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

52 Ancestors: #4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941

I spent the last weekend moving 52 Ancestors #1, #2, and #3 to my blog. Rewriting, formatting and adding images took longer than expected. 52 Ancestors #4 is a bit late getting published but I am now back on schedule to post on Mondays starting next week.


Proving Parentage of Wm H. DEMPSEY in a Roundabout Way

In 1995 I received a package from my aunt Lois Dempsey Lee containing family group sheets, marriage certificates, other misc. notes were written by her first cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman. Included was a letter written by Geraldine explaining how she had gotten started with this hobby. In the late 1970’s her younger daughter had taken a mini-course in high school and passed her work on to her older sister who soon tired of the project. Geraldine picked it up as a hobby, took a night class in genealogy, and began searching at the local courthouse, then ventured on to other courthouses in other states.

She wrote that William Henderson DEMPSEY was the son of Wm A. Dempsey and Sarah Wood. I believed this to be true however I was only able to “prove” this in a roundabout way.

  • William Henderson DEMPSEY was never seen with his parents on a census.
  • 1870 census: with a Forsythe family, no relationship listed.
  • 1880 census: with a Campbell family,  listed as adopted.
  • 1884 marriage record: listed his parents as W. & S. Dempsey.
  • 1941 death record: father Wood Dempsey and mother as unknown.
  • 1941 obituary: mentioned a brother Elijah L. Dempsey.
  • 1885 will of Elijah Wood: “bequeath to my grandson Elijah Lewis Dempsey”.
  • 1943 death record for Elijah Lewis Dempsey has not been found at WVCulture.
  • 1850 and 1860 census found for Wm. A. W. and Sarah
  • pre-1850 marriage record for Wm. A. W. Dempsey and Sarah A. Wood not found.
  • All marriage records for children of this couple were found, parents were listed as Wm and Sarah.
  • 1930 death record of John Henry Dempsey: father seen as Wm Dempsey BUT instead of his mother’s name, John’s wife’s name was listed under the maiden name of mother.
  • No death records were found for the other siblings.
  • 1870 census: Elijah and his mother Sarah Dempsey were found together in a household but no relationship is listed.
  • Recent find: Provost Marshal File. 1862 “William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18″ [May 1862]. 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.”

After analyzing all records found, this is the story I would like to tell about my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY.

A Family Continues to Grow

William Henderson DEMPSEY was born in Clifty, Fayette County, West Virginia, on 14 September 1860, a few months after the enumeration of the 1860 census. He was the sixth child of William A. W. DEMPSEY (1860 age 40) and his wife Sarah Ann WOOD (1860 age 36). William’s older siblings were Elizabeth Rachel “Lizzie” (1846-1880), James Alexander “Buck” (1848-1909), Mary Virginia (1854-1900), Eunice V. (1855-1940), and John Henry (1857-1930).

The Civil War Years

The American Civil War began 4 February 1861. In that year a separate government for the western section of Virginia was organized under the name of Kanawha. In 1862 Virginia separated from western Virginia. The DEMPSEY family continued to grow with the birth of William’s youngest brother Elijah Lewis (1862-1943) during the war. West Virginia was admitted into the union as the thirty-fifth state on 20 June 1863. The American Civil War ended 23 June 1865.

A Family Is Split Up

William’s father died soon after the end of the war (abt. 1867). In 1868 his sister Lizzie married Robert J. HUGHES. By 1870 the family had split up and the children were living with different WOOD relatives. James was living with his Aunt Amanda Jane (WOOD) PARRISH; Eunice and John were with their grandfather Elijah WOOD; Elijah, the youngest, and his mother Sarah were with his aunt Turzey (WOOD) NEAL; and Mary Virginia age abt. 16 was not found.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Mountain Cove, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1686; Page: 147A; Image: 297; Family History Library Film: 553185.

William, age 10 at the time and working as a farm laborer, was living with the Abraham “Abram” FORSYTHE family. Mr. FORSYTHE was first married to Sarah HENDRICK (d. 1859) and second to Mary WESTLAKE in 1862. Both Abram’s brother Samuel and Mary’s sister Mathilda were married to WOOD’s. This is likely the connection and reason that we see William with the FORSYTHE’s in 1870. Abraham FORSYTHE moved to Colorado in the 1870’s.

Siblings Began To Marry

In the 1870’s three of his older siblings married:
Mary V. married John A. SNELL in 1872
Eunice married John Isaac SCAGGS in 1874
James A. “Buck” married Mary E. SADDLER in 1874

Adoption of William H. DEMPSEY

“United States Census, 1880,” images; Internet Archives (https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801402unit#page/n230/mode/1up : accessed 27 Jan 2014) West Virginia > Fayette > Mountain Cove ED 30 Sheet 114A, citing NARA microfilm publication T9-1402

William is seen with the John CAMPBELL family in 1880. He is listed as “adopted” however no record has been found to show that this was a legal adoption. It is not known how long he lived with this family before or after the 1880 census. John CAMPBELL was first married to Mary KESLER (the mother of Nancy seen in census) and second to Amanda Francis ALDERSON (mother of Joseph and Fanny seen in census). John CAMPBELL died in 1895 leaving a will. William H. DEMPSEY was not mentioned.

Two of William’s brothers married in 1882: John Henry married Amanda Ann McCLUNG and Elijah Lewis married Octavia Dell INGRAM.

Life as a Married Man and Father

1884 marriage register entry for W. H. Dempsey and Laura B. Ingram

William, at the age of 24, was the last of the DEMPSEY children to marry. He was joined in matrimony with Laura Belle INGRAM age 16 on 1 October 1884
[line 6 from bottom], nearly two years after his brother Elijah and her sister Octavia married.

William and Laura’s first child Viola was born in 1885 and died in 1887. Three months prior to the death of his first child, William’s mother Sarah Ann WOOD died on 1 April 1887.

Five more children were born before 1899: William W. “Willie” in 1888 and Ernest Rupert in 1890, both in Keeneys Creek; Oscar Lawrence in 1892 in Prince or across New River in Royal, now a ghost town; Roy Lee in 1894 and Pearl in 1897, both in Victor.

From the places of birth of the children, we know that William and Laura lived in Keeneys Creek in 1888 and 1890, in Royal (Raleigh) or in Prince (Fayette) in 1892, and in Victor from 1894. There is conflicting information on the residence in 1892. No birth record has been found for son Oscar whose WWI Draft Card shows his place of birth as Royal. When he entered the V.A. Facility in Huntington as a patient in 1940 he gave information used for his 1940 death record including Royal as the place of birth. Both records were produced with the information given by Oscar. On his record of marriage in 1914 the place of birth is seen as Prince.

This conflicting information on the place of birth for Oscar made me look more closely into the area since one place was in Raleigh County and the other in Fayette County. I learned that the first coal mine in Raleigh County was opened at Royal in 1891. Royal Coal and Coke Company used Prince as their post office address. A unique suspended cable system was used to transport the coal down the mountain and across New River to the railroad at Prince. William H. Dempsey may have been a miner at the Royal Coal Mine at the time of Oscar’s birth.

“Royal was once a booming coal town. Now it’s just some metal artifacts, stone walls, and gravestones.” Ghost Town: Royal, WV

William Becomes A Land Owner


MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey
William Henderson Dempsey (1860-1941)

On February 25, 1899, W. H. DEMPSEY bought a parcel of land in Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia, for the sum of $225. In later years the home was passed on to his son Fred and was sold in 1998 after the death of Fred’s widow Myrtle Hazel ROOP DEMPSEY BOLES.

R. W. Coleman To W. H. Dempsey
This Deed, made the 25th day of February 1899, between R. W. Coleman, party of the first part, and W. H. Dempsey, party of the second part, both of the county of Fayette, and State of West Virginia, Witnesseth, That for and in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty-Five Dollars, ($225.00), payable as follows to-wit: Fifty Dollars, ($50.00), cash in hand before the delivery of this deed, Fifty Dollars ($50.00), in six months from this date with interest from date, Fifty Dollars, ($50.00), in twelve months from this date, with interest from date, and the residue, to-wit, Seventy Five Dollars, ($75.00), in two years from this date, with interest from date, for which defered payments the said W. H. Dempsey has this day executed his promisory notes to the said R. W. Coleman; the said R. W. Coleman has bargained and sold, and by these presents doth grant and convey unto the said W. H. Dempsey, a certain parcel or tract of land, situated on the North side of The James River and Kanawha Turnpike, East of Victor, in Mountain Cove District, in Fayette county, West Virginia, adjoining the land of H. Nunnery, Ed. Legg and others and bounded and described as follows, to-wit: Beginning at a bunch of maples on the North bank of the said turnpike; thence, N. 59‘ E. 52 poles, to a stake on Nunnery’s line; thence, with Nunnery, N. 4‘ E. 10 poles, to a stake East of a small pine, thence leaving Nunnery, S. 81‘ W. 32 poles, to a hickory, corner to Ed. Legg; thence, with Legg, N. 73 W. 19 poles to the S.E. corner of the School-House lot, thence, with the turnpike, S. 6‘ E. 20 poles, to a stake; thence S. 36‘ E. 28 poles to the beginning, containing Eight and one-fourth acres, Being a part of a 47 acres tract heretofore conveyed to the said R.W . Coleman by John A. Hawver, Trustee. To have and to hold to the said W. H. Dempsey, his heirs and assigns, forever, with covenants of general warranty. And the vendor’s kin is hereby specially reserved to secure the defered payments above described. Witness the following signatures and seals.
R. W. Coleman -Seal
State of West Virginia, County of Fayette, to-wit:
I, J. R. Koontz, a notary public of the said county of Fayette, do certify that R. W. Coleman, whose name is signed to the writing above, bearing date on the 25th day of February, 1899, has this day acknowledged the same before me in my said county. Given under my hand this 25th day of February, 1899.
J. R. Koontz, N. P. Fayette County, West Virginia
West Virginia, Fayette County Court Clerk’s Office, July 26, 1899.

"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11931-68695-71?cc=1325221&wc=M94B-XQX:n435351443 : accessed 24 Jan 2014), West Virginia > Fayette > ED 17 Mountain Cove district (north side) Ansted & Hawks Nest towns; citing NARA microfilm publication T623
“United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11931-68695-71?cc=1325221&wc=M94B-XQX:n435351443 : accessed 24 Jan 2014), West Virginia > Fayette > ED 17 Mountain Cove district (north side) Ansted & Hawks Nest towns; citing NARA microfilm publication T623

On the 1st of June 1900, William was listed on the census as owning a mortgage-free farm. From the deed above we know how payment was arranged. The farm was not fully paid for at the time and the deed had not yet been recorded in the County Court Clerk’s Office. The important thing was that the family had their own home. William H. was working as a coal miner and had been employed during the past 12 months.

Following the purchase of their home four more children were born in Victor: Fred Rothwell in 1899, Clyde Lewis in 1902, Hester Ethel in 1904 and Earl Stanley in 1910.


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.

By 1910 William had changed occupations and was now a carpenter doing housework for a wage. Three sons ages 15, 17, and 25 were working as miners in the coal mines.

Tragedy Strikes the Dempsey Family

William’s oldest son Willie married Mallie Lee GRAY. Their first two children, William’s first grandchildren, Olive (1909-1910) and Herbert (1911-1911) both died young. Willie was 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.

Three more children married shortly before and after the beginning of World War I in 1914: Oscar Lawrence married Fannie Belle Noble, Roy Lee married Liliane Madelene Nunnery, and Ernest Rupert married Virginia Lenora “Lee” Wills.

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

On the 1920 census, we see that William is now a self-employed carpenter doing housework.

By 1930 all children had left home and William age 69 and Laura age 61 were living alone in their home valued at $3000.

“United States Census, 1940,” images, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27896-14870-71?cc=2000219&wc=M9QD-FXP:264584504)

In 1940 their divorced son Oscar had come back home to live. By this time both William and Oscar were unable to work and no longer working. The 1940 census was enumerated as of the 1st of April and the page was dated May 7 while May 20 was written in the margin showing the date of visit. Oscar was admitted to the V.A. Facility in Huntington on May 8 and died on May 14. Therefore by the time, the enumerator came around to the Dempsey place Oscar had died but was included in the count as he was living on April 1st. William’s wife Laura Belle died about five months later on October 8, 1940, in Victor.

William H. Dempsey Dies After a Short Illness

MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey death

William Henderson Dempsey died Friday, January 24, 1941, after a short illness. His daughter Hester SKAGGS was the informant. Not all information that she gave was correct on the death certificate. The father’s name was given as Wood Dempsey and mother’s maiden name as Unknown.

Obituary of William H. DEMPSEY


MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey obit
The Charleston Gazette, January 26, 1941

Publication: The Charleston Gazette
Published: January 26, 1941
Headline: William H. Dempsey
Services for William Henderson Dempsey, 80, of Victor, retired carpenter, who died Friday after a short illness, will be held today at 2 p.m. at the Hopewell Baptist church, Victor. Rev. George B. Denver of Lansing will officiate.
Burial will be in the McVey cemetery on Shady creek in charge of the Thomas mortuary, Ansted.
Survivors include a brother, Elijah L. Dempsey of Ansted; five sons, E.R. Dempsey of Ansted, R. L. Dempsey of Fayetteville, Fred Dempsey of Victor, Clyde Dempsey of Garten and Earl Dempsey of Lansing; and a daughter, Mrs. William R. Skaggs of Ansted.

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

52 Ancestors: #3 Myrtle Hazel ROOP 1906-1997

52ancestorsThis is my third installment for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small. I’m still experimenting with different styles, this time using the storyline and timeline. I hope that you’ll  enjoy reading about the doors opening in brick walls on the paternal side of my family tree.

Grandma's passport picture for her trip to Europe in 1971
Myrtle Hazel (ROOP) DEMPSEY’s passport picture for her trip to Europe in 1971
Cathy with her Grandma
Cathy (me) with (my) Grandma

Myrtle Hazel ROOP was a wonderful wife, mother of 7, grandmother of 24, great-grandmother of 39, and great-great-grandmother of one. She was my Grandma. To others in the family she was Mother, Grandma Dempsey or MawMaw. I wasn’t as lucky as others in the family who grew up close to the Dempsey home and I don’t have as many memories of her as they do. We lived in Hopewell in 1968-1969 while Dad (Freddy) was in Thailand; I lived with her for about 9 months in 1976-1977 when I went to WV Tech; and we visited as often as possible when we were in the United States.

Cathy on one of Grandma's quilts.
Cathy (me) on one of Grandma’s quilts.

She made beautiful quilts and I’m the proud owner of three. I remember her going next door to the schoolhouse, after it was no longer used as a school, to meet with the ladies and work on quilts and braided rag rugs. She taught me to crochet and I still have the afghan that I worked on in the evenings while we watched TV together when I went to college.

She played the piano and I regret not taking the piano lessons she offered to pay for when I was living with her.

She was a wonderful cook. The smell that came from the kitchen on Sunday mornings when she would prepare fried chicken and keep it warm in the electric frying pan while she was at church is unforgettable. She was a member of Hopewell Baptist Church and of their Woman’s Mission Society. When she had company for dinner on Sundays I remember that the leftovers were placed on the kitchen table and covered with a table-cloth so that everyone could help themselves whenever they were hungry. I still love dipping cold chicken or other meat or a roll in cold gravy. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Once she made a sweet potato pie and passed it off as a pumpkin pie since her son Freddy wouldn’t eat sweet potatoes. He said it was the best pumpkin pie he’d ever eaten. He was teased a lot about this by his siblings.

Leland’s boys would always know when she made her famous Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Logs. A granddaughter-in-law said, “….from the first time I met her she treated me like I had always been part of her family. Every time we had a gathering she would meet me at the door. Hug me and tell me to go get a peanut butter log before all the boys ate them all. She was a very sweet woman and I still miss her.”

Her youngest son said, “I miss my Mom’s bread pudding. No one else makes it like she did. I would love to have one of her clover leaf hot rolls and would enjoy a piece of her chocolate pie.” 

Letter written by Myrtle (Roop) Dempsey to the mother of her daughter-in-law. The last line of the first page was cut off and should read “much for the beautiful material”.

My maternal grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE kept a letter that Myrtle wrote to her in 1958. It is wonderful to be able to see her handwriting and “hear” what she writes.

From this letter, I know that she worked 5 days a week. She was retired from Wall’s Department Store in Ansted. Her youngest son said, “Mom worked at Wall’s Department Store so that she could afford to buy jeans and clothing for Leland and I to wear to school. She did this because Dad worked in the mines and they were out of work a lot of the time.”

Myrtle was born on 26 March 1906, a Monday, in Belva to Walter Farmer ROOP and Rebecca Jane CLONCH. She was their third child and first daughter. I was always confused about what county Belva is located in until I found that it is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in west Nicholas County and north Fayette County. Myrtle’s birth was registered in 1906 in the Nicholas County register, her name being listed only as “Murtle” without a middle name. Later in 1963, on her delayed certificate of birth, her place of birth was listed as Belva in Fayette County. Supporting evidence given for her birth were an affidavit by her father dated 1963, her 1942 Voter’s Permanent Registration Record, her 1955 WV Motor Vehicle Operator’s License #55620, and the 1920 census.

Myrtle, age 16, was the first of the ROOP children to marry. She married Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY on 20 January 1923. She turned 17 two months later. Myrtle’s father was a mine blacksmith at Gauley Mountain Coal Co. at the same time that Fred worked there. Myrtle and Fred were the parents of 7 children as discussed in Fred’s write-up.

In April 1940 when the census was taken Myrtle and her husband Fred were living in Jodie with 5 children. Lloyd was able to confirm that they moved to Victor to take care of Fred’s Mom and Dad in 1940. Fred bought out his brothers and sisters — Lloyd thinks that 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.

Myrtle most likely did not always have an easy time raising her children. Lloyd can remember that once her son Freddy and Jimmy Minter rode a bicycle down skating rink hill with Freddy on the handlebars; there was no weight on the rear wheel so they couldn’t stop when told to do so by the town police, Tom HALL. They were finally caught at the company store. Lloyd didn’t say what happened after this but they probably got off easy since Tom Hall was “family”. His wife Clara Dorris DEMPSEY, daughter of Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY and Octavia Dell INGRAM, was Fred Sr.’s first cousin.

Lloyd also reminisced about his own teen years, “After getting my Learner’s Permit, she would let me drive the 1948 Chevy with vacuum gear shift. Boy that was an exciting challenge! RAKE! RAKE!”

He shared this humorous anecdote: “Telemarketers were always calling Mom trying to sell her magazines. She became tired and aggravated with this: One day the telemarketer called trying to sell her a magazine – she listened to his sales speech and said “Mister, I don’t read”. He hung up and she was very proud of herself for chasing him off. She always smiled when she told this story.”

From the family bible, we know that Myrtle and Fred received Jesus and were baptized at Cavendish Hole on 19 February 1950. They had to break the ice to baptize them. They became members at Hopewell Baptist Church at Hopewell. Fred was also a deacon. Lloyd has a copy of his certificate of ordination. In 1963 Myrtle was one of the committee members in charge of arrangements for the Hopewell Baptist Church Homecoming. In 1967 she was the church clerk and, with Mrs. Ora LEGG, a teacher for the intermediate girls’ bible class. In 1968 she was the outgoing clerk and along with Mrs. Edna LEGG and Mrs. Mary BALLARD, Myrtle was named to transfer the church membership names to a recently purchased clerk’s book.

In the early 1960s, her husband Fred, brother-in-law Bill SKAGGS and son Lloyd built the house in Florida. Lloyd says his cousin Eugene Noble DEMPSEY may have helped some. The house was sold to a Henry HARRAH in late 60’s – approximately 67 or 68.

Upper right: Grave of General George S. Patton Jr. Upper left: Myrtle Dempsey with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Luxembourg. Lower left: Myrtle at The Mardasson Memorial (Battle of the Bulge) in Bastogne, Belgium, in front of the West Virginia section of the five-pointed American star. Lower right: Cathy and her Grandma with Vianden castle in the background.

Myrtle visited her son Freddy and his family in Royal Oaks (Torrejón AFB housing) in Madrid, Spain in May/June 1971. They took her to Luxembourg to meet Josette’s mother. She visited several sites with them while in Luxembourg.

Unfortunately, while she was in Luxembourg her father Walter F. ROOP died and she was not able to get a flight out to go home for the funeral. Since she could not go back in time she decided to stick to her planned trip, returning to Spain and then flew home on her scheduled flights.

Several years after her husband Fred’s death in 1975 she married Marvin Shirley BOLES (1908-1986) on 7 July 1980.

Myrtle Hazel ROOP’s grandchildren are now between 42 and 71 years old. We all had different relationships with her due to our age differences and the distance we lived from her. She wasn’t in Grandma mode yet when the older grandchildren were born as she was still raising her younger children. Her 7th child was born two years after the birth of the first grandchild.

Her oldest granddaughter shared this: “Grandma Dempsey was a real lady that I was proud to call my grandmother, but since I was the oldest grandchild, I didn’t have some of the same memories that you younger ones did. She was still a mother of two at home and working and didn’t really have the time to spend with some of us older grandchildren. I can’t remember doing things like some of you did, but I understand why it was that way. I do remember her sharing her quilting and crocheting with me. I wish I could have been more like her, a kind, caring and sweet spirit!”

Her youngest daughter-in-law shared this: “Myrtle was a very special lady and I was blessed to have her as my mother-in-law. She was very particular about her clothing and had to go every Saturday to the beauty shop. She always enjoyed getting all dressed up and going to church on Sunday. She was very faithful to God and her church. She dearly loved her family and each of you grandchildren were so very special to her. If she didn’t hear from some of you for a while, she would make a comment. You were each in her heart and prayers. She looked forward to visits from her family. Many times after family get-togethers, I would straighten up the house. She would ask me not to clean the sliding glass doors so she could see the grandchildren’s hand prints. She said it made her feel as if they were still with her. We all know how she enjoyed baking and having goodies when everyone came to visit.

I always felt as if Lloyd’s Mom was of royalty. She carried herself in such a proper manner. She always seemed so regal as she would sit in her chair in her later years looking so pretty and all dressed up, just in case someone would happen to come for a visit. She was a very gentle, loving person, yet confronted adversity with great strength through her faith in God. I marveled at the way she endured the death of her husband and children. The loss was great to her, yet she faced each day with determination to live life to it’s fullest and even though she was suffering internally, she continued to be a strong loving influence to her family. Yes, she was very dear to me and I admit the memories have brought a few tears. I spent many cherished moments with her as we had the privilege to help with her care. The blessing and privilege were mine. After all, my Mother-in-Law was one of earth’s angels.

In 1997 she was looking forward to having us visit her. It was our first visit since 1979. She had a stroke and was hospitalized before we got there. Lloyd believed that she was holding on just to see us. Although we knew what to expect it was heartbreaking. I can still see her lying in the hospital bed but I have more intense memories of her hugging me all the other times we visited her.

Myrtle H. Dempsey Boles, 91, of Victor, Fayette County, died Wednesday, 13 August 1997, in Ansted Health Care Center. She was buried on August 16th in Restlawn Memory Gardens, Victor, next to her first husband Fred R. Dempsey and her son MSgt Fred R. Dempsey.

© James Skaggs, used with permission.

1904 – Sib 1: Lacy Shelton ROOP was born in Feb 1904
1905 – Sib 2: Piercie ROOP was born 15 Mar 1905 and died 5 May 1905
1906 – “Murtle” ROOP was born 26 Mar 1906
1908 – Sib 4: James Henry ROOP was born 11 Feb 1908 (1908-1957)
1910 – Sib 5: Walter Gordon ROOP was born 9 Mar 1910 (1910-1984).
1913 – Sib 6: Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP born 9 Jun 1913 (1913-2003), Myrtle’s only sister
1914 – World War I (begin) 28 Jun 1914
1918 – World War I (end) 11 Nov 1918
1919 – Sib 7: Alfred Lee ROOP (1919-1981) was born on 22 Aug 1919
1920 – On the 1920 census the family name was seen as ROOPE.
1923 – Myrtle ROOP and Fred DEMPSEY married
1927 – Sib 4: James Henry ROOP married 20 Aug 1927 Goldie M. WALKER (1908-1991)
1929 – Stock Market Crash 29 Oct 1929
1929 – Sib 6: Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP md. 23 Dec 1929 James David RAMSEY (1907-2001)
1930 – Myrtle and Fred were living in Jodie with their daughters Thelma, Lois, and Leona
1931 – Sib 5: Walter Gordon ROOP married 18 Jul 1931 Ica Laurel CARR (1913-1993)
1932 – Sib 1: Lacy Shelton ROOP married 28 Mar 1932 Lulu Irene HAYS (1915-1992)
1937 – Sib 7: Alfred Lee ROOP Married 15 May 1937 Lorena Lea ELSWICK (1918-1992)
1939 – World War II (begin) 1 Sep 1939
1940 – Fred and Myrtle moved from Jodie to Victor with Thelma, Lois, Leona, Doyle and Freddy
1945 – World War II (end) 14 Aug 1945 (39)
1947 – Sib 6: Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP divorced James D. RAMSEY and later (date unknown) married Albert HITE (spelling of surname is uncertain).
1950 – Mother: Rebecca Jane CLONCH died 3 Feb 1950
1951 – Myrtle received Jesus and was baptized
1961 – To the best of Lloyd’s knowledge, Fred retired when he 62, approximately 30 Oct
1960s – Had a home in Florida
1967 – Sib 6: Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP married 4 Oct 1967 James David RAMSEY. They had been divorced 20 years earlier
1971 – Trip to Europe
1971 – Father: Walter Farmer ROOP died 1 Jun 1971
1975 – Sp 1: Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY died 3 Feb 1975
1980 – Myrtle Hazel ROOP married Sp 2: Marvin Shirley BOLES (1908-1986)
1986 – Sp 2: Marvin Shirley BOLES died 26 Sep 1986
1997 – Myrtle Hazel ROOP died 13 Aug 1997
2014 – Myrtle had 45 great-grandchildren and 30 great-great-grandchildren

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

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. 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.