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

“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.

#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 1942.1

1942 Nannie Ellen Cates death
Certificate of Death for Mrs. Nannie Ellen Cates

Many online GEDCOMs show that she was the daughter of David PROFFITT and Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM who married on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.2 Another possibility is that she was the daughter of Austin PROFFITT and Martha RAKES who married on 4 June 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.3 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 County4 and may also be reflected in the household of her son Austin in 1820 and 1830.4,5,6 The ages found for the brothers in 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.7 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.8

Eleven months later Rachel gave birth to her first child Sarah “Sallie” on 2 November 1842.9 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, not Austin and Martha.

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 1850.10 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 13 June 185311, Milla Susan on 6 December 185612, Mary Elizabeth on 25 March 186013, and Nancy Ellen “Nannie” on 20 July 1864.14

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. An error was made on the marriage record. The names of the mothers of the bride and groom were switched and read Willis & Rachel and Jordan & Ruth instead of Willis & Ruth and Jordan & Rachel.15

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, where he died of unknown causes on 18 April 1862.16,17 Moses enlisted two years later on 22 April 1864 as a private in Company H, Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment.18 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, but 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 1890.19

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.20

Ch 5: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” PETERS married William Pascal BEVERLY (1844-1924) on 20 February 1873 in Montgomery County, Virginia.21

Ch 4: Keziah Lucy PETERS married Elkanah Yates MASSEY (1845- ) on 8 November 1874 in Patrick County, Virginia.22

Ch 6: Caroline “Callie” PETERS married Edward CLARK (1858-1930) on 3 November 1877 at the bride’s residence in Floyd County.23

Ch 7: Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 January 1880 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.24

Ch 8: Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS married James Thomas PRICE (1848-1938) on 10 October 1881 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.25 She divorced him and married Peter ROTOLO in 1894.26 She was widowed and married Bernet James TILLEY in 1902.27

Ch 9: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS married John J. CATES (1864-1921) on 28 December 1882 in Patrick County.28

Rachel and Jordan’s Later Years

By the time Rachel’s youngest daughters had married, her elderly husband Jordan was in his early 80s 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 94.29 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.30

Rachel PROFFITT received her pension for eight years before dying on 5 March 1899 near Nettle Ridge at the age of 82.31

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…”

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.

This Post Was Updated on 19 June 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1121), citing original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina., Forsyth, 1942, February, Certificate of Death 153, Nannie Ellen Cates (accessed 20 June 2014). 
  2. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, images 45 and 46 of 880, 1813 David Profit and Elisha Rakes bond for the marriage of David Profit and Sarah Cockram. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99ZG-84FM?i=45&cat=765574 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  3. Ibid., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, images 43 and 44 of 880, 1813 Austin Prophet and Elisha Rakes bond for the marriage of Austin Prophet and Patsey Rakes. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-84KZ?i=43&cat=765574 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 68, FHL Film 0181428, image 608, Virginia, Franklin County, page 315 (stamped), line 13, Betsey Prophet (accessed 7 February 2020). 
  5. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_136, image: 177, Virginia, Franklin County, page 159 (stamped), line 22, Austin Proffit (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  6. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Nara Roll M19_192, FHL Film: 0029671, Virginia, Franklin County, page 86 (double-page spread), line 16, Austin Proffitt (accessed 7 February 2020). 
  7. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), a digital copy of a photocopy of the original letter received per email dated 8 June 2014 from Paula Kelley Ward, page 4 of the letter with dates of birth for the children of Jordan N Peters, including the date of death of his second wife, “…and the one dyed without being named was born July the 1st 1841 and dyed the same day and its mother died the 8th of July 1841.” 
  8. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). Conflicting dates of marriage were found in the pension file. On page 2, a cover sheet, the year of marriage was 1843. Jordan N. Peters states that he married on 8 December 1844 (page 18) and 8 December 1840 (page24). He married after the death of his 2nd wife in 1841 and before the birth of his daughter Sarah in November 1842 therefore I have assumed the marriage took place on 8 December 1841. 
  9. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Crook Township, Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), page 4 of the letter with dates of birth for the children of Jordan N Peters. 
  10. Ibid. 
  11. Ibid., The letter from her half-brother James wrote to her half-brother Zachariah listed her birth date as 13 June 1853. Her grave marker has 31 January 1855 as her date of birth. 
  12. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 71, Raleigh County Register of Births, page 10 (double-page spread), line 44, 6 Dec 1856, Milla S. Peters, citing Hughes Creek, Raleigh County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00071.jpg : accessed 23 June 2014). 
  13. Discrepancy concerning her date of birth. She was three months old at the time of the 1860 census (b. abt. March 1860). In 1933 when she applied for a widow’s pension she noted that she was 75 on March 25, 1933 (b. 25 March 1858). On her death record, her grandson Earl E. Cundiff gave 22 March 1852 as her date of birth. The census being the most reliable and closest to the actual event, it has been assumed that her date of birth was 25 March 1860. 
  14. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” Forsyth, 1942, February, Certificate of Death 153, Nannie Ellen Cates (accessed 20 June 2014). Note: She is listed as born on 20 July 1870 in Floyd County, Virginia. The year of birth is an error. She was 6 years old on the 1870 census and 15 years old on the 1880 census, therefore her date of birth has been estimated at 20 July 1864. 
  15. “Registers of births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1915; index to births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1898,” browse-only, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia., Film 31523 (Items 2-3) DGS 7578970, Register of marriages, nos. 1-2 1853-1915, image 144 of 608, line 6, 21 Jan 1859, David Peters and Sarah Peters, parents of groom Willis and Rachel, parents of bride Jordan and Ruth, married by Michael Howery. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-VXZ2?i=143 : accessed 18 June 2022) Note: An error was made on the marriage record. The names of the mothers of the bride and groom were switched. 
  16. John D. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry: The Virginia Regimental History Series, 3rd edition (1983), published by H.E. Howard, pg. 118, “Peters, Joseph W.: Pvt., Co. B. Enlisted 8 March 1862 Floyd Court House, Floyd Co., age 21. Hospitalized Harrisonburg by 4/18/22 (sic, typo in the book, probably supposed to be 18 April 1862) when died unspecified cause.” 
  17. United States. Adjutant General’s Office, “Index to compiled service records of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia,” index and images, FamilySearch, NARA Series M382 (62 rolls), citing The National Archives, Washington, D.C., Film 881437, DGS 8920385, M382 Roll 43, Index Pau – Ph, image 3315 of 14230, John W. Peters, 1861-1865. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QHV-13PK-L7F1?i=3314&cat=281165 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  18. Ibid., image 3324 of 14230, Moses Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QHV-13PK-L76P?i=3323&cat=281165 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  19. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (revised copy dated August 2000), page 104, family Rflec, Gordon Washington Roop, family tradition shared by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994). Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) on a book on the ROOP family in the early 1990s. In 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. “Milla and the young daughter died in a house fire in 1891.” 
  20. Floyd County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse in Floyd, Virginia., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 162 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1869, line 48. Moses Peters and E. A. Truslow. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99T-6?i=161&cat=363663 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  21. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 173 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1873, line 26, Wm Beverly and Amanda Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99Y-G?i=172 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  22. Patrick County (Virginia). Clerk of the County Court, “Marriage registers, 1791-1923 ; index to births, marriages, deaths 1853-1912” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Patrick County Courthouse in Stuart, Virginia., Film 33351, DGS 7579037, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1912, image 242 of 457, Patrick County Register of Marriages 1874, line 17, 8 Nov 1874, E Y Masses and L K Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-RLMK?i=241 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  23. Floyd County, Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” Film 31345 (Items 1-3), DGS 7578964, image 186 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1877, line 85, 3 Nov 1877, Edward Clark and Callie Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K9S3-H?i=185 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  24. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 193 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1879-1880, line 137, 1 Jan 1880, Gordon Washington Roop and Milla Susan Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-K9M8-L?i=192 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 203 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1881, line 82. 10 Oct 1881, Thomas Price and Mary E. Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99T-X?i=202 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  26. Tazewell County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1800-1920 ; index to marriages, 1800-1939” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Tazewell County Courthouse in Tazewell, Virginia., Film 34214 (Items 5), DGS 4284960, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1920, Tazewell County Register of Marriages 1894, page 110, line 57, 30 Apr 1894, Peter Rotolo and Emma Price. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6LC9-VXV?i=532&cat=473283 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  27. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 800736, image 328, Mercer County Marriage Register, page 155 (stamped), line 1, 4 June 1902, B J Tilly and Emma Rotolo. (http://images.wvculture.org/800736/00328.jpg : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  28. Patrick County, Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1791-1923; index to births, marriages, deaths 1853-1912,” Film 33351, DGS 7579037, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1912, image 276 of 457, Patrick County Register of Marriages 1882, line 3, 28 Dec 1882, John Cates and N.E. Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-RLSD?i=275 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  29. “War of 1812 Pension Files” service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  30. Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story,” p. 24-29, Wherever We Wander, 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. Note: Paula shared a revised version of “Jordan’s Story” in 2012 in a PDF. Excerpts are included here with her permission. 
  31. “War of 1812 Pension Files” service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 

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

“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.

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

This photo of the portrait stored in the Clonch home at Mount Olive was taken by Lynn Elliott and sent to me per email by Susan Jane Clonch Ryan. (18 September 2020)

Daniel CLONCH (deceased father of Susan Ryan), a 2nd cousin once removed, shared this story told to him about 1941 by his grandfather Joe CLONCH:1

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.

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 21.2 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
Company Muster Roll card for Alexander Clonch

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 1863.3

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
Company Muster Roll card for Alexander Clonch

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 its greatest capacity, the hospital had 4,000 patients tended by military staff and people from Gallipolis.4

This might be a bit exaggerated as another source indicates that the hospital was “equipped with 350 beds, at its peak, the hospital treated 769 soldiers at a single time.”5 A historical marker has been erected for the “U.S. Army General Hospital” in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio.6

alexcw3
Company Muster Roll card for Alexander Clonch

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).7 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

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. Relationships of the persons in the household are not included in 1850. The enumerator used the ditto mark (“) to show a repeat of the surname DOSS.8 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

On the 1860 census, Alex, his 6 siblings, and both of his parents are seen with the CLAUNCH (sic, CLONCH) surname.9 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 on 20 January 1863 of typhoid fever. He left a will written on 17 January 1863 in which he stated, “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.”10 William did not write “my” or “our” when he named the children in his will.

will
A snippet of the Last Will and Testament of William Clonch

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 write up William CLONCH’s story for the 52 Ancestors Challenge.

Alex’s sister 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.11 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 1862.12 Alexander CLONCH married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863.13 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 before 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 including 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.14

“Now wasn’t that a little Peyton’s Place?” wrote Ralph L. Hayes 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 were expecting their first child and “shacked up together” for over 30 years until 7 May 1895 when they finally were legally married – after 13 children were born.15

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.16 The father of the child was listed as unknown. Later this son went by the name Oscar R. CLONCH. His 1943 death record also shows that he was the son of Rebecca LEMASTER and an unknown father.17 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 Alex’s Civil War pension records. Most likely Alexander took on the father role for  Rebecca’s illegitimate child in the early years and Oscar chose to use the CLONCH surname. Alex did not acknowledge him in a questionnaire he returned to the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions in 1898.18

Alex’s daughter Emma Sidosa “Emily” was born 5 March 1866 per the 1898 questionnaire. No birth record has been found. On her death record, her birth date is listed as 1 March 1868.19. 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 the names of the parents of the bride and groom.20

The birth record of Alex’s son Joseph E. “Joe” CLONCH born on 18 December 1874 shows the mother as Rebecca CLONCH and most likely this is the reason it has been believed that the parents were married.21

The next child born and acknowledged by Alex in the 1898 questionnaire was Barbara Elizabeth born on 5 March 1875. No birth record has been found for this child. 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 the 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 on 2 November 1900. Gallia county birth records 1894-1903, however, show that he was born on 2 November 1899. I searched for this child in the 1900 census and found the family!22

Neither the 1870 census listing for Alexander CLONCH and/or Rebecca LEMASTER nor a marriage record for them has not been found. At one time someone came up with the 13 May 1864 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 LEMASTER was found in Mason County Chancery records. The marriage was dissolved. Mary did not appear, did not get her dower, and had to pay costs. Alexander had at least three children (most likely all with Mary Ellen’s sister Rebecca LEMASTER as seen above) and Mary Ellen had eight children by John CLONCH, Alexander’s brother, by the time their divorce was final.23

I suspect, as no record has been found, that Rebecca may have died before 1880. Having such young children, Alex may have found it necessary to get a divorce from his estranged wife so that he could legally marry. He was listed as divorced in the 1880 census. His children Emily, Joe, and Barbara were in his household.24 Austin/Oscar has not been located.

1880censusclonch
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Clendenin > ED 93 Page 22 Sheet 245B > HH#197-202

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 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio.25

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 replies to the Bureau of Pensions’ questionnaire. Children of this marriage were:

Ch 1: Timothy CLONCH born on 20 December 1881 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia.26 He died before 1898.
Ch 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) born on 10 March 1883 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia27
Ch 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) born on 30 April 1885 in Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) born on 9 December 1887 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia.28 She died before 1898.
Ch 5: Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) born on 6 January 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) born on 20 June 1890 in Mason County, West Virginia
Ch 7: Harrison S. CLONCH (1893-1970) born on 11 February 1893 in Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia29,30
Ch 8: ___ (unnamed) CLONCH (1894-1894) born on 6 October 189431 and died on 13 October 1894,32 both in Clay County, West Virginia
Ch 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) born on 5 March 1896 in Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia.33

On 9 March 1887, an article appeared in the Point Pleasant (Mason County, West Virginia) Weekly Register under Five Mile Items:34

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.
“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.35

MRIN00038 1888-05-30 Alex Clonch
Alexander Clounch of Beech Hill issued a pension of $12 per month.

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.36

MRIN00038 1890-04-23 Alex Clonch
West Virginia pension increase for Alex Clouch (sic)

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.37

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 that affected his heart and lung.38

Alex’s mother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS died in Mason County, West Virginia. This event took place after the 1880 census and before 29 April 1892 when her children sold the land left to her in William CLONCH’s will.39

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.40 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 L. 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 Gallipolis, 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 the birth records found.

Update: I received the papers on 31 May 2014. See footnote #18 concerning the pension file.

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 of 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 includes Alexander CLONCH’s pension payment card.41

These cards have information missing in earlier documents and, best of all, his date of death. Alex’s disability was a 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.

This Post Was Updated on 3 April 2022: Missing source citations were added, a new watermarked photo was added, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Daniel Clonch, in an email written 20 May 2000 to my 2nd cousin Robert BAKER. 
  2. “West Virginia Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865,” database, Fold3, citing “Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of West Virginia,” NARA microfilm publication M508, roll 245, Alexander Clonch, 1862-1864, military unit miscellaneous card abstracts of records. (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 12 Feb 2014). 
  3. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 567384, image 168, Mason County Register of Deaths, 1862-1863, line 24, William Clonch, 20 Jan 1863, typhoid fever, parents not known, born Kanawha County, Va., gunsmith, consort of Mary Clonch. (http://images.wvculture.org/567384/00168.jpg : accessed 15 December 2009). 
  4. History of Gallia County, Ohio; Containing a Condensed History of the County; Biographical Sketches; General Statistics; Miscellaneous Matters; Map of Gallia County, author Gallia County, Ohio, published by H.H. Hardesty & Company, 1882. 
  5. “U.S. Army General Hospital at Gallipolis,” Ohio Civil War Central, 2022, Ohio Civil War Central. http://www.www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=446 : accessed 31 March 2022. 
  6. Ohio History Connection – Remarkable Ohio, Gallia County, Marker 12-27, U.S. Army General Hospital [3 images], https://remarkableohio.org/index.php?/category/435 : accessed 31 March 2022. 
  7. Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, Fayette County, West Virginia (photos of gravemarkers taken by Heather Manley-Duncan), gravemarker of Alex Clonch Mar 2, 1842 – June 3, 1910 and Tobitha Cooley His Wife Feb 11, 1861 – Dec. 16, 1913, photographed 31 May 2014. 
  8. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_959, West Virginia, Mason County, District 38, Sheet No. 422A, lines 18-23, household 842-853, William Clonch (accessed 13 January 2019). 
  9. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1361, FHL Film: 805361, West Virginia, Mason County, District 2, Page No. 46, lines 21-30, household 345-316, Wm Claunch (accessed 13 January 2019). 
  10. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch, (digital images of originals housed at the local county courthouses in West Virginia), FHL Film #567420, Item 2; DGS 4715359; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875, image 104 of 165, page 166-167, Last will and testament of William Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099&wc=10916722 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  11. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 567389, image 218, West Virginia, Mason County Register of Marriages, page 120, James Wm Patterson and Lavina Ann Doss, 16 July 1863 at the Virginia House in Point Pleasant. (http://images.wvculture.org/567389/00218.jpg : accessed 25 January 2019). 
  12. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” index and images, FamilySearch (citing digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SKRT?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  13. Ibid., Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 19 of 276. Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Lemaster, 10 November 1863. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-SVR3?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 19 February 2019). 
  14. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929,” database with images, FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), Image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019) and Image 303 of 949, Folio 421, March Term 1865. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  15. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” Gallia > Marriage records and index 1895-1899 vol 8. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22447-41148-85?cc=1614804&wc=M94Q-VH7:315901437 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 
  16. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855007, image 183, Mason County Register of Births 1865, page 11 (double-page spread), line 11, Austin Richard, 7 Nov, father not known, mother Rebecca Lemasters, illegitimate. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855007/00183.jpg : accessed 31 March 2022). 
  17. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City, citing digital images of originals housed at the Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, Film 2024132, DGS 4121852, Deaths, file no. 29401-32300, 1943, image 1677 of 3232, Certificate of Death #30842, Oscar R. Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GPK5-KK9?cc=1307272&wc=MD9X-N68%3A287602701%2C294432701 : accessed 1 February 2008). 
  18. Re: Civil War pension file of Alexander Clonch, received 31 May 2014 per email from Heather Manley-Duncan.
    In May 2014 while having a Facebook conversation with a distant Clonch cousin about photographs she was sharing, I mentioned wanting to obtain a copy of Alex Clonch’s civil war pension file. Pamela Manley Garza, the 3rd great-granddaughter of Alex, had been following the conversation. She sent her digital copy to her niece Heather Manley-Duncan on 30 May 2014. The following day, Heather forwarded the Word document with four images to me. The copies included the original certificate 395689 for the pension beginning on 14 April 1887, a brief from the War Department with his service dated 4 October 1887, a questionnaire the pensioner replied to on 4 June 1898, a drop order and report for the 9 June 1910 death of Alexander Clonch dated 1 July 1910, and a pensioner dropped card for the 10 December 1913 death of Tabitha Clonch dated 2 April 1914. 
  19. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1953908, image 140, Certificate of Death 17332, Emma Sidosa Moodespaugh. (http://images.wvculture.org/1953908/0002140.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). 
  20. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” Gallia > Marriage records 1890-1895 vol 7 > image 159 of 339 > page 235, entry 2, William E Claunch and Emma LaMastice. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-3J1F?cc=1614804&wc=ZRQ2-RM9%3A121350101%2C121580101 : accessed 23 March 2019). 
  21. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855007, image 552, Mason County Register of Births, page 549-550 (double-page spread), line 41, Joseph E., 18 Dec 1874, parents Alexander Clonch and Rebecca, informant Rebecca Clonch. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855007/00552.jpg : accessed 31 March 2022). 
  22. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, Roll T623_1271, FHL microfilm: 1241271, Ohio, Gallia County, Gallipolis, Enumeration District 27, page 2A, line 43-48, household 33-33, John Glispie (accessed 7 April 2014). 
  23. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929,” database with images, FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99VP-2SNQ?i=320&cat=659762 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  24. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1408, West Virginia, Mason County, Clendennin, enumeration district 93, sheet 245B, lines 11-14, household 197-202, Alex Clonch (accessed 21 February 2019). 
  25. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” Marriage records (Gallia County, Ohio), 1803-1955 ; index, 1803-1950 > Marriages, v. 5 1878-1884 > image 132 of 352 > page 193 > no. 576 > Alexander Clonch and Tabitha Cooley, 19 August 1880. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-SV3N?cc=1614804&wc=M94Q-V7T%3A390869322 : accessed 18 December 2013). 
  26. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 449, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1881, line 7, 20 Dec 1881, Timothy Clonch, citing Arbuckle district, Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00449.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  27. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 462, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1883, page 560-561 (stamped), line 10, 10 Mar 1883, Rena E. Clonch, citing Arbuckle district, Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00462.jpg : accessed 4 February 2022). 
  28. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1855008, image 496, West Virginia, Mason County, Register of Births 1887, page 676-675 (stamped), line 14, Bertha Clonch, 9 Dec 1887, citing Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia. http://images.wvculture.org/1855008/00496.jpg : accessed 4 February 2022. 
  29. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 567453, image 225, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Births 1893, line 25, H. S. Clonch, 11 February 1893, citing Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00225.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  30. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4017226, image 3078, 1940 Delayed Certificate of Birth 5793, Harrison Sanders Clonch, 11 February 1893, citing Mason County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4017226/03078.jpg : accessed 9 March 2013). 
  31. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 567453, image 236, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Births 1894, line 32, 6 Oct 1894, unnamed female child, citing Bell Creek, Clay County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00236.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  32. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 567453, image 242, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Death, line 13, unnamed female Clonch, 13 October 1894, citing Clay County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/567453/00242.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  33. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584762, image 37, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 57-58 (stamped), line 63, 5 Mar 1896, Ida B. Clonch, citing Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584762/00037.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  34. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, The Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/, The Weekly register (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 09 March 1887, page 1, column 2, “Five Mile Items”. (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1887-03-09/ed-1/seq-3/ : accessed 24 March 2014). 
  35. Alexander Clonch (Pvt. Co. C, 13th WV Vol. Inf., Civil War), pension no. S.C. 395.689, copies of case file records received 31 May 2014 per email from Pamela Manley Garza via Heather Manley-Duncan including original certificate 395.689 for the pension beginning on 14 April 1887. 
  36. Chronicling America, The Weekly register (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 30 May 1888, page 3, column 1, “Pensions”. (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1888-05-30/ed-1/seq-3/ : accessed 24 March 2014). 
  37. Ibid., The Wheeling daily intelligencer (Wheeling, W. Va.), 23 April 1890, page 1, column 2, “West Virginia Pensions”. (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026844/1890-04-23/ed-1/seq-1/ : accessed 24 March 2014). 
  38. “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M123 (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.), West Virginia > Mason > All > image 2 of 66 > line 23 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-51GL-J?cc=1877095&wc=M628-3MH%3A174322901%2C174384801%2C174320903 : accessed 7 June 2005). 
  39. “Mason County, West Virginia, County Clerk, Deed books, 1803-1901,” database with images, FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Mason County Courthouse), Film 567360, DGS 8292992, Deed book, v. 38-39 1883-1885, image 563 of 706, Folio 359 and 360. 1885 Land Sale Clonch to Doss. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-CWGT-B?i=562&cat=76718 : accessed 4 February 2019). 
  40. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 567443, image 271, West Virginia, Clay County Register of Marriages, page 100, Joseph Clonch and Jane Nutter, 29 August 1894 at the home of the groom’s father. (http://images.wvculture.org/567443/00271.jpg : accessed 1 April 2022). 
  41. United States. Veterans Administration, “United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933,” index and images, FamilySearch, NARA, RG 15, M850, citing microfilm of original records in The National Archives, Washington, District of Columbia, Roll 418, Film 1634453, DGS 4694973, Clinebell, William L. – Clore, Nancy J. > images 579-582 of 681, Alexander Clonch and Tabitha Clonch pension payment cards. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-17556-56413-13?cc=1832324&wc=M9WY-MC3:881461769 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 

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

“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.

#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.1

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.2 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 a 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 Flewellen Hospital, Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.3

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.4 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.5,6,7

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 siblings 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.8 A year later we see Gordon and his siblings in the household of their step-father and mother in the 1870 census.9

1870epperleyroop1
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13
1870epperleyroop2
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13

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.10 His brother John Thomas married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858-?) on 16 November 1876 in Camp Creek, Floyd County.11

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 1877.12 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 20.13

Gordon and Milla were first seen together on the 1880 census. They lived on Alum Ridge in Floyd County near the Montgomery County line.14

1880roop
1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59

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.15
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.16
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.17
Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.18
Ch 5: _____ ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.19

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. In 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 1900.20,21 Walter was with Gordon and his second family.22 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 1890.23 He died on 2 November 1890 and the final settlement of the will was made on 18 September 1897 in Floyd County, Virginia.24 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.25

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.26
Ch 7: Julia Ann ROOP (1897-1990) born 4 January 1897 in Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia.27
Ch 8: Amanda O. “Mandy” ROOP (1898-1994) born 20 March 1898 in Hughes Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia.28
Ch 9: Hallie Beatrice ROOP (1899-1944) born 10 September 1899 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.29
Ch 10: Hazel Vern ROOP (1900-1976) was born 28 December 1900 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.30

1900 U.S. Federal Census

1900 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED No. 41, Sheet No. 2B

1900 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, West Virginia
Cabin Creek District
Enumeration District No. 41, Sheet No. 2B
Enumerated the 4th day of June, 1900, Mrs. Branham, enumerator
HH #33-33
Roop, Gordon W. head W M May 1862 38 married 6 years VA VA VA Photographer can read & write speaks English; rents home
Roop, Nancy E. wife W F Aug 1861 38 married 6 years mother of 4, 4 living WV VA WV can read & write speaks English
Roop, Samuel P. son W M Oct 1895 4 single WV VA WV
Roop, Julie A. daughter W F Jan 1897 3 single WV VA WV
Roop, Amanda daughter W F March 1898 2 single WV VA WV
Roop, Hallie B. daughter W F Oct 1899 9/12 single WV VA WV
Roop, Walter F. son W M Apr 1883 17 single VA VA VA Day Laborer hadn’t worked 6 mos attended school 1 mos. can read & write speaks English

1910 U.S. Federal Census

1910censusroopg
1910 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Roe > ED 54 Sheet 6A > HH #100-106

1910 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, West Virginia
Roe Precinct
Enumeration District No. 54, Sheet No. 6A
Enumerated the 22nd day of April, 1910, J. B. Moon, enumerator
Hughes Creek, HH #100-106
Roop, Gordon W. head M W 47 married(2) 15 years VA VA VA speaks English Farmer, small farm, own account can read & write rents farm
Roop, Nancy E. wife F W 49 married(1) 15 years mother of 5, 5 living WV VA WV speaks English none can read & write
Roop, Samuel P son M W 14 single WV VA WV speaks English none can read & write, attended school
Roop, Julia A. daughter F W 13 single WV VA WV speaks English none can read & write, attended school
Roop, Amanda daughter F W 12 single WV VA WV speaks English none can read & write, attended school
Roop, Hallie B. daughter F W 10 single WV VA WV speaks English none can read & write, attended school
Roop, Hazel V. daughter F W 9 single WV VA WV none attended school
Roop, Myrtle M. granddaughter F W 2 single WV WV WV; none
Martin, Nancy wife’s aunt F W 73 single WV WV WV speaks English none can read & write 31

1920 U.S. Federal Census

1920roop
1920 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 79 Sheet 7B > HH#38

1920 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, West Virginia
Hughes Creek, Cabin Creek Magisterial District
Enumeration District No. 79, Sheet No. 7B
Enumerated the 12th day of January, 1920, John M. Tucker, enumerator.
HH #38
Roop, G. W. head rents M W 59 married can read & write VA VA VA speaks English Farmer, farm, own account
Roop, N. E. wife F W 59 married WV VA WV speaks English none
Roop, July daughter F W 22 single can read & write WV WV WV speaks English; none
Roop, Hallie daughter F W 20 single can read & write WV WV WV speaks English; none
Bess, Flavl grandson M W 1 single WV WV WV none (poss. Flavil Schultz, s/o Hallie and Charles Schultz)
Roop, Floyd grandson M W 2 single WV WV WV none (poss. Floyd Hapney, s/o Julia and Lemon Hapney)32

Dies at the Home of his Daughter

According to Linda Pearl Dickey Roop, before he died Gordon was living with his daughter, Amanda WITHROW in Donnally Hollow in Kanawha City, West Virginia 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. The cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis with the contributory factor being cardio-renal disease. He was buried in Jodie, Fayette County.33

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.34,35

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

 

This Post Was Updated on 20 March 2022: Missing source citations were added and some corrections were made to the text and format.© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Find A Grave, database and images, (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/209078601/gordon-w-roop : accessed 28 February 2022), memorial page for Gordon W. Roop (6 May 1862–31 Jan 1931), Find a Grave Memorial ID 209078601, citing Rich Creek Cemetery, Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA; maintained by Jennifer Nottingham (contributor 49369720). 
  2. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3, NARA microfilm publication M324 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1961), roll 957. Gorden Roop, 1862, citing military unit Fifty-fourth Infantry (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913765/roop-gorden-page-3-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed 12 February 2014). 
  3. Ibid., Fifty-fourth Regiment Virginia Infantry, Gordon Roop, 1 Nov 1863 in  Flewellen Hospital, Cassville, Georgia. “Name appears on a Register of Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Confederate States who were killed in battle, or who died of wounds or disease.”  (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913782/roop-gorden-page-4-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed February 2014). 
  4. Rena Worthen & BarbR (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” index and images, Floyd County, Virginia, The USGenWeb Project (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/floyd.htm), citing the images of Floyd Co., VA marriages downloaded by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia Microform & passed on to BarbR for indexing, 1856 Gordon Roop and Emeline Lester marriage.(http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1856/FCVA1856RoopLester.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  5. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983330, image 883, West Virginia Standard Certificate of Death 18364, Mrs. Dollie Sumner, 14 December 1837, citing Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983330/0000883.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). Date of birth 24 February 1857. 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 598425, image 298, West Virginia, Raleigh County Register of Deaths, page 81, entry 56, Jno F Roop (sic), age 46y 6m 5d, 11 Sep 1902, citing Beckley, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598425/00298.jpg : accessed 7 March 2022). 
  7. Documentation to prove date of birth not available. The FamilySearch collection, “Floyd County, Virginia Births, 1853-73” is only available at a family history library. John’s death record gives his age at death as 46y 6m 5d which calculates to 6 March 1856. This is off by 3 years as he was listed as 1 year old on the 1860 census and born March 1859 on the 1900 census. 
  8. Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner of Families of Floyd County, Virginia, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/BarbR_FCVAResearch/zz_marriages.htm), transcribed from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” film 31345 items 1-3, DGS 7578964, microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse, FCVA1869_0015; Register: 3. Page: 31. “Pleasant D. Epperly (3) m. Emaline Roop 02-08-1869 at Owen Sumner’s, Floyd Co., VA by Owen Sumner. He 21 yo single, farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Solomon & Rachael Epperly. She widowed 32 yo, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jacob & Syntha Lester.” The link to BarbR’s site was checked on 14 March 2022. The main page is available, however, the links to male and female marriages in alphabetical order are broken. 
  9. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, sheet 1B (stamped), page 2, lines 39-40, and sheet 2A (stamped) page 3, lines 1-3, household 13-13, Pleasant Epperly (accessed 18 October 2014). 
  10. Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (copyright 1996 Marguerite Tise, P.O. Box 343, Floyd, VA 24091-0343), page 20. 
  11. Barbara Reininger, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, FCVA1876_0084 Register: 3. Page: 51. “John T. Roop m. Ardelila E. Waitman 11-11-1876 at Camp Creek, Floyd Co., VA by M.A. Davidson. He 17y 8m, single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Gordon & Emeline Roop. She 17y 11m, single w/f, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Charles H. & Talitha Waightman.” 
  12. “Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Records, 1853-1912”, database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia), Film 2056980, DGS 4225427 > Floyd County, 1853-1896> image 153 of 673 > Register of Deaths 1877, line 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DRMQ-65R?cc=3940896 : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  13. Barbara Reininger, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, FCVA1879_0137, register 3, page 61, “Gordon Washington Roop m. Milla Susan Peters 01-01-1880 at Jordon Peters’, Floyd Co., VA by William L. Simmons. He 21 yo single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Gordon & Emeline Roop. She 20 yo single w/f, b. Raleigh Co., VA & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jordon N. & Rachel Peters.” 
  14. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1365, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, enumeration district 25, sheet 264B, line 44-45, household 59-59, Gordon Roop (accessed 1 February 2022). 
  15. “Birth records (Virginia), 1853-1896; indexes, 1853-1899; delayed birth indexes, 1912-1950,” (index and images), FamilySearch, Virginia. Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2046936, DGS 4284999, image 540 of 641, Virginia, Floyd County, Register of Births, 1880, line 120, George W. Rupe, 19 Sep 1880. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YR-DCZS?i=539 : accessed 31 January 2022). 
  16. Ibid., Film 2046951, DGS 4254461, Montgomery County births, 1853-1896, Montgomery County Register of Births 1883, page 177 (stamped), image 364 of 595, line 152, 16 April 1883, Walter F. Roop, Montgomery County, Gordon W. Roop, farmer, Milly S. Roop. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5WT9-9?mode=g&i=363 : accessed 26 January 2022). 
  17. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 232, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1885, line 239, 15 June 1885, Charles T. Roop, citing Montgomery County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00232.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  18. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 249, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1887, line 230, 30 May 1887, James Roop, citing Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00249.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  19. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 408, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Register of Births 1890, line 46, June 1890, unnamed female Roop, citing Cabin Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00408.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  20. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241771, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Trap Hill, enumeration district 122, sheet 5A, lines 46-49, household 84-84, Hardy Snuffer (accessed 13 May 2005). 
  21. Ibid., FHL microfilm: 1241771, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Trap Hill, enumeration district 122, sheet 6A, lines 29-32, household 90-90, Lee Snuffer (accessed 22 November 2005. 
  22. Ibid., FHL microfilm: 1241761, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Cabin Creek, enumeration district 41, sheet 2B, lines 87-93, household 33-33, Gordon W. Roop (accessed 2 February 2022). 
  23. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Floyd County, Virginia, Will Book F, page 486. The state of Virginia (and its respective counties that originally created these records) did not provide the appropriate permissions for these records to be placed online. The collection was removed from Ancestry’s Card Catalog prior to June 2016. Last Will and Testament of James Roop dated 31 January 1890.(https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007645227_00302 : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  24. Linda P. (Dickey) Roop (1943-1994), wife of Troy James Roop, wrote in her research that James Roop died 2 November 1890 in Floyd County, Virginia. Linda collaborated with Everette Llavon McGrew (1923-2008) on a book on the ROOP family. In 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 gifted me a copy of the revised August 2000 edition in 2002. 
  25. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 521720, image 432, West Virginia, Kanawha County Register of Marriages 1894, page 350-351 (stamped), line 276, 25 Aug 1894, Gordon W. Roop and Nancy E. Johnson, citing Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521720/00432.jpg : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  26. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 490, Kanawha County Register of Births, page 187 (stamped), line 39, 30 Oct 1895, S. P. Roop. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00490.jpg : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  27. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 534, Kanawha County Register of Births, page 229 (stamped), line 40, 4 Jan 1897, Julia Roop, citing Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00534.jpg : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  28. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 551, Kanawha County Register of Births, page 246 (stamped), line 12, 20 Mar 1898, Amanda Roop, citing Hughes Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00551.jpg : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  29. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 580533, image 435, West Virginia, Wood County Register of Deaths, page 537 (stamped), 2nd entry, Hallie Beatrice Schultz, born 10 Sep (no year), died 24 Dec 1944 (no age at death). (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=580533&ImageNumber=435 : accessed 14 March 2022). Note: This entry in the death register doesn’t include a year of birth. She was listed on the 1900 census as born in October 1899 and no birth record has been found. 
  30. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (revised August 2000). 
  31. 1910 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7884/), citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1684; FHL microfilm: West Virginia, Kanawha County, Roe Precinct, enumeration district 54, sheet 6A, lines 18-26, household 100-106, Gordon Roop (accessed 16 November 2002). The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. 
  32. 1920 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry  (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6061/), citing Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls, Roll: T625_1957; West Virginia, Kanawha County, Cabin Creek, Hughes Creek, enumeration district: 79, sheet 7B; line 65-70, household 38, G. W. Roop (accessed 5 November 2010). 
  33. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1953605, image 484, Certificate of Death, State File No. 465, Gordon W. Roop, 30 January 1930, citing Kanawha City, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1953605/0000484.gif: accessed 2 February 2022). 
  34. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1984026, image 2907, West Virginia Certificate of Death, State File No. 8882, Nancy Elizabeth Roupe, 14 June 1949, Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1984026/0002907.gif : accessed 7 March 2022). 
  35. The Charleston Gazette, Charleston, West Virginia, Newspaperarchive.com, database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper; searchable text version and newspaper images, copyright 2006 Heritage Microfilm, Inc., Wednesday, 15 June 1949, page ?, column ?, Roupe, Nancy Elizabeth (death notice). (https://newspaperarchive.com/ : accessed before 24 March 2014). 

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

When 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 first 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 was a recipient of the West Virginia History Heroes award in 2001:

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 internment site. Nominated by Genealogy Society of Fayette and Raleigh Counties.”1

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

William A. W. DEMPSEY’s parentage has remained a mystery 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, but it’s also been nearly impossible to prove family tradition. 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 hasn’t 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 to get this corrected!

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 noting the possibility of error. Then I decided to go public and posted this photo with my findings to my Facebook page in December 2012.

I have a tiny obsession with old doors. Before I started blogging, I would post my brick walls to my Facebook page. These have been moved to this blog and William’s can be found here.

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 her sister Earldine, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have talked about correcting the error. Earldine’s mother 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 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. His only child died in infancy and there are no descendants to claim his Civil War marker.

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 before 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.2 Were people taxed at the age of sixteen, eighteen, or twenty-one during this time in this county? Assuming that it was age twenty-one, William would have been born in 1820 or earlier. Initials seen on the tax list 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, Tax list

1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Tax list
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

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

1850 U.S. Federal Census3
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. The families may have been living together so that Sarah could help care for the widower’s children who had lost their mother in 1855. 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.4

1860census1
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
1860census2
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365

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 on 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. 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.5

MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey
Provost Marshal File, Dempsey, William A. W., 2323, Rebel

The number 2323 cross-references to this set of documents in the files for two or more civilians:

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 last image:6

“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.”

The 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.

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 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?

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

(no photo)
John Henry DEMPSEY (1857-1930)

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.”

(no photo)
James Alexander “Buck” DEMPSEY (1848-1909)

I have no description of “Buck” from his descendants.

The description of John Henry fits his brothers Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY 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.”

No proof has been found to date to support this family tradition concerning his death.

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

This Post Was Updated on 20 February 2022: Missing source citations were added, images were watermarked, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. 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 February 2014. 
  2. Oren F. Morton, B. Lit, A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia (The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920), pgs. 380, 552, 1841 Tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia, “43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road: Dempsey, William A. W. Others who lived in the same road precinct: George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley.”  (https://archive.org/stream/historyofrockbri00mortrich#page/380/ : accessed 10 November 2007). 
  3. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Virginia, Fayette County, District 14, p. 336B, lines 5-8, HH #85-85, Wm A W Dempsey household (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 January 2016). 
  4. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Virginia, Fayette County, District 3, p. 365 lines 35-40, p. 366 lines 1-5, HH #408-368, John A McGraw household including Wm Dempsey family (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 January 2016). 
  5. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration), Film 1527375, DGS 4600990, Dej-Den (NARA Series M345, Roll 71) > image 874 of 1785, (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9V-VJ?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : accessed 4 December 2012). 
  6. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, <i>FamilySearch</i>, citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration), Records by Number and Date > 02132-02398, Sept. 1862 (NARA Series M416, Roll 9) > images 722-724 of 1041,  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MKHK-D?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-Y38%3A165419801%2C165561201 (link of image 724) : accessed 4 December 2012). 

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.

#4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941

In 1995 I received a package from my aunt Lois Dempsey Lee containing family group sheets, marriage certificates, and other misc. notes 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 1970s, 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, began searching at the local courthouse, then ventured on to other courthouses in other states.

Proving the Parentage of Wm H. DEMPSEY in a Roundabout Way

Geraldine 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” it 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: listed Wood DEMPSEY as his father and his 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 was not found.
  • All marriage records for children of Wm. A. W. Dempsey and Sarah A. Wood 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 the 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″ [sic, 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.”

Provost Marshal File1

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.2. 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 on 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 on 23 June 1865.

The 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.3 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) PARRISH4; Eunice and John were with their grandfather Elijah WOOD5; Elijah, the youngest, and his mother Sarah were with his aunt Turzey (WOOD) NEAL.6 Mary Virginia who was about 16 years old and known to be living was not found enumerated as Mary or Virginia Dempsey.

1870census
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Wm Dempsey in the Forsythe household

William, age 10 at the time and working as a farm laborer, was living with the Abraham “Abram” FORSYTHE family.7 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 WOODs. This is likely the connection and reason that we see William with the FORSYTHEs in 1870. Abraham FORSYTHE moved to Colorado in the 1870s.

Siblings Began To Marry

In the 1870s three of his older siblings married. Mary V. married John A. SNELL in 1872, 8 Eunice married John Isaac SCAGGS in 1873.9 James A. “Buck” married Mary E. SADDLER in 1874.10

Adoption of William H. DEMPSEY?

1880census
1880 U.S. Federal Census > William M. Dempsey adopted in the John Campbell family

William is seen with the John CAMPBELL family in 1880.11 He is listed as “adopted” however no record has been found to show 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 the census) and second to Amanda Francis ALDERSON (mother of Joseph and Fanny seen in the census). John CAMPBELL died in 1895 leaving a will.12 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.13,14

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, nearly two years after his brother Elijah and Laura’s sister Octavia married.15

William and Laura’s first child Viola was born in 188516 and died in 1887.17 Three months before the death of his first child, William’s mother Sarah Ann WOOD died on 1 April 1887.18

Five more children were born before 1899. William W. “Willie” was born 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.19,20,21,22,23

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.24 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 as 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

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 $225.25 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
(in margin: Pd. 2.00 to R. W. Coleman 10-13-99 C&I)
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.
This Deed was this day presented in my office and being stamped 50¢ is admitted to record together with the certificate thereto annexed.
Teste: J. T. Grose, Clerk

"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
1900 U.S. Federal Census > William H. Dempsey household

On the 1st of June 1900, William was listed on the census as owning a mortgage-free farm.26 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 1910.27,28,29,30

 

1910 census
1910 U.S: Federal Census > William H. Dempsey household

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.31

Tragedy Strikes the Dempsey Family

William’s oldest son Willie married Mallie Lee GRAY.32 Their first two children, William’s first grandchildren, Olive (1909-1910) and Herbert (1911-1911) both died young.33,34 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 pregnant wife was watching him a heavy fall of slate came in on him, killing him instantly.35 Mallie gave birth to a daughter 9 days later and named her Willie Mae.36

Three more of William’s 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.37,38,39

1920 census 2
1920 U.S. Federal Census > William H. Dempsey household

On the 1920 census, we see that William is now a self-employed carpenter doing housework.40

By 1930 all children had left home and William age 69 and Laura age 61 were living alone in their home valued at $3000.41

1940census
1940 U.S: Federal Census > William H. Dempsey household

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.42 Oscar was admitted to the V.A. Facility in Huntington on May 8 and died on May 14.43 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.44

William H. Dempsey Dies After a Short Illness

1941 Certificate of Death, Register No. 1724, William Henderson Dempsey

William Henderson DEMPSEY died Friday, 24 January 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 the mother’s maiden name as Unknown.45

Obituary of William H. DEMPSEY

MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey obit
The Charleston Gazette, January 26, 1941. Clipping courtesy of Laura Workman Campbell.

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.46

This Post Was Updated on 22 January 2022: Missing source citations were added, the photo was watermarked, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-MKHK-D?cc=1845948&wc=M6KL-Y38%3A165419801%2C165561201 : 22 May 2014), Records by Number and Date > 02132-02398, Sept. 1862 > image 724 of 1041; citing NARA microfilm publication M416 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983558, Fayette, West Virginia, Certificate of Death, Registered No. 1724, William Henderson Dempsey, 02 Jan 1941, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. Includes his date of birth: 14 September 1860.  (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1067455&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). 
  3. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1868, image 248, page 9, Robert Huse and Elizabeth Dempsey, 8 April 1868, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00248.jpg : accessed 30 June 2018). 
  4. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, page 18, sheet 147B (147 stamped on page 17), HH #124-124, Jesse J. Parrish household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  5. Ibid., Roll: M593_1686; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, page 11, sheet 144A (stamped 144), lines 31-34, HH #74-74, Elijah Wood household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  6. Ibid., Roll: M593_1686; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, page 19, sheet 148A 8stamped 148), lines 19-30, HH #129-129, John Neal household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  7. Ibid., Roll: M593_1686; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, page 17, sheet 147A (stamped 147), lines 12-16, HH#116-116, Abram Forsythe. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 25 Dec 2014). 
  8. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1872, image 259, page 19, John Snell and Mary V. Dempsey, 16 Sep 1872, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00259.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  9. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1873, image 261, page 21, line 9, John I. Skaggs and Eunice Dempsey, 11 May 1873, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00261.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  10. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1874, image 264, page 24, line 41, James Dempsey and Mary Saddler, 25 Dec 1874, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00264.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  11. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, enumeration district 30, sheet 114A, line 35-41, HH #332-345, John Campbell. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 25 Dec 2014). 
  12. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-CSSN-Z5?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MTS%3A179689901%2C179746101 : 23 October 2018), Fayette > Will book, v. 003 1885-1901 > image 160 of 274; citing Fayette County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  13. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1882, image 284, page 43, line 23, John H Dempsey and Amanda McClung, 22 Feb 1882, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00284.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  14. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1882, image 284, page 45, line 29, E L Dempsey and Octavia D. Inghram, 19 Oct 1882, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00286.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  15. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1884, image 293, page 52, line 40, W H Dempsey and Laura B. Ingram, 1 Oct 1884, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00293.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  16. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1885, pages106-107 (stamped), line 48, Viola Dempsey; citing District of W. S. Thomas in Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584755&ImageNumber=166 : accessed 15 January 2022). 
  17. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 584755, Register of Deaths 1887, page 356-357 (stamped), line 35, 4 July 1887, Violad Dempsey, consumption, citing District of W. S: Thomas in Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00298.jpg : accessed 17 January 2022). 
  18. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 584755, image 299, Register of Deaths 1887, page358-359, line 46, 1 Apr 1887, Sarah A. Fox, consort of J M Fox, citing Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00299.jpg : accessed 17 January 2022). 
  19. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584761, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1888, pages 10-11 (stamped), entry 10, (no name) Dempsey; citing Keeneys Creek, Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584761/00302.jpg : accessed 17 January 2022). Note: The child’s name was not given. The father was (erroneously) listed as English and born in England. 
  20. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584761, image 362, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1888, pages 104-105 (stamped), entry 4, 19 Feb 1890 Earnest Dempsey; citing Keeneys Creek, Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584761&ImageNumber=362 : accessed 17 January 2022). 
  21. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983478, Standard Certificate of Death, Registered No. 7439, Oscar L. Dempsey, 11 May 1940, citing Huntington, Wayne County, West Virginia. (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1058154&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). Includes date and place of birth. No birth record was found on WVCulture.org as of 21 January 2022. 
  22. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584762, image 9, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1894, pages 9-10 (stamped), entry 68, 19 Oct 1894 Roy Dempsey; citing Mountain Cove, Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584762/00009.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  23. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584762, image 65, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1894, pages 113-114 (stamped), entry 111, 25 Jan 1897 Pearl Dempsey; citing Victor, Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584762/00065.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  24. “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., FHL microfilm M1509, 4,582 rolls, Roll: 1992960, Registration State: West Virginia, Registration County: Raleigh County, Oscar Lawrence Dempsey, white, born 24 Sep 1892 in Royal, West Virginia. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  25. Fayette County (West Virginia), Clerk of the County Court, “Deed book, 1831-1902; deed book index, 1831-1951” (database with images), FamilySearch, filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969, citing microfilm of original records at the Fayette County courthouse, Film 584109, DGS 8589002, Deed book, v. 21-22 1899-1900, Deed book 21, pages 545-546, images 280-281 of 696. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C37T-M6X2?i=279&cat=100754 and https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C37T-MD8J?i=280&cat=100754 : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  26. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove District, enumeration district 17, sheet 25A, line 1-7, household 425-437, Wm. H. Dempsey. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 23 Dec 2014). 
  27. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1992377, Fayette, West Virginia, Delayed Certificate of Birth, Fred Rothwell Dempsey, 30 Oct 1899, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=3313971&Type=Birth : accessed 7 March 2013). 
  28. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584762, Register od Birth, line 15, Clyde Lewis Dempsey, 13 Apr 1902, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584762&ImageNumber=145 : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  29. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1992738, 1904 Delayed Birth Certificate (reviewed 19 April 1955), Hester Ethel Dempsey, 21 Sep 1904, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. “.” (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=004017262&ImageNumber=2983 : accessed 11 Jan 2014). 
  30. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 1992947, Birth certificates no. 1751-4000, 1910 (Registration dates 1940-1942), image 319 of 3811, Delayed Birth Certificate, Earl Stanley Dempsey, 15 Nov 1910, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=3291597&Type=Birth : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  31. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove magisterial district, enumeration district 20, sheet 6B, lines 48-50, household 71-71, William H. Dempsey and sheet 6B, lines 51-55, household 71-71, William H. Dempsey. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 23 Dec 2014). 
  32. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, Register of Marriage, 1907, page 34, 7th line from bottom, William W. Dempsey and Mollie L. Gray, 24 Dec 1907, citing Victor, Fayette, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584765&ImageNumber=422 : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  33. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 584754, image 85, Register of Deaths 1910, page 34 (stamped), line 4, 12 Jan 1910, Olive Dempsey, age 3 mos. 15 days, citing Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584754/00085.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  34. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 584754, image 86, Register of Deaths 1910, page 35 (stamped), line 13, 6 May 1913, Herbert Dempsey, age 1 yr 10 mos 11 days, citing Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584754/00086.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  35. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 584755, Register of Death, right page, line 39, Willie W. Dempsey, 05 Oct 1915, citing Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584755&ImageNumber=351 : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  36. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 333, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1915, left page (not numbered), entries 18 and 30, 14 Oct 1915 Willie Mae Dempsey; citing Ansted, Fayette, County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00333.jpg : accessed 21 January 2022). 
  37. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 494264, image 47, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriages, page 36 (stamped), line 37, Oscar Dempsey and Fannie Noble, 04 Feb 1914, citing Shade Creek School House, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/494264/00047.jpg : accessed 2 January 2022). 
  38. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 47, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1884, page 36 (stamped), line 43, Roy L Dempsey and Liliane Nunnery, 19 Mar 1914, citing Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/494264/00047.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  39. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 494264, image 48, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1914, page 37 (stamped), line 14, Ernest R Dempsey and V Lenora Wil, 16 Nov 1914, citing Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/494264/00048.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  40. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls, West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove District, Victor Precinct, ED 33, sheet 7A, household 107-109, William H. Dempsey. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 11 Jan 2014). 
  41. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T626, 2,667 rolls, West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove magisterial district and precinct, ED 10-27, sheet 1B, lines 86-87, household 18-19, William H. Dempsey. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 15 July 2002). 
  42. 1940 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D. C., NARA microfilm publication T647, 4,643 rolls, West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove magisterial district, Victor, enumeration district 10-36A, sheet 4A, lines 19-21, household 63, William H. Dempsey. (http://search.ancestry.com/ : accessed 4 Apr 2012). 
  43. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983478, Standard Certificate of Death, Registered No. 7439, Oscar L. Dempsey, 11 May 1940, citing Huntington, Wayne County, West Virginia. (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1058154&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). 
  44. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983556, Fayette, West Virginia, Certificate of Death, Registered No. 12945, Laura Ingram Dempsey, 08 Oct 1940, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1063678&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). 
  45. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983558, Fayette, West Virginia, Certificate of Death, Registered No. 1724, William Henderson Dempsey, 02 Jan 1941, citing Victor, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=1067455&Type=Death : accessed 8 January 2022). 
  46. Newspaper clipping of the obituary of William H. Dempsey is courtesy of Laura Workman Campbell, downloaded 5 January 2013 from her family tree on Ancestry. The entire month of January 1941 is missing on NewspaperArchive.com for The Charleston Gazette. Unable to locate a newspaper site with this newspaper title. 

William A. W. DEMPSEY (1822-1867)

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

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

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.