over 400 matches ranging from 229 cMs down to 7 cMs. The identified relatives have the following MRCA: Dempsey-Ingram, Dempsey-Gowing, Going-Potter, and Crisp-Lucy. These are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING. The cluster appears to be pointing to the GOWING branch but the many matches that are still unknown will help to “walk the segment back” to the shared distant ancestor.

Of these over 400 matches, nine were found on sites with chromosome browsers. None of these have a confirmed MRCA but they share DNA on the same segment (different lengths) on chromosome 9. This segment is also shared with E.D., Danny, and Laura seen in the DNA comparison table (above, in the Ancestry section). The red segments (below) are Danny, his sister, and my Dad’s Lazarus kit. They share my paternal grandfather (PGF) and paternal grandmother’s (PGM) lines, i.e. DEMPSEY-ROOP. The blue segments are people who share only my PGM’s line, i.e. DEMPSEY-INGRAM, and include Laura and E.D.

Screenshot of GDAT Chromosome Browser information with privatized names.

Using the same process as above, I found:

  • [C29] includes about 200 matches. Only two in the cluster have chromosome data and share a segment on Chr. 6. An MRCA has not been found for either. The segment triangulates with a known 4C1R (George W.) Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING as well as E.D. Danny did not receive this segment but his sister (who did not test with Ancestry) is one of the matches who triangulate with the [C29] matches.
  • [C30] has about 100 matches. MRCAs in the cluster include Ingram-Dempsey(1), Dempsey-Gowing(20), Gowing-Crisp(3), Going-Potter(1), and Crisp-Lucy(4). The cluster is associated with a segment on Chr. 2 shared with E.D., Danny’s sister, and Laura.
  • [C8] has about 120 matches. This is E.D., Danny, and Laura’s cluster. They correlate with many other clusters but this is their main cluster. MRCAs in the cluster include Dempsey-Wood, Wood-Honaker, Wood-McGraw which suggest the cluster is coming from the PGF (blue) side. The two Barron-Dempster matches (Match 2 and 5, father and daughter) associated with this cluster share at two segments with several of us. One of these segments may have a distant connection to the blue side.

My brother received very little DNA shared with the Barron-Dempster matches – only a 12 cMs segment with Match 1 and 9 cMs of the same segment with Match 1a (child of 1).

Shared Clustering

Clusters fluctuate as new matches are added. Since my test was clustered in September 2019 many new matches have been added. I ran a new cluster report this week including all new matches and ICW matches since 2019 with 20 cMs or greater. In most cases, the matches in the original clusters have remained the same, i.e. are still clustering with the same matches. The new heatmap shows the two [C8] matches are now clustering with a [C29] and a [C30] match, on the edge of the larger [C29] cluster and correlating with a cluster made up of [C54] matches.

To give a clearer picture of the clusters, here is a screenshot of my E.D.’s heatmap. It was generated using the data of her top 333 matches with 50 cMs or higher. All of the Barron-Dempster matches (highlighted in green) over 50 cMs are found in this heatmap of clusters 4 through 8.

Screenshot of part of a report generated by Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool
  • Clusters 4 & 5 have descendants of Mary M. DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 6 has descendants of William S., George W., Martha Ann, and Julia DEMPSEY, all children of Seaton
  • Cluster 7 has a descendant of Geneva DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 8 has only Barron-Dempster descendants
  • The Barron-Dempster matches correlate only with clusters 4 through 8. They don’t correlate with clusters 1-3 or 9-33 (not seen in this close-up of the heatmap). The correlation can be seen by the red outside of the cluster boxes.
  • Of the 35 matches shown above, 6 are mystery matches, 8 are Barron-Dempster matches, and the rest are descendants of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING through six of their eight children. The two missing children are sons who served in the Civil War, died during or soon after the war, never married, and had no known descendants. The mystery matches, like the Barron-Dempster matches, correlate only with clusters 4 through 8 and are likely descendants of Seaton and Clementine through one of their children.
What Are the Odds?

I used the What Are the Odds? tool on DNA Painter to chart Mollie’s family tree down to her descendants who are matches. This is not the real purpose of the tool.

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The matches, descendants of Mollie, are shaded green. I used my E.D.’s shared cMs amounts for all matches. The numbers in parenthesis are the range of cMs shared between the match and the other tests I have access to. The bottom row represents the line that I share with my cousins and is used for comparison: my great-great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, my grandfather Fred R. DEMPSEY and his brother Earl S. DEMPSEY, my father’s generation represented by E.D. (1C1R), and my generation (with my cousins and brother).

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The WATO tool is used to check the probability that the amount of cM shared corresponds to the relationship in the tree. As I had already used it to chart the tree of the Barron-Dempster matches, I tried doing the reverse of what is intended with the tool. I used it to determine if the amount of cM shared by E.D. with the matches would place her in the correct position in our family tree.

  • Hypothesis 2: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 1 and grandchild of Laura Belle INGRAM scored 9 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis
    This is the most likely hypothesis.)
  • Hypothesis 3: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 2 and grandchild of Hypothesis 1 scored 3 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis)
  • Hypothesis 1: E.D. is the child of Laura Belle INGRAM and grandchild of Mary M. DEMPSEY scored 1 (Possible but not significantly more likely than the other hypotheses.)

Hypothesis 2 with a score of 9 is the most likely and puts E.D. in the right place in our family tree and shows that it is possible that Mollie was the grandchild of Seaton and Clementine.

How does Mollie fit into my family tree?

Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing along with traditional genealogy. Using all of the tools mentioned above as well as genealogy research, I have come to a conclusion on how Mollie fits into my family tree.

The cluster heatmap above shows the Barron-Dempster matches are relatives of my 1C1R E.D. and share the same ancestry as the DEMPSEY-GOWING matches. The same is true for the other tests I used in this example: my brother, Danny, Laura, Sheila, and myself. The WATO tool also backs up this assumption.

If the matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER fit into the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, could Wesley G. DEMPSTER be an alias for a son or nephew of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING?

I don’t think the relationship was a nephew as:

  1. Seaton’s brother Wilson M. DEMPSEY was found in the 1840 census with two persons in his household: himself and his wife. No children from the marriage that took place in 1839 and no children born before this marriage.
  2. Seaton’s brother Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married in 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and removed to Ross County, Ohio, by 1830. He emigrated from Ohio to Missouri in 1854.
  3. Seaton’s brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY was likely with Seaton in 1830, wasn’t found in 1840, was single in 1850, married in 1856, and died in 1890. “W. G. Dempsey left surviving him no children nor the descendants of a child, no father, no mother, no brother, no sister” per a chancery case.
  4. Seaton’s sisters Louisa J. (md. 1840) and Eliza (md. 1843) were 18 or younger and it is not likely that one of them was the mother.
  5. As the clusters are pointing to the GOWING-CRISP branch of the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, the matches are likely related through the GOWING side, i.e. other possibilities are the two sisters of Clementine GOWING.
  6. Clementine’s sister Emmeline GOWING married William Dison LAWHORNE in 1828 and in 1840 the only male child in their household has been identified and cannot be Wesley.
  7. Clementine’s sister Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 and in 1840 the three male children have been identified and none can be Wesley.

I believe from about 1880 George W. DEMPSEY, the only living son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, used the alias Wesley G. DEMPSTER, and was the father of Mollie.

Consequently, Mollie Lee DEMPSTER would have been a half-sibling to George’s three children. Her descendants would share on average the same amount of DNA as the descendants of all of Seaton and Clementine’s other children. The amount shared with any of George’s descendants would not be greater as the common ancestral couple would be Seaton and Clementine. Early on in my analysis, I had not considered this and thought George’s descendants should have higher amounts of DNA which is not the case.

What else can I do to solve this mystery?

I haven’t exhausted the DNA tools to prove the possibility of Wesley G. DEMPSTER’s being the same person as George W. DEMPSEY. I’m just at a standstill as none of the Barron-Dempster matches are on any of the sites with chromosome browsers. Being able to compare the DNA segments would help to confirm I am on the right track or not.

I’ve sent messages to all of the matches. First, a short teaser asking if they were interested in figuring out who Mollie’s father was. Then messages to the same persons with the link to my second post in this series. I even mentioned the offer to upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage and get FREE access to all DNA features. I’ve received no replies to date and none of the tests are showing up on MyHeritage. I’d hoped my messages were read even though no replies have been received.

I was only given access to E.D.’s AncestryDNA test last week. Maybe once I begin working more with her match list I will begin to make connections with people who are interested in solving the mystery.

Have I completely confused you? Have I piqued your interest in some of the tools I’m using for DNA analysis? Do you have a similar DNA mystery you are trying to solve?

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: A young girl named Rachael

Following 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 monthly post 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.

A young girl named Rachael

The young girl whose name is being released today was not born into slavery. Rachael was born to a free woman in about 1796. She was orphaned by 1801 when she was bound out at the age of 5. Her name was found in the Record Book of Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1801.1

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, top. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

At a Court Continued and heald for Kanhawa (sic, Kanawha) County the 15th day of April 1801. Present David Robinson, Thomas Rodgers, John Rousch, Obadiah Fugua and William Owans, Gentlemen.

Record book, 1788-1803, page 68, middle. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to William Sterritt a poor Orphan Negroe Girl name Rachael, about five years of age according to Law.

It is Ordered that the overseers of the poor, binds to Tramus Wathans, a poor orphan Negroe Girl about two years old according to Law.

The entry following Rachael‘s is for a younger orphaned girl who is unnamed. I’ve included it as there is the possibility that she might be Rachael‘s younger sister.

More information on Rachael was found in another entry dated 1809 when she would have been about 13 years old.2

Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, image 252 of 857. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

On the Petition of William Sterritt, with the approbation of the Court, It is ordered that said Sterritt transfer to Francis Monin the time of Servitude that yet remains of Rachael a negro girl born of a free woman who by an Order of this Court at April Term 1801 was directed to be bound out to said Sterritt until she arrived at the age of 18 years, provided said Monin give Bond with approved Security in the penal sum of six hundred dollars Conditioned for the delivery up from Servitude of the said free negro girl when she arrives at the Age of 18 years and that he will not attempt to reduce her into Absolute and permanent Slavery & not to remove her out of this State.

The records were found while I was searching for entries for the years 1808-1810 for one of my ancestors. These record books are not indexed collections nor is there an index in the front or back of the books.

The names Sterritt and Monin were not found on the Kanawha census in 1810 or 1820.

Rachael would have obtained the age of 18 years about 1814. Even though it is expressly stated that she was not to be reduced into absolute and permanent slavery, I felt the need to share these records with her name in this series.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Record book, 1788-1803” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Film 530753, DGS 8218841, image 151 of 291, page 68. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSG6-X9SV-M?cat=55519 : accessed 25 February 2021). 
  2. “County Court record book, 1803-1880” (browse-only images), FamilySearch. Microfilm of original records at the Kanawha County courthouse, Charleston, West Virginia. Record book, v. 3 1803-1819, Film 521643, DGS 8613717, image 252 of 857, left page, middle. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34Z-SSN9-N?i=251&cat=295049 : accessed 25 February 2021). 

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2)

The life of George W. DEMPSEY was discussed in my post, George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

A Brief Review

George W. DEMPSEY was born about 1831 in Amherst County, Virginia, and lived in Fayette County, Virginia (before the state of West Virginia was formed), from about 1855 when his father moved the family there until sometime after the 1870 census. George did not die on 16 November 1879 as many online family trees indicate. He was not found on the 1880 census as George W. DEMPSEY. His 13 years old daughter Polina was found in Amherst County, his oldest son Andrew remained in Fayette County, and his son Robert (found in later years) is unaccounted for in 1880. If he was still living, where was George in 1880?

Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950)

The mystery of George W. DEMPSEY’s disappearance was not a question I was looking into. I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches with an unusual surname in their trees that was similar to DEMPSEY.

Using my DNA tools, I found a group of matches associated with several clusters that point to my GOWING-CRISP family group AND/OR those branches further back. Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP were the parents of Clementine M. GOWING, mother of George W. DEMPSEY.

The matches have a common ancestor named Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). By comparing the ICW (in common with) matches and working out their trees, I was able to find 14 matches that descend from Mollie through seven of her children: 2 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 4 2xgreat-grandchildren, and 1 3xgreat-grandchild. [23 Feb 2021 Update: Number of matches and their relationship to Mollie adjusted after charting the matches.]

I built a documented tree for Mollie adding all records found on Ancestry as well as FamilySearch. A little over a week ago, I discovered an interesting article written in 1893.1 For the most part, it confirms much of the information I found and even gives a bit more insight into the man who was Mollie’s father.

A Little Waif – Mollie’s Story

“A Litte Waif” part 1 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

About fifteen years ago a man by the name of ___ Dempster, with his young wife, moved into the neighborhood of Rye Cove, Scott county, Va. Dempster was a man of perhaps forty, while his wife was several years younger. They were both handsome and intelligent, and Dempster possessed an education which placed him above the average. After a time a daughter was born in the newly established household, who was the joy and pride of her fond parents.

Mollie’s parents’ names were unknown when I searched the 1880 census for persons with the DEMPSTER surname. Only one couple was found in the southwestern part of Virginia.

1880 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Scott, Taylor, household of Wesley Demster with wife Mary J. (Ancestry.com)

In 1880 the possible parents of Mollie Lee DEMPSTER were living in Taylor District, Scott County, Virginia. Wesley DEMSTER (sic) doesn’t appear to have an occupation as the field indicates At home.  His wife Mary was keeping house. Both were born in Virginia as were their parents. Wesley was 50 years old, nearly a decade older than noted in the article. The columns for Cannot Read and Cannot Write are not marked and therefore both were literate confirming the statement in the article that Mr. DEMPSTER was an educated man.2

Mollie’s 1880 birth record was located by browsing the Virginia birth registers for Scott County, Virginia, on FamilySearch. She was born on 11 July 1880 – after the census was enumerated. The informant on the register of the county is listed as a friend named Wm P. GOOD. He was the head of the household listed just above the DEMPSTER couple on the 1880 census. The parents of Mollie L. were Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Mary J. DEMPSTER.3

“A Litte Waif” part 2 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Near the Dempsters lived at that time Mr. W. W. Taylor, now of this place. About the time of the birth of the little girl to the Dempsters a girl baby was born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. The children grew up together, and there was quite an attachment formed between the two families.

Mrs. Dempster died when her child was about four years old. Soon a step-mother was brought in over the child. At the age of eight years her father died, and, in the meantime Mr. Taylor’s little girl had died.

Again, browsing the registers of Scott County for deaths, I found Mollie’s mother Mary J. died of consumption on 12 January 1883 when Mollie was 2 and a half years old. Wesley reported the death and gave the name of her mother as Virginia LARKEY. No father was named. Mary J. was 30 years 2 months and 13 days old on the day of her death placing her birth on 30 October 1852. Ditto marks were made in the field for the place of birth indicating she was born in Scott County.4 I was unable to trace her before the 1880 census.

Over a year and a half later, on 23 September 1884, Wesly DEMSTER (sic), widowed, age 50, born in Nelson County, Virginia, married Polly CAMBELL, age 35, born in North Carolina. The parents of the groom were Wilson and Mary; the father of the bride was Wyat CAMBELL.5

The death records of two of the TAYLOR children were located. On 10 September 1885 Emoline TAYLOR age 5 years 1 month 10 days died of Diptheria.6 On 30 July 1887 Nancy E. TAYLOR age 11 months died of Flux.7 Both girls were daughters of William W. and Mary TAYLOR. Emoline would have been the child born about the same time as Mollie.

If Wesley died when Mollie was about 8 years old, Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR likely asked the stepmother to turn her over to them after the death of their second daughter in 1887. On the 1900 census, Mrs. TAYLOR is listed as the mother of 7, 2 living. The two living children were the sons who were still at home.8

Per the article, Wesley died about 1888. No death record was found in Scott County for the years between 1885 to 1890. I was, however, able to narrow the range of the date of death.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER gave a deposition in a chancery cause on 23 November 1886 in Estilville. He traveled 14 miles to give evidence on behalf of the complainant, W. P. GOOD, owner of a lumber mill near Natural Tunnel. The case file is 287 images. I found it yesterday and only had time to skim through it. I found mention of Wesley DEMPSTER who was “clerking in the store & measuring lumber in the yard” and kept the books for Mr. GOOD. At the time of the deposition, DEMPSTER had quit working for Mr. GOOD.9

“A Litte Waif” part 3 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

After the death of Dempster Mr. and Mrs. Taylor went to his second wife and asked that the little girl be turned over to them to raise, which was done. Shortly after this Dempster’s second wife went deranged, and is now an inmate of an insane asylum.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have, since taking charge of the little girl, cared for her just as if she was their own. She is now a bright, intelligent girl of thirteen, and is very fond of her foster parents.

The information about the step-mother being an inmate of an insane asylum confirmed the 1900 census listing found for a widowed lady named Polly DEMPSTER, an inmate in the Southwestern State Hospital.10 The article, written in 1893 pre-dates the census.

Two cases were found in the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records mentioning Polly CAMPBELL aka Polly DEMPSTER. A judgment dated 16 May 1906 in the cause of Southwestern State Hospital vs B.J. Broadwater committee of Polly DEMPSTER awarded payment of nearly $5,000 to the hospital for the period 15 September 1887 to 29 March 1905. The case was not closed until 1912. The date range for the payment due to the hospital would suggest that Polly may have been an inmate since 15 September 1887. This would have been two months after the youngest TAYLOR girl died.11

I had not located a 1910 census listing for Polly prior to this find. With the knowledge that she may still be living, I searched again in the location of the hospital. Polly age 72 and widowed was in the hospital and therefore still living on 15 April 1910.12 She was indexed as “Polly Dunfota”

“A Litte Waif” part 4 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Dempster, during his residence in Scott county, was very particular to never tell where he came from, and when approached on this subject always evaded an answer; nor was he ever heard to mention the name of a relative; so that now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

Dempster is described as having been a large, stoutly-built man, weighing over 200 pounds.

As discussed in part 1, on 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest. The record concerning the arrest gave this physical description of George: age 31 years, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers).13

There was no mention of George W. DEMPSEY’s weight or build in the description and no mention of Mr. DEMPSTER’s height, complexion, hair, or eyes in the article.

Mollie’s Story continues after 1893

When I began researching Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, I found an extract of her 1896 marriage record with W. W. TAYLOR and Mary E. TAYLOR as her parents.14 Mollie was single and only 16 years old. Her parents’ surname did not match hers suggesting they may not have been her parents. The record can only be viewed at a family history library or a FamilySearch affiliated library.

Even though I was not able to access the marriage record, I found a short mention of the marriage in The Post in a series called “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post.” It confirms that Robert P. BARRON and Miss Mollie DEMPSTER were united in the holy bonds of matrimony at the home of W. W. TAYLOR in 1896.15

Although the relationship of the TAYLORs to the bride and groom is not mentioned in the clipping, it is now known that Mollie was taken in and raised by them.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER

As seen in the chancery records found, Wesley’s death can be narrowed down to between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887.

The name Wesley G. DEMPSTER sent off warning bells as my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY, father of George W. DEMPSEY, had a brother names Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890). Wesley G. DEMPSTER  and Wesley G. DEMPSEY were not one and the same person as both were found in the 1880 census in different places. Wesley DEMPSTER age 50 was in Scott County and Wesley DEMPSEY age 71 was in Rockbridge County.

There is no trace of Wesley G. DEMPSTER before he shows up in the Scott County records. He should not be confused with Wesley DEMPSTER (1833-1913) born in New York and died in Chicago, Illinois. Some trees on Ancestry have the death of this man in Chicago attached to Mollie’s father, Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

Who were Wilson and Mary DEMPSTER, the couple named as the parents of Wesley G. DEMPSTER when he married in 1884? No person named Wilson DEMPSTER of the age to be the father of Wesley born between 1830-1834 was found in the census including in Nelson County, Virginia, where Wesley was supposedly born per the 1884 marriage record.

However, Wilson M. DEMPSEY is a familiar name in the DEMPSEY family history. He was the brother of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Wesley G. DEMPSEY. Wilson was married twice, in 1839 and abt. 1848, both marriages being later than the estimated birth of Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

The article notes Wesley’s evasion of any questions about his family or where he came from. Is it a coincidence that the first names of two of Seaton’s brothers were the names used in records found for Wesley G. DEMPSTER? Is it possible the name he gave on his marriage record for his father was not his father’s and only a name he gave to cover up his true identity?

The story that came to life in “The Little Waif” was not known when I wrote about George W. DEMPSEY, the person of interest in my first post. The article was only found while I was writing about Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, my second person of interest. The newspaper article supports the information found for Mollie and her parents, both biological and foster.

Part 3 will cover the DNA tools I used to analyze the DNA matches and a conclusion/theory of where Mollie fits into my family tree. It would be incredible if I could refute the 128 years old claim: now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “A Litte Waif,” The Big Stone Gap post [Vol. 1, No. 24] (Big Stone Gap, Wise County, Virginia), 18 May 1893, p. 3, col. 3; image copy Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88061179/1893-05-18/ed-1/seq-1/ : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  2. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1389; Virginia, Scott County, Taylor, Enumeration District 076, page 245A, Lines 24-25, HH #208-208, Wesley Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  3. “Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, GS Film Number: 2046967, Digital Folder Number: 004254526, image 191, line 155, Mollie L. Depster (sic) birth entry, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5VSX?i=190 : accessed 19 January 2021). 
  4. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Collection Record 1853-1912, Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 121 of 687, line 14, entry of death Mary J. Dempster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-T8C?i=120&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry.com, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 337187, Reference ID: 337187. Wesly Demster, male, widowed, age 50, born abt. 1834 in Nelson VA, father Wilson, Mother Mary, married 23 Sep 1884 in Scott VA, Polly Cambell, female, age 35, born abt. 1849 in NC, father Wyat Cambell. 
  6. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 137 of 687, line 99, entry of death Emoline Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-YSB?i=136&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  7. Ibid., Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 148 of 687, line 110, entry of death Nancy E. Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-TNB?i=147&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  8. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241732, Virginia, Wise County, Richmond, Enumeration District 127, Page 2A, HH #19-20, line 1-4, William W. Taylor. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  9. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, (Digital images available for the years 1816-1912. Indexed information and originals available through 1942), Local Government Records Collection, Scott Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. W P Good v. S M Winchester, 1897-046. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1897-046 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  10. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 145, Page 2A, line 17, Polly Dempster, patient. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  11. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, Southwestern State Hospital v. COMT OF Polly Dempster ETC, 1912-043. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1912-043 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  12. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1649, FHL microfilm: 1375662, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 80, Page 5A, line 23, Polly Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  13. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Dej-Den > image 856-858 of 1785. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9K-8P?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : 22 May 2014). 
  14. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” FHL Film Number: 34394, Reference ID: p 63 cn 112. Mellie L. Dempster, female, single, white, age 16, born 1880 in Natural Tunnel (Scott County VA), father W.W. Taylor, mother Mary E. Taylor, married 28 Sep 1896 in Big Stone Gap (Wise County VA), Robert P. Barton, male, single, white, age 28, born 1868 in Turkey (Lee County VA), father Wm. N. G. Barron, mother Louisa J. Barron. 
  15. “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post”, The Post (Big Stone Gap, Virginia), 24 Oct 1946, p. 10, col. 4; image copy, Newspaper.com (http://newspaper.com : accessed 11 February 2021), Historical Newspapers from 1700s to 2000s by Ancestry.com

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021

It’s time for my Ancestor Score! 

We would not be here without the ancestral couples who came before us. What better day to feature them than on Valentine’s Day. Nearly all of my ancestors were married, some cut it close, and two ancestresses never bothered to marry.

I’ve been writing about The Ancestors since I began blogging, going back one generation at a time. Generations 2 through 7 are complete except for one set of 4th great-grandparents. The 8th generation is off to a good start with nearly a dozen couples’ stories already written. Vital statistics, spouses, children, residence, occupation, ownership, military service, and miscellaneous biographical information were used in the stories.

There are close to 400 known ancestors in the next four generations – many have baptism, marriage, and burial records, some have more biographical detail,  while others may only be names gleaned from their children’s records.

In the past, I’ve kept track of the ancestors back to the earliest known ancestor in the 21st generation. This year I decided to count only the ancestors back to my 7th great-grandparents.

My Ancestor Score

Nearly 90% of my ancestors are known up to generation 8. The numbers go down significantly in the next two generations due to the brick walls in my paternal lines in the US.

New Names in the Family Tree

The name of Henry TREADWAY’s first wife was found this past year in a book with a series of sketches on early families of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio, written by Mrs. Mary Donaldson Sinclair  (1862-1940) in the early 1930s, and published at that time by The Steubenville Herald-Star. The article included not only Henry TREADWAY’s wife’s name but also her parents’ names and where they were from. Three new names in the family tree (generations 7 and 8) need to be researched. Perhaps they will firm up the assumption that Henry TREADWAY and Sarah JOHNSON were the parents of my 3rd great-grandmother Sarah Ann TREADWAY. DNA matches to descendants of three other children of Henry have been found in one cluster and are the reason I’ve taken a closer look at available publications.

Henry TREADWAY and his wife are the 4th great-grandparents I mentioned above that have not yet been featured on my blog. I plan to take time to review the research I’ve done and, finally, write about them sometime this year.

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s numbers are looking a lot better than mine as their paternal line is Luxembourgish. The 4% missing in the subtotal up to generation 8 is due to my DEMPSEY, DOSS, and COOLEY brick walls, as well as, one set of 5th great-grandparents that is unknown on their paternal side.

How do you keep track of your ancestors?

I learned this way of keeping tabs on the progress of genealogy research on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014. This is my 8th year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day.

The posts from previous years can be found here:

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1)

I have a theory I’m working on. It might not be very smart of me to share it here, but I see no other way to get others involved in helping me solve this mystery.

I know what happens when the wrong information is posted on the internet. People believe it, re-post it, and, suddenly, it becomes an accepted but unproven fact. The ancestor or relative’s story is changed as people go click-happy accepting hints.

In this first of two parts, a bit of background information will be shared on the person of interest.

Who was George W. Dempsey (b. abt. 1831)?

George W. DEMPSEY was the oldest child of my 3rd great-grandparents Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who married 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia.1 Seaton, per the census, was the head of a household in 1830 with a young man, likely his younger brother Wesley, and a young woman, his wife Clementine.2 The young married couple didn’t yet have children. By 1840 they had three children including George who was less than 10 years old and over five.3 In 1850 George was still living at home and 19 years old.4 No birth records were found for Amherst County at this time and George’s birth has been estimated at about 1831.

On 20 December 1852, George married Rhoda A. STATON in Amherst County.5 Less than a year later, on 19 November 1853, their son Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY was born.6 Sometime after Andrew’s birth, Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s family moved to the Fayetteville Township area of Fayette County, (West) Virginia. George and Rhoda were in his father’s household in 1860 with their son “Ceton A.” listed as age 5.7 If other children had been born to the couple before 1860, they did not survive. George’s oldest sister Geneva Elizabeth DEMPSEY remained in Amherst County and his brother William S. DEMPSEY, the second oldest son, had married and remained in Rockbridge County.

On 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. George, age 31 years, was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers). He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest.8

A year later George and Rhoda’s son Robert L. DEMPSEY was born in March 1863.9 Four years later, George and Rhoda had a daughter on 11 May 1867 in Fayetteville Township.10 She was named Polina E. and would go by Bettie and Lina in later years. In 1870 the little family was found in the census in Fayetteville Township: George A. (sic), Rhoda, Andrew S., Robert L., and Pertina E.11

On 29 December 1874, Andrew S. DEMPSEY, son of Geo. W. and R. A. DEMPSEY, married in Fayetteville. The marriage register entry does not indicate if the parents were living or deceased.12

There is the possibility that George was the man mentioned in a document dated 8 March 1876 when a contract with one Geo. W. DEMPSEY for road work on Arbuckle road in Fayette County was annulled.

I’ve researched all three DEMPSEY lines who lived in Fayette County at this time. There was a younger George Washington DEMPSEY, son of John W. DEMPSEY and Amelia RIDDLE, born in December 1851 who would have also been old enough to be the man mentioned in the record above. I cannot at this time say if this contract was for George b. 1831 or George b. 1851. I had planned on sharing the images and transcription of the document but decided against it. Anyone interested in the document can view it at the link in the citation.13

George W. DEMPSEY and his wife were not found in the 1880 census. Therefore, there is a decade from 1870 to 1880 in which their whereabouts are unknown.

The death of George W. DEMPSEY

George W. DEMPSEY did not die on 16 November 1879 and he was not buried in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, in grave number 5369.

1880 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com

The man buried in Hampton National Cemetery served as a volunteer in Company K of Regiment 8 of New Jersey.14, 15 He was a 70 years old widower and had been a resident of the National Soldiers Home for 5 years16. He was born about 1809 and over 20 years older than George W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County. Records found for this man’s death have been erroneously attached to George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. and Clementine.

I learned the date of death was wrong, i.e. not for George W. DEMPSEY of Virginia, by viewing the documents. This is why we should always view the available images and not rely on the index. If only an index is offered, it is wise to review the source information to learn if the records are available in image form on the same site or on another.

With the confusion concerning George’s death in 1879 out of the way, what happened to him? Where was he in 1880?

The Children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON from 1880 until…

In 1880, two of the three known children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON were found in the census. They lived about 165 miles apart. That may not seem like much in our days but in 1880 this was not a quick drive on the interstate.

Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY (1853-1924) was 27 years old, married with two children, and living in Fayetteville17 where the family had been since coming from Amherst County around 1855.18

Andrew would remain in Fayetteville and raise a family of nine children. No death record has been found but his tombstone in Huse Memorial Park indicates he died in 1924.

The whereabouts of Robert L. DEMPSEY (1863-aft. 1930) in 1880 is unknown. Robert married Mary Frances DARR in Kanawha County in 1892. None of the records found name his parents and a record of death is missing. Robert and his wife gave their children unusual middle names which strongly support his being George’s son. His oldest son was named Paul Seaton, his youngest son Edgar Younger (the assumed middle name of his great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY), and his son Robert Darr was given his mother’s maiden name.

Polina Elizabeth DEMPSEY (1867-1941) was 13 years old in 1880, a servant living in Pedlar District of Amherst County with a MASON household.19

Bettie, as she was more often known, lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from at least 1884 when her first daughter was born in Cornwall.20 Bettie had eight children before marrying William W. SORRELS in 1916. Her 1941 death certificate gives her mother’s name as Rhoda STATON and her father’s name as not known.21

What Happened to George W. DEMPSEY?

With two of the three children of George and Rhoda accounted for in the 1880 census, several questions remain. Where were George, Rhoda, and Robert in 1880? Why was their 13-year-old daughter found in Amherst? Were both George and Rhoda still living, only one of them living, or neither?

Assuming George W. DEMPSEY was living in 1880, where might he have gone? Could he have started a new family? Have descendants of his known and maybe unknown children had their DNA tested?

The second part of this post will be published in two weeks’ time as next Sunday’s post will be My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

 


  1. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Date: 1829 Jan 3; Name of husband: Dempsey, Seaton Y.; Name of wife: Gowing, Clementina; Security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Roll: 194; History Library Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst, page 519, line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey household. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  3. 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, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  4. 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: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern District, page: 76a (stamped), lines 1-9, HH #40-40, Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 February 2013). 
  5. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853, image 784 of 786, left page, 5th entry from bottom, Geo W Dempsey and Rhoda A. Staton married 20 Dec 1852. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZMP?i=783 : accessed 21 January 2021). 
  6. Audrey Blankenship Gill, photographer, photo of a grave marker in Huse Memorial Park, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, taken on 3 April 2007. Inscription: Dempsey, Andrew Seaton Nov. 19, 1853-Mar. 12, 1928 and Dempsey, Caroline Burgess June 12, 1852-May 10, 1933. 
  7. 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, Family History Library Film: 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page No. 142, lines 28-37, HH #1352-687 and #1353-688, Dempsey households. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  8. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Dej-Den > image 856-858 of 1785. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9K-8P?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : 22 May 2014). 
  9. Month and year of birth from the 1900 census. I have not found records supporting his middle name being Luther as seen on many family trees. A son’s delayed birth certificate and a daughter’s obituary name the father as Robert Lee DEMPSEY. 
  10.  “West Virginia Births, 1853-1930,” database, FamilySearch, citing Fayetteville Twp, Fayette, West Virginia, United States, county courthouses, West Virginia; FHL microfilm 584,755,  line31, Polina E Dempsey, May 1867, image on WVCulture (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584755&ImageNumber=13 : accessed 6 February 2021) 
  11. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686, Family History Library Film: 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 113A, line 40, and page 113B, lines 1-4, HH #9-9, Dempsey George A (sic). The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  12. West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 (database index, FamilySearch, database images <I>West Virginia Division of Culture and History</I>), 29 Dec 1874, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, Andrew S. Dempsey, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, s/o Geo W. and R. A. Dempsey, Caroline Burgess, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, d/o Andrew and ~ Burgess. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12086567&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). 
  13. Loose papers, ca. 1787-1875 (1901), (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the West Virginia University Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Contains original deeds, guardianship, wills, road records, and other types of documents that were recorded before the courts. DGS 7616766, Film 186347, Loose papers (boxes 1-2), env. ?-1 to ?-3 (no dates), env. 1787-1, 1824-1, 1841-1, 1851-1 to 1869-3, image 498 (lower right) and 499 (upper right) of 584. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VT-QCR9?cat=302047 : accessed 5 February 2021). 
  14. U.S., National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962. Ancestry.com. (database online) citing Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2590/images/40479_1521003239_0476-03252?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.250633295.855475264.1612270652-785982050.1593849185&pId=2196090 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  15. The National Cemetery Administration; Hampton National Cemetery, Burial Register, 1833-1935. Ancestry.com (online database), U.S., Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960 citing Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Quartermaster General. (09/18/1947–08/01/1962). Burial Registers of Military Post and National Cemeteries, compiled ca. 1862–ca. 1960. ARC ID: 4478151. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/3135/images/B0121384-00171?usePUB=true&_phsrc=Wbz35595&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=496218 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  16. U.S., Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885. Ancestry.com (online database) citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-population Census Schedules for Virginia, 1850-1880; Archive Collection: T1132; Archive Roll Number: 18; Census Year: 1879; Census Place: Hampton National Soldiers Home, Elizabeth City, Virginia; Page: 471. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8756/images/VAT1132_18-0312?usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&pId=2170177 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  17. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 27, page 31B, lines 17-20, HH #339, Andrew S Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  18. Seaton’s youngest child was born in Amherst in 1853. His brother Wilson was in Fayette County for the birth of a slave named Orange on 11 June 1855. Wilson’s residence at the time was listed as Amherst. He may have set up temporary housekeeping in Fayette with Mary, the mother of Orange, and preparing for the permanent move from Amherst to Fayette with his second wife and children from both marriages. 
  19. 1880 Census, Roll: 1353; Virginia, Amherst County, Pedlar, Enumeration District 20, page 238D, line 22, HH #27-27, Marvel Mason. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  20. “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 23586, Registration area no. 815B, Registered no. 9. Nanny Dempsey, female, white, age 64, born 10 May 1884, died 20 Oct 1948 in Vesuvius, Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 3 Nov 1948, mother Betty Dempsey. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2016). 
  21. Ibid., State file no. 25092, Registration area no. 815A, Registered no. 9. Betty P Dempsey Sorrels, female, white, age 71, born 11 May 1870, died 8 Sep 1941 in Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 9 Nov 1941, mother Rhoda Staton, spouse W W Sorrels. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2016). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Benjamin F. Hopkins b. abt. 1851

My monthly posts for the Slave Name Roll Project have been absent from my blog since the end of March 2020. As many things slowed down or came to a stop during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding names of enslaved persons in records in the US was put on hold.

In February 2020 I released the names of five enslaved persons found in the 1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan of Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Thomas had several sons who left wills. One of these was Charles who wrote his will twenty-two years later. In March 2020 I released the names of six enslaved persons found in the 1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan. Planned for April 2020, but not written, was this post releasing the name of a former enslaved person mentioned in the 1879 will of Charles’ wife Ann W. Fox.1

1879 Last Will and Testament of Ann Hannan of Mason County, Virginia

This last will and testament of Ann W. Hannan of Mason County and State of West Virginia, –
First after the payment of my just debts, I give and bequeath to my three nieces Ann H. Steed, Lucy Butler, and Ida May Fox all my real estate in the State of West Virginia: – Second I give and bequeath to the said Ida May Fox all my personal property in this state – Third I give and bequeath to Benjamin Hopkins (who was formerly my salve, (sic, slave)) one hundred dollars provided he remains with me and is kind and serviceable to me as long as I live – Fourth I give and bequeath to my niece Caroline Goolsby all my estate in the State of Virginia and all debts due me or to which I may be entitled to in law or equity in said State, but out of this legacy she is to pay my sister Jinnie one hundred dollars if my said sister should be then alive. It is my desire that my executor shall sell at public sale all my real and personal estate in the State of West Virginia, and that he shall out of the proceeds of the sale of said realty pay to the said Hopkins the sum aforesaid, divide the remaining proceeds equally between my three nieces first mentioned and shall after the payments of my debts pay over to Ida May the amt. left of the proceeds of the personal estate. I hereby appoint William R. Gunn of Mason County and State of West Virginia sole executor of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 11th day of June 1873.
her
Ann W X Hannan
mark
Signed and sealed by the said Anne W. Hannan as and for her last will and testament in our presence and we at the same time in her presence and in the presence of each other witnessed the same at her request.
William R. Gunn
his
John M. X Chapman
mark

Codicil — I Ann W. Hannan whose name is signed to the foregoing will dated dated (sic) the 11th day of June

1873, do hereby make and add this codicil to my said foregoing will and do now hereby revoke and change so much thereof as devises or bequeaths or gives to the said Lucy Butler any part of my said estate and desire that she shall take nothing thereby. I also do hereby further desire and do so will that the said Ida May Fox shall not as provided in any said will take all my personal property in this State but desire that said property shall be equally divided between her and the said Ann H. Steed. As witness my hand and seal this 24th day of June, 1876.
his (sic, her)
Ann W. X Hannan
mark
Signed and sealed by the said Ann W. Hannan in our presence and we at the same time in her presence & the presence of each other witnessed the same at her request & she declared that the same was a codicil to her said foregoing will
Abner McCoy
William Hudson

At a County Court continued and held for the County of Mason at the Court House thereof on Tuesday May 20th 1879.
A writing purporting to be the last Will and testament of Ann W. Hannan deceased late of this County, was this day present in Court and fully proved according to law by the oaths of W. R. Gunn and John W. Chapman, the subscribing witnesses thereto, and the Codicil thereto attached was also fully proved according to law by the oaths of Abner McCoy and William Hudson the subscribing witnesses thereto. It is therefore ordered by the Court that the said writing be recorded as and for the last will and testament of the said Ann W. Hannan decd and on motion of W.R. Gunn the Executor therein named, who made oath and together with Joseph N. Daigh, his security, who justified on oath as to his sufficiency, entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of one thousand dollars conditioned according to law, certificate is granted the said W.R. Gunn for obtaining probate of the said Will in due form, and it is further ordered that Abner McCoy, William Hudson, & Jno. W. Chapman after being first duly sworn for that purpose do truly and justly appraise in current money the personal estate of the said Ann W. Hannan, decd,

and the appraisement so made return under their hands to this Court.
A Copy Teste: J.P.R.B.Smith Clerk
by Jas H. Holloway, Deputy

Benjamin Hopkins

In the 1870 census Anna W. Hannan had her own household with her young niece Ida M. Fox age 12, and six black persons, all named HOPKINS, in Hannan, Mason County, West Virginia.2 Three young boys appear to be children of Matilda HOPKINS but this is assumed as the 1870 census did not include relationships. They were not located in 1880.

Screenshot of the 1870 census index as the image is too light to be legible.

Benjamin HOPKINS, the formerly enslaved man of Anna W. Hannan, was living in her household in 1870. He was 19 years old, i.e. would have been about 10 years old in 1861. Bettie may be the young girl seen in the inventory of Anna’s husband in 1861. [Below, in brackets are the names given in the will.]

Excerpt from the 1861 inventory of Charles Hannan:
one Negro man named Nelson $800 [Nelson Cudyo]
one Negro woman named Milie $650 [Milley]
one Negro girl named Bettie $450
one Negro boy named Ben $500 [Ben Packson]
one Negro boy named Dick $500 [Peter Dicky]
one Negro girl named Hettie $300 [Hetty]

Is it possible that Mathilda, Bettie, and Benjamin were siblings and the children of Nelson and Milley? Or worded differently, were the man and woman and children mentioned in the inventory a family group?

In 1880, Benjamin HOPKINS was found in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia, as the head of a household.3 Also in his household were his sister Belle HOPKINS and his nephew Montague ALLEN. Montague was Belle’s son. She would marry his father John Henry ALLEN in 1886. She died in 1913 and the death register did not include the names of her parents.

Belle had at least three children with John Henry ALLEN.

  1. No descendants were found for their son Montague HOPKINS  (1876-1944) who was married twice. His 1944 death certificate names Belle HOPKINS  born in Nelson County, Virginia, and John Henry ALLEN born in Louisa County, Virginia, as his parents.
  2. In 1940 Montague was the head of a household that included his sister Anna Lois ALLEN. She is unaccounted for prior to this census listing other than a marriage record in 1900 to William CALLAWAY. In 1940 her husband was named William SALES. He died in 1949 and she was listed as the informant on the certificate of death. Anna Lois’s 1960 death certificate confirms she was the daughter of John Henry ALLEN and Belle HOPKINS.
  3. The third child was John Henry ALLEN Jr. (1885-1932). He and his wife Susie H. CHADWICK (1890-1978) had three sons. They were all married and had children. I have not taken their lines into the present time.

Belle HOPKINS was not found in 1870. The 1870 census for Anna W. Hannan with the HOPKINS in her household is faint and hard to decipher. Could Belle have been the same person as Bettie?

I was unable to locate Benjamin HOPKINS after the 1880 census. However, working on the assumption that Nelson may have been his father, I searched for a likely candidate.

Ramblings…

I found Nelson HOPKINS (1824-1907), a black man, born about 1824 in Virginia living in Mason County, West Virginia, from 1870 until 1907. He was on the 1870 census with a wife named Susan and two young sons, Alfred J. and Thomas. In 1880 he was widowed with two young boys, Alfred J. and Payton. In 1900 he was with a wife of 6 years named Bertha (b. 1872) and two sons, Harry (b. 1883) and Marion (b.  1888). He died 30 June 1907 in Mason County. He was living on the Poor Farm and was married at the time of death. No parents were listed on the record nor the name of a spouse.

The 1927 death certificate of Alfred J. HOPKINS (1867-1927), seen with Nelson in 1870 and 1880, named his parents Nelson HOPKINS and Susan SAUNDERS. He was single at the time of death.

The 1912 marriage record of Marion HOPKINS (1888-1967) named his parents as Nelson HOPKINS and Bertha EARLY. Further searches for Bertha indicate she was likely 10 years older than noted in 1900 and therefore old enough to be the mother of both boys. As her age may be incorrect, it is possible that the number of years married is also wrong.

Marriage records for Nelson HOPKINS were not found nor were death records for Susan or Bertha. The records left by these two children show that the households found in 1870, 1880, and 1900 were the same Nelson HOPKINS.

Although Benjamin HOPKINS, whose name was released in the last will and testament of Anna W. (Fox) Hannan, has not been traced after the 1880 census, his sister Belle has. She left descendants who are living today. My ramblings about the man named Nelson HOPKINS may be helpful to these descendants if they are interested in proving/disproving the parentage of Belle and her brother Benjamin.

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.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. Mason > Will book, v. 002 1874-1896 > image 51 of 242 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN92-8P?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1Y5%3A179687901%2C179748201 : accessed 27 January 2021) and image 52 of 242 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN92-37?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1Y5%3A179687901%2C179748201 : accessed 27 January 2021) 
  2. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1692, Family History Library Film: Film: 553191, West Virginia, Mason, Hannan, page 106A, lines 9-16, HH #17-17, Annie W Hannen. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 27 January 2021). Note: The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. 
  3. 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Census Place: Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia; Roll: 1401; Page: 159A; Enumeration District: 016 

Seventh Blogiversary!

It’s Amy Johnson Crow’s fault that I started my blog on 23 January 2014. Along with many others who joined in her first year of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I took her up on the challenge to begin writing. One story at a time, I learned and improved my research and writing skills. One story at a time, I got to know my ancestors and their history. Follow the link above to learn more about this free challenge – it’s never too late to start.

2020

The past year has been difficult for everyone. Due to the pressures of all things out of my control, I wasn’t able to keep up the pace of writing at least once a week. Still, with the previous six years’ worth of ancestral stories and other genealogy-related articles, my blog continued to draw followers, visitors, and views.

The top posts from the past year were included in my post, 2020 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2021.

I published my 640th post Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch on January 15th. At the same time, views on Opening Doors in Brick Walls surpassed 250,000. A quarter of a million. Wow!

All-Time Top 10 Posts and Pages

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back (

Source Citation Trick for WordPress.com – HTML Code (

The Ancestors – a page listing all of the articles I’ve written in the past 7 years.

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison (

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? ()

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – a page listing the articles I wrote on a collection of photographs.

James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia (my first attempt at writing about an ancestor, written in February 2002, updated on )

Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch (

Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch ()

How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes ()

All-Time Stats – Top 10 Countries

I love that Luxembourg is #2 on the Top 10 list of countries that my visitors come from.

One Story at a Time…

During the seven years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve written about all of my children’s ancestors from generation 3 (grandparents with the exclusion of my mother who is still living) to generation 8 (their 5th great-grandparents). The only exceptions being William A. W. DEMPSEY‘s parents and grandparents, John COOLEY‘s parents, Sarah TREADWAY‘s parents, and the unknown father of Mary E. DOSS. Some ancestors in generations 9 through 12 have also been featured. A full list with links can be found on my page, The Ancestors. The list also includes the ancestors that still need to be written about.

Happy 7th Blogiversary

Thank you to everyone for motivating me to continue by visiting my blog and commenting on my posts during the past seven years.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch

Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey writes about her Jewish ancestors documenting their descendants’ lines to the present time. By reading her blog for the past several years, I’ve learned about Jewish families, customs, and traditions.

During the Thanksgiving weekend, Amy reached out to me for help. She’d been researching her relative Falk Goldschmidt using the Ancestry collection Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 (available in the World subscription). The original source is digital images of Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900 at the Mannheim State Archive.

From the description of the collection on Ancestry: When a family moved into their home, they registered at the local police station. Anytime a child was born or a household member married, died, or moved out, it was recorded on the family register with the civil authorities.

While looking into Falk, she came across two entries in the family registers for his marriage on the same date, 18 October 1868, to Clara “Babetta” Carlebach, the daughter of David, and to Pauline “Babetta” Carlebach, the daughter of Julius.

Ancestry image (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7575/images/41680_b155960-00489?pId=160805 : accessed 6 January 2021)
Ancestry image (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7575/images/41680_b155960-00472?pId=160763 : accessed 6 January 2021)

Was Babetta the daughter of David or Julius?

Amy posted both images on the GerSIG: German Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group on Facebook. Michael, a member of the group, amazingly (to her) almost immediately found both a birth and marriage record on FamilySearch for Clara/Babetta/Pauline.

Amy wrote, “I can’t read either, and I tried to retrace his steps to find them myself, but couldn’t begin to do so because (1) I can’t read the script and (2) I have no idea how he narrowed down the search to find the right pages or even the right matrikel.”

In reaching out to me, Amy had three questions:

  • First, can you translate all of these for me? I know that’s a lot, and Michael gave me the essentials, but I want to be sure I haven’t missed anything.
  • How do you explain the conflict in the Family Registers? A clerical error? It sure seems that Babetta was the daughter of Julius/Juda, not David.
  • And finally—how in the world did Michael locate the birth and marriage records so quickly? I know being able to read the script is a huge step, but how did he narrow down which matrikel and then locate the page?

She also wrote, “I figured I would ask the third question. I’d much rather be able to do this myself at some point—assuming I can also put in the time and effort to learn how to read that awful script.”

Locating Records on FamilySearch

After this lengthy introduction, I’ll now come to the point of this post. How the birth and marriage records were found so quickly by Michael.

If the geographical location (in this case, Mannheim) and the time period (in this case, 1844-1845) can be narrowed down then FamilySearch‘s catalog is the key to finding records. It is important to read through the description of the collection found in the catalog as well as any further information included under NOTES.

These are the steps I shared with Amy for finding the birth records of the young women associated with the marriage of Falk Goldschmidt.

Go to the Catalog on FamilySearch. The catalog is in the dropdown menu Search. I’ve bookmarked it as it is the first place I go to search. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog

Type Mannheim in the search box for Place. For this search, it automatically brought up Germany, Baden, Mannheim at the top of the list. I usually leave the Availability selection on Any so that I can see all collections available. Click Search.

On the list of Mannheim collections that comes up, you can open each category. I chose Germany, Baden, Mannheim – Jewish records ( 6 ) as your research is for Jewish families. My second choice would have been Civil Registrations which contains Familienstandsbogen, 1807-1900. This is the collection that you found to be indexed on Ancestry. [A collection on Ancestry that requires a World subscription but is FREE on FamilySearch.]

Open up the Jewish Records to view the 6 collections. The first two are for Matrikel, 1805-1870 for Mannheim. The next two are for Feudenheim. The last two are for records outside of the period you wanted to search. We are only interested in the first two.

Open the first two in new windows. [I use The Genealogy Girl, Amberly Beck’s tip: Ctrl+left mouse click.] This brings up the catalog information for each.

While trying to figure out the easiest way to explain to you how I found the records on FamilySearch, I discovered that the two collections were actually the same but filmed at different times. This is where reading the notes on a collection comes in handy. [There is an advantage to having duplicates as images were filmed or digitized under different conditions and may be easier to decipher in one collection than in the other.]

Note: The collections appear to be duplicated from the Mannheim birth register. I cannot be sure but it looks like they extracted all Jewish records from the main register of births to make this Jewish collection.

One of the collections was filmed by the Reichssippenamt, Berlin, in 1937. The left-side pages were filmed separately from right-side pages and sometimes in reverse order. The other collection is of microfilm recordings of duplicates in the Badisches Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe. The images are the same only that in the second the left and right pages are on one image – making them much easier to search through.

Before we go into browsing, you need to be able to recognize title pages in the collections so that you can navigate (browse) them. For each year, the records are arranged by births, marriages, and deaths (normally, in this order). If they are out of order, it is helpful to know how the German words are written in the old script.

Browsing the FamilySearch collection

In the Matrikel, 1805-1870 for Mannheim we want to find the 1844 birth record of Clara and the 1845 birth record of Pauline.

You will want to use the “3 microfilms collection” and the film for the years up to 1859. The 3rd microfilm in this collection is restricted. You can use the search feature but the images aren’t available online. You can, however, view them in the “9 microfilms collection” in the 8th and 9th microfilm (not restricted).

Click on the camera of the microfilm for Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859. This is where browsing comes into play. It isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. The records are in chronological order. For each year you will find a title page for births, marriages, and deaths. There are 44 years of records. The years 1844-1845 are about 2/3 of the way timewise but there are usually more records in later years than in early years so I would suggest jumping in at the middle with image 400.

The first title page with the type of record following image 400 is on image 403 and is for the year 1841 Trauungs-Register (marriages).

Click on Browse Multiple Images (tile button) to see the small images. Notice that microfilm item 3 ends and item 4 starts in the row of images after image 403. This is where the year 1842 begins. Count over three title pages per year to get to the year 1844.

If you check the title pages for 1844 you will find two for births. For some reason, the births for this year were extracted twice. As you know from the image of Clara’s birth record you received from your help angel, her entry was the last for 1844 and followed by the index.

The index gives you the page number but not the date of birth. The indexes for births for 1844 are on images 451 and 458. The script used in this collection can be difficult to decipher. To help you find the Carlebach child’s name in the index, you need to become familiar with the letters.

As you can see the capital B and L are very similar. Since this is in alphabetical order, it is a good example to use for comparison. The capital C is similar to our E which is confusing until you get used to the script. In the list, the surnames beginning with C are for Cohn Ferdinand, Carlebach Heinrich, and Carlebach Clara (später Babetta). I only figured out the word später (later) after I did the screenshot annotations. [This indicates a later change in name.]

Clara’s record of birth is on page 8, the left page on this image. It is the last birth to be recorded. Labeled 35 in the margin at the bottom of page 8, it continues on page 9 at the top. Hirsch Traub, the scribe who made the entries, used the # sign to indicate missing words that he added in the margin. He made quite a few corrections including some on both records found for Clara (1844).

The Carlebach child born in 1845 was named Paulina. In Browse Multiple Images view, skip past the title page for 1844 marriages and 1844 deaths to 1845 births. Go to the last birth image with the index. Carlebach Paulina is on page 6. Go back to page 6. Her record is #26.

Rabbit holes

There were a lot of emails flying back and forth between Amy and me. She had many questions and quickly learned to browse the images even though her biggest handicap was not being able to read the script. We both went down rabbit holes trying to find answers to the questions we had concerning the fact that the two young girls were born close together to parents who shared the same surname – not only the fathers’ surname but also the mothers’ maiden name – and they both had their birth name changed to Babetta. Amy amazed me (and herself) by finding a death record which put much in perspective.

Is it Kurrent or Sutterlin? 

Amy had one remaining question she asked me early on in our email exchange about the script. Is it Kurrent or Sutterlin?

I really don’t bother thinking about which script it is. It’s like being multi-lingual. You switch between languages without thinking about the language you are using.

I had to actually look up what the difference is between the two. Kurrent was used from about 1865 and Sutterlin earlier. I’d say these records are in Sutterlin. I find Kurrent harder to read than Sutterlin. Kurrent looks to me like half the letters are m’s.

My father-in-law helped me in my early days and I learned to recognize letters that usually go together. When I’m really stuck on a word, I try to trace over the lines so that the letters will stand out for me. The more you work with the records the easier (yeah) it gets. After taking a break, it takes me a while to get back to my reading level. [Transcripts of the German text and translations of the records found were sent to Amy.]

Was Babetta the daughter of David or Julius?

Amy learned how to find the records on FamilySearch. Did they help her resolve her research question concerning the two ladies named Babetta? Her post for Falk Goldschmidt with the answer to this question and this post will be published simultaneously. To read about Falk and the two women associated with his marriage date, please visit her article The Mystery of Falk Goldschmidt’s Wife: A Lesson in German Vital Records on her blog Brotmanblog: A Family Journey.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Dempsey Research Question Crafted During the Research Planning Magic Challenge

In September 2020 I participated in the Research Planning Magic Challenge hosted by Julie Cahill Tarr in a private Facebook group.

Participants ranged from beginners to advanced genealogists. Even though there were a little over 150 members, the group worked well together. Each participant focused on their own research project. The group remained positive as members helped each other by reviewing the day’s assignment, giving suggestions, and useful resources.

During the 5-day genealogy challenge, we learned to craft a research question, evaluate the background information, brainstorm ideas for records (even if non-existent), and set up a research plan.

This is my research question, the background information, and the research plan developed from the brainstorming.

Research Question

Was William DEMPSEY (b. abt. 1779) who married Martha LANDRUM in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799, the same man as William DEMPSEY (b. bet. 1771-1780 per 1840 census) who married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831 and found on the 1840 census for Noble County, Indiana, where he died in 1845?

Note: William(1) is William DEMPSEY, son of Susannah of Amherst County, Virginia, my 4th great-grandfather.

Background Information

William(1) DEMPSEY, son of Susannah (maiden name unknown) DEMPSEY and an unknown father, was born about 1779 in Virginia. He married Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM in 1799 in Amherst VA with his mother’s permission.

They had 6 children who lived to adulthood as seen in probate and chancery records. He was named on the 1820 census; no tick was made for his age group. His wife was named in the 1830 census. After his wife died in 1834, newspapers in Ohio were “requested to publish the foregoing (wife’s death), for the information of Mr. William Dempsey, the husband of the deceased, who is supposed to be somewhere in that State.”

William(2) DEMPSEY born bet. 1771-1780 married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831. They were the parents of 6 children mentioned in an affidavit relative to his will. His children’s places of birth show he moved from Ohio to Indiana about 1833-1835 (a coincidence that this overlaps with the published death notice of Martha in the Ohio newspapers?). He died in Noble County, Indiana in 1845. No records have been found for him before 1831 although a son was born about 1822 in Gallia County, Ohio.

I’ve known for 20 years that William(1) of Amherst went to Ohio and never returned.

Shared Clustering of my AncestryDNA turned up a match who descends from William(2) of Indiana. The match is in a cluster that goes back further than William(1) of Amherst has been traced – to Barnett Dempsey of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have 2 clusters for this potential ancestor – possibly for him and his wife OR for his parents. I was trying to find the connection between William(2) of Noble and Barnett of SC when I ran into the brick wall. William(2) “appears” in Gallia OH for his 1831 marriage with no records found prior. I wondered if he might be my 4th great-grandfather who “disappeared” in Ohio after 1820 and before his wife died in 1834.

At this time no records have been found that would definitely prove William(1) and William(2) are two persons – no records placing both men in different places at the same time.

Research Manager 

Originally formatted to include a column for Date (search performed) on the left and a column for Notes at the right, the table was not WordPress friendly.

What Where
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

The marriage records in Gallia OH begin in 1803

1789-2013 – Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013 at FamilySearch — index and images
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

1800-1958 – Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958 at FamilySearch Historical Records – free; Index. Name index to marriage records from the state of Ohio. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and some FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later.
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

1800-1942 – Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1942 at FamilySearch — index
Birth Record for Perry E. DEMPSEY b. 1822 in Gallia OH

Online trees show his mother was Jane CALHOUN, the wife William DEMPSEY married in 1831, 9 years before Perry’s birth.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863.

What substitutes are available to determine who the mother of Perry was?

Birth Record for Elizabeth Ann DEMPSEY b. 6 Nov 1830 in Gallia OH

Her parents married in 1831. The date of birth was found on her death record.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863

What substitutes are available to determine who the mother of Elizabeth Ann was?

Birth Record for Lydia DEMPSEY b. abt. 1833 in Gallia OH

She was the last child born in Ohio per census records.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863

What substitutes are available to prove Lydia’s place of birth?

Is Noble County, Indiana a burned county? If yes, what substitute records are available?

An 1861 affidavit claims the will of William DEMPSEY (d. 1845) was burned.

FamilySearch Wiki for Noble Co., Indiana

1843 and 1859 — Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.

See suggestions on the wiki for researching in burned counties.

A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

Alvord’s History of Noble County, Indiana. 1902. By Samuel E. Alvord. Logansport, Indiana: B. F. Bowen, Publisher. Online at: FamilySearch Digital LibraryInternet Archive.
A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

Counties of La Grange and Noble, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. 1882. Chicago, Illinois : F.A. Battery Co. Online at FamilySearch Digital Library (scroll to page 435 for Noble County history), HathitrustInternet ArchiveAncestry ($)At various libraries (WorldCat).
A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

History of Northeast Indiana, Lagrange, Steuben, Noble, and DeKalb Counties. 2 volumes. 1920. By Ira Ford. Chicago, Illinois : Lewis Pub. Co. Online at FamilySearch Digital LibraryHathiTrust, Vol. 2 – Internet ArchiveGoogle BooksAncestry ($)At various libraries (WorldCat).
Census records for 1790
A new look at different spellings of the DEMPSEY surname in VA and including surrounding states of OH, KY, NC, and SC for William(1) and William(2)
Ancestry.com 1790 Census
Census records for 1800
idem.
Ancestry.com 1800 Census
Census records for 1810
idem.
Ancestry.com 1810 Census
Census records for 1820
idem.
Ancestry.com 1820 Census
Census records for 1830
idem.
Ancestry.com 1830 Census
Chancery Records: Amherst Co., VA
Chancery records have recently gone online for this county.
Do they cover the period following William(1)’s wife’s death? The probate, chancery, land deeds, etc. from a cousin who did courthouse research includes photocopies of records found. But were all records found and/or copied?
Chancery Records index at Library of Virginia

Case files (digitized) for Amherst are presently only available up to about 1836.

NOTE: This was checked when the records for Amherst were added. The file is indexed (as of Sept 2020) but not yet digitized.1848-03 Original Case No. 024. Now available. Needs to be transcribed.

Presumption of death – law in Virginia for the 1830s period?
Would there be records other than the administrator’s bond, inventory of the estate, sale of land that would indicate William(1) was deceased when his estate was administered?
??
DNA matches(1)
Re-new contact with the match on AncestryDNA that lead to William(2). Would he consider sharing his paternal ICW matches for research purposes? At this time only two matches have been proven to be descendants of William(2). Other cousins may have matches I am not seeing.
AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch

Analysis of DNA data in Genome Mate Pro, master repository.

DNA matches(2)
Review all unknown matches (no MRCA set) for clusters [C77] and [C81] to determine other possible descendants of William(1) or William(2) and set their MRCA.
AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch

Analysis of DNA data in Genome Mate Pro, master repository.

War of 1812 Pension Record
Pension records need to be checked as William(2) is seen on Find A Grave as a veteran of the War of 1812. If this was the case, his widow might have tried to obtain a pension.
FREE database on Fold3
War of 1812 Pension RecordsNEGATIVE result: the database was checked on 22/11/19
War of 1812 Veteran
William(2) DEMPSEY is on a list of veterans for the War of 1812 (see photo on Find A Grave)
Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 September 2020), memorial page for William Dempsey (15 Feb 1770–17 Aug 1845), Find a Grave Memorial no. 46143160, citing Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Kay Cynova (contributor 47064119).
Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana

Note: He was a veteran per cemetery records according to this list from the Indiana Lineage Society: http://lineage.gradeless.com/1812_burials.htm

Check newspapers as suggested in Research Planning Magic Challenge group https://virginiachronicle.com/

NEGATIVE results (21/9/20): 49 hits for Dempsey for period 1787-1837.

What other newspaper collections are available for this range?

Ohio Early Land Ownership Records

Did William(1) or William(2) own land in Ohio in the 1820s and 1830s?

https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/4642/

Collection not loading 21/9/20. Still not loading 9/1/21: We’re sorry, this page is temporarily unavailable.

Following the Research Plan

After setting up the research question, reviewing the known information, and drawing up the research plan, I set everything aside.

Since the preliminary work has been done and recorded in writing, I can always come back to the research question to work on as I have time.

As the Amherst County Chancery record I mentioned above is now available, it will be the first thing I’ll pursue in more detail. I’ve skimmed through the 36 images but a transcription of the pages needs to be done to save time and get all pertinent information recorded.

I’m hoping that other DEMPSEY cousins will become interested in this research question.

I’d love to hear from any DEMPSEY cousins who have DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas as this is where the descendants of Barnett DEMPSEY were found. Also, DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines coming out of Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri where descendants of William(2) DEMPSEY lived. It is always possible that the matches share DNA from an as yet unknown distant “common” ancestor.

What did I miss in the brainstorming part? Any suggestions as to other resources that might help bring me closer to the answer. Were William(1) DEMPSEY and William(2) DEMPSEY the same person or two different individuals?

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

2020 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2021

2020 A Year in Review

The year 2020 got off to a good start on my blog with The Ancestors series. The plan was to get back to working on my children’s 6th great-grandparents on a more regular basis AND write a single post about each set. The WOOD, McGRAW, HONEGGER, and WISEMAN 6th great-grandparents (all on my paternal side) were done before Luxembourg went into COVID19 lockdown in mid-March. As these distant ancestors become more difficult to research and write about, a single post is not always feasible as seen in my having to break up the HONEGGER post into two parts.

Four months later, only one post had been published. From August until October I worked on the earliest FOURNELLE family in my tree. After setting up the stageintroducing the main characters and supporting cast, I discussed each of the children of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702). All of the posts can be found under the tab for Books: FOURNELLE Book.

A few how-to posts on using the block editor on WordPress, Luxembourg birth and marriage records, and an updated post on transferring AncestryDNA raw DNA files to Gedmatch got me to the end of the year.

Posts, Views, and Viewers

As you can see by the year in review, 2020 was not as productive as previous years on my blog. I wrote 33 posts compared to 50 in 2019 and 51 in 2018. Views were a bit lower than in the past two years but still 40,547. A total of 23,348 viewers visited my blog during the year. The number of followers grew from 500, a milestone reached in December 2019, to 544 by the end of 2020.

Top posts in 2020

Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (396+397)

The Ancestors: Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807)

Lëtz Research: How to Find Luxembourg Civil Birth Records

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? (Updated)

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (Part II)

The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Adding Footnotes to your WordPress Posts Using Block Editor

Strong Women: Mary, wife of Isaac WISEMAN († 1779)

From Luxembourg to America –
The Tempestuous Voyage of the Cornely Family

What I was up to in 2020

Even though it was quiet on my blog during the summer months, I was still busy.

Mom’s AncestryDNA results came in a few days before the first lockdown. I went through each of the steps I’d set up for my brother’s and my own test. The matches were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool and notes with the cluster numbers were transferred to Ancestry. The raw DNA file was uploaded to FTDNA, MyHeritage, and Gedmatch. All DNA data (from the four sites) was imported into Genome Mate Pro, my major repository for DNA matches, trees, notes, correspondence, chromosome segments, mapping, and analysis.

I spent several Mondays in Walferdange at the Luxracines archive working with two other ladies from our genealogy society. With the archive being closed to the public, we had time to work on the inventory of the books in our collection, set up a classification system, and labeled all books with identifying numbers. The library was ready to receive visitors on an appointment basis due to COVIC19 restrictions. But before long we were once again under a soft lockdown and then a more strict lockdown at the end of the year. Other members of Luxracines were busy extracting marriages that took place in Belgium for people born in Luxembourg under the direction of our president Rob Deltgen.

I spent 241 hours (121 days out of 365) riding my racing bike with my husband. My longest activity was 114 kilometers. I rode a total of 5,657 kilometers while he chalked up 10,100 kilometers.

And still, I had time to keep up with new DNA matches. I developed a new color system for my AncestryDNA matches. It is so brilliant that I plan on sharing it in a future post. What I had before was good but this is even better – and transferred over to chromosome mapping it clearly shows from which of my father’s four grandparents matches with MRCAs are coming from.

What’s coming in 2021

Along with the last mentioned, I’d like to write about DNA discoveries and highlight the tools I’ve been using.

I hope I will be inspired by my mother’s DNA matches to work on my children’s 6th great-grandparents who have not yet been introduced here.

With two of her five children tested, Mom’s results include one 2C1R, three 3C2R, three 3C3R, and all other matches being “4th cousins or more distant.” Mom was an only child, had only three first cousins (1 paternal and 2 maternal), and her entire ancestry lies in the “greater” Luxembourg area. Clusters of matches include descendants of Luxembourg and German (from areas once part of Luxembourg) emigrants who for the most part settled in the US.

One FOURNELLE post still needs to be written on my 5th great-grandparents Pierre FOURNELLE (1713-1765) and Jeanne NEU (1723-1783) to complete the line between my grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE (1909-2005) and her most distant FOURNELLE ancestor.

These are things I would like to work on in 2021 but I’m not setting goals. 2020 taught us to slow down and enjoy what we can as long as we can. The year also brought blessings in the form of a granddaughter, our first grandchild.

Happy New Year 2021. May it be filled with hope and a brighter future.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.