52 Ancestors: #25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #25 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Note: The Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) on ancestry.com and its sister sites last Monday took the site down for two days. This is still being felt in the genealogy world as several of the “minor” sites are still down. My apologies for links to Rootsweb pages in this post that are not working.

52 Ancestors: #25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

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.

1942 Nannie Ellen Cates death
Certificate of Death for Mrs. Nannie Ellen Cates [Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 : accessed 20 June 2014]
Many online gedcoms show that she 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 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.

Since I believe that there are unresolved questions concerning Rachel’s parentage, I’ll begin her story with her marriage to Jordan N. PETERS. This will give me time to do further research for my blogposts on her parents which are scheduled for weeks #48 and #49.

Rachel Marries at 24

Jordan N. PETERS, twice widowed with 10 children at home between the ages of 2 and 20 years [Peninah 2, William 6, Martha 8, Jane 10, James 12, Jonathan 14, Mary 16, Stephen 17, Zachariah 19  and Henry 20] needed a wife and a mother for his children. He was 45 years old when he married Rachel PROFFITT who was 24 years old. Jordan’s second wife Sarah COX had died five months earlier after giving birth to a child who did not survive. Rev. John Turner of the Hard Shell Baptist Church married Jordan and Rachel on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. There is no official record of marriage as we learned in Jordan’s War of 1812 pension papers.

Eleven months later Rachel gave birth to her first child Sarah “Sallie” on 2 November 1842. The child may have been named for her father’s second wife, as the first daughter born to a new marriage was often named after the deceased wife. A second possibility, which earlier researchers may have assumed, is that she was named after her maternal grandmother. This would explain why Rachel is consistently seen as the daughter of David and Sarah and not Austin and Martha (who are a better match when analyzing the pre-1850 censuses).

Rachel continued having children less than two years apart: Joseph W. on 12 May 1844, Moses Samuel on 25 January 1846, Keziah Lucy about 1847, and Amanda Angeline on 2 October 1850. At the time of her 10th wedding anniversary Rachel was finally getting a rest from caring for her extra-large family. She had five young ones of her own and nearly all of her step-children were married or old enough to take care of themselves. The time between the births grew to 3-4 years for the next four daughters: Caroline “Callie” was born on 31 January 1853, Milla Susan on 6 December 1856, Mary Elizabeth on 22 March 1860, and Nancy Ellen “Nannie” on 20 July 1864 [Note: 1870 is an error on her death record. She was seen as 6 years old on the 1870 census].

Before the Civil War (1861-1865) Rachel’s oldest daughter Sallie married her first cousin David C. PETERS (1838-1906) on 21 January 1859 in Franklin County. On the transcription of their marriage record the mothers of the bride and groom were switched. The original marriage record has not been checked.

The Civil War Years

As with so many other families during these times, Rachel and her husband Jordan would have sad memories of the Civil War. Both sons served on the Confederate side during the war between the states. Joseph enlisted on 8 March 1862 and was admitted to the hospital in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia, were he died of unknown causes on 18 April 1862 . Moses enlisted two years later on 22 April 1864 as a private in Company H, Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment. Rachel would see Moses come home after the war, marry and raise a large family.

Not only did Jordan and Rachel lose their son Joseph during the war, their home was burned down in February of 1865, the year of the surrender. In later years, as they fought for Jordan’s War of 1812 pension, they would be reminded of this loss as the family bible and other important papers went up in smoke. The death of daughter Milla Susan ROOP and her young daughter in a house fire in 1891 most likely also brought sad memories of these times to Rachel after she lost her husband in 1890.

Rachel’s Children Marry

Following the Civil War, Rachel’s children began to marry:

  • Ch 3: Moses Samuel PETERS married Elizabeth A. “Betty” TRUSLER (1854-1936) on 10 August 1869 at Jesse Edward’s in Floyd County, Virginia.
  • Ch 5: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” PETERS married William Pascal BEVERLY (1844-1924) on 20 February 1873 in Montgomery County, Virginia
  • Ch 4: Keziah Lucy PETERS married Elkanah Yates MASSEY (1845- ) on 8 November 1874 in Patrick County, Virginia.
  • Ch 6: Caroline “Callie” PETERS married Edward CLARK (1858-1930) on 3 November 1877 at the bride’s residence in Floyd County.
  • Ch 7: Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 January 1880 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.
  • Ch 8: Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS married James Thomas PRICE (1848-1938) on 10 October 1881 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County. She divorced him and married Peter ROTOLO in 1894. She was widowed and married Bernet James TILLEY in 1902.
  • Ch 9: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS married John J. CATES (1864-1921) on 28 December 1882 in Patrick County.

Rachel and Jordan’s Later Years

By the time Rachel’s youngest daughters married, her elderly husband Jordan was in his early 80’s and finally receiving his well earned pension. They would have less than eight years to enjoy their first time alone as a couple. Jordan N. PETERS died on 14 October 1890 at Nettle Ridge in Patrick County of old age – he was 94. Rachel and Jordan would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary a few months later. They were married twice as long as Jordan was married to his first two wives.

Rachel Has Difficulties Getting her Widow’s Pension

The year following Jordan’s death his widow Rachel began giving evidence in order to claim her widow’s pension. The government was not able to identify the claim “from the data given.” The government files were still in disorder.

The Government would not grant Rachel a pension unless she could prove that she had been lawfully married to Jordan. Rachel was determined to provide some evidence but the Family Bible had turned to ashes in the 1865 fire that destroyed the Peters’ home. It was common practice at that time for people to pack up their Family Bibles and send them to the Government to verify marriages and other relationships in order to obtain their pensions. Complicating matters, the Clerk of Court in Franklin County could find no record of their marriage.

In order to prove her case, this elderly lady, 74 years old, walked many miles in the rain over muddy mountain roads to get sworn statements from friends, neighbors, the Clerk of Court and the Justice of the Peace. In March 1891, Rachel sent a letter to her law firm in Washington, D.C.: “…If you want the evidence of a U.S. Marshal, I can get it from Han Woolwine of this county who knows me well, but he resides at Stuart 13 miles from here…The Judge of the court lives 27 miles from here and the Clerk of the court 13 miles. This is a long and mountainous county and the mud in the roads are hardly passable…I have to walk around to get up this evidence, and you see my age, I am old…it is raining almost every day…”

MRIN00056 Rachel Proffitt Peters letter from War of 1812 package
Rachel’s 1891 letter to her law firm in Washington D.C. found in Jordan N. PETER’s War of 1812 pension file. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Rachel’s friends and neighbors were indignant that she had to go to such lengths to prove her marriage. The Justice of the Peace, Mr. W. H. Cooper, was a friend who had known Jordan and Rachel for several years. Before he signed his name to his own testimony in her behalf, he added the following crusty comment: “…and I have known them for 9 or 10 years and they lived together as man and wife in this community and if they had not been so, I should have had them indicted for unlawful cohabitation and tried.”

Rachel’s effort was successful and within six months she was granted a pension of $12.00 per month plus the accrued pension due her from the date of Jordan’s death.[1]

Rachel PROFFITT received her pension for eight years before dying on 5 March 1899 near Nettle Ridge at the age of 82.

Pension Odyssey Continues Following Rachel’s Death

You would think that this would be the end of the pension odyssey for the PETERS family however the story continues. I’ll let Paula Kelley Ward tell how the story finally ends.

It began on the day before Rachel Peters died. She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Ellen and John Cates, in a house on the Taylor farm. For a time Rachel had been receiving her mail through the Post Office at Bassil, Virginia. The Post Mistress, Fannie L. Taylor, knew that Rachel had been ill with pneumonia for about ten days. Mrs. Taylor and her husband went to visit Rachel on Saturday, March 4, 1899. They brought Rachel’s pension vouchers for her to sign. Rachel could not write but she made her mark on the papers. “She was then in her right mind,” Mrs. Taylor said.

The next morning Abe and Lucy Pickrel visited John and Ellen Cates. Rachel told Lucy that she wanted her daughter, Ellen, to have her check. Lucy wrote a short statement which said: “Please let John Kates have my check when it comes, Rachel Peters” and Rachel made her mark on this paper. Later that same day, at sundown, Rachel passed away.

Eleven days later John and Ellen Cates went to the Bassil Post Office, gave Mrs. Taylor the statement that Rachel had signed, and Mrs. Taylor gave them the pension check. Lucy Pickrel met them at the Post Office and endorsed the check in Rachel’s name. John Cates later cashed the check in Rella, North Carolina.

When the Government learned that Mrs. Peters had died on March 5, but that her pension check had been cashed about two weeks later, it went into action. A special examiner for the Bureau of Pensions in Washington, D.C., E. H. Carver, was sent to Patrick County to investigate.

This was the Government that had prevented Jordan N. Peters from obtaining his rightful pension for ten years. It was the Government that had misfiled, lost, and was not able to read Jordan’s pension claims and testimony, the Government that had been responsible for Jordan’s widow having to walk all over the mountains to procure testimony in her behalf. Now this same Government was miraculously keeping an intact record of its so-called “Criminal Case.” The Bureau of Pensions had suddenly become efficient. Carver was sent to roam the Blue Ridge Mountains of Patrick County, Virginia to chase down witnesses in an attempt to indict Jordan’s son-in-law for forgery.

Carver obtained testimony from four people: Lucy Pickrel; Mrs. Fannie L. Taylor; Levi J. Lackey, the merchant from Rella, North Carolina who had cashed the check; and Joseph H. Brown, a blacksmith and general mechanic who had made Mrs. Peters’ coffin.

After taking signed statements under oath, the result of his interrogation of these people, Carver sent his report to the Bureau of Pensions charging John Cates with forgery. He wrote that John Cates “had fleeced everyone whom he had any dealings with,” but there was no evidence of this. John Cates had received $36.00 when he cashed the pension check, and $8.00 of that amount had been used to pay for Mrs. Peters’ funeral expenses. Carver claimed that the balance “was used on riotous living.” There was no proof of this allegation, either. Indeed, one wonders just how much “riotous living” could be bought with $28.00 in Patrick County, Virginia in 1899. It is a stretch of the imagination to conceive of Patrick County residents indulging in Carver’s idea of “riotous living,” whatever that was.

Shortly after the check was cashed, John and Ellen Cates moved to Winston, North Carolina. Carver naturally viewed this as an act of fleeing to avoid prosecution. One witness testified, however, that John Cates “got dissatisfied here. I do not suppose that he went there on account of the draft.”

Four months later the Federal Government brought its case before the Grand Jury in Danville, Virginia. For background, it also provided the Grand Jury with Jordan N. Peters’ pension records and the records of Jordan’s widow. Did the Grand Jury observe Jordan’s ten-year struggle to get his pension? Did it note that Rachel Peters had supplied an unusual amount of evidence to prove her marriage? The deliberations of the Grand Jury are not contained in Jordan’s pension file. All that is known is the Government’s attempt at indictment, which failed. The Grand Jury’s decision was “Not a true bill.” John Cates was not indicted.

The Government pursued the case, bringing it before a second Grand Jury at Lynchburg, Virginia. Again, the Grand Jury refused to indict John Cates for forgery. Was he guilty? It is true that he had cashed the pension check, but two of the four witnesses who had given their sworn statements to Carver had provided conclusive evidence that John Cates had not forged the check. Lucy Pickrel admitted that she herself had endorsed the check in Rachel Peters’ name.

Twice defeated, the Government decided to close its case because “it was futile and unnecessarily expensive.” That was an understatement since it must have cost the Government considerably more than $36.00, the amount of the pension check, to investigate the case and take it before two Grand Juries.

A final insult to Jordan’s service was found in his pension file on a slip of paper dated June 5, 1919. Twenty years after Rachel Peters had died, the Government added: “Rachel, widow of Jordan N. Peters…Papers found in Claim of Lucy A. Loveland, widow of Samuel W. Loveland…”[1]

The War of 1812 Pension Application Files

Rachel and Jordan’s stories could not have been written without the help of the War of 1812 pension file that Paul Kelley Ward obtained in 1977 from the National Archives and Records Administration. Genealogists, historians, teachers, patriotic societies, and history buffs will soon have easier access to these wonderful records. The War of 1812 Pension Application Files are being digitized, indexed and placed online as they are in grave danger of deterioration. As of today 17% of the documents can be accessed FREE at Fold3. I would not be surprised if by the time the project is finished Jordan’s papers may have a few more pages than when Paula received her copy in 1977.

[1] Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story”, Wherever We Wander pgs. 24-29; compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce; cover designed by Charles Randolph Bruce. All stories in this book are copyrighted, 2005, by their authors and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author(s), except for brief quotes in reviews or for publicity purposes.
[Source: Floyd County, Virginia Mailing List Web Site maintained by Rena Worthen; online http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~barbs/]

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #14 Alexander CLONCH Known as “The one who killed the beef at 200 paces”

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

We are starting the 2nd quarter of the challenge! This is my 14th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #14 Alexander CLONCH Known as “The one who killed the beef at 200 paces”

MRIN00038 Clonch, Alex
“The one who killed the beef at 200 paces” Alexander Clonch 1842-1910

My Grandfather, Joe, told about the BEEF at 200 Paces to us when I was about 10.  We were shooting a rifle and he said we were as good as his dad that killed the beef at 200 paces.
Apparently they had some cattle in camp to provide meat and one swam a river or deep creek and was escaping.  Grandpa Alex shot it and killed it across the stream with his muzzle loader (musket?).  From that point on until Alex was put in the hospital, the Captain would yell “Send the man that killed the beef at 200 paces, to the front” anytime they were firing at the enemy.

Daniel CLONCH, our 2nd cousin once removed, shared the story that his grandfather Joe told him about 1941, with my 2nd cousin Robert BAKER  per email on 20 May 2000.

Alex During the American Civil War 1861-1865

Alexander CLONCH was mustered into service as a private in Company C of the 13th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry on 8 October 1862 at the age of 21. The regiment, organized in October 1862, served in the Kanawha Valley during the first year of the war, mostly doing guard duty and scouting by detachments of companies. Alex was present until 31 October 1862.

alexcw2
“West Virginia Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865” http://www.fold3.com : accessed 12 Feb 2014

Records show that Alex was sick and absent from duty in November and December 1862. It does not give any detail as to what the illness was. His father was suffering from typhoid fever at this time and died on 20 January 1863.

Alex was once again present for duty in January and February 1863. He appeared on a Special Muster Roll as present on 10 April 1863 and then on a Company Muster Roll dated 30 April 1863 as sick in Post Hospital at Point Pleasant. His stay in the hospital continued from May 1863 until February 1864 and each time it was noted that he had been there since 12 Feb 1863. After a year of being sick in the Post Hospital he appears to have been transferred to the army’s General Hospital in Gallipolis, Ohio, on 3 March 1864.

 

alexcw1
“West Virginia Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865” http://www.fold3.com : accessed 12 Feb 2014

The government erected a general hospital near the site of Camp Carrington, a wheat field on the Barlow farm “at the upper end” of Gallipolis in 1862, and maintained it until the close of the war. At greatest capacity the hospital had 4,000 patients tended by military staff and people from Gallipolis. [Source: History of Gallia County, 1882, Hardesty Publishing]

This might be a bit exagerated as another source indicates that the hospital was “equipped with 350 beds, at its peak, the hospital treated 769 soldiers at a single time.” A historical marker has been erected for the “U.S. Army General Hospital” in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio.

 

alexcw3
“West Virginia Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865” http://www.fold3.com : accessed 12 Feb 2014

Alex remained in General Hospital until the end of October 1864. Apparently he had been drawing pay the entire time that he was hospitalized as he was last paid on 31 October 1864. From November 1864 until April 1865 he was once again listed as present and I assume fit for duty. He was mustered out on 22 June 1865. His clothing account was “last settled on 30 June 1864; drawn since $39.10.” He had been paid $25 of his bounty and $75 was due him.

A federal bounty of $100.00 was paid for all volunteers or regulars enlisting for three years and serving at least two years or to the end of the war. This $100.00 bonus was paid at discharge only.

Back to the Beginning ~ Alex’s Childhood

William CLONCH (1807-1863) and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS (1816-1890) were the parents of my great-great-grandfather Alexander DOSS a.k.a. Alexander CLONCH born on 2 March 1842 in Mason County, West Virginia (then Virginia). Alex was their second child.

William and Polly, although never married, had eight known children including John William (1840-1919), Alex (1842-1910), Lavina Ann (1846-1945), Jeremiah (1847-bef. 1860), Elizabeth Jane “Betsy” (1851-aft. 1899), Joel (1852-aft. 1910), Thomas Eli (1852-1913) , and Charles Henry (1855-1925).

1850censusclonch
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Mason > 38th District > Sheet No. 422A HH#842-853; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0959unix#page/n368/mode/1up : accessed 27 March 2014

On the 1850 census we see Alex DOSS with his parents William CLONCH and Polly DOSS, older brother John W. DOSS, and younger siblings Lavina DOSS and Jeremiah DOSS. The enumerator used the ditto mark (“) to show a repeat of the surname DOSS. This is not an error as we will see later.

1860censusclonch
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Mason > District 2 > Page 46 > HH#345-316; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1361unix#page/n434/mode/1up : accessed 27 March 2014

On the 1860 census Alex, his 6 siblings and both of his parents are seen with the CLAUNCH (sic, CLONCH) surname. Note: The surname has been seen spelled/transcribed as Claunch, Clounch, Clonch, Clouch, and even Clanuch which makes the search for records a bit more difficult.

Alex’s Father Made His Will Before Dying

As mentioned Alex’s father William CLONCH died 20 January 1863 of typhoid fever. He left a will dated the 17th of January in which he wrote, “I do wish to will my Land to Mary Doss and her Children John William Doss, Alexander Doss, Loving Ann Doss, Elizabeth Jane Doss, Thomas Eli Doss, Joel Doss and Charles Henry Doss.” William did not write “my” or “our” when he named the children in his will.

will
West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875; Page 166-167 (image 104); online https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099

All of the boys used the CLONCH surname after their father’s death. Mary DOSS also used the CLONCH name after William’s death. She had not been able to marry William CLONCH as he was still married to another woman. This has been discussed in A Little “Peyton Place” (Part 1) and will be looked into again when I do William CLONCH’s story for the 52 Ancestors Challenge.

Lavina Ann DOSS married James William PATTERSON (1836-1911) on 16 July 1863 in Point Pleasant, Mason County, West Virginia. Her parents were listed as Wm CLONCH and Mary DOSS, however, Wm CLONCH was struck out on the marriage license. Lavina married less than 6 months after her father’s death. Why Wm CLONCH was marked out on the license is unknown.

A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II)

Alex’s brother John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 [left page, 5th entry]. Alexander CLONCH married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863 [right page, last entry]. This was when, according to the military records, Alex was sick in Post Hospital in Point Pleasant. He must have been too sick to serve in the army but well enough to leave the hospital to get married. Both of these marriages took place in Gallia County, Ohio, and neither marriage lasted.

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

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

Alex Has Children With His Wife’s Sister

On 7 November 1865 Rebecca LEMASTER, Mary Ellen’s sister, had an illegitimate son Austin Richard LEMASTER [line 11]. His father was listed as unknown. Later this son went by the name Oscar R. CLONCH. His 1943 death record shows that he was the son of Rebecca LEMASTER and an unknown father. Family tradition is that Alexander CLONCH had a son named Austin and it has been assumed that the child died young as he was not mentioned in the 1898 pension papers* (more below). Most likely Alexander took on the father role for  Rebecca’s illegitimate child in early years and Oscar chose to use the CLONCH surname. Alex did not acknowledge him in his 1898 pension papers*.

Alex’s daughter Emma Sidosa “Emily” was born 5 March 1866 per the 1898 pension papers* (no birth record found; 1 March 1868 per death record). When she married for the first time in 1892 her name was seen as Emma LAMASTICE (sic, LEMASTER). Unfortunately, the Ohio marriage record does not list names of parents of the bride and groom. [right page, middle entry]

The birth record of Alex’s son Joseph E. “Joe” CLONCH born 18 December 1874 [entry line 8] shows the mother as Rebecca CLONCH and most likely this is the reason it has been believed that the parents were married.

The next child born and acknowledged by Alex in his 1898 pension papers* was Barbara Elizabeth born on 5 March 1875 (no birth record found). Unfortunately, this date cannot be trusted as it is too close to the birth of son Joe. It is more likely that she was born in 1876 as she was later seen as age 4 on the 1880 census. Last minute find (less than 3 hours before scheduled publishing time of this article): 1900 census was finally located for Barbara, her husband, three sons (previously only two sons were known) and her husband’s nephew. She was enumerated as Lizzie and her month and year of birth were March 1876! What made me look again was that her youngest son William J.’s 1943 death record showed that he was born 2 November 1900. Gallia county birth records 1894-1903, however, show that he was born 2 November 1899. I searched for this child in the 1900 census and found the family!

The 1870 census listing has not been found for Alexander CLONCH or Rebecca LEMASTER nor has a marriage record been found for them. At one time someone came up with 13 May 1864 as the date of marriage for Alex and Rebecca, however, I have not found documentation, i.e. West Virginia or Ohio Marriage Records, to prove it. I do not believe that Alex actually married Rebecca with whom he raised four children: Oscar, Emma, Joseph, and Barbara. Rebecca may have died before 1880.

Alex is Finally Divorced from his First Wife

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

I suspect that Rebecca may have died before 1880 (as no record has been found for her) and, having such young children, Alex may have seen it necessary to get a divorce from his estranged wife so that he could legally marry. He was seen as divorced in the 1880 census with his children Emily, Joe, and Barbara in his household. Austin or Oscar has not been located.

1880censusclonch
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Clendenin > ED 93 Page 22 Sheet 245B > HH#197-202; online https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801408unit#page/n80/mode/1up : accessed 30 March 2014

1880 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, West Virginia
Clendennin Township, Page No. 22
ED No. 93, Sheet No. 245B
Enumerated by me on the day of June, 1880. R. J. Neale, enumerator.
HH #197-202
Claunch, Alex W M 38 divorced Farm Labor WV VA VA
Claunch, Emily W F 13 daughter single At Home WV WV WV
Claunch, Joel E. W M son single 6 WV WV WV
Claunch, Barbara W F 4 daughter single WV WV WV

Alexander Marries a Second Time

Alexander CLONCH married my great-great-grandmother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY (1861-1913) on 19 August 1880 Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. [right page, bottom entry]

Birth records for six of the nine children born to this marriage have been found. The dates for Fanny, Rebecca, and Sallie were seen in Alex’s 1898 pension papers*. Children of this marriage were:

Ch 1: Timothy CLONCH born 20 December 1881 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 7]. He died before 1898*.
Ch 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) born 10 March 1883 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 10]
Ch 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) born 30 April 1885 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) born 9 December 1887 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 14]. She died before 1898*.
Ch 5: Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) born 6 Jan 1888 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) born 20 Jun 1890 Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 7: Harrison S. CLONCH (1893-1970) born 11 February 1893 Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia [line 25] [delayed certificate of birth]
Ch 8: [–?–] CLONCH (1894-1894) born 6 Oct 1894 [line 32] died 13 October 1894 [line 13], both in Clay County, West Virginia
Ch 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) born 5 March 1896 Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia [line 63]

MRIN00038 1887-03-09 Alex Clonch
The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 09 March 1887. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

On 9 March 1887 an article appeared in the Point Pleasant (Mason County, West Virginia) Weekly Register under Five Mile Items:

“Mr. Alex Clounch, the sole proprietor of the Swisher corn mill, can grind a bushel of corn per day, that is as much as a man can eat in a week, and says if he gets an early start he can grind two bushels after deducting the toll.”

This is the first time I’ve heard that Alex owned a corn mill. More research is needed to determine if this is our Alex CLONCH. It is possible that his cousin John Alexander CLONCH 1842-1889 or his nephew/son-in-law William Alexander CLONCH 1862-1925 may have used their middle names in business matters although both have only been seen as farm laborers or farmers.

Alex Applies for his Civil War Pension

The following month, on 14 April 1887,  Alexander CLONCH applied for his Civil War pension.

MRIN00038 1888-05-30 Alex Clonch
The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 30 May 1888. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
In May 1888 the Weekly Register published a list of veterans of the Civil War who were living in the neighborhood and had been recently issued a pension. Alexander CLOUNCH of Beech Hill was listed with a pension of $12 per month.

MRIN00038 1890-04-23 Alex Clonch
The Wheeling daily intelligencer. (Wheeling, W. Va.), 23 April 1890. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer published a Special Dispatch concerning West Virginia pensions on 23 April 1890. In this dispatch, we see that Alex Clouch (sic) of Beech Hill was granted an increase in pension.

Alexander CLONCH was enumerated on the 1890 Veterans Schedule for Arbuckle District of Mason County, West Virginia. This confirms that he was a private in Company C of the 13th West Virginia Infantry from 8 May 1862 (sic) to 22 June 1865 and that he had a disability which affected his heart and lung. [line 23]

Alex’s mother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS died in Mason County, West Virginia. This event took place after the 1880 census and before 29 Apr 1892 when her children sold the land left to her in William CLONCH’s will.

Alex Moves From Mason County to Bell Creek, Clay County…

By 1893 Alex and his young family had moved to Bell Creek, Clay County, West Virginia. Although his son Harrison was born in Beech Hill, Alex had the birth recorded in Clay County which leads me to believe that the move took place soon after Tabitha gave birth. They were in residence in Clay County as the marriage of Alex’s son Joe took place on 29 August 1894 at the home of the groom’s parents in that county. Also while living there Alex and his wife had a daughter who lived only a week in October 1894.

….and then to Fayette County

They then moved to Fayette County where their youngest daughter Ida Bell was born at Smithers Creek in 1896. Civil War papers show that he was living in Dixie, Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1898. In the genealogy work of Ralph Hayes, a CLONCH family researcher, I kept seeing references to Civil War papers and events taking place before or after 1898. In June 2004 I emailed Ralph about the Civil War records for Alex CLONCH and the 1898 date. He wrote:

The date 1898 came from Alexander’s Civil War record which reads in part:
“Department of  the Interior Bureau of Pensions, 15 Jan 1898, reply dated 4 Jun 1898. Alexander Clonch of Dixie, WV provided the following info: He was married to Tabitha Clonch, maiden name Cooley; m. in Gallapolis, OH on 19 Aug 1880; has a marriage certificate; married previously to Rebecca Lemasters (deceased) on 13 May 187_  (cannot read); living children: Emila born 5 Mar 1866; Joseph born 20 Dec 18__(cannot read); Barbara born 5 Mar 1875; Lorena born 10 Mar 1882; Frances born 30 Apr 1884; Rebecca born 6 Jan 1886; Sarah Ann born 20 Jun 1890; Harrison born 11 Feb 189_(cannot read); and Ida born 5 Mar 1896.”
Info from Mrs. W.F. Machir, Anne Christy and Kara McWilliams. Kara McWilliams received a copy of his records.

I requested more information from Kara McWilliams, a niece of Daniel CLONCH, concerning her copy of Alex’s Civil War records. She will be getting back to me as soon as she has time to access her genealogy papers. I am hoping that there may be information that was missed. If she sends me images of the papers I might be able to read the information she was not able to decipher. It must be noted that not all of the dates given by Alex for the children match birth records found.

Was Alex Clonch a Bigamist?

This is the most important detail that I noticed in Alexander’s pension records (transcript seen above): married previously to Rebecca Lemasters (deceased) on 13 May 187_  (cannot read). This must be where the marriage date 13 May 1864 came from. So many questions and no way to ask the person who could answer them! Why would Alex marry Rebecca when he was already married to her sister? Why would he get a divorce from Mary Ellen in 1880 when (if) he married Rebecca in the 1870s?

Although Alex left a nice paper trail up until 1898, I have not been able to locate him in the 1900 or 1910 census. This is really frustrating as it means that I have no census listing showing Alex with his wife Tabitha and their children! As with the census, I’ve tried all variations of his name in order to find his death record on WVCulture.org but to no avail. Finally, I found a database on FamilySearch that is 80% complete and Alexander CLONCH is in it! The Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933 [images 579-582].

These cards have information missing in earlier documents and, best of all, his date of death. Alex’s disability was disease of the heart, resulting from measles. Did he have the measles while he was serving during the Civil War? His widow Tabitha continued to receive his pension following his death and their youngest daughter Ida, being a minor, brought in an additional $2 per month until 4 March 1912, the day before her 16th birthday.

Alexander CLONCH died 9 June 1910 and was buried in Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, Fayette County, West Virginia. His wife of 30 years, Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY, followed him on 16 December 1913.

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

52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is my 12th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

My great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP, a photographer, miner, and farmer, was born 6 May 1862 in Floyd County, Virginia, during the Civil War.

Gordon’s father enlisted in Jacksonville as a private on 10 September 1861 in Company A, 54th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, for a period of one year. He may not have known at the time that his wife was pregnant with their third child. The 54th was engaged in battles in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on 15 April 1862 and at Princeton, (West) Virginia, on 16 May 1862. Was Gordon’s father given furlough to be at home for the birth of his son?

Gordon’s father must have worried about his young family while he continued to serve in the Confederate army. He was NOT one of the nearly 23 percent of Floyd County men who chose to abandon the cause. The Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 may have forced him to extend his service, when his initial commitment of one year expired, to a total of three years.

On the 19th and 20th of September 1863, while Gordon was learning to walk and beginning to talk, his father was fighting his last battle at Chickamauga in Georgia. On 1 November 1863, when young Gordon was a year and a half, his father died in Flewellan Hospital, in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.

Parents and Siblings

Gordon’s parents Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) and Emaline LESTER (1836-1877) married on 10 March 1856 in Floyd County, Virginia. They had two children by 1860: Dollie Ann Ellen (1857-1937) born 24 February 1857 and John Thomas (1859-1902) born 6 March 1859, both in Floyd County, Virginia.

When the American Civil War began on 4 February 1861 the young family of four was living in Floyd County. Emaline gave birth to her second son and third child, Gordon Washington ROOP, on 6 May 1862. He was given his father’s first name and, as a middle name, the surname of the first U.S. President. Sadly we do not know how much time Gordon Sr. was able to spend with his family while serving in the Civil War until his early death at the age of 25 in 1863.

Mother Remarries

The end of the Civil War in June 1865 brought changes to America, Virginia, and families in Floyd County. We don’t know what price Gordon, his mother Emaline, and his sibings paid for his father’s loyalty to the Confederacy. Gordon’s mother Emaline waited nearly six years to remarry. She was 32 when she married Pleasant D. EPPERLY, 21, son of Solomon EPPERLY and Rachel RATLIFF, on 6 February 1869 in Floyd County. A year later we see Gordon and his siblings in the household of their step-father and mother in the 1870 census.

1870epperleyroop1
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1646unit#page/n5/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014
1870epperleyroop2
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1646unit#page/n6/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014

Siblings Marry

Gordon’s sister Dollie Ann Ellen married her 2nd cousin 1 time removed Giles SUMNER (1855-1920) on 1 7 November 1873 in Floyd County. His brother John Thomas married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858-?) on 16 November 1876 in Camp Creek, Floyd County.

Orphaned at Fifteen

A little over a year after John’s marriage, Gordon was orphaned at the age of 15 when his mother died on 13 December 1877. Did Gordon stay with his step-father or did he go to live with his sister or his brother? Gordon and his siblings were close to their ROOP and LESTER grandparents as well as the SUMNER family, their great-grandparents. I hope that he was well taken care of until he married two years later.

pedigreegordon
Screenshot of five-generation pedigree for Gordon Washington ROOP generated by Ancestral Quest 14

Marries at Seventeen

1880rooppetersmarriage 002
Photocopy of Marriage License obtained by Louise Roop Anderson Akers on 24 Feb 2001 from the records of the Circuit Court, County of Floyd, Virginia. Louise sent the original certified copy to me in April 2001.

William L. SIMMONS joined Gordon Washington ROOP, age 17, and Milla Susan PETERS, age 23, in marriage on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County at Jordan PETERS’ residence. On the marriage record the ages of the bride and groom were fudged. Gordon was listed as 21 and Milla as 20.

Gordon and Milla were first seen together on the 1880 census. They lived on Alum Ridge in Floyd County near the Montgomery County line.

1880roop
1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59; online https://archive.org/stream/10thcensus1365unit#page/n300/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014

Becomes a Father at Eighteen

Gordon and his wife Milla did not wait long to start their family. They had five children, four sons and a daughter, in ten years:

Ch 1: George Washington ROOP (1880-1950) born 19 September 1880in Floyd County, Virginia. Note: no birth record however WWI and WWII draft cards match date seen on his death certificate.
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.

Ch 3: Charles Turner ROOP (1885-1966) born 15 June 1885 in Montgomery County, Virginia. The father’s residence at the time was Raleigh County, West Virginia, and the birth was recorded there.

Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.
Ch 5: [–?–] ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.

Moves his Family to West Virginia

By 1885 Gordon moved his family to Raleigh County in West Virginia where he had the birth of his son Charles recorded. After the birth of their fourth son James, Gordon and Milla and their four sons moved to Kanawha County where their only daughter was born in 1890.

Wife and Daughter Die in a House Fire

Sadly the daughter born in June 1890 was not named and died with her mother in a house fire in 1891 according to family tradition as recounted in genealogy notes by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop. Neither death records nor newspaper articles have been found to confirm the story and year of this event.

Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette L. McGrew (1923-2008) on a book on the Roop family. The summer of 1994 she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002. Linda had done most of the work on our direct line as her husband is the grandson of Old Man Jim, Gordon’s fourth son.

Motherless Children Go into Foster Care

The four motherless boys were placed in the home of Henry Snuffer, the Sheriff of Kanawha County, and his brother, Lee Snuffer, until Gordon was able to care for them. Linda wrote, “Gordon married second to Nancy E. Johnson. When Gordon returned for his children, Walter, Charles and George went with him but James wanted to stay with the only family he knew, the Snuffers, so Gordon let him stay rather than insist he go with him. Henry and Martha E. Snuffer were a loving married couple who could not have children of their own. They took in and raised with loving care many children who had lost their parents.”

Further research brought to light that Lee and Eliza Snuffer, like Henry and Martha, did not have children of their own. James was living in Henry Snuffer’s and Charles was in Lee Snuffer’s households in 1900. Walter was with Gordon and his second family. George was not found. Is it possible that Charles, like his brother James, also wanted to remain with the Snuffer family he had been living with?

Mentioned in his Grandfather’s Will in 1890

Gordon’s grandfather James ROOP dated his will 31 January 1890. He died 2 November 1890 and final settlement of the will was made on 18 September 1897 in Floyd County, Virginia. In his will James ROOP mentioned among others, his son Gordon ROOP’s children Thomas, Gordon, and Dolly.

Marries a Second Time and Fathers More Children

Gordon Washington ROOP and Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON (1860-1949) were married on 25 August 1894 in Pond Gap, Kanawha County, West Virginia, by L. D. Hill. [line 76]

They had five children in five years:

Ch 6: Samuel Pasley “Sam” ROUPE (1895-1956) born 30 October 1895 in Blue Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 39].
Ch 7: Julia Ann ROOP (1897-1990) born 4 January 1897 in Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 40].
Ch 8: Amanda O. “Mandy” ROOP (1898-1994) born 20 March 1898 in Hughes Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 12].
Ch 9: Hallie Beatrice ROOP (1899-1944) born 10 September 1899 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Ch 10: Hazel Vern ROOP (1900-1976) was born 28 December 1900 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

1900censusroop
1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 41 Sheet 2B > HH #33-33; online https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu1761unit#page/n531/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014
1910censusroopg
1910 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Roe > ED 54 Sheet 6A > HH #100-106; online https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po1684unit#page/n452/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014
1920roop
1920 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 79 Sheet 7B > HH#38; online https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu1957unit#page/n1007/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014

Dies at the Home of his Daughter

According to Linda Pearl Dickey Roop, Gordon was living with his daughter, Amanda WITHROW in Donnally Hollow in Kanawha City, West Virginia, before he died so that he could get to the doctors more easily. Gordon Washington ROOP died at 6:30 a.m. on 30 January 1930 in Kanawha City; cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis with contributory factor being cardio-renal disease. He was buried in Jodie, Fayette County.

Gordon’s son Walter Farmer ROOP was the informant on the death certificate. Walter didn’t know the name of his grandmother and he got the name of his grandfather wrong. Or did he? The name he gave was Ham ROOP. Gordon’s father’s middle initial was H. in Civil War records. Is it possible that the H. was for Hamilton even though Gordon Sr.’s youngest brother was named Hamilton Null ROOP? Could Uncle Hamilton have raised Gordon Jr. after both his parents’ deaths?

Gordon Washington ROOP was survived by his second wife, all of his children except for the baby girl who died in the house fire, and his sister Dollie. His children’s families continued to grow giving him a total of 50 known grandchildren, 10 still living in 2014.

Gordon’s second wife Nancy Elizabeth Johnson died 14 June 1949 in Charleston.

1949obit
The Charleston Gazette, Wednesday, June 15, 1949

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

52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY

52ancestorsWhen I made the decision to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I chose to begin with my father and work my way back through the generations of my paternal line. I’m starting on his great-grandparents with this week’s contribution. They’ll take me through another 8 weeks!

52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY

My father’s cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) was the first person I know of who worked on our family tree. I have so much respect for the work she did pre-internet. In 1995 she wrote “This project started when Laura my youngest daughter had a mini course in high school at Midland Trail. The paper work was passed onto Earldine my oldest daughter. She tired of the project when the information was scarce. By that time I picked it up as a hobby. I took a night class taught by Laura’s teacher in high school. I began at our courthouse, then ventured onto other courthouses in other states.”

Geraldine Workman of Lansing has worked tirelessly and quietly in the fields of genealogy, historical identification and preservation. She is a charter member of the Fayette and Raleigh County Genealogical Society and held numerous offices. As archivist she spends many hours researching and answering inquiries that are directed to the society. She co-authored four census books for Fayette County, invested 20 years in the preservation of the records of hundreds of cemeteries, and as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, helped identify 20 unknown Confederate soldiers buried in a local Civil War interment site. Nominated by Genealogy Society of Fayette and Raleigh Counties.”
[Source: Meet West Virginia’s History Heroes For 2001; West Virginia Division of Culture and History; online http://www.wvculture.org/history/hisher01.html : accessed 20 Feb 2014]

DSCN1021 OPiBW

William A. W. DEMPSEY (b. ca. 1820-1822 d. ca. 1867)

William A. W. DEMPSEY’s parentage has remained a mystery to me for the nearly 20 years that I’ve been doing genealogy. I need a key to open the door in this brick wall.

Not only do I not know who his parents were, it’s been nearly impossible to prove family tradition with documents (that I have access to) from the time period that he lived in. He was seen on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and the 1850 and 1860 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, with his wife and children; however a marriage record has not been located. Part of the family tradition is that he served during the Civil War and died in a logging accident after the war. No documentation has been found to confirm when he died or his cause of death. My paternal great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY lies in a grave marked with another man’s name! This error could lead other genealogists down the wrong path. However we are uniting in an effort to get this corrected!

MRIN08669 William A. Dempsey Gravemarker
Wm A. Dempsey
Pvt Co C
7 Va Inf
1822
1867

I’ve suspected for several years that Geraldine applied for and placed a Civil War marker on William’s grave in the cemetery in Chestnutburg on Ames Heights Road, 1.75 miles off Route 19, Fayette County, West Virginia, for the wrong veteran.

My respect for Geraldine and her work kept me from bringing up the subject of the Civil Marker marker. I placed a remark in William’s notes in my gedcom file questioning the possibility that there was an error. Then I decided to go public and posted the photo above [I have a tiny obsession with old doors] with my findings to my Facebook page in December 2012.

This past week while preparing to write this entry for the Challenge I contacted Geraldine’s daughters. Laura confirmed that she removed the information about William’s serving in the 7th Virginia Infantry from her Ancestry.com tree last year. Laura and Earldine, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have talked about correcting the error. Earldine said her mother had told her that she may have had the wrong Dempsey long after the marker was set. However at the time it was no longer a priority as Geraldine was diagnosed with cancer.

In search of William’s parentage I studied all of the Dempsey families in the Virginia/West Virginia area during that time period hoping to make a connection. I had help from Norma Dempsey who in 2001 sent me copies of everything she accumulated in the search for her husband Richard’s Dempsey line [he descends from my other Dempsey line]. I checked on the 7th Virginia Infantry. To make a long story short, I found enough information to show that William A. DEMPSEY of Orange County, Virginia, was the man who served in Company C of the 7th Virginia Infantry and not our William A. W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County, West Virginia.

US Census 1820, 1830, 1840

Without the names of his parents it is impossible to locate William A. W. DEMPSEY in the U.S. Federal Census prior to 1850.

The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part I)

At least that is what I thought on 10 November 2007 when I found William A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The question I asked myself was were people taxed at the age of sixteen, eighteen or twenty-one during this time period in this county? Assuming that it was age twenty-one, William would have been born 1820 or earlier. Initials seen on the taxlist are the same as on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Does William’s being in Rockbridge County mean that he may be related to Tandy DEMPSEY of Rockbridge (whose son John W. DEMPSEY also lived in Fayette County) and in turn to the DEMPSEY’s of Amherst County?

1841taxlist
1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Taxlist
[online https://archive.org/stream/historyofrockbri00mortrich#page/380/mode/2up/search/taxpayers : accessed 22 Feb 2014]

1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Taxlist
Name: Dempsey, William A. W.
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road. 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
[Source: Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; “A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia”; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552]

William’s Marriage and Children’s Naming Pattern

William A. W. DEMPSEY married Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER, most likely before the Mexican-American War which began 25 April 1846. A marriage record has not been found. Their first child Elizabeth Rachel “Lizzie” was born about 1846. Following the end of the Mexican-American War on 2 February 1848 their second child and first son James Alexander “Buck” was born on 1 April 1848. Their first daughter’s middle name was the same as Sarah’s mother and grandmother. Is it possible that their first son was named for William’s father and/or grandfather?

US Census 1850

1850census
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > 14th District >Sheet 336B
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0943unix#page/n275/mode/2up%5D
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District, Sheet 336B
Enumerated by me on the
25th day of July, 1850.
T. B. Hamilton, Ass’t Marshal.
HH #85-85
Wm. A. W. Dempsey 28 M Laborer VA
Sarah A. Dempsey 22 F VA
E. R. Dempsey 3 F VA
Jas. A. Dempsey 1 M VA

US Census 1860

In 1860 the family was living in the household of the widower John A. McGRAW and his three motherless children. John’s deceased wife Nancy M. McGRAW (maiden name McGRAW) was the double first cousin once removed of Sarah Ann WOOD. I would like to think that the families were living together so that Sarah could help care for the widower’s children who had lost their mother in 1855. I believe that the families may have been living together for several years. Both families had sons named James. William’s James was seen with only his middle name, Alexander, possibly an attempt to avoid confusion as the boys were close in age.

1860census1
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1344unix#page/n371/mode/2up%5D
1860census2
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1344unix#page/n371/mode/2up%5D

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
District 3, Page No. 55
Enumerated by me on the 3rd day of
July, 1860. P. Morton, Ass’t Marshal.
Pleasant Hill Post Office, Sheet No. 365
HH #408-368
John A. McGraw 45 M Farmer $2000 $100 VA
Margaret McGraw 17 F Day Laborer VA
James McGraw 11 M VA
N. J. McGraw 9 F VA
Wm. Dempsey 40 M Farmer $0 $30 VA
Sarah Dempsey 36 F VA
Elizabeth Dempsey 14 F VA
Alexander Dempsey 10 M VA
Mary V. Dempsey 8 F VA
Eunice J. Dempsey 7 F VA
John Dempsey 3 M VA

The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part II)

The American Civil War began 4 February 1861 when William was about 41 years old. In December 2012 I found William A. W. DEMPSEY in the Union Provost Marshals’ File. What is this and why is it important?

The provost (pronounced provo) marshals served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps as military police. I found two databases: “United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866” and “Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians” on FamilySearch.com. From information about the files and their content, I learned that some cross-reference slips in the first database are stamped “PROVOST MARSHAL FILE” and show the name of a civilian and a number that cites a document in the second database.

MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey
Provost Marshal File
Dempsey, William A. W.
2323
Rebel
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 2
2323
May to Sept /62
Cits
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 3
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: George W. Gibson, George W. Commer, Washington B. Woods, Marion Commer, William Ellison
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 4
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: William Ellison cont., William A. W. Dempsey, Presley W. Gill

On the lower right image:

“William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18″. Started when they heard firing at the Court House, came down to get work in the Valley, refers to Simpson Wood, Styris Wood, and G. W. McVay, of the Oil Works, (brothers-in-law of his). Knows Hamilton as Hamilton of Hawks Nest.”

Dates mentioned in the other statements in the document allowed me to conclude that the 18th was in the month of May. James Simpson Wood and Elijah Stuart “Sty” Wood were William’s wife Sarah Ann Wood’s brothers. George Washington McVey (of the Cannelton Oil Works) may have been mentioned as a reference as he was an outstanding citizen. He was not a brother-in-law but lived in the same area as the Wood families. [See images 722, 723, 724]

1890b map highlighted
1890 New Map of West Virginia; Rand McNally & Co., 1890; from Rand McNally & Co.’s Family Atlas of the World

The documents show that my William was taken prisoner by the Union army between May and September of 1862 and his statement proves that he was a citizen of Fayette County and living at Dogwood Ridge. Generals John B. Floyd and Henry A. Wise were in charge of the Civil War encampment known as “Camp Dogwood at Dogwood Gap” which was placed high on Dogwood Ridge, where the surrounding plateau could be easily watched. There is no mention of William’s being a member of the Confederate army.

Importance of Middle Initials

William A. W. DEMPSEY was seen with double middle initials in 1841 on a tax list, in 1850 on the census, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List. I am convinced that these initials were very important to him.  Alexander may have been one of his middle names as it is a name that was passed down through the generations. Multiple middle initials might point to his having been named after a relative or an important or famous person.

Did William resemble his sons?

MRIN01121 Elijah Lewis Dempsey
Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1866-1923)
MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey
William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941)

John Henry DEMPSEY:
Jessica Bartrum Taylor wrote, “We don’t have a photo of John Dempsey. My grandmother, Lucille Geraldine Hess Bartrum, described him as having a big handlebar mustache and being a big, tall man with black hair.”

The description fits his brothers Elijah Lewis and William Henderson DEMPSEY!

Killed in a logging accident?

Following the end of the Civil War in 1865 and before the 1870 census William A. W. DEMPSEY died. Geraldine wrote, “….as fate would have it Wm. A. would not live to see his family grown. We’re told by family members he was killed in a logging accident about 1867 or 1868.”

Next week I will discuss his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, their seven children, and what became of the family after William’s death.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941

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

52ancestors

Proving Parentage of Wm H. DEMPSEY in a Roundabout Way

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

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

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

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

A Family Continues to Grow

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

The Civil War Years

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

A Family Is Split Up

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

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

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

Siblings Began To Marry

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

Adoption of William H. DEMPSEY

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

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

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

Life as a Married Man and Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Becomes A Land Owner

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Tragedy Strikes the Dempsey Family

William’s oldest son Willie married Mallie Lee GRAY. Their first two children, William’s first grandchildren, Olive (1909-1910) and Herbert (1911-1911) both died young. Willie was killed on October 5, 1915. He had gone into a small mine at his home, accompanied by his wife and little son Gordon, to mine some coal for home use. While his wife was watching him a heavy fall of slate came in on him, killing him instantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

William H. Dempsey Dies After a Short Illness

MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey death
http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1067455&Type=Death

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

Obituary of William H. DEMPSEY

 

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

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

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

William A. W. DEMPSEY (1822-1867)

DSCN1021 OPiBWI’d planned on having a few days to do a “little” write-up on this brick wall. But I just have to tell you about this new breakthrough I made yesterday. The short story is that my paternal great-great-grandfather William A. W. Dempsey lies in a grave marked with another man’s name! This error could lead other genealogists down the wrong path.

William’s parentage has been a mystery for the longest time. It’s been nearly impossible to prove family tradition with documents from the time period that he lived in. Although he was found on the 1850 and 1860 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, with his wife and children, no marriage record has been located. Before coming to Fayette County he was seen on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. Part of the family tradition was that he served during the Civil War and died in a logging accident during or after the war. No documentation has been found to confirm his death and cause of death.

MRIN08669 William A. Dempsey GravemarkerI credit my father’s cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007), a respected researcher from Fayette County, for the work she did on this family during the pre-internet days. However, I’ve suspected for several years now that Geraldine applied for and laid a Civil War marker for the wrong veteran on William’s grave in the cemetery in Chestnutburg on Ames Heights Road, 1.75 mi. off Rt. 19, Fayette County, West Virginia. The marker reads “Wm A. Dempsey Pvt Co C 7 Va Inf 1822-1867”.

In search of William’s parentage, I studied all of the Dempsey families in the Virginia/West Virginia area during that time period hoping to make a connection. I had help from Norma Dempsey who in 2001 sent me copies of everything she accumulated in the search for her husband Richard’s Dempsey line. I checked on the 7th Virginia Infantry. To make a long story short, I found enough information to show that William A. Dempsey of Orange Co. was the man who served in the 7th Va. Inf. and not William A. W. Dempsey of Fayette Co. I incorporated all of this information in the notes of my William and included photos and images of information found in my database.

Yesterday, while reviewing his file in preparation for a “little” write-up on this brick wall, I noticed that an image of a Civil War document saved in his scrapbook was not high quality enough to read. A new search at Ancestry.com brought up images that could only be viewed on Fold3.com. Laura Keaton Morrison, a descendant of another Dempsey family in Fayette Co., was kind enough to send me the images.

Three of the images were for William A. Dempsey of Orange County. The last image, from a different collection, contained only 4 lines:

Provost Marshal File
Dempsey, William A. W.
2323
Rebel

I’d never heard of “Provost Marshal File”. The provost (pronounced provo) marshals served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps as military police. I found two databases: “United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866” and “Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians” on FamilySearch.com. From information about the files and their content, I learned that some cross-reference slips in the first database are stamped “PROVOST MARSHAL FILE” and show the name of a civilian and a number that cites a document in the second database. The image I received from Laura was from the first database, called “Union Citizens File” on Fold3. I located a two page document with the heading “List of prisoners with their own statement.” and cross ref. #2323 in the second database. “May to Sep ’62 Cits” was written on the back of the folded document. In the document I found my great-great-grandfather’s statement:

“William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18th. Started when they heard firing at the Court House, came down to get work in the Valley, refers to Simpson Wood, Styris Wood, and G. W. McVay, of the Oil Works, (brothers-in-law of his). Knows Hamilton as Hamilton of Hawks Nest.”

Dates mentioned in the other statements in the document brought me to the conclusion that the 18th was in the month of May. James Simpson Wood and Elijah Stuart “Sty” Wood were William’s wife Sarah Ann Wood’s brothers. George Washington McVey (of the Cannelton Oil Works) may have been mentioned as a reference as he was an outstanding citizen. He was not a brother-in-law but lived in the same area as the Wood families.

This document shows that my William was taken prisoner by the Union army between May and September of 1862 and his statement proves that he was a citizen of Fayette County.

The search continues for the parentage of William A. W. Dempsey.

© 2012, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.