52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY

52ancestorsWhen I made the decision to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I chose to begin with my father and work my way back through the generations of my paternal line. I’m starting on his great-grandparents with this week’s contribution. They’ll take me through another 8 weeks!

52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY

My father’s cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) was the first person I know of who worked on our family tree. I have so much respect for the work she did pre-internet. In 1995 she wrote “This project started when Laura my youngest daughter had a mini course in high school at Midland Trail. The paper work was passed onto Earldine my oldest daughter. She tired of the project when the information was scarce. By that time I picked it up as a hobby. I took a night class taught by Laura’s teacher in high school. I began at our courthouse, then ventured onto other courthouses in other states.”

Geraldine Workman of Lansing has worked tirelessly and quietly in the fields of genealogy, historical identification and preservation. She is a charter member of the Fayette and Raleigh County Genealogical Society and held numerous offices. As archivist she spends many hours researching and answering inquiries that are directed to the society. She co-authored four census books for Fayette County, invested 20 years in the preservation of the records of hundreds of cemeteries, and as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, helped identify 20 unknown Confederate soldiers buried in a local Civil War interment site. Nominated by Genealogy Society of Fayette and Raleigh Counties.”
[Source: Meet West Virginia’s History Heroes For 2001; West Virginia Division of Culture and History; online http://www.wvculture.org/history/hisher01.html : accessed 20 Feb 2014]


William A. W. DEMPSEY (b. ca. 1820-1822 d. ca. 1867)

William A. W. DEMPSEY’s parentage has remained a mystery to me for the nearly 20 years that I’ve been doing genealogy. I need a key to open the door in this brick wall.

Not only do I not know who his parents were, it’s been nearly impossible to prove family tradition with documents (that I have access to) from the time period that he lived in. He was seen on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and the 1850 and 1860 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, with his wife and children; however a marriage record has not been located. Part of the family tradition is that he served during the Civil War and died in a logging accident after the war. No documentation has been found to confirm when he died or his cause of death. My paternal great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY lies in a grave marked with another man’s name! This error could lead other genealogists down the wrong path. However we are uniting in an effort to get this corrected!

MRIN08669 William A. Dempsey Gravemarker
Wm A. Dempsey
Pvt Co C
7 Va Inf

I’ve suspected for several years that Geraldine applied for and placed a Civil War marker on William’s grave in the cemetery in Chestnutburg on Ames Heights Road, 1.75 miles off Route 19, Fayette County, West Virginia, for the wrong veteran.

My respect for Geraldine and her work kept me from bringing up the subject of the Civil Marker marker. I placed a remark in William’s notes in my gedcom file questioning the possibility that there was an error. Then I decided to go public and posted the photo above [I have a tiny obsession with old doors] with my findings to my Facebook page in December 2012.

This past week while preparing to write this entry for the Challenge I contacted Geraldine’s daughters. Laura confirmed that she removed the information about William’s serving in the 7th Virginia Infantry from her Ancestry.com tree last year. Laura and Earldine, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have talked about correcting the error. Earldine said her mother had told her that she may have had the wrong Dempsey long after the marker was set. However at the time it was no longer a priority as Geraldine was diagnosed with cancer.

In search of William’s parentage I studied all of the Dempsey families in the Virginia/West Virginia area during that time period hoping to make a connection. I had help from Norma Dempsey who in 2001 sent me copies of everything she accumulated in the search for her husband Richard’s Dempsey line [he descends from my other Dempsey line]. I checked on the 7th Virginia Infantry. To make a long story short, I found enough information to show that William A. DEMPSEY of Orange County, Virginia, was the man who served in Company C of the 7th Virginia Infantry and not our William A. W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County, West Virginia.

US Census 1820, 1830, 1840

Without the names of his parents it is impossible to locate William A. W. DEMPSEY in the U.S. Federal Census prior to 1850.

The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part I)

At least that is what I thought on 10 November 2007 when I found William A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The question I asked myself was were people taxed at the age of sixteen, eighteen or twenty-one during this time period in this county? Assuming that it was age twenty-one, William would have been born 1820 or earlier. Initials seen on the taxlist are the same as on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Does William’s being in Rockbridge County mean that he may be related to Tandy DEMPSEY of Rockbridge (whose son John W. DEMPSEY also lived in Fayette County) and in turn to the DEMPSEY’s of Amherst County?

1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Taxlist
[online https://archive.org/stream/historyofrockbri00mortrich#page/380/mode/2up/search/taxpayers : accessed 22 Feb 2014]

1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Taxlist
Name: Dempsey, William A. W.
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road. Others who lived in the same road precinct:
George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley
[Source: Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; “A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia”; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552]

William’s Marriage and Children’s Naming Pattern

William A. W. DEMPSEY married Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER, most likely before the Mexican-American War which began 25 April 1846. A marriage record has not been found. Their first child Elizabeth Rachel “Lizzie” was born about 1846. Following the end of the Mexican-American War on 2 February 1848 their second child and first son James Alexander “Buck” was born on 1 April 1848. Their first daughter’s middle name was the same as Sarah’s mother and grandmother. Is it possible that their first son was named for William’s father and/or grandfather?

US Census 1850

1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > 14th District >Sheet 336B
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0943unix#page/n275/mode/2up%5D
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District, Sheet 336B
Enumerated by me on the
25th day of July, 1850.
T. B. Hamilton, Ass’t Marshal.
HH #85-85
Wm. A. W. Dempsey 28 M Laborer VA
Sarah A. Dempsey 22 F VA
E. R. Dempsey 3 F VA
Jas. A. Dempsey 1 M VA

US Census 1860

In 1860 the family was living in the household of the widower John A. McGRAW and his three motherless children. John’s deceased wife Nancy M. McGRAW (maiden name McGRAW) was the double first cousin once removed of Sarah Ann WOOD. I would like to think that the families were living together so that Sarah could help care for the widower’s children who had lost their mother in 1855. I believe that the families may have been living together for several years. Both families had sons named James. William’s James was seen with only his middle name, Alexander, possibly an attempt to avoid confusion as the boys were close in age.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1344unix#page/n371/mode/2up%5D
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1344unix#page/n371/mode/2up%5D

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
District 3, Page No. 55
Enumerated by me on the 3rd day of
July, 1860. P. Morton, Ass’t Marshal.
Pleasant Hill Post Office, Sheet No. 365
HH #408-368
John A. McGraw 45 M Farmer $2000 $100 VA
Margaret McGraw 17 F Day Laborer VA
James McGraw 11 M VA
N. J. McGraw 9 F VA
Wm. Dempsey 40 M Farmer $0 $30 VA
Sarah Dempsey 36 F VA
Elizabeth Dempsey 14 F VA
Alexander Dempsey 10 M VA
Mary V. Dempsey 8 F VA
Eunice J. Dempsey 7 F VA
John Dempsey 3 M VA

The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part II)

The American Civil War began 4 February 1861 when William was about 41 years old. In December 2012 I found William A. W. DEMPSEY in the Union Provost Marshals’ File. What is this and why is it important?

The provost (pronounced provo) marshals served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps as military police. I found two databases: “United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866” and “Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians” on FamilySearch.com. From information about the files and their content, I learned that some cross-reference slips in the first database are stamped “PROVOST MARSHAL FILE” and show the name of a civilian and a number that cites a document in the second database.

MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey
Provost Marshal File
Dempsey, William A. W.
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 2
May to Sept /62
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 3
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: George W. Gibson, George W. Commer, Washington B. Woods, Marion Commer, William Ellison
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 4
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: William Ellison cont., William A. W. Dempsey, Presley W. Gill

On the lower right image:

“William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18″. Started when they heard firing at the Court House, came down to get work in the Valley, refers to Simpson Wood, Styris Wood, and G. W. McVay, of the Oil Works, (brothers-in-law of his). Knows Hamilton as Hamilton of Hawks Nest.”

Dates mentioned in the other statements in the document allowed me to conclude that the 18th was in the month of May. James Simpson Wood and Elijah Stuart “Sty” Wood were William’s wife Sarah Ann Wood’s brothers. George Washington McVey (of the Cannelton Oil Works) may have been mentioned as a reference as he was an outstanding citizen. He was not a brother-in-law but lived in the same area as the Wood families. [See images 722, 723, 724]

1890b map highlighted
1890 New Map of West Virginia; Rand McNally & Co., 1890; from Rand McNally & Co.’s Family Atlas of the World

The documents show that my William was taken prisoner by the Union army between May and September of 1862 and his statement proves that he was a citizen of Fayette County and living at Dogwood Ridge. Generals John B. Floyd and Henry A. Wise were in charge of the Civil War encampment known as “Camp Dogwood at Dogwood Gap” which was placed high on Dogwood Ridge, where the surrounding plateau could be easily watched. There is no mention of William’s being a member of the Confederate army.

Importance of Middle Initials

William A. W. DEMPSEY was seen with double middle initials in 1841 on a tax list, in 1850 on the census, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List. I am convinced that these initials were very important to him.  Alexander may have been one of his middle names as it is a name that was passed down through the generations. Multiple middle initials might point to his having been named after a relative or an important or famous person.

Did William resemble his sons?

MRIN01121 Elijah Lewis Dempsey
Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1866-1923)
MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey
William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941)

John Henry DEMPSEY:
Jessica Bartrum Taylor wrote, “We don’t have a photo of John Dempsey. My grandmother, Lucille Geraldine Hess Bartrum, described him as having a big handlebar mustache and being a big, tall man with black hair.”

The description fits his brothers Elijah Lewis and William Henderson DEMPSEY!

Killed in a logging accident?

Following the end of the Civil War in 1865 and before the 1870 census William A. W. DEMPSEY died. Geraldine wrote, “….as fate would have it Wm. A. would not live to see his family grown. We’re told by family members he was killed in a logging accident about 1867 or 1868.”

Next week I will discuss his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, their seven children, and what became of the family after William’s death.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #7 Rebecca Jane CLONCH 1888-1950

52ancestorsTime is flying by while I’m researching and writing about my paternal ancestors. This is my entry for Week 7 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors: #7 Rebecca Jane CLONCH 1888-1950

This week I’m doing the fourth and last of my paternal great-grandparents. Rebecca Jane CLONCH was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, midwife, avid gardener, and an inspiration to her husband Walter Farmer ROOP who wrote poetry about her after her death in 1950. She was Grandma Roop to her grandchildren and Aunt Becky to her nieces and nephews.

MRIN00030 Roops
Walter Farmer ROOP and Rebecca Jane CLONCH 1940’s

A Tribute to Rebecca

Walter Farmer ROOP loved his wife so much that he wrote at least five poems for her in 1950 following her death: “The Letters You Loved and Kept”, “That Darling Pal of Mine”, “Admiration”, “My Garden: Gethsemane”, and an unnamed poem which begins with “Dear heart, since you have gone to rest I only think of you”.

The first poem, seen below, tells of the letters, written by her husband, that she loved and kept. Walter placed the letters, tied with a blue ribbon, on her breast as she lay in her casket.poem1

After reading the poem one can only imagine the wonderful things Walter wrote about in the letters Rebecca took with her to her grave.

Born January 6, 1888 as seen on her grave marker?

Rebecca Jane CLONCH was born Friday, the 6th of January 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia, to Alexander “Alex” CLONCH (1842-1910) and Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY (1861-1913). She was the fifth of nine children of this marriage and the ninth of thirteen children for Alex who had previous relationships. [to be discussed in 52 Ancestors #14]

MRIN00030 Mt. Olive Cemetary Walter Roop_Rebecca Roop_Lacy Roop
Roop burial plots in Mt. Olive Cemetery. From left, Lacy Shelton Roop, Baby Piercie Roop, Walter Farmer Roop, and Rebecca Clonch Roop. Photo taken summer of 1954.

Lack of records complicate matters

Unfortunately a birth record has not been found for Rebecca to prove the date and place of birth seen on her death record and marker. She has not been found in the 1900 and 1910 census. In the 1900 census, the only one to show month and year of birth, we should be seeing her with her parents and siblings. We know:

  • where her siblings were born but not all can be confirmed with birth records
  • that the family lived in Arbuckle, Mason County, West Virginia, when the father Alex applied for his Civil War Pension in April 1887
  • Alex was in Arbuckle when he was enumerated on the 1890 Veteran Schedule
  • the family was living in Bell Creek, Clay County, West Virginia, in 1893-1894, when two children were born
  • Alex was living in Dixie, Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1898, when he filled out Civil War papers [I’ve contacted the researcher who obtained copies of the Civil War records and shared the information with Ralph Hayes, a Clonch researcher. She has offered to dig out her genealogy files and help me if she can. I will discuss this further in 52 Ancestors #14]

And the records found cause a problem

A closer look at Rebecca’s siblings has turned up another problem. Let’s take a look at her, her parents, and siblings:

  • Alexander CLONCH married 19 August 1880 Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio, Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY [page 193; license #576 bottom of page]
  • Sib 1: Timothy CLONCH (1881-1898) birth 20 December 1881 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [entry 7] and [right page, line 13]; Alex did not mention him in his Civil War papers therefore it has been assumed that he died bef. 1898
  • Sib 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) birth 10 March 1883 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [right page, line 16]. Alex wrote 10 March 1882 on his Civil War papers
  • Sib 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) birth 30 April 1885 Mason County, West Virginia NO BIRTH RECORD FOUND. Alex wrote 30 April 1884 on his Civil War papers
  • Sib 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) birth 9 December 1887 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 14] and [right page, line 19]; Alex did not mention her in his Civil War papers therefore it has been assumed that she died bef. 1898
  • Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) birth 6 January 1888 NO BIRTH RECORD FOUNDAlex wrote 6 January 1886 on his Civil War papers
  • Sib 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) Birth 20 June 1890 Mason County, West Virginia NO BIRTH RECORD FOUND; Alex wrote 20 June 1890 on his Civil War papers
  • Sib 7: Harrison Sanders CLONCH (1893-1970) birth 11 February 1893 Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia [Clay Co. entry 25] [Delayed Cert. of Birth]; Alex wrote 11 Feb 189_ (illegible) on his Civil War papers
  • Sib 8: [–?–] CLONCH (1894-1894) birth 6 October 1894 Clay County, West Virginia [entry 32]; died 13 Oct 1894 Clay County, West Virginia [entry 13]
  • Sib 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) Birth 5 March 1896 Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia [line 63]; Alex wrote 5 March 1896 on his Civil War papers

[Alex’s Civil War papers: Department of  the Interior Bureau of Pensions, 15 Jan 1898, reply dated 4 Jun 1898. Alexander Clonch of Dixie, WV, provided information]

Can you see the problem I’m having? Rebecca was born a month after her sister Bertha if we believe her husband Walter F. ROOP who was the informant on her death record. That doesn’t work for me. Let’s look at her marriage record. Rebecca Jane CLONCH married 12 July 1903 in Fayette County, WV, Walter Farmer ROOP [line 5]. She was 16 years old, born in Fayette County (sic), which would mean that she was born in 1887 and not 1888 as seen on her death record. Her father wrote 16 January 1886 however he had her two older sisters Lorena and Frances each born a year earlier than they actually were. Could she have been born in 1887?

1940s Walter Farmer Roop with wife Rebecca Jane Clonch shopping in Charleston, was in  newspaper
1940’s: Walter Farmer Roop and wife Rebecca Jane Clonch shopping in Charleston, the capital of West Virginia

Early years of married life

Let’s get on with the story. Rebecca and Walter had their first child, Lacy Shelton Roop (1904-1937) on 7 Feb 1904 [line 37] in Pond Gap, Kanawha County, West Virginia. A little over a year later the second child Piercie Roop (1905-1905) joined the family for a short seven weeks. He is buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, with the dates: 15 March 1905-5 May 1905. My grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP (1906-1997) was born 26 March 1906 when the family was living in Belva. We see the family moving around in the northwestern corner of Fayette County as two more sons are born: James Henry Roop (1908-1957) on 11 February 1908 in Marting and Walter Gordon Roop (1910-1984) on 9 March 1910 in Mount Olive. Birth records for James and Walter have not been found.

Rebecca and Walter’s family was growing when the 1910 census was enumerated on the 15th of April 1910. As mentioned before neither Rebecca and her young family nor her parents were enumerated. It would have been the last census that Alex CLONCH would be seen on as he died 9 June 1910 and was buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive.

Rebecca gave birth to her second daughter Edith Estelle “Edie” Roop (1913-2003) on 9 June 1913 in Marting. Six months later her mother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY died on 16 December 1913 and was buried next to her husband Alex in the Clonch Family Cemetery.

MRIN00030 IMG_8587
Antique Chiming Mantel Clock ca. 1914

A treasure that Rebecca’s daughter Edith shared with her family was this antique chiming mantel clock. Edith’s grandson Robert wrote, “The clock is one that my mother says she remembers seeing on the mantle when she ‘visited Grandma Roop.’ It still runs. My mom had it cleaned years ago but just doesn’t wind it up….the ‘tick-tock tick-tock’ she says it’s too loud. I told her after a day or two she wouldn’t even notice it. As I recall it does chime too. Scratched on the back, about an inch high, is ‘1914’. On top of the clock is the [winding] key and the pendulum weight.”

Rebecca has her last child at age 31 or was she 32?

U.S. Federal Census,1920 > WV > Fayette > Falls > ED 11 Sheet 14A

World War I (1914-1918) came and went before Rebecca gave birth to her last child Alfred Lee Roop (1919-1981) on 22 August 1919 in Jodie were the family had finally settled. By 1920 the complete family was finally seen in a census: father, mother, and their six living children.

1921 ca. Walter Farmer and Rebecca Roop with Alfred, youngest son
Walter Farmer Roop and Rebecca Jane Clonch with youngest son Alfred Lee Roop ca. 1921

Rebecca becomes a mother-in-law and grandmother at 35 (or 36?)

Myrtle Hazel ROOP was the first of Rebecca’s children to marry on 20 January 1923 in  Fayetteville, Fayette County, WV, to Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY (1899-1975). Rebecca, a midwife, was present at the births of all of Myrtle’s children, her grandchildren: Thelma 1923, Lois 1925, Leona 1927, Doyle 1931, and Fred 1935 in Jodie, as well as, Leland 1941 and Lloyd 1944 in Victor.

MRIN00030 Rebecca Walter Edith Roop
Rebecca Jane Clonch, Walter Farmer Roop and Edith Estelle Roop ca. 1924

Edith Estelle “Edie” Roop, seen above with her parent, was the next of the Roop children to marry. She married James David Ramsey (1907-2001) on 23 December 1929 in Fayetteville.

By 1930 Rebecca’s older boys were working and only her youngest Alfred was still going to school.

U.S. Federal Census, 1930 > WV > Fayette > Falls > ED 5 Sheet 6B

Three of Rebecca’s sons married in the 1930′s: Walter Gordon married 18 July 1931 Ica Laurel CARR (1913-1993); Lacy Shelton ROOP married 28 March 1932 Lulu Irene HAYS (1915-1992); and Alfred Lee ROOP married 15 May 1937 Lorena Lea ELSWICK (1918-1992)

Rebecca’s oldest son Lacy Shelton ROOP was killed on 8 July 1937 in Sprague, Raleigh County. “He was crushed by a giant lump of slate 18 feet long which broke loose from the mine roof. He had finished his day’s work and was starting the gathering motor to take his load of coal to the tipple.”

On the 1940 census we see Rebecca and her husband on their own. From this census we learn that Rebecca had six years of education.

U.S. Federal Census, 1940 > WV > Fayette > Falls > ED 10-5 Sheet 19B
Rebecca Clonch Roop who was an avid gardener
Rebecca Clonch Roop, an avid gardener.
Courtesy of Roop family member

MRIN00030 Rebecca RoopRebecca Jane CLONCH died the evening of February 3rd, 1950 at her home in Belva. Her cause of death was arterial thrombosis due to arteriosclerosis and cardio-vascular and renal disease. Surviving were her husband W. F. Roop; two daughters, Mrs. Fred Dempsey of Victor and Mrs. Edith Ramsey of Russellville; three sons, James, Gordon and Alfred Roop, all of Jodie; three sisters, Mrs. Sallie Krise of Belva, Mrs. Ida Auxier of Marting and Mrs. Lorena Tomshack of Glen Easton; one brother, Harrison Clonch of Belva; one half brother Joe Clonch of Marting, twenty-five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Rev. Benton Simpson officiated at the service held on Sunday afternoon in Bell Cree Community Church. She was laid to rest in the Clonch Family Cemetery in Mount Olive.

Postscript: A couple of great-grandchildren and a grandson shared the following memories shortly after this post was published.

Becky, a great-granddaughter, wrote:

“I was indeed named after her but I don’t know a whole lot about her. My mother adored her; I think she first taught my mom how to crochet and do needlework, which my mother enjoyed all her life. She always related one story about her. She said that she took me to see Great Grandma Roop when I was about 6 weeks old. She was on her deathbed at that time. As Grandma Roop was holding me, she said to me “Just don’t let them call you Becky.” Which of course, I have always been called by family. That remark makes me wonder if she liked her nickname. I think she died as a result of a blood clot (in the leg I think) which resulted from a fall.”

Linda, a great-granddaughter, and wife of Larry, a grandson, wrote:

“Larry was very sickly when he was small, as his mother had had measles before he was born. He had to have an operation on his ear when he was 6 or 7 (he is not sure how old he was). He was told to eat a lot of iron rich foods as he was anemic. His Grandma saved all the cream from her milk for him, because he needed to gain weight. She pampered him by making him fishhooks out for straight pins and taking him to the little creek to fish! She saved her wooden thread spools and made him little wheeled cars to play with.

Larry remembers them talking about going to Summersville in a model T and having to stay the night and make the return trip the next day.

Granddaddy called his beloved wife ‘Jack’. He loved her deeply and she was the perfect companion. She kept chickens and sold the eggs to get household money. She sewed her clothing, and I know of at least one instance when she decided she wanted a cabinet for her kitchen and she gathered the materials and built it herself!

Larry remembers going to their home and a grand table set with dishes Grandma had prepared. She cooked a giant breakfast, a feast at lunch time and covered the leftovers with a tablecloth for the evening meal. Granddaddy would go to the table in the evening saying he was getting a ‘Jack bite’.

I am lucky enough to be in possession of one of her cookbooks, which contains handwritten recipes. She was a remarkable lady and one that I truly wish I could have known.”

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2014

When Barbara Schmidt posted My Ancestor Score – February 4, 2014 I clipped her ancestor score graphic to Evernote for future reference. This morning I had a few minutes to do my own graphic. I generated an ahnentafel report with full repeats since I know that I have several ancestors whom I descend from twice. Then I manually counted the ancestors being careful to not include a few that are really iffy or “place holders” in my database. I included all generations back and used Excel to do the calculations and turn out this score card:

score14I admit that it has been a while since I’ve played around with Excel and it took me longer to make the table look nice than it did to count and calculate the percentage.

As for the numbers: I am lucky that half of my ancestry comes from Luxembourg and that the Historial Record Collections for Luxembourg are online.

Biggest Goal: To open the door of my brick wall in generation 6 — the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #6 Walter Farmer ROOP 1883-1971

Walter F. Roop with his photograph enlarger. Photo courtesy of Roop family member.
Walter F. Roop with his photographic enlarger.
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

My great-grandfather Walter F. ROOP was a blacksmith, coal miner, artist, poet, photographer, and cartoonist. He left us precious memories including this photo of the Gauley River. Walter took three photos at Jodie in Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1921, tinted them by hand, and put them together to make this panorama view.

MRIN00030 IMG_8590
“Homemade” panorama titled “Gauley River” by Walter F. ROOP
MRIN00030 IMG_8593
Closeup of title “Gauley River”

As far as I know no one has come forward with the camera(s) he used for his photography. I was surprised to find the photo (at top) on a cousin’s Facebook page of him with his photo enlarger. I have images of his drawings and photos but none of his cartoons. My wish is that others will read this and remember that they have keepsakes hidden away in the attic or basement [please don’t let it be in a shed unless it’s a car], photos in an old family album, poems and letters written by him, or old UMW journals with his “art”.

Let me tell you about this wonderful man who loved his wife so much that he wrote at least five poems for her in 1950 following her death: “The Letters You Loved and Kept”, “That Darling Pal of Mine”, “Admiration”, “My Garden: Gethsemane”, and an unnamed poem which begins with “Dear heart, since you have gone to rest I only think of you”.

Walter Farmer Roop ca. 1920-1930. Photo courtesy of Roop family member.
Walter Farmer Roop ca. 1920-1930.
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

Walter Farmer ROOP was born on 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia, to Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) and Milla Susan PETERS (1856-1891). His parents were married on the first of January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia, at the residence of Jordan PETERS, father of the bride. They lived on Alum Ridge at the time of the census and birth of their oldest son George Washington ROOP (1880-1950).

From the beginning of my research into the ROOP family (also seen as RUPE, ROUP, ROOPE, ROUPE) I have always believed that my great-grandfather was the oldest child. However the draft cards for WWI and WWII and the death record of George W. ROOP show that he was the oldest child. George as well as his brother Charles Turner ROOP who was born in 1885 have their place of birth listed on different records as Floyd County. [Research: Birth records of George, Walter and Charles may show that place of birth was different from that listed on later records as Alum Ridge is near the county line of Floyd and Montgomery counties.]

Following Charles’ birth in 1885 the family of five moved to Raleigh County, West Virginia, where the fourth son, James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962), was born on 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch. They moved to Kanawha County where a daughter was born in June 1890. Mother Milla and her baby daughter died in a house fire in 1891 and, according to family tradition, the four sons were placed in the homes of Henry and Lee Snuffer until their father was able to care for them. Gordon remarried in 1894. By 1900 Walter was living with his father, stepmother, and four stepsiblings. His brothers Charles and James were boarding with Snuffer families in Raleigh County while his brother George has not been located. Walter’s father Gordon was working as a photographer in 1900. Like father, like son.

U.S. Federal Census, 1900 > West Virginia > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED No. 41, Sheet No. 2B

Walter F. Roop is the first of the 4 Roop boys to marry in the 1910s

Walter (20), a miner, married Rebecca Jane CLONCH (16) on 12 July 1903 in Fayette County. On the marriage record [line 5] Walter’s place of birth was incorrectly listed as Kanawha County. The marriage was performed by James M. Epling. J. A. Tucker is mentioned under Remarks and may have been a witness. Their first child, Lacy Shelton ROOP (1904-1937), was born seven months later on  8 February 1904 in Pond Gap, Kanawha County. A second son Piercie was born the next year on 15 March 1905 and died 5 May 1905. No record of birth or death has been found however the child is buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery at Mount Olive. Walter’s great-granddaughter Janice Louise Cox Bostic visited the cemetery and read the dates off of Piercie’s stone for me.

MRIN00030 Lacy Roop 17
Lacy Shelton Roop age 17
Courtesy of Roop family member

Three more children were born in Fayette County before the 1910 census: Myrtle Hazel ROOP (1906-1997) on 26 March 1906 in Belva; James Henry ROOP (1908-1957) on 11 February 1908 in Marting; and Walter Gordon ROOP (1910-1984) on 9 March 1910 in Mount Olive. The 1910 census listing, which should show that there were 4 of 5 children living, has not been found. On this map we see the area that they were living in at this time. The distance from Marting to  Belva is 8 miles.

Marting, Mount Olive, Belva (Fayette Co., WV)

Walter and Rebecca’s 5th living child Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP (1913-2003) was born on 9 June 1913 in Marting, a coal town along Smithers Creek. About mid-July 1913 the family moved to Jodie. Edith was six weeks old at the time. The family of seven travelled over land from Marting to Belva and then took a flat ferry up Gauley River to Jodie. We know this because Edith wrote on the back of the Gauley River panorama photo:  “We moved to this place (Jodie, W. Va.) in year of 1913 on a flat ferry up Gauley River (Fayette Co. W. Va.)” and “I was 6 wks old, Edith Roop Ramsey”.

MRIN00030 Edith_Myrtle_Ludeasia Holdren
Edith (left) and Myrtle (middle) with a friend in 1919

World War I 1914-1918

Soon after Walter and his family moved to Jodie the first World War began. In 1918 Walter Farmer ROOP gave information on his World War I Draft Registration Card pertaining to his residence, birth, occupation, and physical description. He was working as a mine blacksmith for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company in Jodie. He was of medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair.

Roop Family ca. 1919
The Roop Family ca. 1919. Front seat from left to right: father Walter Farmer, oldest son Lacy Shelton, youngest daughter Edith Estelle. Back seat from left to right: James Henry, mother Rebecca Jane, Myrtle Hazel and Walter Gordon.

Following the end of World War I the family was photographed in this car. We’ve been able to date the photo using the photo of the daughters Edith and Myrtle dated 1919 which shows them with the same hairstyles and wearing the same clothes. During that year Walter’s youngest son Alfred Lee ROOP (1919-1981) was born on 22 August 1919 in Jodie.

Walter's youngest son Alfred with the family car.
Walter’s youngest Alfred (early 1920’s)
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

Artist and Photographer

The year 1921 was a very productive year for Walter, the artist and photographer. Not only did he make the panorama photo of Gauley Bridge, he also made ink drawings that were passed on to his children and are now in the possession of grandchildren. His granddaughter Peggy Jean Ramsey Baker recounted that Panther and Deer and The Grizzly drawings were copied from pictures in a big book (maybe some sort of history book). She saw the pictures which were approximately 2×2.5 inches in size in the book as a child. She believes that there was a third drawing of “some sort of cat in tall grass”.

MRIN00030 IMG_8572
“Panther and Deer” by W. F. Roop dated December 26, 1921
MRIN00030 grizzley
“The Grizzly” by W. F. Roop

Following births of his first three granddaughters, Walter photographed the girls and tinted the photo.

MRIN00030 Leona, Thelma and Lois with frame
The Dempsey Girls by W. F. Roop ca. 1929
Leona Mae b. 1927, Thelma Louise b. 1923, and Lois Emma b. 1925

Three Marriages and a Death in the 1920′s

Three of Walter’s children married in the 1920’s: Myrtle Hazel md. Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY in 1923; James Henry md. Goldie M. WALKER in 1927; and Edith Estelle “Edie” md. James David RAMSEY in 1929.

Shortly before the 1930 census Walter’s father Gordon Washington ROOP died on 30 January 1930 in Kanawha City and was buried in Jodie.

With three children married, Walter and Rebecca had two children living at home in 1930 as their oldest son Lacy was working in Raleigh County and living with his first cousin once removed Myrtle ROOP and her husband Golden Stewart BROWN. The Roop family was renting a house at $9 a month. Walter and his son Gordon were working as coal miners while young Alfred (10) was still going to school.

The Raleigh Register
July 9, 1937

Three Marriages and a Death in the 1930’s

Three more marriages took place in the 1930’s: Walter Gordon married 18 July 1931 Ica Laurel CARR (1913-1993); Lacy Shelton ROOP married 28 March 1932 Lulu Irene HAYS (1915-1992); and Alfred Lee ROOP married 15 May 1937 Lorena Lea ELSWICK (1918-1992)

Walter’s oldest son Lacy Shelton ROOP was killed on 8 July 1937 in Sprague, Raleigh County. “He was crushed by a giant lump of slate 18 feet long which broke loose from the mine roof. He had finished his day’s work and was starting the gathering motor to take his load of coal to the tipple.”




By 1940 Walter and his wife Rebecca were living alone in a house they rented for $10 a month. Walter worked  35 hours a week as a utility man in the coal mines and earned $1,692 in 1939. Per the 1940 census Walter had 8 years of schooling. In 1942 he was still working for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company. He was 5 ft. 6 in., weighed 155 lbs, had brown hair and grey eyes.


poemWalter, the Poet, and his Poetry

Walter’s beloved wife, Rebecca Jane CLONCH, died 3 February 1950 in Belva, Nicholas County. Walter wrote poetry to mourn the death of his wife: “The Letters You Loved and Kept”, “That Darling Pal of Mine”, “Admiration”, “My Garden: Gethsemane”, and an unnamed poem which begins with “Dear heart, since you have gone to rest I only think of you”. [left]

We know that at least one of Walter’s poems “When We Retire” was published in the United Mine Workers Journal, January 15, 1952 issue. David C. Duke author of Writers and Miners: Activism and Imagery in America (published by University Press of Kentucky, 2002) referred to it in the notes on a chapter in the book. Part of the book is available on Google Books, unfortunately the page that may include a quote from the poem is not included. The UMW Journal is only available online for the years 2006-2013. It is my belief that Walter may have submitted other poems and maybe even the cartoons that the family says he drew but of which we have no copies. [Research to-do: request lookup in old UMW Journal]

Walter married second Mary Elizabeth [–?–] MOSS between 1951-1963. Mary was from North Carolina and was widowed. No marriage record has been located on http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/.

Walter Farmer ROOP died 1 June 1971 in Jodie and was buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery. He was a member of Jodie Baptist Church. Surviving were his second wife Mary, sons Gordon and Alfred, daughters Edith Ramsey and Myrtle Dempsey, and half-sisters Hazel, Mandy, and Julia.


Many thanks to Amy Johnson Crow author of the blog No Story Too Small for not being that big on New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because her challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is turning into a wonderful research tool. As I work on one ancestor at a time I’m checking on his/her parents, siblings, children, and even grandchildren in relation to him/her. What seemed unimportant the first time around is turning into clues that lead to more interesting information. The best part is that family is getting involved! They are sharing photos and anecdotes that are helping me to make the stories so much more interesting to write.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey



52 Ancestors: #5 Laura Belle INGRAM 1868-1940

52ancestorsWriting for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is making me take a closer look at the who, what, when, where, why and how for each ancestor.

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When I lived with my paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP in 1976-1977 she gave me an old book that had belonged to her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM. It has that unique old book smell and is missing the cover. The pages have a yellowish stain and brown spots. The binding is cracked and the book opens to what I think might have been a page that Laura referred to often.

Morning Sickness & Relation of Husband and Wife

Search Lights on Health (short title) was sold only by subscription. I was surprised to find that it has been included in the Project Gutenberg as an eBook. The Internet Archive has images of the book online. It is public domain so I am using images that I photographed from the book to illustrate Laura’s story.

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My great-grandparents William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM
My great-grandparents William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM

I love this picture!
In their faces I see my father, my uncles, my aunts.

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Family on Ingram Branch of Loup Creek Grows

Following the Civil War a little family of three, Irvin Lewis INGRAM, his wife Mary M. DEMPSEY, and their daughter Octavia Dell born in March 1866 [per 1900 census], was living on Ingram Branch of Loup Creek in Fayette County in the newly formed state of West Virginia. Irvin and Mary married on May 23, 1867. The family grew when their second daughter Laura Belle was born on April 24, 1868. Neither Octavia’s nor Laura’s births were recorded in the birth register of the county. The family of four was not enumerated on the 1870 census. The year after the census on March 6 a third daughter Harriet F. was born on Loup Creek.

1880census1880 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
Fayetteville District
Enumeration District No. 27, Sheet No. 17A
Enumerated the 8th day of June 1880, John T. Smith, enumerator
HH #53
Ingram, Irvin W M 35 married Blacksmith WV WV WV
Ingram, Mary M. W F 31 Wife married Keeping house VA VA VA
Ingram, Octavi D. W F 14 Dau single At home attended school WV WV WV
Ingram, Laura B. W F 12 Dau single At home attended school WV WV WV
Ingram, Harriet F. W F 9 Dau single attended school WV WV WV

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Dempsey Boys Court and Marry Ingram Girls

courtshipOctavia INGRAM married Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY on October 19, 1882. It is not known how Octavia and Elijah came to meet and court. She lived in the Fayetteville District and he lived in the Mountain Cove District.

Laura, 14 years old at the time, most likely had finished her eight years of education that spring.

We can assume that the INGRAM and DEMPSEY families must have gotten along as two years later Laura Belle INGRAM and William Henderson DEMPSEY, brother of Elijah, were married.

weddingOn Wednesday the 1st of October 1884, I. C. Cavendish performed the marriage of W. H. Dempsey, 24, and Laura B. Ingram, 16, in Fayette County. The bride and groom were both born and residing in that county at the time of marriage. William was a miner.

Mrs. Ingram, the mother of the bride, appears to have died before February 11, 1888, as Mr. Ingram, widowed, is seen marrying on that day.  Two children were born to this marriage although little is known about this second family. But I am getting sidetracked and that is a story for another time.

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Family Life

Laura gave birth to her first child Viola in 1885 and carried her to her grave in 1887 after the child died of comsumption. A year later we see William and Laura living at Keeneys Creek where sons Willie and Ernest were born in 1888 and 1890.

By 1892 the family of four had moved on to live in Prince (Fayette County) or across the New River in Royal (Raleigh County). Royal Coal and Coke Company, the first coal mine in Raleigh County was opened at Royal in 1891. Necessary company buildings were constucted and workers commuted from Prince or nearby farms on the Royal side of the river until accomodations were available. At this time it is only an assumption on my part that Laura’s husband William, who worked as a miner, was employed at the Royal Coal Co. when son Oscar was born in September 1892. The fact that Oscar’s birthplace has been seen as Prince and Royal points to this possibility.

Two years later Laura’s fourth son Roy was born in Victor, a mile east of Ansted. The family continued to grow with five more children being born in Victor where the family had set up their permanent residence when William bought a piece of land in 1899.

Six months prior to this land purchase Laura and William had lost another child Pearl at the age of 1 year 7 months 2 days to diptheria. Laura gave birth to 10 children over a period of 25 years and raised 8 of them to adulthood. All of her children attended at least 8 years of school. Son Clyde finished 10 years. Daughter Hester attended two years of college and became a school teacher. Son Roy may have also attended 2 years of high school — it is unlikely that he only had a second grade education as indicated on the 1940 census.

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Laura Gives Birth To Her Youngest

In January of 1910 Laura’s first grandchild Olive, daughter of son Willie, died at age 3 months 15 days. She must have felt the loss of her own first child all over again. While mourning the loss of her first granddaughter she lost her father Irvin Lewis INGRAM who died on March 4, 1910, in Turkey Creek, Fayette County. This was about the same time that Laura became pregnant with her 10th child at the age of 42.

Breadingy this time Laura’s husband William was no longer working as a miner. William and their oldest son Willie (22) were working as carpenters while Ernest (20), Oscar (17), and Roy (15) were coal miners. While the men were at work Laura was caring for Fred (10), Clyde (8), and Hester (5) and pregnant with Earl who was born in November 1910.

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The Family Worshipped & Served Their Lord at Hopewell Baptist Church

Laura and William and their children attended Hopewell Baptist Church in the early 1900’s.

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Changing Times

Times were changing when World War I began on June 28, 1914. Before the end of the war on November 11, 1918, Laura and William lost their oldest son Willie, killed on October 5, 1915. He had gone into a small mine at his home, accompanied by his wife and little son Gordon, to mine some coal for home use. While his wife was watching him a heavy fall of slate came in on him, killing him instantly.

By 1920 Laura’s three oldest living sons and her daughter-in-law Mallie, Willie’s widow, had married. She was the grandmother of 10. Fred and Clyde were still living at home, working as miners. Hester (15) and Earl (9) were attending school. In 1923 Laura’s sister Octavia died at age 57. No trace has been found of their younger sister Harriet who may have died in the 1880’s or 1890’s.

By 1930 Laura and William’s seven living children were married and raising their own families. They would have ten more years together before their son Fred, his wife Myrtle, and their children would come to live with them and care for them until their deaths.

Laura died on Tuesday, October 8, 1940, of myocardial degeneration following a cerebral hemorrhage in August. Her husband William Henderson DEMPSEY joined her in their heavenly home on January 24, 1941.

MRIN08552 Laura Dempsey obit
Charleston Gazette (Charleston, West Virginia)
Wednesday, October 09, 1940, Page 13

               Mrs. Laura Dempsey
Mrs. Laura Ingram Dempsey, 72, of Victor died yesterday at her home after an illness of 12 days. The body was removed to the Thomas mortuary, Ansted. Services will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Hopewell Baptist church with Rev. George B. Deaver officiating. Burial will be in McVey cemetery on Shade creek.
Survivors include her husband, William H. Dempsey; a daughter, Mrs. Hester Skaggs of Ansted, and five sons, Ernest Dempsey of Ansted, Roy Dempsey of Fayetteville, Clyde Dempsey of Kaymoor, Fred Dempsey of Victor and Earl Dempsey of Lansing.

MRIN08552 Wm H and Laura Dempsey gravemarker
Laura B. and William H. Dempsey
Oscar L. Dempsey, in background, left, with flag
Gravemarkers in McVey-Skaggs Cemetery in Victor
Courtesy of Vernon Fox, photo received 2000