Dempsey Research Question Crafted During the Research Planning Magic Challenge

In September 2020 I participated in the Research Planning Magic Challenge hosted by Julie Cahill Tarr in a private Facebook group.

Participants ranged from beginners to advanced genealogists. Even though there were a little over 150 members, the group worked well together. Each participant focused on their own research project. The group remained positive as members helped each other by reviewing the day’s assignment, giving suggestions, and useful resources.

During the 5-day genealogy challenge, we learned to craft a research question, evaluate the background information, brainstorm ideas for records (even if non-existent), and set up a research plan.

This is my research question, the background information, and the research plan developed from the brainstorming.

Research Question

Was William DEMPSEY (b. abt. 1779) who married Martha LANDRUM in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799, the same man as William DEMPSEY (b. bet. 1771-1780 per 1840 census) who married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831 and found on the 1840 census for Noble County, Indiana, where he died in 1845?

Note: William(1) is William DEMPSEY, son of Susannah of Amherst County, Virginia, my 4th great-grandfather.

Background Information

William(1) DEMPSEY, son of Susannah (maiden name unknown) DEMPSEY and an unknown father, was born about 1779 in Virginia. He married Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM in 1799 in Amherst VA with his mother’s permission.

They had 6 children who lived to adulthood as seen in probate and chancery records. He was named on the 1820 census; no tick was made for his age group. His wife was named in the 1830 census. After his wife died in 1834, newspapers in Ohio were “requested to publish the foregoing (wife’s death), for the information of Mr. William Dempsey, the husband of the deceased, who is supposed to be somewhere in that State.”

William(2) DEMPSEY born bet. 1771-1780 married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831. They were the parents of 6 children mentioned in an affidavit relative to his will. His children’s places of birth show he moved from Ohio to Indiana about 1833-1835 (a coincidence that this overlaps with the published death notice of Martha in the Ohio newspapers?). He died in Noble County, Indiana in 1845. No records have been found for him before 1831 although a son was born about 1822 in Gallia County, Ohio.

I’ve known for 20 years that William(1) of Amherst went to Ohio and never returned.

Shared Clustering of my AncestryDNA turned up a match who descends from William(2) of Indiana. The match is in a cluster that goes back further than William(1) of Amherst has been traced – to Barnett Dempsey of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have 2 clusters for this potential ancestor – possibly for him and his wife OR for his parents. I was trying to find the connection between William(2) of Noble and Barnett of SC when I ran into the brick wall. William(2) “appears” in Gallia OH for his 1831 marriage with no records found prior. I wondered if he might be my 4th great-grandfather who “disappeared” in Ohio after 1820 and before his wife died in 1834.

At this time no records have been found that would definitely prove William(1) and William(2) are two persons – no records placing both men in different places at the same time.

Research Manager 

Originally formatted to include a column for Date (search performed) on the left and a column for Notes at the right, the table was not WordPress friendly.

What Where
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

The marriage records in Gallia OH begin in 1803

1789-2013 – Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013 at FamilySearch — index and images
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

1800-1958 – Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958 at FamilySearch Historical Records – free; Index. Name index to marriage records from the state of Ohio. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and some FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later.
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY

Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia

1800-1942 – Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1942 at FamilySearch — index
Birth Record for Perry E. DEMPSEY b. 1822 in Gallia OH

Online trees show his mother was Jane CALHOUN, the wife William DEMPSEY married in 1831, 9 years before Perry’s birth.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863.

What substitutes are available to determine who the mother of Perry was?

Birth Record for Elizabeth Ann DEMPSEY b. 6 Nov 1830 in Gallia OH

Her parents married in 1831. The date of birth was found on her death record.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863

What substitutes are available to determine who the mother of Elizabeth Ann was?

Birth Record for Lydia DEMPSEY b. abt. 1833 in Gallia OH

She was the last child born in Ohio per census records.

Birth records are not available in Gallia for years before 1863

What substitutes are available to prove Lydia’s place of birth?

Is Noble County, Indiana a burned county? If yes, what substitute records are available?

An 1861 affidavit claims the will of William DEMPSEY (d. 1845) was burned.

FamilySearch Wiki for Noble Co., Indiana

1843 and 1859 — Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.

See suggestions on the wiki for researching in burned counties.

A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

Alvord’s History of Noble County, Indiana. 1902. By Samuel E. Alvord. Logansport, Indiana: B. F. Bowen, Publisher. Online at: FamilySearch Digital LibraryInternet Archive.
A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

Counties of La Grange and Noble, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. 1882. Chicago, Illinois : F.A. Battery Co. Online at FamilySearch Digital Library (scroll to page 435 for Noble County history), HathitrustInternet ArchiveAncestry ($)At various libraries (WorldCat).
A County History of Noble County, Indiana

Is there a history of Noble County, Indiana, that mentions early settlers including William(2)?

History of Northeast Indiana, Lagrange, Steuben, Noble, and DeKalb Counties. 2 volumes. 1920. By Ira Ford. Chicago, Illinois : Lewis Pub. Co. Online at FamilySearch Digital LibraryHathiTrust, Vol. 2 – Internet ArchiveGoogle BooksAncestry ($)At various libraries (WorldCat).
Census records for 1790
A new look at different spellings of the DEMPSEY surname in VA and including surrounding states of OH, KY, NC, and SC for William(1) and William(2)
Ancestry.com 1790 Census
Census records for 1800
idem.
Ancestry.com 1800 Census
Census records for 1810
idem.
Ancestry.com 1810 Census
Census records for 1820
idem.
Ancestry.com 1820 Census
Census records for 1830
idem.
Ancestry.com 1830 Census
Chancery Records: Amherst Co., VA
Chancery records have recently gone online for this county.
Do they cover the period following William(1)’s wife’s death? The probate, chancery, land deeds, etc. from a cousin who did courthouse research includes photocopies of records found. But were all records found and/or copied?
Chancery Records index at Library of Virginia

Case files (digitized) for Amherst are presently only available up to about 1836.

NOTE: This was checked when the records for Amherst were added. The file is indexed (as of Sept 2020) but not yet digitized.1848-03 Original Case No. 024. Now available. Needs to be transcribed.

Presumption of death – law in Virginia for the 1830s period?
Would there be records other than the administrator’s bond, inventory of the estate, sale of land that would indicate William(1) was deceased when his estate was administered?
??
DNA matches(1)
Re-new contact with the match on AncestryDNA that lead to William(2). Would he consider sharing his paternal ICW matches for research purposes? At this time only two matches have been proven to be descendants of William(2). Other cousins may have matches I am not seeing.
AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch

Analysis of DNA data in Genome Mate Pro, master repository.

DNA matches(2)
Review all unknown matches (no MRCA set) for clusters [C77] and [C81] to determine other possible descendants of William(1) or William(2) and set their MRCA.
AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch

Analysis of DNA data in Genome Mate Pro, master repository.

War of 1812 Pension Record
Pension records need to be checked as William(2) is seen on Find A Grave as a veteran of the War of 1812. If this was the case, his widow might have tried to obtain a pension.
FREE database on Fold3
War of 1812 Pension RecordsNEGATIVE result: the database was checked on 22/11/19
War of 1812 Veteran
William(2) DEMPSEY is on a list of veterans for the War of 1812 (see photo on Find A Grave)
Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 September 2020), memorial page for William Dempsey (15 Feb 1770–17 Aug 1845), Find a Grave Memorial no. 46143160, citing Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Kay Cynova (contributor 47064119).
Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana

Note: He was a veteran per cemetery records according to this list from the Indiana Lineage Society: http://lineage.gradeless.com/1812_burials.htm

Check newspapers as suggested in Research Planning Magic Challenge group https://virginiachronicle.com/

NEGATIVE results (21/9/20): 49 hits for Dempsey for period 1787-1837.

What other newspaper collections are available for this range?

Ohio Early Land Ownership Records

Did William(1) or William(2) own land in Ohio in the 1820s and 1830s?

https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/4642/

Collection not loading 21/9/20. Still not loading 9/1/21: We’re sorry, this page is temporarily unavailable.

Following the Research Plan

After setting up the research question, reviewing the known information, and drawing up the research plan, I set everything aside.

Since the preliminary work has been done and recorded in writing, I can always come back to the research question to work on as I have time.

As the Amherst County Chancery record I mentioned above is now available, it will be the first thing I’ll pursue in more detail. I’ve skimmed through the 36 images but a transcription of the pages needs to be done to save time and get all pertinent information recorded.

I’m hoping that other DEMPSEY cousins will become interested in this research question.

I’d love to hear from any DEMPSEY cousins who have DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas as this is where the descendants of Barnett DEMPSEY were found. Also, DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines coming out of Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri where descendants of William(2) DEMPSEY lived. It is always possible that the matches share DNA from an as yet unknown distant “common” ancestor.

What did I miss in the brainstorming part? Any suggestions as to other resources that might help bring me closer to the answer. Were William(1) DEMPSEY and William(2) DEMPSEY the same person or two different individuals?

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.