When I began doing family research on the internet, I connected with Robert N. Grant, author of Sorting some of the Wrights of Southern Virginia. I found him on a mailing list (pre-Facebook days) where he mentioned a couple of my surnames. This was back in May 2000 when he was working on the draft of his work on 1825 Achilles WRIGHT of Oldham County, Kentucky (the year before his name indicates the year of death in the said county). Bob sent me a paper version of this draft via snail mail (yes, it was that long ago) that included information on my LANDRUM and CRISP lines of Amherst County, Virginia as Achilles had lived in Amherst and Nelson counties in Virginia before moving to Kentucky.
Repaying an Act of Genealogical Kindness
The book is part of a series of books that are available on FamilySearch. Years later I was able to return the favor. In October 2014 I found chancery records involving a James WRIGHT and sent the link to Bob. I received a reply the same day thanking me. I’d caught him pre-retirement and in July 2015 he wrote:
I wanted to thank you again for the very helpful reference to the Nelson County Chancery Court cases involving James Wright. They clearly identified James, the son of 1825 Achilles Wright of Oldham County, KY, as the James who married Lucy Crisp. Thank you!
In addition, the case clarified that Elizabeth Wright who married Elijah Skidmore was a daughter of James and not, as had been reported previously, a daughter of his brother 1845 George Wright of Trimble County, KY. That rewrote a portion of my materials as well.
I have an updated version of my material on 1825 Achilles Wright and his descendants and would be happy to send that to you, if that would be of interest to you. It includes a transcription of the chancery court case that lays out the family of James and the family of Lucy’s parents.
A Lesson Learned from Bob’s Research
When I found those chancery records I knew I had to send the information to Bob to repay him for sharing his work with me. I never forgot this act of kindness on his part as he also taught me the importance of personal property tax and land tax lists without knowing it.
By reading through his draft, I learned how the PPT and land tax lists can be used in our research. Although the annual PPT lists may appear to include very little information compared to census records, when they are viewed as a whole, the information can be used to fill in the missing years between the census. For persons of the same surname, relationships may have been expressly or implicitly stated. They can also help with determining when a person lived in a certain place and when he may have moved or died. Most importantly, the names found on the lists can help identify the male members of households in pre-1850 census listings.
The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax as well as all “tithables,” or taxable individuals and goods in the household. Included were the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of enslaved people both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables.
During the past five years or so, I’ve been checking the catalog at FamilySearch for collections that are available to all users on the site and not only at the Family History Library or associated libraries. Land tax records for several counties in West Virginia were found to be accessible in 2019.
Earlier this week in the Facebook group Rockbridge County Virginia Genealogy, I replied to a query. Someone asked if the tax lists were available online. Not knowing the answer, I checked the catalog and I discovered the Personal Property Tax lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia, are online on FamilySearch.
Rockbridge Couty, Virginia, Personal Property Tax Lists
I’d been waiting to be able to work with tax lists for many of my lines since I first read Bob’s draft. Discovering their availability for Rockbridge pushed me to do some browsing in these records.
One of my DEMPSEY brick walls began to crumble in 2007 when I found Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The initials are the same as those he used on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List (a Civil War document). I am convinced these initials were very important to him.
In Section VII of A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia1 the taxpayers of the county for 1841 were listed. The numbers after their names refer to the road precincts in which the persons lived.
Appendix D in the book gives a description of the precincts.
By searching through the taxpayer’s list for others who were in precinct 43, I was able to put together this list of persons who were likely his neighbors.
Rockbridge County, Virginia
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road
Dempsey, William A. W.
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. (Note to self: Agnor was later seen as Agnew)
The problem was that the source was not a primary source. Finding the mention in the book was not the same as accessing a digital copy of the tax list collection: Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850, main author: Commissioner of the Revenue (Rockbridge County, Virginia).
I searched first for the image of the 1841 tax list naming William A. W. Dempsey.
Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY was enumerated on 29 March 1841. In the column for white males of 16, there is a 1 indicating one person 16 or older was tithable. It is my understanding that the person named had to be of age therefore 21 years old or older. William was therefore born about 1820 or earlier.
In 1842, William was not found. In 1843 he was visited by Samuel Walkup in the southwest district on 5 April 1843. The entire list was viewed. I found William was the only person who was visited on that day. Is this an indication that he lived in a sparsely populated area?
No Dempsey was found in Rockbridge County on the PPT for the years 1844 to 1851.
William A. W. DEMPSEY was in Fayette County at the time of the 1850 census. The PPT for Fayette County, available for the years 1831 to 1850, showed a William DEMPSEY in 1846, 1849, and 1850. No initials are noted.
Working backward, I checked in Rockbridge before 1841.
William A. W. DEMPSEY was listed as 28 in 1850 and as 40 in 1860 on the census of Fayette County. If this William DEMPSEY was William A. W. DEMPSEY and only men 21 or older were named then he was born 1818 or earlier. He was visited a month after John W. DEMPSEY. If they had been closely related or living near each other, wouldn’t they have been visited within a day or two?
John W. DEMPSEY (1802-1873) married in Rockbridge in 1824. He was on the Fayette County census in 1840 and the PPT lists from 1840 to 1850. He has been proven to be the son of Tandy DEMPSEY who was in Rockbridge in 1820 (per census) and earlier (per tax list), in Logan (now WV) in 1830 (per census), and in Jay County, Indiana, by early fall 1835 until 8 August 1836 when his death was the first recorded in the township of Bear Creek.
If John W. DEMPSEY was the father of William A. W. DEMPSEY, the 1836 to 1838 tax lists (above) do not help to show this as male white tithables 16 and older were not noted. If this category had been included then John and all males 16 and older (possible sons in the household) would have been included in the count. Further, if John was the father, he would have had to have been married before his 1824 marriage.
From 1835 back to 1822 (W.C. Lewis district) no Demsey or Dempsey was found on the PTT.
Personal property tax books, 1824-1850 for Logan County are restricted at this time on FamilySearch. When they are available, I need to check if Tandy, John W., and other siblings were in Logan before 1835. Tandy was in Indiana by 1835, is known to have been in Logan for the 1830 census and the 1827 tax list (from a transcript).
Other Virginia Counties Need to be Checked
Rockbridge County is surrounded by the counties of Augusta, Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Alleghany, and Bath. I’ve searched Botetourt and will be working through each of the other counties to find Dempsey individuals who may have crossed over the county lines. Formation of the counties will also be considered.
Botetourt had the expected Rev. Absalom C. DEMPSEY (1787-1872) on the tax list from 1809 to 1851. The Reverend was the son of another William DEMPSEY who died before June 1806 and grandson of a William DEMPSEY who died about 1806. The estimated deaths of Absolom’s father and grandfather were found in chancery records that also name children of the younger William, including William the 3rd who died intestate, unmarried, and without issue before 1822 (see images 4 and 5).
Montgomery has also been added to the list of counties to check as there is a connection between men found on the Botetourt tax lists and at least one known to have been in Montgomery. Hugh DEMPSEY (born 1785 or earlier) was not named as a son of the senior William mentioned in the chancery records. He was seen in Botetourt from 1808 to 1828, was on the 1830 census in Montgomery before going to Missouri before 1840.
Orange County will also be carefully checked as I have researched the DEMPSEY family coming out of this county in my process of elimination.
Recap for William A. W. Dempsey
My review of the Rockbridge County PPT brought to light two tax listings for my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY. Listed with the middle initials he used during his lifetime, he was found in the county in 1841 and 1843. The 1839 listings may or may not be for my William.
As other counties in Virginia (including present-day West Virginia) are checked, I hope to be able to sort all of the DEMPSEY individuals into their appropriate family groups.
As my William A. W. DEMPSEY went to Fayette County after 1843 and by 1846, it has been speculated that he may have been a son of John W. DEMPSEY who married Margaret FITZPATRICK in 1824. This John moved to Fayette County by July 1839 when he married his second wife, Amelia RIDDLE. I also once considered this possibility. As genealogy research has not so far turned up any supporting evidence for this assumption, I’ve turned to genetic genealogy and evaluating DNA matches. If my William A. W. DEMPSEY were the son of John W. DEMPSEY and the half-sibling of John’s children from both marriages, I should be seeing matches with some of their descendants. So far, none have been found.
And the search continues, for the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552. Images of the pages in the book courtesy of Archive.org. ↩
George W. DEMPSEY was born about 1831 in Amherst County, Virginia, and lived in Fayette County, Virginia (before the state of West Virginia was formed), from about 1855 when his father moved the family there until sometime after the 1870 census. George did not die on 16 November 1879 as many online family trees indicate. He was not found on the 1880 census as George W. DEMPSEY. His 13 years old daughter Polina was found in Amherst County, his oldest son Andrew remained in Fayette County, and his son Robert (found in later years) is unaccounted for in 1880. If he was still living, where was George in 1880?
Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950)
The mystery of George W. DEMPSEY’s disappearance was not a question I was looking into. I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches with an unusual surname in their trees that was similar to DEMPSEY.
Using my DNA tools, I found a group of matches associated with several clusters that point to my GOWING-CRISP family group AND/OR those branches further back. Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP were the parents of Clementine M. GOWING, mother of George W. DEMPSEY.
The matches have a common ancestor named Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). By comparing the ICW (in common with) matches and working out their trees, I was able to find 14 matches that descend from Mollie through seven of her children: 2 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 4 2xgreat-grandchildren, and 1 3xgreat-grandchild. [23 Feb 2021 Update: Number of matches and their relationship to Mollie adjusted after charting the matches.]
I built a documented tree for Mollie adding all records found on Ancestry as well as FamilySearch. A little over a week ago, I discovered an interesting article written in 1893.1 For the most part, it confirms much of the information I found and even gives a bit more insight into the man who was Mollie’s father.
A Little Waif – Mollie’s Story
About fifteen years ago a man by the name of ___ Dempster, with his young wife, moved into the neighborhood of Rye Cove, Scott county, Va. Dempster was a man of perhaps forty, while his wife was several years younger. They were both handsome and intelligent, and Dempster possessed an education which placed him above the average. After a time a daughter was born in the newly established household, who was the joy and pride of her fond parents.
Mollie’s parents’ names were unknown when I searched the 1880 census for persons with the DEMPSTER surname. Only one couple was found in the southwestern part of Virginia.
In 1880 the possible parents of Mollie Lee DEMPSTER were living in Taylor District, Scott County, Virginia. Wesley DEMSTER (sic) doesn’t appear to have an occupation as the field indicates At home. His wife Mary was keeping house. Both were born in Virginia as were their parents. Wesley was 50 years old, nearly a decade older than noted in the article. The columns for Cannot Read and Cannot Write are not marked and therefore both were literate confirming the statement in the article that Mr. DEMPSTER was an educated man.2
Mollie’s 1880 birth record was located by browsing the Virginia birth registers for Scott County, Virginia, on FamilySearch. She was born on 11 July 1880 – after the census was enumerated. The informant on the register of the county is listed as a friend named Wm P. GOOD. He was the head of the household listed just above the DEMPSTER couple on the 1880 census. The parents of Mollie L. were Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Mary J. DEMPSTER.3
Near the Dempsters lived at that time Mr. W. W. Taylor, now of this place. About the time of the birth of the little girl to the Dempsters a girl baby was born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. The children grew up together, and there was quite an attachment formed between the two families.
Mrs. Dempster died when her child was about four years old. Soon a step-mother was brought in over the child. At the age of eight years her father died, and, in the meantime Mr. Taylor’s little girl had died.
Again, browsing the registers of Scott County for deaths, I found Mollie’s mother Mary J. died of consumption on 12 January 1883 when Mollie was 2 and a half years old. Wesley reported the death and gave the name of her mother as Virginia LARKEY. No father was named. Mary J. was 30 years 2 months and 13 days old on the day of her death placing her birth on 30 October 1852. Ditto marks were made in the field for the place of birth indicating she was born in Scott County.4 I was unable to trace her before the 1880 census.
Over a year and a half later, on 23 September 1884, Wesly DEMSTER (sic), widowed, age 50, born in Nelson County, Virginia, married Polly CAMBELL, age 35, born in North Carolina. The parents of the groom were Wilson and Mary; the father of the bride was Wyat CAMBELL.5
The death records of two of the TAYLOR children were located. On 10 September 1885 Emoline TAYLOR age 5 years 1 month 10 days died of Diptheria.6 On 30 July 1887 Nancy E. TAYLOR age 11 months died of Flux.7 Both girls were daughters of William W. and Mary TAYLOR. Emoline would have been the child born about the same time as Mollie.
If Wesley died when Mollie was about 8 years old, Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR likely asked the stepmother to turn her over to them after the death of their second daughter in 1887. On the 1900 census, Mrs. TAYLOR is listed as the mother of 7, 2 living. The two living children were the sons who were still at home.8
Per the article, Wesley died about 1888. No death record was found in Scott County for the years between 1885 to 1890. I was, however, able to narrow the range of the date of death.
Wesley G. DEMPSTER gave a deposition in a chancery cause on 23 November 1886 in Estilville. He traveled 14 miles to give evidence on behalf of the complainant, W. P. GOOD, owner of a lumber mill near Natural Tunnel. The case file is 287 images. I found it yesterday and only had time to skim through it. I found mention of Wesley DEMPSTER who was “clerking in the store & measuring lumber in the yard” and kept the books for Mr. GOOD. At the time of the deposition, DEMPSTER had quit working for Mr. GOOD.9
After the death of Dempster Mr. and Mrs. Taylor went to his second wife and asked that the little girl be turned over to them to raise, which was done. Shortly after this Dempster’s second wife went deranged, and is now an inmate of an insane asylum.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have, since taking charge of the little girl, cared for her just as if she was their own. She is now a bright, intelligent girl of thirteen, and is very fond of her foster parents.
The information about the step-mother being an inmate of an insane asylum confirmed the 1900 census listing found for a widowed lady named Polly DEMPSTER, an inmate in the Southwestern State Hospital.10 The article, written in 1893 pre-dates the census.
Two cases were found in the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records mentioning Polly CAMPBELL aka Polly DEMPSTER. A judgment dated 16 May 1906 in the cause of Southwestern State Hospital vs B.J. Broadwater committee of Polly DEMPSTER awarded payment of nearly $5,000 to the hospital for the period 15 September 1887 to 29 March 1905. The case was not closed until 1912. The date range for the payment due to the hospital would suggest that Polly may have been an inmate since 15 September 1887. This would have been two months after the youngest TAYLOR girl died.11
I had not located a 1910 census listing for Polly prior to this find. With the knowledge that she may still be living, I searched again in the location of the hospital. Polly age 72 and widowed was in the hospital and therefore still living on 15 April 1910.12 She was indexed as “Polly Dunfota”
Dempster, during his residence in Scott county, was very particular to never tell where he came from, and when approached on this subject always evaded an answer; nor was he ever heard to mention the name of a relative; so that now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.
Dempster is described as having been a large, stoutly-built man, weighing over 200 pounds.
As discussed in part 1, on 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest. The record concerning the arrest gave this physical description of George: age 31 years, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers).13
There was no mention of George W. DEMPSEY’s weight or build in the description and no mention of Mr. DEMPSTER’s height, complexion, hair, or eyes in the article.
Mollie’s Story continues after 1893
When I began researching Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, I found an extract of her 1896 marriage record with W. W. TAYLOR and Mary E. TAYLOR as her parents.14 Mollie was single and only 16 years old. Her parents’ surname did not match hers suggesting they may not have been her parents. The record can only be viewed at a family history library or a FamilySearch affiliated library.
Even though I was not able to access the marriage record, I found a short mention of the marriage in The Post in a series called “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post.” It confirms that Robert P. BARRON and Miss Mollie DEMPSTER were united in the holy bonds of matrimony at the home of W. W. TAYLOR in 1896.15
Although the relationship of the TAYLORs to the bride and groom is not mentioned in the clipping, it is now known that Mollie was taken in and raised by them.
Wesley G. DEMPSTER
As seen in the chancery records found, Wesley’s death can be narrowed down to between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887.
The name Wesley G. DEMPSTER sent off warning bells as my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY, father of George W. DEMPSEY, had a brother names Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890). Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Wesley G. DEMPSEY were not one and the same person as both were found in the 1880 census in different places. Wesley DEMPSTER age 50 was in Scott County and Wesley DEMPSEY age 71 was in Rockbridge County.
There is no trace of Wesley G. DEMPSTER before he shows up in the Scott County records. He should not be confused with Wesley DEMPSTER (1833-1913) born in New York and died in Chicago, Illinois. Some trees on Ancestry have the death of this man in Chicago attached to Mollie’s father, Wesley G. DEMPSTER.
Who were Wilson and Mary DEMPSTER, the couple named as the parents of Wesley G. DEMPSTER when he married in 1884? No person named Wilson DEMPSTER of the age to be the father of Wesley born between 1830-1834 was found in the census including in Nelson County, Virginia, where Wesley was supposedly born per the 1884 marriage record.
However, Wilson M. DEMPSEY is a familiar name in the DEMPSEY family history. He was the brother of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Wesley G. DEMPSEY. Wilson was married twice, in 1839 and abt. 1848, both marriages being later than the estimated birth of Wesley G. DEMPSTER.
The article notes Wesley’s evasion of any questions about his family or where he came from. Is it a coincidence that the first names of two of Seaton’s brothers were the names used in records found for Wesley G. DEMPSTER? Is it possible the name he gave on his marriage record for his father was not his father’s and only a name he gave to cover up his true identity?
The story that came to life in “The Little Waif” was not known when I wrote about George W. DEMPSEY, the person of interest in my first post. The article was only found while I was writing about Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, my second person of interest. The newspaper article supports the information found for Mollie and her parents, both biological and foster.
Part 3 will cover the DNA tools I used to analyze the DNA matches and a conclusion/theory of where Mollie fits into my family tree. It would be incredible if I could refute the 128 years old claim: now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.
1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1389; Virginia, Scott County, Taylor, Enumeration District 076, page 245A, Lines 24-25, HH #208-208, Wesley Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
“Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Collection Record 1853-1912, Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 121 of 687, line 14, entry of death Mary J. Dempster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-T8C?i=120&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry.com, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 337187, Reference ID: 337187. Wesly Demster, male, widowed, age 50, born abt. 1834 in Nelson VA, father Wilson, Mother Mary, married 23 Sep 1884 in Scott VA, Polly Cambell, female, age 35, born abt. 1849 in NC, father Wyat Cambell. ↩
1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241732, Virginia, Wise County, Richmond, Enumeration District 127, Page 2A, HH #19-20, line 1-4, William W. Taylor. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). ↩
Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, (Digital images available for the years 1816-1912. Indexed information and originals available through 1942), Local Government Records Collection, Scott Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. W P Good v. S M Winchester, 1897-046. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1897-046 : accessed 20 February 2021). ↩
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 145, Page 2A, line 17, Polly Dempster, patient. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). ↩
1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1649, FHL microfilm: 1375662, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 80, Page 5A, line 23, Polly Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” FHL Film Number: 34394, Reference ID: p 63 cn 112. Mellie L. Dempster, female, single, white, age 16, born 1880 in Natural Tunnel (Scott County VA), father W.W. Taylor, mother Mary E. Taylor, married 28 Sep 1896 in Big Stone Gap (Wise County VA), Robert P. Barton, male, single, white, age 28, born 1868 in Turkey (Lee County VA), father Wm. N. G. Barron, mother Louisa J. Barron. ↩
“Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post”, The Post (Big Stone Gap, Virginia), 24 Oct 1946, p. 10, col. 4; image copy, Newspaper.com (http://newspaper.com : accessed 11 February 2021), Historical Newspapers from 1700s to 2000s by Ancestry.com. ↩
I have a theory I’m working on. It might not be very smart of me to share it here, but I see no other way to get others involved in helping me solve this mystery.
I know what happens when the wrong information is posted on the internet. People believe it, re-post it, and, suddenly, it becomes an accepted but unproven fact. The ancestor or relative’s story is changed as people go click-happy accepting hints.
In this first of two parts, a bit of background information will be shared on the person of interest.
Who was George W. Dempsey (b. abt. 1831)?
George W. DEMPSEY was the oldest child of my 3rd great-grandparents Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who married 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia.1 Seaton, per the census, was the head of a household in 1830 with a young man, likely his younger brother Wesley, and a young woman, his wife Clementine.2 The young married couple didn’t yet have children. By 1840 they had three children including George who was less than 10 years old and over five.3 In 1850 George was still living at home and 19 years old.4 No birth records were found for Amherst County at this time and George’s birth has been estimated at about 1831.
On 20 December 1852, George married Rhoda A. STATON in Amherst County.5 Less than a year later, on 19 November 1853, their son Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY was born.6 Sometime after Andrew’s birth, Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s family moved to the Fayetteville Township area of Fayette County, (West) Virginia. George and Rhoda were in his father’s household in 1860 with their son “Ceton A.” listed as age 5.7 If other children had been born to the couple before 1860, they did not survive. George’s oldest sister Geneva Elizabeth DEMPSEY remained in Amherst County and his brother William S. DEMPSEY, the second oldest son, had married and remained in Rockbridge County.
On 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. George, age 31 years, was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers). He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest.8
A year later George and Rhoda’s son Robert L. DEMPSEY was born in March 1863.9 Four years later, George and Rhoda had a daughter on 11 May 1867 in Fayetteville Township.10 She was named Polina E. and would go by Bettie and Lina in later years. In 1870 the little family was found in the census in Fayetteville Township: George A. (sic), Rhoda, Andrew S., Robert L., and Pertina E.11
On 29 December 1874, Andrew S. DEMPSEY, son of Geo. W. and R. A. DEMPSEY, married in Fayetteville. The marriage register entry does not indicate if the parents were living or deceased.12
There is the possibility that George was the man mentioned in a document dated 8 March 1876 when a contract with one Geo. W. DEMPSEY for road work on Arbuckle road in Fayette County was annulled.
I’ve researched all three DEMPSEY lines who lived in Fayette County at this time. There was a younger George Washington DEMPSEY, son of John W. DEMPSEY and Amelia RIDDLE, born in December 1851 who would have also been old enough to be the man mentioned in the record above. I cannot at this time say if this contract was for George b. 1831 or George b. 1851. I had planned on sharing the images and transcription of the document but decided against it. Anyone interested in the document can view it at the link in the citation.13
George W. DEMPSEY and his wife were not found in the 1880 census. Therefore, there is a decade from 1870 to 1880 in which their whereabouts are unknown.
The death of George W. DEMPSEY
George W. DEMPSEY did not die on 16 November 1879 and he was not buried in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, in grave number 5369.
The man buried in Hampton National Cemetery served as a volunteer in Company K of Regiment 8 of New Jersey.14, 15 He was a 70 years old widower and had been a resident of the National Soldiers Home for 5 years16. He was born about 1809 and over 20 years older than George W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County. Records found for this man’s death have been erroneously attached to George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. and Clementine.
I learned the date of death was wrong, i.e. not for George W. DEMPSEY of Virginia, by viewing the documents. This is why we should always view the available images and not rely on the index. If only an index is offered, it is wise to review the source information to learn if the records are available in image form on the same site or on another.
With the confusion concerning George’s death in 1879 out of the way, what happened to him? Where was he in 1880?
The Children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON from 1880 until…
In 1880, two of the three known children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON were found in the census. They lived about 165 miles apart. That may not seem like much in our days but in 1880 this was not a quick drive on the interstate.
Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY (1853-1924) was 27 years old, married with two children, and living in Fayetteville17 where the family had been since coming from Amherst County around 1855.18
Andrew would remain in Fayetteville and raise a family of nine children. No death record has been found but his tombstone in Huse Memorial Park indicates he died in 1924.
The whereabouts of Robert L. DEMPSEY (1863-aft. 1930) in 1880 is unknown. Robert married Mary Frances DARR in Kanawha County in 1892. None of the records found name his parents and a record of death is missing. Robert and his wife gave their children unusual middle names which strongly support his being George’s son. His oldest son was named Paul Seaton, his youngest son Edgar Younger (the assumed middle name of his great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY), and his son Robert Darr was given his mother’s maiden name.
Polina Elizabeth DEMPSEY (1867-1941) was 13 years old in 1880, a servant living in Pedlar District of Amherst County with a MASON household.19
Bettie, as she was more often known, lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from at least 1884 when her first daughter was born in Cornwall.20 Bettie had eight children before marrying William W. SORRELS in 1916. Her 1941 death certificate gives her mother’s name as Rhoda STATON and her father’s name as not known.21
What Happened to George W. DEMPSEY?
With two of the three children of George and Rhoda accounted for in the 1880 census, several questions remain. Where were George, Rhoda, and Robert in 1880? Why was their 13-year-old daughter found in Amherst? Were both George and Rhoda still living, only one of them living, or neither?
Assuming George W. DEMPSEY was living in 1880, where might he have gone? Could he have started a new family? Have descendants of his known and maybe unknown children had their DNA tested?
The second part of this post will be published in two weeks’ time as next Sunday’s post will be My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021.
Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Date: 1829 Jan 3; Name of husband: Dempsey, Seaton Y.; Name of wife: Gowing, Clementina; Security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Roll: 194; History Library Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst, page 519, line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey household. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern District, page: 76a (stamped), lines 1-9, HH #40-40, Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 February 2013). ↩
Audrey Blankenship Gill, photographer, photo of a grave marker in Huse Memorial Park, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, taken on 3 April 2007. Inscription: Dempsey, Andrew Seaton Nov. 19, 1853-Mar. 12, 1928 and Dempsey, Caroline Burgess June 12, 1852-May 10, 1933. ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653, Family History Library Film: 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page No. 142, lines 28-37, HH #1352-687 and #1353-688, Dempsey households. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
Month and year of birth from the 1900 census. I have not found records supporting his middle name being Luther as seen on many family trees. A son’s delayed birth certificate and a daughter’s obituary name the father as Robert Lee DEMPSEY. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686, Family History Library Film: 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 113A, line 40, and page 113B, lines 1-4, HH #9-9, Dempsey George A (sic). The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 (database index, FamilySearch, database images <I>West Virginia Division of Culture and History</I>), 29 Dec 1874, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, Andrew S. Dempsey, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, s/o Geo W. and R. A. Dempsey, Caroline Burgess, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, d/o Andrew and ~ Burgess. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12086567&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). ↩
Loose papers, ca. 1787-1875 (1901), (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the West Virginia University Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Contains original deeds, guardianship, wills, road records, and other types of documents that were recorded before the courts. DGS 7616766, Film 186347, Loose papers (boxes 1-2), env. ?-1 to ?-3 (no dates), env. 1787-1, 1824-1, 1841-1, 1851-1 to 1869-3, image 498 (lower right) and 499 (upper right) of 584. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VT-QCR9?cat=302047 : accessed 5 February 2021). ↩
1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 27, page 31B, lines 17-20, HH #339, Andrew S Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
Seaton’s youngest child was born in Amherst in 1853. His brother Wilson was in Fayette County for the birth of a slave named Orange on 11 June 1855. Wilson’s residence at the time was listed as Amherst. He may have set up temporary housekeeping in Fayette with Mary, the mother of Orange, and preparing for the permanent move from Amherst to Fayette with his second wife and children from both marriages. ↩
1880 Census, Roll: 1353; Virginia, Amherst County, Pedlar, Enumeration District 20, page 238D, line 22, HH #27-27, Marvel Mason. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 23586, Registration area no. 815B, Registered no. 9. Nanny Dempsey, female, white, age 64, born 10 May 1884, died 20 Oct 1948 in Vesuvius, Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 3 Nov 1948, mother Betty Dempsey. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2016). ↩
Ibid., State file no. 25092, Registration area no. 815A, Registered no. 9. Betty P Dempsey Sorrels, female, white, age 71, born 11 May 1870, died 8 Sep 1941 in Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 9 Nov 1941, mother Rhoda Staton, spouse W W Sorrels. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2016). ↩
While researching my families who lived in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia) I found the following record which names two enslaved persons.
This indenture names female slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves.1
1846 Hix to J. B. Cobbs Indenture
In the margin:
Hix to J.D. Cobbs final
Tax paid J.A.N.
Delivered to Jno. Clowes for ____ his mother.
This Indenture made and entered into this 22nd day of September 1845 by and between William Hicks of Amherst County of the first part. Emma Clowes the wife of Sidney B. Clowes and James M. Cobbs of the Town of Lynchburg of the second and third parts. Witnesseth: that whereas the said William Hicks is desirous to settle upon and secure to the sole & separate use of the said Emma Clowes,one female slave named Mary and her child Esther, together with the increase of both said slaves, to be held and enjoyed by the said Emma for and during her natural life, and at her death to go to & belong to the child or children of said Emma, share & share alike or the survivors of them by the present or any future husband, and the descendants of any who may die before the mother, such descendants taking such share or shares as their parents or parents would have taken, had he she or they survived the said Emma. Now therefore in considerations of the premises, and the further consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid to the said William Hicks, at & before the enscaling and delivery of these presents, the receipts of which is hereby fully acknowledged, he the said Hicks hath bargained & sold & delivered and by these presents do bargain sell and deliver unto the said James M. Cobbs, the saidfemale slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves.To have & to hold the said slaves together with their increase, the said William Hicks for himself his Exors & admins doth hereby warrant & defend a good lawful and sufficient right & titles as against himself his executors & admrs. & as against all & every person or persons, claiming by through or under him and not otherwise. In trust nevertheless that it shall be the duty of the said James M. Cobbs to permit the said Emma Clowes to have take & enjoy the hires use & profits of the said slaves & their increase for and during her natural life as a sole and separate estate free from the actual contracts or liabilities of her said husband or of any future husband. And at her death shall cause the said slaves together with all & singular their future increase to be equally divided amongst the children or child of said Emma who may survive her, and amongst the descendants of any child who may have died before her, giving to such descendant or descendants only such share as their parent or parents would have taken had he or she survived her or her mother. In testimony of all which the parties hereto have signed their names sealed with their seals the day & year above written. Witness
J. J. Watson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Hix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emma Clowes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James M. Cobbs In the Clerks Office of the Lynchburg Hustings? Court, March 10th 1846. . . . . . . This deed from William Hix to James M. Cobbs for the benefit of Emma Clowes, which was acknowledged by all the parties before the clerk on the 15th January 1846, was this day admitted to record, the tax thereon being paid. . . . . . . . Teste . . . . . . . . . James Benagh clk
Clerks Office of Greenbrier County Court October 13th 1847 . . . . . . . . This deed was this day presented in the office and with the above certificates of the acknowledgments, is admitted to record. . . . . . . . Teste . . . . . . . . . John A. North D.C
About the persons in the indenture
William Hicks was found in Amherst County in 1840 as William Hix with 12 slaves.2
Emma Clowes was born Emma Handley, daughter of Alexander Handley. She married Sydney Bailey Clowes in Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1833.3 Both of her parents were deceased when the indenture was drawn up.
In 1850 S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule of Greenbrier County, Virginia, with one 25 years old female black and one 7 years old female black.4
By 1860 the Clowes family had moved to Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia. S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule with four black females ages: 35, 18, 9, and 6.5 Could they be Mary and her daughter Esther as well as two daughters born to Mary after 1850?
Sydney B. Clowes was listed on the 18506, 18607, and 18708 census as a Stage Agent.
As the slave schedule does not give names of the enslaved persons it is a guess on my part that Mary may have been born about 1825 and Esther may have been born about 1843 and seen on the 1850 schedule. Mary was the mother of Esther per the indenture. Mary may have also been the mother of the two younger girls born about 1851 and 1854 and seen on the 1860 schedule.
It has been a while since I’ve been able to release the names found in records as I am only now getting back to doing US research. In hopes that Mary and Esther will be recognized by descendants and this will help them to break through their brick wall.
Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia), Film 593555, DGS #8152881, Deeds, v. 17-18 1843-1851, image 174+175 of 612, page 333-334. Hix to J. D. Cobb Indenture. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-J7MX-8?i=173&cat=98577 : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 209, line 3, William Hix. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
“Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” (index), Ancestry, citing FamilySearch, Index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City., FHL Film Number: 30734, page 366. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Greenbrier, image 2 of 7, line 1-2, S. B. Clews. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 6, line 14-17, S. B. Clowes. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Greenbrier, District 18, image 252, page 283A, S. B. Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 24, Sidney B. Clowes household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1675, Family History Library Film: 553174, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 477B, Sydnor Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). ↩
Our ancestors didn’t live in bubbles. Their interaction with others can often help with the research questions we have – or the questions others have about their own ancestors.
Last month my search for the parents of my 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth Smith (ca. 1737-1793) of Amherst County, formerly of Goochland County, was not successful. But it led to the inventory of a man named John Smith whose goods and chattels were inventoried on 29 January 1755 in Goochland County, Virginia. The inventory included an enslaved person named Nan. She was not the only person I found while trying to solve the question of who Mr. and Mrs. Smith may have been.
Often I find myself reviewing an ancestor’s documentation, checking what has been looked into and what may still need to be searched for. These bits and pieces bring our ancestors’ stories to life. Elizabeth Smith’s story includes a husband and children. She married David Proffitt on 7 April 1757 in St. James Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia. When I skimmed over his timeline I realized I didn’t have a record to support his date of death.
To prove when he had died, or at least narrow down an estimate for when the event may have taken place, I checked the Will Books of Amherst County, Virginia. The Letters of Administration for his estate, his Inventory, and Guardian Bond for his grandchildren Augustine and David (my 4th great-grandfather), the sons of his deceased son Augustine (my 5th great-grandfather), were found.
1803 Letters of Administration for John and Rowland Proffitt
On the 19th of April 1803, John and Rowland Proffitt were bound as administrators of the estate of the deceased David Proffitt. John and Rowland were his two oldest sons. They were given letters of administration as their father did not leave a last will and testament.1
1803 Inventory of David Proffitt of Amherst County, Virginia
On the 6th day of May 1803, three undersigned subscribers appraised the Estate of David Profitt decd.
The inventory began with:
One old negro man Shocoe £25 one negro woman Neaten £80 one negro boy Nicholas £65
and continued with livestock, tools, household goods, furniture, etc. from the estate of David Profitt (as the name was spelled).2
Given under our hands the 6th day of May 1803.
At a court held for Amherst County the 20th day of June 1803. This Inventory & Appraisement of the Estate of David Profitt decd was this day returned into Court & ordered to be Recorded.3
Releasing: Shocoe, Neaten, and Nicholas
My 6th great-grandfather David Proffitt died before 19 April 1803, the date his sons were bound as administrators of his estate. He likely died the same or previous month.
Tax lists for Amherst County are available free online on Binns Genealogy for the years 1782, 1790, and 1799. These show David had one enslaved person in 1782 and 1790 and two in 1799. Shocoe may have been part of David’s household as early as 1782 as he was described as an old man. Did Neaten become part of the household between 1790 and 1799? What about Nicholas? Was he a son of Shocoe and Neaten, or only of Neaten, or neither of them? Did he become part of the household in the period between 1790 and 1799 or only after 1799?
At the time of David’s death there were ten living children, only my 5th great-grandfather Augustine pre-deceased his father. I have only found the 1830 administrator’s bond and inventory for the estate of John Proffitt, David’s oldest son. There were no enslaved persons in the inventory. Will Shocoe, Neaten, or Nicholas be found with one or more of the other children of David Proffitt? Future research may answer this question.
“Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Amherst Will Books, Vol 3-4, 1786-1810, Will Book 4, page 366, image 538 of 673. Letters of Administration for the estate of David Proffitt. (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). ↩
Ibid., Will Book 4, page 117, image 412 of 673. Inventory of the estate of David Profitt(part 1). (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). ↩
Ibid., Will Book 4, page 118, image 413 of 673. Inventory of the estate of David Profitt (part 2). (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). ↩
An autosomal DNA match with a distant cousin with the surname Landrum in their family tree had me looking into the parentage and ancestors of my 4th great-grandmother Margaret “Patsy” Landrum who married William Dempsey in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799.
Patsy was the orphan daughter of James Landrum who was mentioned in the will of his mother Elizabeth Landrum in 1755.1
Elizabeth Landrum’s last will and testament was written on 22 October 1755 and presented to be recorded on 18 November 1755. The executors/administrators’ bond followed the will and was dated 18 November 1755. A condition of the bond was the inventory and appraisal of the estate. The inventory ordered on 18 November 1755 was recorded on 16 December 1755.
1755 Appraisal and Inventory of the Estate of Elizabeth Landrum of St. Anne’s Parish in Essex County, Virginia
The inventory included one Negro woman called Hannah and valued at £20.2
Hannah, the enslaved woman mentioned in this inventory, was not mentioned in the estate of Samuel Landrum who predeceased his wife Elizabeth in 1750. He did not leave a will and his wife was the administratrix of his estate.3 An appraisement and inventory of the estate was duly recorded and did not include any enslaved persons. One-third of the estate was allotted to the widow.4
Samuel Landrum predeceased his mother Mary Landrum who wrote a will after his death in which she mentioned his being deceased.5 Neither the will nor the inventory ordered to be made included slaves.6
Samuel did not receive a slave from his father which makes me believe Hannah may have been acquired by Elizabeth after the death of her husband Samuel. Another possibility being that Elizabeth inherited Hannah from her parents. Unfortunately, at this time, the maiden name and parentage of Elizabeth Landrum are not known.
“Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 77, image 473 of 519. Last will and testament of Elizabeth Landrum dated 22 October 1755, presented and recorded on 18 November 1755. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 81 and 82, images 475 and 476 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 385, image 215 of 519. Administrators’ Bond for the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 397-399, images 221-222 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, page 310, image 315 of 539. Last will and testament of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, pages 322-323, images 327-328 of 539. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). ↩
Earlier this month I discovered a wonderful batch of pre-Civil War records for the counties in the western Virginia which would become West Virginia in 1863. FamilySearch’s collections of digital images have been growing at an amazing speed in recent years. Every now and then I will do fairly simple searches for birth, marriage, and/or death records in Fayette County, West Virginia, for the surname DEMPSEY. This surname is in two branches of my family tree. I am always looking for new information to possibly connect the two lines or to fill in some blanks in either line.
I was not disappointed when something new showed up in a search for births in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. The hit indicated a son born to my 3rd great-grand uncle Wilson M. DEMPSEY. A son I did not have in my database. When I opened up the details of the search results, I found the birth record was not for a son but for a slave.
From experience, I know when FamilySearch shows a record is not available (see camera icon with the notation in the above image) this actually means there is no image attached to the indexed material. However, the film may be available online and browse-only. I checked their catalog for the FHL microfilm number given and found Vital statistics, 1853-1860 of West Virginia, microreproduction of original manuscripts at the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia, for West Virginia counties.
I spend hours working with the browse-only records at FamilySearch. Being experienced made it easy for me to find the image to the record indexed above. This post deals with the content of the record, not how I found it. If you are interested, please ask, and I will explain how in a comment to this post.
The birth of William, a son of Mary, was recorded in the birth register of Fayette County. He was born at Meadow Fork on 11 February 1857. The column for the name of the father is titled: Father’s Name in full if Child be free and born in wedlock, or Name of Owner if Child born a Slave. Wilson M. Dempsey’s name is in this column as well as the column for the informant. In the column, Relationship of Informant, he is noted as Owner.
I took a bit of time to browse through the entire batch of registers for Fayette County and found another entry with Wilson M. Dempsey as the informant. This one did not turn up in my original search which made me wonder if the entire collection has been indexed. Different search criteria turned up this indexed record in the Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917.
This indexed record shows “Orange Dempsy” was a child of “Wilson Dempsy” and “Mary.” A closer look at the actual entry in the register shows Orange was a slave.
On this entry, the child Orange was born in June 1855 on the Loop in Fayette County. He was a slave owned by Wilson Dempsey. The mother’s name was Mary. The occupation of the father is blank and his residence is listed as Amherst. Another child born as a slave of another slaveholder on the same page has blanks for the occupation and residence of the father. It’s possible Amherst refers to the residence of the father of Orange, indicating the enslaved family was separated due to Wilson Dempsey’s recent move to Fayette County. Or, Wilson Dempsey had not yet moved his family and may have taken his slave(s) there to prepare for his move.
In 1840 Wilson Dempsey was recently married to Evalina Carolyn Rhodes, a daughter of Reuben Rhodes and Tabitha Rowsie of Amherst County, Virginia. In the 1840 census of the same county, Wilson was seen with his bride and two slaves, one male 10 thru 23 and one female under 10 years. In 1850 Wilson was listed as an overseer in the Eastern District of Amherst. His wife had died in the 1840s and he’d remarried. His second wife’s maiden name is not known. The 1850 slave schedule does not have a listing for him and it is unknown for whom he was working as an overseer.
Before finding the above records, we knew Wilson moved to Fayette County in western Virginia in the 1850s. The records place him in the county in 1855, either setting up his household or permanently settled.
In 1860 the slave schedule of Fayette County includes the following enslaved black persons for Wilson M. Dempsey:
one male age 35 (possibly the male seen in 1840?)
one female age 30 (possibly Mary)
one female age 22 (or, possibly Mary)
one female age 12
one female age 8
two females age 7
one male age 3 (possibly William)
one male age 1
I have known since I first began researching my 3rd great-grandfather Seaton Y. Dempsey that his brother Wilson had slaves as well as their father William Dempsey of Amherst. However, the only indication of their keeping enslaved persons had been the 1810 census for William (3 slaves), the 1840 census for Wilson (2 slaves), and the 1860 census for Wilson (9 slaves). The birth records found this month help to name at least three of the enslaved people: Orange, William, and their mother Mary.
Week 50 (December 10-16) – Naughty. We all have an ancestor who probably received coal in their stocking.
I’ve made a list, checked it twice, and found who’s been naughty and nice.
If you’ve been following along these past two years you’ll know who’s locked the door to my most frustrating brick wall. Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY, my 3rd great-grandparents!
Name: Mr. DEMPSEY Parents: Unknown Spouse: Mrs. DEMPSEY Children:Willliam A. W. DEMPSEY (1820-1867) Whereabouts: Unknown (some say outer space) Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grandparents
What do I know about Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY? They were the parents of my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY born about 1820 in Virginia per the Fayette County, (West) Virginia census. He was seen as 28 years old in 1850 and 40 years old in 1860. He was also on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County which means he had to have been at least 21 yrs old at the time.
The most likely documents in which I might find the names of the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY would be his birth, marriage, and/or death record.
Unfortunately, no death record has been found. This means no death record with names of parents or any kind of information to corroborate the family tradition of William’s death in a logging accident in the late 1860s. This would have been after October 1866 when he was listed as having an account due, owing Joel B. Wills $8.50. By 1870 his children and wife were living (farmed out) in several different households.
To date, no marriage record has been found for William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD. Their first known child was born about 1846 placing their marriage in the early to mid-1840s. Sarah was from Fayette County and most of her siblings married in Fayette, one in Greenbrier and one in Kanawha.
“Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” at FamilySearch was consulted and the WVCulture.org site has been checked repeatedly as they continue to add records.
I put a query to the Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy group on Facebook requesting information on the likelihood of loose marriage papers being in the West Virginia State Archives and/or at the county level.
I also asked the group about the possibility of there being a marriage ledger for Hopewell Baptist Church. This church is a likely place for the couple to have married as Sarah’s great-grandfather Baily WOOD was a founding member. The church burned down in the 1960s and all records in the church were destroyed. There were some records kept at members’ homes and several people offered to ask around.
I’m sure my father’s first cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) searched high and low in the 1970s and 1980s for more information on William’s parents and possible siblings. In 1995 she wrote “We still do not know his parents or family members” in a short summary of her research.
For the time period William was born, ca. 1820-1822 there were no birth records as we know today. A Bible would be a likely alternative but none is known to exist. It is very unlikely one survived, if there was any, as the family did not live together after his death.
Keeping with the Naughty theme, could it be Mrs. DEMPSEY was not a Missus? Should I be looking for a woman with the surname/maiden name DEMPSEY who had a son out of wedlock? This possibility has not been taken into consideration.
Pre-1850 Census Analysis
The lack of birth, marriage, and death records with the names of his parents means I need to use a different tactic to find the parents. Regrettably, William A. W. DEMPSEY was born and spent his childhood during the pre-1850 census era and cannot be found in a census which included the names of all household members.
I’ve followed the golden rule of genealogy and worked backward from myself to my great-great-grandfather. I’ve also traced his descendants forward to living relatives who may have the key I need to open the door in his brick wall.
After doing traditional and reverse genealogy I analyzed the pre-1850 Virginia census of DEMPSEY families in which William A. W. DEMPSEY may have been born.
There were no DEMPSEYs in Rockbridge in 1840. These are the DEMPSEY households found in what was then Virginia and includes counties that later became part of West Virginia:
John DEMPSEY in Fayette
Daniel DEMPSEY and sons Thomas, Lewis, and James in Orange
Daniel DEMPSEY in Spotsylvania County (son of Daniel of Orange)
Seaton and Wilson DEMPSEY in Amherst
Absalom DEMPSEY in Botetourt
William, John, Joseph, James, and Andrew DEMPSEY in Logan (sons of John Sr.)
Willis of DEMPSEY in Nansemond (free colored person)
Polley DEMCEY or DEMGEY of King William (free colored person)
Tandy DEMPSEY of Logan (father of John of Fayette)
Daniel DEMPSEY of Orange
Martha DEMPSEY of Amherst (mother of Seaton and Wilson)
Absalom DEMPSEY of Botetourt
Hugh DEMPSEY of Montgomery
John DEMPSEY Sr. and sons William, Thomas (deceased, his widow Dicy), John Jr., and Joseph in Logan (formed from Cabell, Giles, and Kanawha in 1824)
Tandy DEMPSEY in Rockbridge
Daniel DEMPSEY in Orange
Will DEMPSEY in Amherst (husband of Martha)
John DEMPSEY and sons William, Thomas, and Joseph in Cabell
Absalom and Hugh DEMPSEY in Botetourt
James DEMPSEY in Caroline
Although 1810 is too early for William A. W. DEMPSEY it is interesting to see if the individuals found in 1820 were also in the same area in 1810. The 1810 census was lost for Orange County and tax lists have been used to reconstruct it.
Tandy DEMPSEY in Rockbridge
William DEMPSEY in Amherst
Mildred DEMPSEY in Botetourt (sister-in-law of John of Giles)
John DEMPSEY in Giles
James DEMPSEY in Caroline
1810 Census reconstructed from tax lists
Daniel DEMPSEY in Orange
Lewis DEMPSEY in Orange (son of Daniel)
1800 Census reconstructed from tax lists
1800 James DEMPSEY in Orange
1799 James DEMPSEY in Caroline
1799 Nathan DEMPSEY in Franklin
1790 Census reconstructed from tax lists
1791 James DEMPSEY in Greenbrier
1789 William DEMPSEY in Botetourt
1789 Michael DEMPSEY in Shenandoah
Even before doing more serious research on the DEMPSEY lines found in Virginia, I gave them names to identify and differentiate between them.
The Rockbridge DEMPSEYs
Tandy did not have a young male in his household in 1820 or 1830. He was the father of John W., William S., Andrew S., Jane, Elizabeth, Mary B., and Margaret. These children are proven as they were mentioned as the children of Nancy THOMPSON, wife of Tandy, in chancery and land records in Nelson County.
Tandy married Nancy THOMPSON in Amherst County on 19 January 1801. He lived in Rockbridge in 1810 and 1820 and moved to Logan County by 1827 where he was on the 1827 tax list and 1830 census. His son William S. was in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia in 1830 and 1840. His son Andrew S. was in Logan in 1830 and in Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1840. William S. and Andrew S. both named sons William but have not been included in the census analysis as their sons were seen with them on the 1850 census.
The known children of John W. do not include a son named William. John W. does not appear to be with his father Tandy in 1820. He married(1) in 1824 in Rockbridge, was not found in the 1830 census, and lived in Fayette County from 1840 through 1870. There are no known children for John W. and his first wife for the time period from their marriage in 1824 and until the birth of son John A. born abt. 1830 in Rockbridge. The 1840 census listing includes 1 male 10 & under 15 yo – this person is unaccounted for.
Was William A. W. DEMPSEY the unaccounted male in John W.’s 1840 census listing and was he:
♦ actually younger than seen on the 1850 and 1860 census?
♦ the son of John W. and his first wife born before or soon after the 1824 marriage?
♦ the son of John W. and a relationship prior to his 1824 marriage?
♦ the son of John W.’s first wife from a previous relationship?
The Amherst DEMPSEYs
This group has also been well researched as William DEMPSEY of Amherst was my 4th great-grandfather. His children are proven to be Wilson M., Seaton Y., Isham Coleman, Wesley G., Louisa J., and Eliza through land and court records produced after his death. In 1830, his wife Martha was listed in Amherst County with their two young daughters. There were no young males in the household.
William at some time went to Ohio and did not return as newspapers in the state of Ohio were requested to publish information on his wife’s death in 1834. On 20 June 1836, a year after the last notice was published, William and Martha’s son Wilson signed an administrator bond for the deceased William.
After the 1850 census, Wilson and Seaton moved to Fayette County. Their brother Wesley, who was not found in 1830 and 1840 censuses, was in Botetourt in 1850 and lived in Rockbridge from 1860 until he died in 1890. The children of William of Amherst were too young to be parent candidates for William A. W. DEMPSEY.
I believe Tandy DEMPSEY and William DEMPSEY may have been brothers. Tandy married in Amherst less than a year and a half after William. There was also a Jane DEMPSEY who married Allen CAMERON in 1795 in Amherst. Allen CAMERON went bond with William DEMPSEY when William married which may suggest a close relationship. The CAMERON couple raised their family in Rockbridge. William’s mother Susannah DEMPSEY gave her consent for his marriage. No such record was found for Tandy and Jane.
UPDATE (23 February 2022): To date, DNA matches with descendants of Tandy DEMPSEY have not been found. This could mean that Tandy and William were not related OR that the descendants who might share DNA may not as yet have been tested.
The Orange DEMPSEYs
Daniel and his wife were past their childbearing years in 1820. His oldest son Thomas Allen was already married and had a son John L. The census numbers in 1820 for Daniel’s household show eight known children as well as his oldest son’s wife, their son, and possibly a daughter. Daniel was seen in Orange County as early as 1810 (tax list) but may have come from Caroline County where his first son was born about 1778 per death record. Could there be a connection between James DEMPSEY of Caroline and Daniel DEMPSEY of Orange?
Daniel’s second son Lewis had a son named William A. born about 1825. This William A. DEMPSEY’s Civil War service was used to obtain a marker for my William A. W. DEMPSEY’s grave. The daughters of Geraldine, who did the paperwork for the marker, are aware of and have thought of rectifying the error.
The Botetourt DEMPSEYs
The next two groups have not been as thoroughly researched as the previous three. There are errors in online databases – a meshing of two generations and many Dempsey individuals found in Virginia in the early 1800s. I recently found chancery records on the Library of Virginia site which may help correct the errors in this line.
William DEMPSEY Senr. died intestate before 12 February 1798 and his wife Jane died before 1826 (year of chancery case). He left heirs William Jr., John, Mark, and Mary, wife of Joseph MILLER. John and Mark were not in the Commonwealth and Mary and Joseph MILLER resided in Blackwater in Franklin County in 1826.
William Senr.’s line splits into what I refer to as the Botetourt DEMPSEYs and Logan DEMPSEYs.
William Jr. died before 1806 and left widow Mildred “Milly” who resided in Fincastle; children: Elizabeth DEMPSEY resided in Fincastle, John and Samuel DEMPSEY outside of Commonwealth, Joel DEMPSEY and William DEMPSEY 3rd both decd/no issue, Absalom DEMPSEY in Fincastle, Dubartis DEMPSEY in NC, Judith the wife of Thomas WILMORE residing Giles courthouse, Susan wife of John SNYDER residing in Christianburg, and Milly wife of David CAMPBELL in NC.
For William Jr.’s line, there was only one son mentioned in the chancery records who remained in Virginia. Absalom DEMPSEY was a Baptist preacher; he and his wife did not have any children of their own.
Hugh DEMPSEY seen in Botetourt in 1820 may have been a son of William Jr. and omitted in the chancery records. He was in Montgomery County, Virginia, in 1830 and went to Cooper County, Missouri, abt. 1838 and was seen there in the 1840 and 1850 census. He had a son named William R. b. abt. 1810 and, therefore, was not the father of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
The Logan DEMPSEYs
John was in Giles County in 1810, Cabell County in 1820, and Logan County in 1830 – all due to the changing country lines during the time period. The Logan DEMPSEYs are a complete puzzle to me even though John’s second youngest son Mark left a genealogical note written in 1889 which gives the names and approximate years of birth of eleven children of John DEMPSEY and Rachel SOLOMON. I am not sure how reliable the transcription of the note is as he wrote his mother died about 1849. I found Rachel DEMPSEY age 85 in the household of James DEMPSEY, possibly a 12th child of John and Rachel, in 1850.
I’ve added pre-1850 census records for the Logan DEMPSEYs in my database but have not done extensive census analysis.
Birth, marriage, and death records need to be checked at WVCulture.org. Note: Many Logan County records were destroyed during the Civil War, and records were not kept for several years following the war.
James DEMPSEY of Greenbrier
James DEMPSEY in Greenbrier (1791) was in the county as early as 1782. James DYMSEY was seen as a resident of Greenbrier County in 1782 in Mr. Jas. Henderson’s District with 1 tithable, 3 horses, and 4 cattle. In Oren F. Morten’s A History of Monroe County, West Virginia James DEMPSEY and his wife Rosey/Rosanna are mentioned as having 375 acres of patented land on Second Creek in Greenbrier County, 180 acres patented by DEMPSEY and Ralph GATES in 1783 and 195 acres patented by DEMPSEY in 1787. Ralph GATES bought the 375 acres from James DEMPSEY and his wife Rosey DEMPSEY on 28 July 1795. A year later, on 6 January 1796 James and Rosanna DEMPSEY sold 100 acres to Mathew LYNN on Second Creek / Greenbrier River adj. Thomas LEWIS and Ralph GATES, who was a witness. In 1808 David HENDERSON bought land from John and Agatha STUART that adjoined the land of James DEMPSEY. The 1810 census for Greenbrier is lost and James DEMPSEY was not found on the 1810 tax lists.
He would have been 21 or older at the time he was first seen on the 1782 tax list. This would put his age in 1820 to over 59 years. It is unknown if they had children. No trace of him was found in Virginia after he and his wife sold land in 1796.
UPDATE: The Personal Tax List of Kanawha County was browsed on FamilySearch in January 2018. A James DEMPSEY was seen on the list for the years 1797, 1798, and 1800 suggesting he may have moved from Greenbrier to Kanawha after he sold land in 1796.
Speculation: Could he be the same person as James DEMPSEY convicted in 1772 in London and transported to Virginia in January 1773 on the ship Justitia?
These have not been traced:
♦ Nathan DEMPSEY in Franklin (1799)
♦ Michael DEMPSEY in Shenandoah (1789) – Michael DIMSEY married Eliz. BARNHART in Shenandoah County on 17 Dec 1788. Another marriage seen in the county was Jane DEMPSEY to Jacob SAVAGE on 1 Dec 1808. Was she a daughter of Michael?
What do you think of my analysis of the census of the DEMPSEY families found in Virginia at the time of my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEYs birth and childhood? Have I missed something that caught your eye? What else would you try?
Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY don’t be naughty, please be nice and send some comments my way on how I can find out your names and what happened to you.
This is my weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thursdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.
My series of posts for Black History Month on the slaves owned by my 5th
great-grandfather James SIMS 1754-1845 gave Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees the wonderful idea of creating a Slave Name Roll Project. I plan to do a similar post with slaves names on a monthly basis until I’ve been able to RELEASE all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors. Today I am RELEASING Sarah and 19 other slaves.
My 5th great-grandfather Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793) died intestate in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1793. (Note: The area he lived in is now part of Nelson County, Virginia.) Letters of administration were granted his son Mark LIVELY on 22 October 1793 with John HILL and William HILL as bondsmen.
An inventory of the estate of Joseph LIVELY made on 16 December 1793 included a considerable number of livestock, an old negro woman Sarah, a negro woman Betty, and a negro boy George.
I don’t have the original documents or a transcript which would most likely include, if the slaves were sold, the names of the purchasers. Or did they remain with the widow and/or the children? On 19 August 1797 the Joseph LIVELY estate sale was held and a few relatives and many neighbors bought items. Subsequently the estate was settled but no record of final partition was included in the Amherst County probate records.
[Source: Amherst Co. Wills, 3:282, 293, 450]
Moving back in time, Joseph LIVELY paid personal property taxes in Amherst County from 1782 to 1793. Personal property included one slave who was most likely the “old negro woman Sarah” mentioned in the inventory of his estate in 1793. I believe this name and her being an older woman are important. Was Betty her daughter and George her grandson?
Joseph LIVELY was married to Mary L. CASH, a daughter of Robert Howard CASH and Ruth Walker EPPINGTON. Howard CASH left a very detailed will in 1772 in which he named 17 slaves, including “a negro wench named Sarah” who was given to his daughter Mary LIVELY. Was the “wench named Sarah” in 1772 the same person as the “old woman Sarah” in 1793 and was she sold in 1797? If Betty and George were part of her family, did they remain with her?
Below is the abstract of Robert Howard CASH Sr.’s will which includes the slave names: Joseph, Cate, James, Charles, Sall, Dinah, Dick, David, Phil, Dick, Sarah, James, Fillis, Peg, John, Ralph, and Nell. This brings the total to 20 slave names for this post.
WILL OF HOWARD CASH of Amherst County, Virginia [Will Bk 1:228-231].
As abstracted from microfilm by Thelma Faye Cain Prince (website is no longer online)
In the name of God Amen. I, Howard CASH, of the county of Amherst, being sick and weak of body, but of sound and perfect state of mind and memory and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament.
First, I lend my wife, Ruth, eight negroes during her natural life, namely, Joseph, Cate, James, Charles, Sall, Dinah, Dick, and David.
Item. I lend to my beloved wife during her life the land and plantation whereon I live, which said land and negroes I lend to my wife during widowhood or natural life.
Item. I give to my son, Joel, one hundred acres land joining the land on which he lives and 2 negroes named [at this point there is a slight error in the transcription, a condensed version found includes the namePhil. It is possible that more thanthe name is missing,perhaps an entire line]Dick, a boy, I give to my grandson, Howard, the son of Joel CASH, after the death of my son, Joel, to him and his heirs forever.
Item. I give to my daughter, Mary LIVELY, a negro wench named Sarah.
Item. I give to my son, Benjamin, 400 acres land adjacent to land that is at present the property of Capt. Aaron Higginbotham, and the land whereon I now live, also a negro fellow named James, whom I purchased of W. Thomas Mitchell.
Item. I lend to my daughter, Rosanna, a negro wench named Fillis during her life and after her decease to my grandson, Micajah (her and her increase to him and his heirs forever).
Item. I lend to my daughter Ann POWELL, a negro wench named Peg during her life and after her decease to the heirs of her body and if she dies without issue my will is that the said negro her increase may descend to the children of my daughter, Rosanna.
Item. I give to my son, Robert, 240 acres land lying between the land whereon I live and Stephen Cash’s land, moreover, I give to my son, Robert, 400 acres land which I left to my wife, after her decease, a negro boy named John and also a bed and furniture and 2 cows.
Item. I give to my daughter, Mary Ann, a negro boy named Ralph and also a bed and furniture and a cow and a calf.
Item. My will and desire is that my daughter, Elizabeth NUCKLES, may have 30 pounds to be raised out of my estate which I have willed to my wife, to be paid in ten years by an order for 3 pounds a year upon some merchant as soon as it becomes due. I give to my daughter, Ruth, a negro girl named Nell and her increase to her and her heirs for ever and also a bed and furniture and a cow and a calf.
Item. I give to my son, Stephen, 5 shillings and I give to my daughter Sarah MANZE (sic, MAYS), 5 shillings.
Item. My will after the decease of my wife, Ruth, is that two negroes, James and Charles, may descend to my son, Joel, and Joseph and Cate to my son, Benjamin, and two negroes, Sall and Davie, to my son, Robert.
Item. My will is that after the decease of myself and my wife, the increase of Sall if any may be equally divided between my daughters, Mary Ann and Ruth, and if either of said daughters should depart this life unmarried or before they arrive to lawful age, the survivor of them should possess the issue of the negro woman.
Item. The residue of my estate which I have not already devised may go to my beloved wife during her life and after her decease to be equally divided between my three sons, Joel, Benjamin, and Robert.
Item. I do not desire that my estate be appraised and I appoint my beloved wife, executrix, and my sons, Joel, Benjamin, and Robert, executors of this last Will and Testament.
Sworn to by the oaths of Roderick McCulloch and David Crawford and ordered to be recorded. To executors, Ruth CASH, Joel CASH, Benjamin CASH, and Robert CASH, a certificate granted them for obtaining probate in due form, which they with Richard Powell, Gabriel Penn, their securities, entered into and acknowledged bond of 2000 pounds. s/Edmund Wilcox, Clerk of Court. 6 Oct. 1772. Amherst Co. Va.
ADMINISTRATION OF RUTH CASH [Amherst Co. Va. Order Bk 1782-84:205-206] On the motion of Hendrick Arnold, Adm. of the estate of Ruth CASH, Dec’d is granted him, who with Caleb Higginbotham, his Security entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of One Thousand Pounds, took the Oath required by law and ordered to be recorded. March Court 1784
Jacob Symth, John Karr, Nathaniel Hill and John Hill (or any 3 of them) they being first sworn are appointed to appraise in current money the slaves and personal estate of Ruth CASH deceased and return an inventory thereof to this court.
Note: The will has been found attached to family trees without credit being given to the person who transcribed it. I believe that Thelma Faye Cain Prince originally did the transcription work and would like to give her credit. Permission to use this abstract was requested 28 March 2015 through Thelma F. Prince’s guestbook on her website Our Southern Ancestors (no longer online as of 25 May 2016). The entry does not show up in the guestbook as of 29 March and is most likely awaiting moderation. I also sent an email to Mrs. Prince at an address used in 2006 on the 29th – it has not bounced.
If you have images or photocopies of this will, I would appreciate hearing from you. I believe a line may be missing in the will abstract as noted in red above. I have not done very much research on my CASH and LIVELY lines as documentation is not easily accessible due to my location.
52 Ancestors: #48 Who was the father of Rachel PROFFITT? ~ A Study of Family Groups
Since writing Rachel’s story back in June 2014 I’ve been working on and off, and more intensively the past two weeks, on the two men who may have been her father: David PROFFITT and his brother Austin PROFFITT. I had planned on discussing both sets of possible parents in two post as I still had unresolved questions concerning Rachel’s parentage. Then I changed my mind because I think that it is more likely that David and his wife Sally were her parents than Austin and his wife Patsy. Is it a gut feeling or based on evidence?
Rachel PROFFITT, my third great-grandmother, was born about 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Although her married life is well documented, the names of her parents have not been found in any written records. Her maiden name is seen on the death certificate of her youngest child Nannie Ellen CATES who died in 1942.
Many online gedcoms show that Rachel was a daughter of David PROFFITT and Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM who married on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia. Another possibility is that she was the daughter of Austin PROFFITT and Martha “Patsy” RAKES who married on 4 June 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.
Austin and David were brothers and the only children of Austin PROFFITT who died before 1803. Their mother “Betsey PROPHET” is enumerated with her two young sons ages between 10 and 15 years on the 1810 census of Franklin County and may also be reflected in the household of her son Austin in 1820 and 1830. The ages found for the brothers on the 1850 and later censuses show they were quite young when they married in 1813.
Grandsons of David PROFITT
Chancery Records Index – Close Case Details
Locality: Nelson County, Virginia
Index Number: 1810-005
Plaintiff(s): John Profitt etc.
Defendant(s); Heir(s) of David Profitt
Surname(s): Cameron, Joslin, Profitt, Wilcher
Wills: blank Plat?: No
Format: 4 Scanned images
These Chancery Records mention the deceased David PROFITT’s son Austin PROFITT, who predeceased his father, and his minor children David and Austin PROFITT. This establishes that David and Austin were the only children of Austin PROFITT, deceased. Also mentioned are the other 10 children of David: John PROFITT, Randolph PROFITT, Jesse PROFITT, Rowland PROFITT, Elizabeth PROFITT, Nancy PROFITT, Molly (née PROFITT) and Duncan CAMERON, Sally (née PROFITT) and William JOSLIN, Susannah (née PROFITT) and Joseph WILCHER, and David PROFITT.
Austin, son of David
Austin PROFFITT (1770-1803) was born 17 January 1770 in Amherst County, Virginia, to David PROFFITT and his wife Elizabeth SMITH. In 1790 he was not yet 21 years of age when he was seen on the Tax List of Amherst County with his father David Sr.
Austin married Elizabeth “Betsey” ROBERTSON on 22 November 1790 in Amherst County, Virginia. Austin’s name was seen as Augusten on the marriage record. Betsey was born about 1773 in Amherst County, Virginia, to Arthur ROBERTSON and his wife Milly. Austin and Betsey, as established above, had two sons born in Amherst County: David PROFFITT born about 1793 and Austin PROFFITT (1796-1871) born about 1796.
Austin’s father David’s will was probated on 31 October 1803. His sons John and Rowland were administrators of their father’s will.
The inventory of the estate of David PROFFITT was done by Shelton CROSTHWAIT, Charles EDMUNDS, and Zachary WHITE. Administrators were John PROFFITT, Rowland PROFFITT, and James MURPHY. A guardian bond was filed for Betsy PROFFITT to be guardian of David and Augustine PROFFITT, orphans of Augustine PROFFITT. The estate of David PROFFITT was valued at £262, 6 shillings, 9 pence.
It is not known when Betsey and her boys moved to Franklin County or even if Austin may have been living there when he died. The chancery record seen above does not include the location of the persons involved other than the fact that four of the children of David were not living in the Commonwealth of Virginia. By 1810 Betsey was living next door to her father Arthur ROBERTSON in Franklin County. There was an unknown older man in her household.
1810 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
2 males 10 to 15 yo (David and Austin b. bet. 1795-1800)
1 male 45 and older (unknown person)
1 female 26 thru 44 yo (Betsey)
no other free persons or slaves
During the time period of the War of 1812 (18 Jun 1812-24 Dec 1814) both of Betsey’s son married:
Austin PROFFITT married Martha “Patsy” RAKES (1796-1871) on 4 June 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia
David PROFFITT married Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia
Family Groups Study
The fact that David and Austin were the only children of Austin and Betsey and the only men with the surname PROFFITT in the Franklin County during the years from 1810 to 1840 makes the study of the two family groups a bit easier. Before going into the census listings here are the lists of the children I have for each of Betsey’s boys.
Children of David PROFFITT and Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM
Ch 1: Hessie “Esther” PROFFITT (1814-aft. 1800) born about 1814 in Franklin County, Virginia. She married Owen STEVENS (1821-1880) on 19 August 1835 in Franklin County, Virginia. “David PROPHET” was surety. Hessie died between 1880-1900.
Ch 2: Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899) born about 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. She married Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County, Virginia. Rachel died 5 March 1899 in Nettle Ridge, Patrick County, Virginia. No record found to prove that she was the daughter of David and Sarah.
Ch 3: Austin PROFFITT (1822-aft. 1910) born April 1822 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Vincey NEWBERRY (1827-1910) on 14 September 1844 in Franklin County, Virginia Austin died after April 1910. In 1870 his father David was in his household however the relationship is not specifically stated.
Ch 4: Preston PROFFITT (1825-aft. 1880) born about 1825 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Martha WRIGHT (1820-1880) on 1 June 1844 in Floyd County, Virginia. He went to Morgan County, Kentucky, with his family before 1860. Preston died between 1880-1900. No record found to prove that he was the son of David and Sarah.
Ch 5: David PROFFITT (1827-1887) born about 1827 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Jane PINION (1838- ) before 1855. David died 27 December 1887 in Lebanon, Russell County, Virginia. The death record lists David PROFITas his father.
Ch 6: [–?–] PROFFITT (female) born between 1826-1830 in Franklin County, Virginia
Ch 7: Edward “Ned” PROFFITT (1831-1894) born about 1831 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Sarah “Sally” KEEN (1825- ) 6 January 1848 in Tazewell County, Virginia. Edward died 15 February 1894 in Doran, Tazewell County, Virginia. Parents are listed as David and Sally PROFFITT on the death record.
Ch 8: Samuel PROFFITT (1834-aft. 1910) born 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married(1) Tabitha PINION (1840-1880) before 1860. Samuel PROFFITT married(2) his cousin Malinda PROFFITT (1838-1884) on 18 December 1883 in Tazewell County, Virginia. The abstract of the marriage record shows that Samuel was the son of David and Sallie PROFFIT while Malinda was the daughter of “Ostin” and Patsy PROFFIT. Malinda may have died before August 1888 as Samuel married(3) Elizabeth “Lizzie” HUFMAN on 24 August 1888 in Russell County, Virginia. His father is seen as David PROFIT on the abstract. Samuel PROFFITT died 27 July 1910.
Ch 9: Stabina “Stella” PROFFITT (1840-1874) born about 1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. She married Jessee R. MUSICK (1830- ) on 13 September 1855 in Russell County, Virginia. David and Sarah are listed as her parents. Stabina “Stella” PROFFITT died 15 October 1874 in Lawrence County, Kentucky. The death record lists David and Sally PROPHET as her parents.
Children of Austin PROFFITT and Martha “Patsy” RAKES
Ch 1: Harvey PROFFITT (1815-1885) born about 1815 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married(1) Sarah Jane BARTON (1818-1893) on 3 December 1835 in Floyd County, Virginia.  They appear to have divorced as Harvey married(2) Rosannah NEWBERRY (1845-1885) on 17 November 1876 in Russell County, Virginia. Parents were listed as Austin and Martha PROPHET. Harvey died after 30 December 1885 (date that his 2nd wife died).
Ch 2: Delilah PROFFITT (1818-1892) born about 1818. She married(1) Berry WOOD on 11 July 1836 in Franklin County, Virginia. Surety was Austin Prophet. She married(2) William HICKS on 16 June 1841 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Delilah died 1892.
Ch 3: Lewis PROFFITT (1820-1898) born about 1820 in Franklin County, Virgina. He married Eliza GEORGE (1821-1881) on 27 December 1842 in Patrick County, Virginia. Lewis died on 10 October 1898 in Missouri. No record found to prove that he was the son of Austin and Martha. He lived in Hancock County, Tennessee, 15 households away from Austin and Martha PROFFITT in 1850.
Ch 4: Elisha PROFFITT (1826- ) born about 1826 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Malinda UNDERWOOD (1826- ) on 22 May 1845 in Franklin County, Virginia. The marriage record shows that he was the son of Austin. He died after 1880. His wife was still living in 1910.
Ch 5: [–?–] PROFFITT (daughter) born bet. 1826-1830
Ch 6: [–?–] PROFFITT (son) born bet. 1831-1835
Ch 7: Joseph M. PROFFITT (1838-1911) born 17 March 1838 in Franklin County, Virginia. He married Margaret F. CARTER (1840-1877) in 1860. Joseph died 14 April 1911 in Buchanon County, Missouri. The death certificate lists “Oscar” and Martha PROFFIT.
Ch 8: Malinda PROFFITT (1838-1884) born about 1838 in Franklin County, Virginia. She married(1) David BROOKS on 11 January 1854 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. She married(2) John BRUNT before 1870. She married(3) her first cousin Samuel PROFFITT (1834-1884) on 18 December 1883 in Tazewell County, Virginia. The names of her parents are seen as Austin and Patsy. Malinda may have died between 1883-1888.
The pre-1850 census analysis
From 1810 until 1840 we see David and his brother Austin living in Franklin County, Virginia. It is important to know that while both PROFFITT families lived in Franklin County there was no change in the boundaries which were nearly the same as they are today. Franklin County was formed from Bedford and Henry Counties in 1785-1786. In 1844 Franklin gained a small area from Patrick County, the little peninsula-like piece on the southern border. In the 1870s a tiny bit of Floyd County, where Floyd, Patrick and Franklin join, went to Franklin County. See Virginia Formation Maps
In 1820 both David and Austin had been married 7 years and each had two children. And this is where I thought things would get complicated. My 3rd great-grandmother Rachel was born about 1817 and “fit” into both households.
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: David Proffit
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1 (David) Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Esther and Rachel)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Sarah)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Commerce: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 1
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 4
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: Austin Proffit
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (Harvey)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Austin) Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Delilah)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Patsy)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and older: 1 (poss. Austin’s mother Betsey)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Over 25: 1
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 5
1 person engaged in agriculture
By 1830 David and Sarah had 3 boys and 3 girls; Austin and Patsy had 4 boys and 2 girls. The age ranges of the children varied, showing some as younger or older than in 1820.
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: David Proffit
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (David Jr.)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (Preston and Austin)
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (David)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Lucinda) Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Rachel)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Esther)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 8
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: Austin Proffit
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (son b. bet. 1821-1825 & Elisha)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Lewis)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Harvey)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Austin)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (daughter b. bet. 1826-1830) Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Delilah)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Patsy)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (poss. Austin’s mother Betsey)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 6
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 9
I believe that the older woman seen in Austin’s household in 1820 and 1830 was his mother Betsey. Austin’s parents-in-law were both living at this time. On 25 November 1834 Elisha RAKES and his wife Agness of Franklin County sold land for $1 to Reuben RAKES of Floyd County. Elizabeth “Betsey” ROBERTSON most likely died between 1830-1840 in Franklin County, Virginia, as she is not longer reflected in the 1840 census.
By 1840 David and Sarah had 2 more sons and a daughter and their oldest daughter had married. Austin and Patsy also had 2 more sons and a daughter and their oldest son had married. And this is where it becomes problematic. Their daughter Delilah married in 1836; Austin was seen as surety. However a female of her age appears to be at home in 1840. It is not known how her marriage ended but “Delia Proffet” was seen marrying in 1841. My dilemna was that without evaluating the information on all persons in each household it looked like both David and Austin could have been the father of Rachel who married Jordan N. PETERS until 1841.
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: David Proffett
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2 (Samuel and Edward)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (David and Preston)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (Austin)
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1 (David)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Statira)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (unknown female)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Rachel)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 8
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 10
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 10
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: Austin Proffet
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Joseph)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (son b. 1831-1835)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (Elisha)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Lewis)
Free White Persons – Males – 60 thru 69: 1 (Austin, wrong column for age?)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Malinda)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (daughter b. bet. 1826-1830)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (??Delilah, md.(1) 1836; md.(2) 1841)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Patsy)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 3
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 9
I hope that you have been able to follow how I studied the two family groups to come to the conclusion that my 3rd great-grandmother Rachel PROFFITT was the daughter of David PROFFITT and his wife Sarah COCKRAM.
Rachel’s father David Proffit from 1850 until death
During the 1840s both David and Austin moved their families a little bit farther west. David ended up in Russell County, Virginia, while Austin crossed the stateline to live in Hancock County, Tennessee, in 1850 and 1860. Austin was in Lee County, Virginia, in 1870, and died in Maiden Spring, Tazewell County, Virginia, in 1871.
The 1850 census listing shows that David was born in Amherst County and his wife and three children still living at home were born in Franklin County. The move was made after David’s youngest daughter was born. I checked the entire agricultural schedule for Russell County for 1850 through 1870 and found only David’s son Austin in 1860 and 1870. David did not own land in Russell County. This is also seen in the 1860 and 1870 census where the column for real estate is blank.
In 1860 David and Sally were in Rose Dale, Russell County. In their household was also a granddaughter Mary STEVENS, daughter of their oldest daughter Hessie.
Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM died between 1860-1870 most likely in the Rose Dale area of Russell County, Virginia, were she had been living with her husband David in 1860.
By 1870 David had moved in with his oldest son Austin (named after his grandfather) who lived in the Elk Garden Township in Russell County. Austin had 20 acres of improved land in 1860 and this increased to 25 acres of improved and 120 acres of woodland in 1870.
David PROFFITT died between 1870-1880 most likely in Elk Garden, Russell County, Virginia, were he was living in 1870.
Sources:  Ancestry.com. Franklin County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Wingfield, Marshall. Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia. Memphis, TN, USA: West Tennessee Historical Societ, 1939.  Amherst County, Virginia Wills, 1761-1919  Amherst County Will Book 4, page 117  Ancestry.com. Franklin County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858 pg. 217 “Stephens, Owen and Hessie Proffit, Aug. 19, 1835. Sur. David Prophet. 129.” [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Wingfield, Marshall. Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia. Memphis, TN, USA: West Tennessee Historical Societ, 1939.  War of 1812 Pension Papers of Jordan N. PETERS.  Ancestry.com. Franklin County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858 pg. 187 “Profit, Austin and Viney Newberry, dau. Sarah, Sept. 14, 1858. Sur. John A. Newberry.” [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Wingfield, Marshall. Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia. Memphis, TN, USA: West Tennessee Historical Societ, 1939.  Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner, Floyd County, Virginia, Marriages, Transcribed by Barbara Reininger from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia. (online: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/zz_marriages.htm). FCVA1844_0023; FCVA1844_0024. Register: 2. Page: 135. “Preston Proffit m. Martha Right 06-01-1844 Floyd Co., VA bond. Samuel Cockram certified that Martha Right is over & above the age of 21.”  Ancestry.com. Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853–1912.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.  Ancestry.com. Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853–1912.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.  Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.  Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner, Floyd County, Virginia, Marriages, Transcribed by Barbara Reininger from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia. (online: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/zz_marriages.htm). FCVA1835_0012; FCVA1835_0069. Register: 2. Page: 129. “Harvey Proffit m. Sarah Jane Barton 12-03-1835 Floyd Co., VA by Michael Howry.”  Ancestry.com. Franklin County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858; page 245; “Wood, Berry and Delilah Proffit, July 11, 1836. Sur. Austin Prophet. 60.” [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Wingfield, Marshall. Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia. Memphis, TN, USA: West Tennessee Historical Societ, 1939.  “Hicks, William and Proffet, Delia license 16 June married 17 June 1841″ online http://tngenweb.org/hawkins/some-1824-1846-marriages/  Ancestry.com. Franklin County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858; page 187; “Proffit, Elisha, s. Austin, and Elizabeth Underwood, dau. Samuel, May 22, 1845. Sur. John Underwood.” [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Wingfield, Marshall. Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia. Memphis, TN, USA: West Tennessee Historical Societ, 1939.  Death Certificate File No. 13472; online http://www.sos.mo.gov/images/archives/deathcerts/1911/1911_00013442.PDF  Ancestry.com. Dodd, Jordan R. Tennessee, Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.  Calvin Rakes, information found by him in 1975 in the Deed Book during a visit to Floyd County, emailed to Marie Meyer in March 2001; online http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:3168500&id=I621737153.