52 Ancestors: #2 Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY 1899-1975

52ancestorsThis is my second post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. I’m still experimenting with how I want these write ups to look. This time, I tried working with a timeline generated by my genealogy program Ancestral Quest 14.

Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY with his son Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY (abt. 1973)
Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY with his son Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY (abt. 1973)

Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY was born October 30, 1899, in Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia, to William Henderson DEMPSEY, a coalminer, and his wife Laura Belle INGRAM. The Register of Births [line 4 from bottom] for Fayette County lists his mother Laura as the informant. Fred was their 5th son and 7th child. He applied for his Social Security Number before 1951 and most likely this was when he applied for his delayed certificate of birth which was signed by his older brother Ernest R. DEMPSEY. On the certificate, his father was listed as 38 years old and his mother as 31 years old at the time of his birth. Two children born to the mother had died before Fred’s birth. These angels were his sisters Viola (1885-1887) and Pearl (1897-1898).

Delayed Certificate of Birth No. 13681 from http://www.wvculture.org
Delayed Certificate of Birth No. 1368 [Source: “West Virginia Births, 1853-1930,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KSG5-DXF : accessed 24 Jan 2014), Fred Rothwell Dempsey, 1899. Image, West Virginia Division of Culture and History (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=4017243&ImageNumber=365 : accessed 24 Jan 2014)]

In 1900 we see Fred enumerated for the first time on the United States Federal Census:

1900 U.S. Federal Census, Mountain Cove District, Fayette County, West Virginia.

1902 – birth of brother Clyde Lewis (1902-1974). [line 15]

1904 – birth of sister Hester Ethel (1904-2001).

1907 – marriage of his oldest brother William W. “Willie” (1888-1915) to Mallie Lee GRAY. [line 7 from bottom]

In 1910 we see Fred for the second time in a census:

1910 census
“United States Census, 1910,” images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po1680unit#page/n246/mode/1up : accessed 24 Jan 2014) West Virginia > Fayette > ED 20 Mountain Cove district; citing NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1375693.

1910 – birth of brother Earl Stanley (1910-1968).

1914 – World War I began and his three older brothers married:
Oscar Lawrence (1892-1940) md. Fannie Belle NOBLE [line 37]
Roy Lee (1894-1947) md. Liliane Madelene NUNNERY [line 43]
Ernest Rupert (1890-1955) md. Virginia Lenora “Lee” WILLS. [line 14]

Fred, who attended 8 years of school, most likely began working at around the age of 15.

Fred’s oldest brother Willie was killed on October 5, 1915 (left page, line 39). 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.

On September 12, 1918, Fred filled out his World War I Draft Registration Card. He was 18 years old, of medium height, medium weight, with black hair and black eyes. His middle name was written correctly (Rothwell) on the card but then corrected to match the spelling he used in his signature. He was working as a miner for Edward MORRIS in Jodie. Per 1920 census Edward L. MORRIS was the representative of Gauley Mountain Coal. At about the same time in 1917-1918 Fred’s brothers Roy and Ernest were working for the Signal Knob Coal Co. in Ansted and Oscar was working at Pemberton C & C Co. in Affinity.

1918 – end of World War I

In 1920 Fred was enumerated twice on the census. On the 13-14th of January, he was living at home in Victor with his parents and three youngest siblings: Clyde, Hester, and Earl.

1920 census 2
“United States Census, 1920,” images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1948unit#page/n332/mode/1up : accessed 24 Jan 2014) West Virginia > Fayette > ED 33 Mountain Cove District, Victor Precinct; citing NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1821948

Then on the 22nd of January, he was living in Jodie, same county, in his brother Roy’s household. Fred may have just moved in with his brother’s family or he could have been living at both places, spending working days in Jodie and free time at home.

“United States Census, 1920,” images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1947unit#page/n589/mode/1up : accessed 24 Jan 2014) West Virginia > Fayette > ED 11 Jodie Falls Magisterial District; citing NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1821947.

1921 – brother Clyde Lewis married Mary Etta “Marietta” HOLLY. [line 40]

Fred, 23, and Myrtle Hazel ROOP, 17, both of Jodie, were married on January 20, 1923, in Fayetteville by A. H. Perkins. [line 4]

1923 – daughter Thelma Louise (d. 1991) was born on August 11.

1925 – daughter Lois Emma (d. 2006) was born on April 24.

1926 – sister Hester Ethel (d. 2001) married James Arthur GROSE. [line 31]

1927 – daughter Leona Mae was born.

In 1930 Fred, a coal miner, is seen for the first time as the head of household on the census. The family of 5 was living in Jodie, paying $8 a month rent, and owned a radio set.

1930 census
“United States Census, 1930,” images, Archive Internet ( https://archive.org/stream/15thcensus2531unit#page/n174/mode/1up : accessed 24 Jan 2014) West Virginia > Fayette > ED 10-5 Falls; citing NARA microfilm publication

1931 – son Doyle Stanley (d. 1990) was born May 20 .

1935 – son Fred Roosevelt (d. 1974) was born November 3.

1937 – sister Hester Ethel married William R. “Bill” SKAGGS.

On Sunday, September 12, 1937, the sixth reunion of the Dempsey family was held near Lover’s Leap.

The Charleston Gazette Saturday, September 18, 1937
The Charleston Gazette published Saturday, September 18, 1937

1939 – World War II began; son Oscar and his wife Fannie divorced about this time.

On the 1940 census Fred is the head of a household with his wife and 5 children. He had 8 years of schooling and was a coal loader in the coal mines. He worked 35 hours a week and had worked 44 weeks in 1939 with an income of $1,451. They rented their home which was not a farm for $8 a month.

1940 census
“United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-27896-11842-71?cc=2000219&wc=M9QD-F6J:1840445939 : accessed 24 Jan 2014), West Virginia > Fayette > Falls Magisterial District > 10-5 Falls Magisterial District in Voting Precinct 7 Gamoca, Voting Precinct 8 Belva, and Voting Precinct 9 Jodie; Jodie, Vanetta (part); citing NARA digital publication of T627.

1940 – daughter Thelma married Fred Lawrence “Freddie” FITZWATER in Kentucky.

Fred’s brother Oscar die in May and his mother Laura in October 1940. His father followed in January 1941. Fred and Myrtle who were living in Jodie at the time of the census moved to Victor during the year. Their youngest son confirmed that they moved to Victor to take care of Fred’s Mom and Dad in 1940. Fred bought out his brothers and sisters — there was not so much a transfer of money but an agreement that he would inherit the house and property for taking care of his parents.

1941 – son Walter Leland (d. 1993) was born April 15.

1941 – Daughter Lois married Nathan B. LEE [left page].

1942 – first grandchild was born

Fred was too young for the “old man’s registration” conducted on 27 April 1942. It was for  men not already in the military and born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 – men who were between 45 and 64 years old.

1944 – son Lloyd Allen was born.

1945 – World War II ended in August and daughter Leona married Frank J. “Buck” MULLINS in November. [line 24]

1952 – son Doyle married Mavis Ivalene WOOD. [line 29]

1957 – son Fred married Catherine Josette WILDINGER.

1957 021 visiting in WV
Fred and his wife Myrtle at their home in Victor.

1958 – son Leland married Nancy Lou ZICKAFOOSE. [line 33]

1959 – brother Earl married Mabel Lucille WILKERSON. [line 24]

1961 – Fred, a member of the United Mine Workers, retired the end of October at the age of 62. Fred and his wife began spending the winters at their home in Masaryktown, Florida.

1966 – son Lloyd married Anndra Kay McCLUNG.

Between 1942 and 1971 twenty-four grandchildren were born.

[Source: Raleigh Register (Beckley), Wednesday Afternoon, January 10, 1973]
Raleigh Register (Beckley), Wednesday Afternoon, January 10, 1973
January 21, 1973, Fred and his wife Myrtle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Their seven children and spouses were present with most of the grandchildren.

Golden Wedding Anniversary - 20 January 1973
Golden Wedding Anniversary – January 20, 1973 – Celebrated on January 21, 1973

Fred was Sunday School assistant superintendent at Hopewell Baptist Church and a teacher for the men’s Bible class. He died at home after a short illness on Monday, Feburary 3, 1975.

Charleston Gazette, Wednesday February 5, 1973
Charleston Gazette, Wednesday February 5, 1973

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.




52 Ancestors: #1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974

52ancestorsI decided to [silently] accept Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks at the beginning of the year and posted the first 3 weeks to our closed family group on Facebook. Things went well and I’ve decided [maybe] it’s time to try the blogging world. This is a slightly revised version of the original #1 posted on January 9th.

Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY was born November 3, 1935, the fifth child and second son of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP, in Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia. His maternal grandmother, Rebecca Jane (CLONCH) ROOP was the midwife.

1940 census
“United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch – Fred R Dempsey, Falls Magisterial District, Fayette, West Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 10-5, sheet 20A, family 375, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 4401.

In 1940 he was first enumerated on a census along with his parents Fred 40 and Myrtle 34; sisters, Thelma 16, Lois 15, Leona 13; and brother Doyle 8. His two youngest brothers, Leland and Lloyd, were born after 1940.

Victor School group photo ca. 1945
Victor School group photo ca. 1945

While growing up he attended Hopewell Baptist Church. The family moved into the Dempsey home in Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1940 following the census. Freddy and his brothers only had to go next door to get to school. By 1945 his three sisters had all married.

On October 4th, 1948, a Sunday morning, at the age of 12 he fractured his right arm when he fell from a swing at his home and was taken to Charleston General Hospital. A couple of years later, while playing basketball in high school, he broke the same arm on the same day. In later years he would have chosen to stay home on the anniversary if he could as he considered it his bad luck day.

Fred R. Dempsey 1966
Fred R. Dempsey 1966

The New Year 1954 started with a bang at the Army and Air Force recruiting station on Main St. in Beckley, when Freddy, 18, of Victor, enlisted in the Air Force for four years and was sent to Sampton AFB, New York. The four years passed and he made the USAF his career. During his 21 years in the military, he served in Germany, Georgia, France, Idaho, Thailand, Spain, South Carolina, and Texas. A certificate of Honorable Service was awarded as a testimony of his honest and faithful service to the Air Force and his country.

1956 near Born, Luxembourg

While stationed in Germany he took 1st place in the hill climb race (motorcycle) in Born (Luxembourg).

On March 2, 1957, he married Catherine Josette Wildinger in Luxembourg.

Following the births of their first two daughters, he complained that he would probably never have a son and then became the father of three sons!

This ‘n That

He was a First Aid instructor while stationed in Georgia.
He was a crew chief and enjoyed telling about how he would hide a foreign object in the cockpit of a plane to test his crew.
He tried out different crafts (attended a ceramic class, did leather and woodwork) and left several treasured pieces.
He was the family photographer and the reason that we have so few photos of him.
He enjoyed watching his boys play little league baseball, would be seen in the bleachers helping with the scorekeeping, and even helped coach one of his son’s teams.
He didn’t play many sports as an adult but was very proud of a 300 game he once bowled.
He enjoyed owning “special” cars. While in SC he bought a dune buggy which he drove to TX when the family moved there.
During his tour of duty in Thailand, he took classes in Catholicism but never converted.

Freddy DEMPSEY died on May 19, 1974, of a myocardial infarction, but he lives on in our hearts.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

I’ve accepted Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks


My plan is to post on Mondays. I’ve already shared #1, #2, and #3 on our closed group on Facebook. Beginning with my father #1, followed by his parents #2 and #3, and continuing with their parents (#4-7), grandparents (#8-15), great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. By the end of the year I should have a nice little book on the ancestors of Fred Dempsey and Myrtle Roop.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II)

MRIN00038 Clonch, Alex
Alexander CLONCH 1842-1910

After William CLONCH’s death in 1863 his sons John William CLONCH (aka John William DOSS) and Alexander CLONCH (aka Alexander DOSS) continued the “tradition” their parents and maternal grandmother began.

John W. Clonch (1840-1919) married Sarah Jane Foster in 1862. Alexander Clonch (1842-1910) married Mary Ellen Lemaster on 10 Nov 1863. Neither marriage lasted.

Now for the interesting part:

On 18 July 1864 Sarah J. Clonch, wife of John W. Clonch, sued by her next friend, John W. Foster, for divorce. Three years ago at the age of 21, she left her father’s house and married John Clonch. “Since that time [she] has been to him a constant, faithful and dutiful wife and has borne him two children to wit: William A. now two years old and an infant daughter three months old. Her husband on the other hand has been negligent and insufferably abusive and violent to her within the last two years frequently beating and choking her for no cause whatever on her part. He has left his house and home taking with him her oldest child and living in adultry with another woman… further alledges that he has been seen in bed with his own brother’s wife and has failed to furnish support to your oratrix and her child which she is oblige to labor for their entire support, or they would come to starvation. The only property owned by your oratrix and her husband is the household and kitchen furniture and one house the most of which your oratrix bought from her father”. Sarah called three witnesses to include John’s own sister and they told it like it was. They testified that John and Rebecca Lemaster spent the night together in each other’s arms while the light in the fireplace went out. Peter Dewitt testified that “I saw Rebecca Lemaster sitting in his lap mighty close together and he was hugging her, and this happened after dark.” Lavina Ann Patterson, John’s sister, testified that John and Mary Ellen Lemaster Clonch had been in bed together. Mary Ellen was married to John’s brother, Alexander Clonch. [Sep 1864 in the Circuit Court of Mason County, West Virginia]

Now wasn’t that a little Peyton’s Place?” wrote Ralph Hays who should be credited for researching the divorce. About the time John and Sarah got their divorce in 1864, Alexander and Mary Ellen called it quits but were not divorced until 1880. John and Mary Ellen, who were expecting their first child, “shacked up together” for over 30 years until 7 May 1895 when they finally got married – after 13 children were born. [Marriage Book 8, p 5, Item 15, Gallia County, Ohio]

In November 1865 Rebecca Lemaster had an illegitimate son Austin Richard Lemaster. His father was listed as unknown. Later this son went by the name Oscar R. Clonch. His death record shows he was the son of Rebecca Lemaster and an unknown father. Family tradition is that Alexander Clonch had a son named Austin and it has been assumed the child died young as no trace was found. Most likely Alexander acted as a father to Rebecca’s illegitimate child in early years and he took the Clonch surname.

The 1870 census listing has not been found for Alexander Clonch or Rebecca Lemaster nor has a marriage record been found for them. [I believe no record will be found as Alexander was still married to Mary Ellen Lemaster and the marriage was legally dissolved in 1880.]

Alex’s daughter Emma Sidosa “Emily” was born in 1868 (no birth record found). The birth record of his son Joseph E. Clonch born in 1872 lists the mother as Rebecca Clonch and most likely the reason it has been believed the parents were married. No record of birth has been found for his daughter Barbara Elizabeth born in 1875.

The divorce of Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Clonch was found in Mason County, West Virginia Chancery Order Book March term 1880, p 274. The marriage was dissolved, Mary did not appear and she did not get her dower and had to pay costs. Alexander had at least three children (most likely all with Rebecca Lemaster as seen above) and Mary Ellen had eight children by John Clonch, Alexander’s brother, by the time their divorce was final.
[Source: Ralph Hayes, 17 May 2002, CLAUNCH-L Archives]

I suspect Rebecca may have died before 1880 as no record has been found for her. Having such young children Alex may have seen it necessary to get a divorce from his estranged wife so he could legally marry. He was seen as divorced in the 1880 census with his children Emily, Joe, and Barbara in his household. During the same year, he married Tabitha Cooley. They were married 30 years and had nine children by the time Alex died in 1910.

Although John and Alexander did not get off to a good start with their first marriages, they remained with their second wives until parted by death.

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Little “Peyton Place” (Part I)


While reading about black-sheep and skeletons recently, I was reminded of my DOSS and CLONCH lines in Mason County, West Virginia.

Lavina DOSS, daughter of James DOSS Jr. and Elizabeth LESTER, lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, with four known and possibly three unknown children (per 1830 and 1840 census). The children were born out of wedlock as Lavina never married. Two of her children, William and Polly, went to live in Mason County, (West) Virginia, before 1840.

Mary E. “Polly” DOSS, like her mother Lavina, also had all of her children out of wedlock. The children are mentioned in the will of William CLONCH dated 17 January 1863. He wrote, “I do wish to will my Land to Mary Doss and her Children John William Doss, Alexander Doss, Loving Ann Doss, Elizabeth Jane Doss, Thomas Eli Doss, Joel Doss and Charles Henry Doss”. William did not write “my” or “our” when he named the children in his will. All of the boys used the CLONCH surname after their father’s death. Mary DOSS also used the CLONCH name after William’s death. She could not marry William CLONCH as he was still married to another woman.

William CLONCH married Ann Eliza HILL on 20 Aug 1832 in Gallia County, Ohio. They had one child Mariah Jane CLONCH mentioned in his will. They may have had a son named Dennis CLONCH (named after William’s father and seen with William’s mother in 1850) but he was not mentioned in the will. Dennis appears to have begun using the HILL surname about 1862 when he enlisted to serve during the Civil War. Could it be that he was a son of Ann Eliza HILL and another man? “Eliza Claunch” had her own household in 1840 and had two more children before she married Andrew GAUSE on 26 March 1842 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia. The bride was listed as Anna Eliza Claunch, widow of Wm. C. Claunch. William did not die nor was he divorced from Anna Eliza. William was living with another woman (most likely Mary DOSS) and his daughter Mariah from his marriage to Anna Eliza in 1840.

Was Ann Eliza Hill who married 1st William CLONCH and 2nd Andrew GAUSE a bigamist? Or could there have been a divorce and papers have not yet been found?

And the saga continues….(part II to come)

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.