Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona Duit!
The phrase “luck of the Irish” is an American term and not of Irish origin. So on St. Patrick’s Day let’s just say it was the luck of the Irish that dropped a new key in my lap that helped me open a door in an Irish-American brick wall this weekend.
The Irish Surname: DEMPSEY
The Key: The Chancery Records Index – archival processing and indexing projects overseen by the Library of Virginia.
My 3rd great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY had three brothers, one of them being Wesley G. DEMPSEY who lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from a little after 1850 until his death in 1890. In the Chancery Records Index I found three bunches of court papers referring to him in 1861, 1876, and 1895. Per the last bunch Wesley had no children or descendants of children, no mother, no father, no brothers or sisters living when he died in 1890.
The papers show that he had a nephew John E. Dempsey, a niece Jennie Terry (née Dempsey), two great-nieces Fannie Montgomery (née Dempsey) and Eliza A. Maxwell (née Dempsey) and a great-nephew W. E. Dempsey. All were living in Rockbridge County except for J. E. Dempsey, a non-resident. These are not all known nephews and nieces who were living at the time but very likely the ones with whom he had the most contact.
Note: John E. was the son of Wilson M. DEMPSEY and the great-nieces and great-nephew were the children of William S. Dempsey, s/o Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.
The Brick Wall:
Jennie Terry, wife of Marshall S. Terry, was a new name. I searched for them in the census and found Jennie with her husband in 1870 to 1910 as Geneve, Janie E., and Jane E. I checked the stray Dempsey individuals in my gedcom file as the name sounded familiar. Jenna Dempsey, pauper with 3 young daughters, was found in Amherst County in the 1860 census. I had never been able to trace this family group forward nor backward. I believed that in some way they must be connected to my Seaton Y. DEMPSEY as his wife and Jenna’s oldest daughter were named Clementine. The other two daughters were twins. They matched a set of twins listed with the Terry surname in Marshall Terry’s household in 1870.
By 1860 Seaton had moved with his family to Fayette County, West Virginia. All children seen with him in 1850 were with him in 1860 except for Elizabeth (1850 age 14) and William S. Dempsey who was seen with his wife in Rockbridge County. I believe that Elizabeth was the middle name of Jennie/Geneve/Janie E./Jane E. To possibly prove this a marriage record for Marshall S. Terry and his wife Jennie Dempsey needs to be found. Per 1900 and 1910 census they had been married 34 and 41 years, i.e. about 1866-1869.
The hunt continues but this little wall is tumbling.
© 2013 Cathy Meder-Dempsey