I’d planned on having a few days to do a “little” write-up on this brick wall. But I just have to tell you about this new breakthrough I made yesterday. The short story is that 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.
William’s parentage has been a mystery for the longest time. It’s been nearly impossible to prove family tradition with documents from the time period that he lived in. Although he was found on the 1850 and 1860 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, with his wife and children, no marriage record has been located. Before coming to Fayette County he was seen on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. Part of the family tradition was that he served during the Civil War and died in a logging accident during or after the war. No documentation has been found to confirm his death and cause of death.
I credit my father’s cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007), a respected researcher from Fayette County, for the work she did on this family during the pre-internet days. However, I’ve suspected for several years now that Geraldine applied for and laid a Civil War marker for the wrong veteran on William’s grave in the cemetery in Chestnutburg on Ames Heights Road, 1.75 mi. off Rt. 19, Fayette County, West Virginia. The marker reads “Wm A. Dempsey Pvt Co C 7 Va Inf 1822-1867”.
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. 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 Co. was the man who served in the 7th Va. Inf. and not William A. W. Dempsey of Fayette Co. I incorporated all of this information in the notes of my William and included photos and images of information found in my database.
Yesterday, while reviewing his file in preparation for a “little” write-up on this brick wall, I noticed that an image of a Civil War document saved in his scrapbook was not high quality enough to read. A new search at Ancestry.com brought up images that could only be viewed on Fold3.com. Laura Keaton Morrison, a descendant of another Dempsey family in Fayette Co., was kind enough to send me the images.
Three of the images were for William A. Dempsey of Orange County. The last image, from a different collection, contained only 4 lines:
Provost Marshal File
Dempsey, William A. W.
I’d never heard of “Provost Marshal File”. 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. The image I received from Laura was from the first database, called “Union Citizens File” on Fold3. I located a two page document with the heading “List of prisoners with their own statement.” and cross ref. #2323 in the second database. “May to Sep ’62 Cits” was written on the back of the folded document. In the document I found my great-great-grandfather’s statement:
“William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18th. 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 brought me to the conclusion 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.
This document shows 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.
The search continues for the parentage of William A. W. Dempsey.
I’m thinking of maybe a weekly post to let everyone know:
what I’m working on,
what breakthroughs I’ve made,
which brick walls are holding up and which are crumbling,
genealogy sites and software I use,
collection of books in my genealogy library,
KEYS I’ve found that help me open the doors in my brick walls….
Are there other things that I can include? Look forward to reading your comments!
Our first stop was the town of Merkwiller-Pechelbronn, the birthplace of Jacob STAMBACH and his daughter Marie Barbara STAMBACH. We will have to go back to this town as I have learned that the house that once belonged to Jacob STAMBACH still stands in this village.
In May 1994 Mr. & Mrs. Ray B. Grove visited Merkwiller. He wrote: “Back on the road again we headed for Merkwiller to see the home of Jakob Stambach which had been sited on a plat plan dated 1717 which we had found in a Füenfrock genealogy. Sure enough, we were able to identify the structure from the plan and took several pictures of this very old but still lived in structure.”
Marie Barbara STAMBACH, born abt. 1703 in Merkwiller, married (1) Johannes NONNENMACHER November 25, 1721. She married (2) Johann Michael FÜNFROCK on March 2, 1733/34, after the death of her first husband. FÜNFROCK emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1770 after his wife’s death in 1768.
Marie Barbara STAMBACH and Johannes NONNENMACHER were the parents of Maria Barbara NONNENMACHER who married Johann Jacob RUPP, our immigrant.
The white sign on the building reads: “1735-1965 Anciennes Mines de Petrole” (Old Petrol Mines) and is diagonal across the street from the petrol museum in Merkwiller-Pechelbronn
The bulletin board in the lower right-hand corner of the picture is on the facade of the “Mairie” (city hall).
Leaving Merkwiller-Pechelbronn we passed through Kutzenhausen-le-Haut (Oberkutzenhausen) and continued to Kutzenhausen, the birthplace of Maria Barbara NONNENMACHER RUPP.
La Maison Rurale de l’Outre Forêt, the group of buildings on the corner, to the left, houses a living museum. It is one of the oldest fortified farms in the historical center of Kutzenhausen. Situated near the Protestant church, it is made up of two buildings used as dwellings, a double barn, annexes, a garden and an orchard. Its history goes back to the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th century when it was owned by the STAMBACH family. It remained in the hands of farming families until its existence was threatened. In the 1990s it was renovated and now brings about 12,000 visitors a year to the village of Kutzenhausen with its 800 inhabitants. The ways of our ancestors, their traditions, and events in their lives may be re-lived and discovered by the visitor. Our visit was too short to visit the museum but it will be on the top of our list when we go back.
The STAMBACH farm with its double barn on the left and one of the two houses on the right.
Front view of the Protestant church in Kutzenhausen. It was built in 1765. The Protestant parish dates back to before 1554 while records go back to 1714. There were a few old grave markers on the left side of the church. The living museum which once belonged to Felix STAMBACH is to the right of the church. On my next visit, I will try to find out if the old church was on the same site as it is mentioned in Felix STAMBACH’s will dated 1730. The relationship of Felix STAMBACH (1643-1729) to our Johann Jacob STAMBACH (1657-1715) will have to be researched. Mr. Grove believes that he may have been a brother to Felix.
Across from the Protestant church is the former administration building of the Fleckenstein family (I need to confirm this). In the background is the newer Catholic church. The building to the right I believe is the Ferme des Fleckenstein, an Inn owned by the MALL family. According to Mr. Grove, at the entrance and in the courtyard one still sees the remnant of the Fleckenstein coat of arms.
Typical farmhouse in Kutzenhausen across from the STAMBACH farm/museum. The steeple of the Catholic church can be seen in the background. On the street is the word “ECOLE” is a warning to slow down as the school is nearby.
Another one of the typical old houses in Kutzenhausen.
Side view of the Catholic church in Kutzenhausen. It was constructed in 1905. From 1693 until 1905 both the Protestants and the Catholics worshipped in the same building, the Protestant church seen previously.
Front view of the Catholic church in Kutzenhausen.
Statues on the opposite side of the street from the Kutzenhausen cemetery on the way out of town.
The entrance of Steinseltz on the main road. The older buildings are found only in the center of the village.
Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg, the birthplace of our RUPPs. We drove through Steinseltz and Oberhoffen-lès-Wissembourg on our way to Wissembourg. We didn’t stop for pictures as it was raining.
Maison du Sel or House of Salt dates from 1450. The renovated old building faces the Lauter River in Wissembourg. The building has new windows and a new facade but the roofing gives away its age. The attic rooms, on four stories, have windows that open onto little balconies that are protected by the extended roof.
The Lauter River runs through Wissembourg in front of the Maison du Sel.
Lovely view of the dwellings in Wissembourg along the Lauter River taken from the little bridge next to the Maison du Sel.
Hôtel de Ville, the city hall of Wissembourg, built between 1741-1752 in rose-colored sandstone with its little bell tower and clock. This building is in the center of town on the Place de la République. Turning to the left into the rue du Marché-aux-Poissons or Fish Market Street, you reach the little bridge over the Lauter River next to the Maison du Sel.
Coming back to Steinseltz after our visit to Wissembourg, we came in on one of the smaller roads leading into the village. An old sign at the entrance of Steinseltz is speckled with little holes from grenade fire.
We drove into Steinseltz and parked our car across from this building. SURPRISE!! The first thing we noticed was the street sign on the corner of this building.
The main street of Steinseltz is named after one of their former mayors, a RUPP.
The little street to the left of the street sign “Rue du Maire Rupp” lead us to the Steinseltz cemetery. Inside the gate, to the right, was a row of very old grave markers. They were most likely taken from the churchyard in recent years. The very first stone was for a RUPP.
Hier ruht in Gott
geb. 20 Januar 1819
gest. 29 Juni 1898
I am not sure about the last word in the first line. It translates to read Here rests in God, Magdalena JUNCKER, born 20 January 1819, died 29 June 1898, and she was married to a RUPP.
Tombstone for Albert RUPP (1906-1965) and his wife Elise ZIMMERMAN (1907-1996). Dates are in dd-mm-yyyy format. The row of old grave markers can be seen in the upper left-hand corner.
In front of the large grave site for the mayor, Georges RUPP were five markers. The farthest to the right was this one:
I believe that Lina may have been a granddaughter of Magdalena. To the left of this grave was another one that was very difficult to decipher:
Note that this Rupp was also a mayor of Steinseltz. It is possible that Henri and Lina were the parents of Georges.
This grave was to the left of one previously mentioned (Henri and Lina) but not photographed:
Heinrich Rupp must have been the husband of Magdalena Herold Rupp. There were two more graves to the left of this one but they were so weathered that the names and dates could no longer be read.
Typical old houses in Steinseltz that we passed while going up the hill to see the churches.
Front view of one of the two churches in the “rue des Eglises” (Churches Street) in Steinseltz. I have seen another photo of this church and if it is labeled correctly then this is the Protestant church.
Monument in the churchyard of the Protestant church in Steinseltz:
At the foot of the monument, the names of the men from Steinseltz who died during World War II including Charles RUPP.
View of one of the older houses in Steinseltz. The stairs lead to the front door. The arched doorway to the right of the stairs is the entrance to the cellar. The large barn door can be seen behind the stairs. On the left is a house built most likely after World War II.
View of the main street, rue du Maire Rupp, in Steinseltz.
In Memory of
Promoter of the
Hope you all enjoyed the pictures that we took of the area that our ancestors came from. We will be going back again when the weather is nicer. The fields were filled with melting snow and it was raining most of the time we were there. With warmer weather, we should be able to get nice photos of the villages from a distance. Summertime is especially nice as the people there hang boxes filled with geraniums below all the windows. Steinseltz is especially well-known for their geraniums. Of course, we will be sure to get plenty of photos of the inside and outside of the museum in Kutzenhausen as well as visit with Mr. René RUPP in Oberhoffen-les-Wissembourg.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for our next visit.