Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: An Unnamed Black Woman

A Black Woman valued at $150 was found on a list of appraised property belonging to Isaac Jenkins (deceased) of Fayette County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on 7 November 1845. She was the most valuable “item” on the list of property. The estate was appraised by John P. Huddleston, Job Huddleston, and Mason Coleman. [See line 8 in the listing below.]

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9S4-W3?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 71 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.

A Sale Bill of the Isaac Jenkins Estate was filed in the January Court 1847. The enslaved woman did not appear on this bill.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9S4-W3?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 71 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.

On 28 October 1848 in Fayette County, John W. Dempsey, Mason Coleman, and Edin Nugent were nominated and appointed by the County Court as appraisers of the personal and real estate of Nancy Jenkins, deceased. They presented a list which included one Negro woman valued at $100. [See line 8 in the list.]

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9S7-KY?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 103 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.

The appraisers returned the list on 28 October 1848 and it was admitted to be recorded on the 3 February 1852.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9SW-DG?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 104 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.

A list of property sold 17 November 1848 belonging to the Estate of the late Nancy Jenkins, deceased, was presented and admitted to be recorded on 3 February 1852. The administrator of the estate was F. A. Settle.

The last line of the sale bill includes one black woman bought by Mary Lewis for $131.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C9SW-DG?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 104 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.

Nancy Jenkins née Martin was the widow of Isaac Jenkins. They had no living children when Isaac died. Their daughter Margaret had married Carey Harrison Boatright in 1825 and predeceased them in 1828. She left one daughter, Minerva Frances Boatright born in 1826. Minerva married Francis Asbury Settle in 1842. Therefore the administrator of Nancy Jenkins’ estate, F. A. Settle, was the husband of her only grandchild.

Isaac’s father John Jenkins died 30 July 1831 and the appraisement and inventory of his estate was the first entry in the Will Book of the newly formed county of Fayette. He did not have slaves listed.

In 1840 Isaac and Nancy were found on the census of Fayette County with two black persons in their household. One was a free Colored female under the age of 10 and the other was a female slave age 24 thru 35. This woman is most likely the enslaved woman found in the estates of both Isaac and Nancy Jenkins. Was the young girl who was listed as a free person the daughter of this unnamed woman? Why would a child be listed as free?

There was only one Mary Lewis in Fayette County in 1850. She was a 15-year-old girl and unlikely the person who bought the unnamed woman. Perhaps Mary Lewis was from one of the neighboring counties of Kanawha, Nicholas, or Greenbrier.

There were two Lewis men in Fayette County in 1850 who owned slaves: William and Samuel. William who owned three slaves did not have a wife in 1850. Samuel’s wife’s name was Frances and he owned eight slaves.

Although this enslaved woman did not have a name, I felt the records should be shared in case someone is looking for her.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING An Unnamed Black Woman

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Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Hannah

An autosomal DNA match with a distant cousin with the surname Landrum in their family tree had me looking into the parentage and ancestors of my 4th great-grandmother Margaret “Patsy” Landrum who married William Dempsey in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799.

Patsy was the orphan daughter of James Landrum who was mentioned in the will of his mother Elizabeth Landrum in 1755.1

Elizabeth Landrum’s last will and testament was written on 22 October 1755 and presented to be recorded on 18 November 1755. The executors/administrators’ bond followed the will and was dated 18 November 1755. A condition of the bond was the inventory and appraisal of the estate. The inventory ordered on 18 November 1755 was recorded on 16 December 1755.

1755 Appraisal and Inventory of the Estate of Elizabeth Landrum of St. Anne’s Parish in Essex County, Virginia

Inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum (part 1)

The inventory included one Negro woman called Hannah and valued at £20.2

Inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum (part 2)

Hannah, the enslaved woman mentioned in this inventory, was not mentioned in the estate of Samuel Landrum who predeceased his wife Elizabeth in 1750. He did not leave a will and his wife was the administratrix of his estate.3 An appraisement and inventory of the estate was duly recorded and did not include any enslaved persons. One-third of the estate was allotted to the widow.4

Samuel Landrum predeceased his mother Mary Landrum who wrote a will after his death in which she mentioned his being deceased.5 Neither the will nor the inventory ordered to be made included slaves.6

Samuel’s father James Landrum died about 1739 leaving a last will and testament which included the names of two enslaved persons. Their names were shared in Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Willobey and Plimoth.

Samuel did not receive a slave from his father which makes me believe Hannah may have been acquired by Elizabeth after the death of her husband  Samuel. Another possibility being that Elizabeth inherited Hannah from her parents. Unfortunately, at this time, the maiden name and parentage of Elizabeth Landrum are not known.

True's statementFollowing my three-part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 77, image 473 of 519. Last will and testament of Elizabeth Landrum dated 22 October 1755, presented and recorded on 18 November 1755. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 81 and 82, images 475 and 476 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Elizabeth Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  3.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, page 385, image 215 of 519. Administrators’ Bond for the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  4.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 8-10, 1747-1757, pages 397-399, images 221-222 of 519. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Samuel Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  5.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, page 310, image 315 of 539. Last will and testament of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  6.  Ibid., Essex Will Books, Vol 9-10, 1750-1756, 1760-1761, pages 322-323, images 327-328 of 539. Appraisal and inventory of the estate of Mary Landrum. (Ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2018). 

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2018

De Vältesdag, deen den 14. Februar a ville Länner gefeiert gëtt, ass deen Dag vun den Verléiften.  Ouni déi Koppelen, déi virun eis gelieft hun géifen mir net existéieren.

Valentine’s Day reminds me of the couples who came before me – without whom I would not exist.

This is my fifth year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day.  I first learned this way of keeping tabs on the progress in my genealogy research from Barbara Schmidt in 2014. She posted her latest Ancestor Score February 2018 last week.

My Ancestor Score

The names of 57 new ancestors were added to my family tree database during the year. Most of these are 6th and 7th great-grandparents who were found while writing about my Luxembourgish and German 5th great-grandparents last year.

Generation 6 is still hanging in there at 30 of 32 ancestors. I continue to search for the key to the door of my most frustrating DEMPSEY brick wall. Who were the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY 1820-1867 of Fayette County, West Virginia?

I wrote the above last year and it’s still the case and has been for at least a half-dozen years or longer.

My focus this year is on the American ancestors as I organize and set up the groundwork for more serious DNA research. I am now seeing descendants of William A. W. DEMPSEY in my matches. I have matches for descendants of his four sons (James Alexander, John Henry, William Henderson, and Elijah Lewis) and daughter Mary Virginia. I’m still looking for matches who descend from Lizzie and Eunice, the other two daughters. All I need is for all of the matches to upload their raw DNA to GEDmatch so I can compare the chromosomes, separate the chromosomes coming from his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, and compare all unknowns with what is left in hopes of finding matches who descend from William’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Sounds easy?

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s ancestor score looks a lot better mostly due to their paternal line being mainly from Luxembourg. Ninety-five percent of their ancestors to the 8th generation are known. Their numbers for the next two generations are quite high compared to mine – even when you consider the difference in generations.

Stats for previous years are included in both tables above. The posts from previous years can be found here:

Have you done your Ancestor Score recently? I’d love to have a look. Please post your link in a comment below. Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: William, Mary, and Orange

Earlier this month I discovered a wonderful batch of pre-Civil War records for the counties in the western Virginia which would become West Virginia in 1863. FamilySearch’s collections of digital images have been growing at an amazing speed in recent years. Every now and then I will do fairly simple searches for birth, marriage, and/or death records in Fayette County, West Virginia, for the surname DEMPSEY. This surname is in two branches of my family tree. I am always looking for new information to possibly connect the two lines or to fill in some blanks in either line.

I was not disappointed when something new showed up in a search for births in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. The hit indicated a son born to my 3rd great-grand uncle Wilson M. DEMPSEY. A son I did not have in my database. When I opened up the details of the search results, I found the birth record was not for a son but for a slave.

“West Virginia Births and Christenings, 1853-1928,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X5PK-X25 : 12 December 2014), William Dempsey, 11 Feb 1857; citing Meadow Fork, Fayette, Virginia, reference ; FHL microfilm 34,485.

From experience, I know when FamilySearch shows a record is not available (see camera icon with the notation in the above image) this actually means there is no image attached to the indexed material. However, the film may be available online and browse-only. I checked their catalog for the FHL microfilm number given and found Vital statistics, 1853-1860 of West Virginia, microreproduction of original manuscripts at the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia, for West Virginia counties.

I spend hours working with the browse-only records at FamilySearch. Being experienced made it easy for me to find the image to the record indexed above. This post deals with the content of the record, not how I found it. If you are interested, please ask, and I will explain how in a comment to this post.

Vital statistics, 1853-1860 of West Virginia; Film # 007499353; Calhoun – Hampshire counties; image 120 of 554. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Z5-FZV3?i=119&cat=308753 : accessed 10 June 2017)

The birth of William, a son of Mary, was recorded in the birth register of Fayette County. He was born at Meadow Fork on 11 February 1857. The column for the name of the father is titled: Father’s Name in full if Child be free and born in wedlock, or Name of Owner if Child born a Slave. Wilson M. Dempsey’s name is in this column as well as the column for the informant. In the column, Relationship of Informant, he is noted as Owner.

I took a bit of time to browse through the entire batch of registers for Fayette County and found another entry with Wilson M. Dempsey as the informant. This one did not turn up in my original search which made me wonder if the entire collection has been indexed. Different search criteria turned up this indexed record in the Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917.

“Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VRR7-K1C : 5 December 2014), Orange Dempsy, Jun 1855; citing Loop, Fayette, VA, reference ; FHL microfilm 34,485.

This indexed record shows “Orange Dempsy” was a child of “Wilson Dempsy” and “Mary.” A closer look at the actual entry in the register shows Orange was a slave.

Vital statistics, 1853-1860 of West Virginia; Film # 007499353; Calhoun – Hampshire counties; image 112 of 554. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89Z5-F8FM?i=111&cat=308753 : accessed 29 June 2017)

On this entry, the child Orange was born in June 1855 on the Loop in Fayette County. He was a slave owned by Wilson Dempsey. The mother’s name was Mary. The occupation of the father is blank and his residence is listed as Amherst. Another child born as a slave of another slaveholder on the same page has blanks for the occupation and residence of the father. It’s possible Amherst refers to the residence of the father of Orange, indicating the enslaved family was separated due to Wilson Dempsey’s recent move to Fayette County. Or, Wilson Dempsey had not yet moved his family and may have taken his slave(s) there to prepare for his move.

In 1840 Wilson Dempsey was recently married to Evalina Carolyn Rhodes, a daughter of Reuben Rhodes and Tabitha Rowsie of Amherst County, Virginia. In the 1840 census of the same county, Wilson was seen with his bride and two slaves, one male 10 thru 23 and one female under 10 years. In 1850 Wilson was listed as an overseer in the Eastern District of Amherst. His wife had died in the 1840s and he’d remarried. His second wife’s maiden name is not known. The 1850 slave schedule does not have a listing for him and it is unknown for whom he was working as an overseer.

Before finding the above records, we knew Wilson moved to Fayette County in western Virginia in the 1850s. The records place him in the county in 1855, either setting up his household or permanently settled.

In 1860 the slave schedule of Fayette County includes the following enslaved black persons for Wilson M. Dempsey:

  • one male age 35 (possibly the male seen in 1840?)
  • one female age 30 (possibly Mary)
  • one female age 22 (or, possibly Mary)
  • one female age 12
  • one female age 8
  • two females age 7
  • one male age 3 (possibly William)
  • one male age 1

I have known since I first began researching my 3rd great-grandfather Seaton Y. Dempsey that his brother Wilson had slaves as well as their father William Dempsey of Amherst. However, the only indication of their keeping enslaved persons had been the 1810 census for William (3 slaves), the 1840 census for Wilson (2 slaves), and the 1860 census for Wilson (9 slaves). The birth records found this month help to name at least three of the enslaved people: Orange, William, and their mother Mary.

bestwishescathy1

True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project which can be found on Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2017

De Vältesdag, deen den 14. Februar a ville Länner gefeiert gëtt, ass deen Dag vun den Verléiften.  Ouni déi Koppelen, déi virun eis gelieft hun géifen mir net existéieren.

Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated in many countries on the 14th of February, is the time for people to show feelings of love and affection. Without the couples who came before us, we would not exist. Most were married, some cut it close, and at least one lady gave us a non-paternity event.

This is my fourth year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day after reading Barbara Schmidt’s “My Ancestor Score – February 4, 2014” post in 2014. [Update: The link to the 2014 post no longer works. She’s moved her blog but not all the content is up. Here’s her My Ancestor Score February 2017.]

My Ancestor Score

The names of 43 new ancestors were added to my family tree database during the year. This is nearly five times more than those added in 2016. Many of these are due to my now having access* to the Family Books of German towns where my ancestors lived and the recent work I’ve been doing with the church records of Luxembourg. The new additions are in the 5th to 8th great-grandparents’ generations. The new ancestors who lived in areas which are now Germany have names and dates. Records are being found in the church records of Luxembourg for those who lived in these German towns which belonged to parishes in Luxembourg at the time.

* Thanks to our newly opened Luxracines library in Walferdange, Luxembourg.

ancestorscore2017Generation 6 is still hanging in there at 30 of 32 ancestors. I continue to search for the key to the door of my most frustrating DEMPSEY brick wall. Who were the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY 1820-1867 of Fayette County, West Virginia? As the administrator of my youngest brother’s DNA, I’m beginning to see several cousins, with shared matches, who descend from his daughter Mary Virginia DEMPSEY and son-in-law John A. SNELL who married in 1872.

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children have 355 more known ancestors than I do. Their paternal ancestry, being mostly Luxembourgish, helps to bring in a whopping 95% score for the first 8 generations – up to their 5th great-grandparents. Even at 10 generations they have 61% compared to my 39%.ancestorscore2017children

I’ve included the stats for previous years in both tables above but here is a list of my posts from the previous years if you are interested in reading them.

Have you done your Ancestor Score recently? Please post your link in a comment below so that I can visit and have a look.

bestwishescathy1

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research

In mid-March I received this message from one of my siblings:

Just wanted to let you know that I ordered a DNA kit from ancestry.com. I will send you the results when I get them. Hopefully it will be useful in your research.

When his results came in late May he sent me this message and screenshot:

Hope this doesn’t mess up your research too much.

ethnicityI thought he was holding out on me, waiting to let me know only after he came to visit for Mom’s 80th birthday. But the results truly did not come in until early morning of the day he was to arrive in Luxembourg.

He turned administration over to me as he thought I would know better what to do with the test results as he does not do genealogy.

I haven’t done DNA testing but my second cousin Laura [daughter of Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) – the first person I know of who worked on our family tree] shared her DNA page with me earlier this year. Since Laura and I share great-grandparents (William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM) 3/4 of her matches did not have anything to do with our common line. It however helped me to get a feel for Ancestry’s DNA page before my brother’s results came in.

The ethnicity results (above) of 100% European were to be expected although it blew the theory of a Native American connection right out of the water. Or so I thought. Where do the 10% Italy/Greece fit into our family tree?

After a week or so of trying to figure out some kind of system to work through the matches on Ancestry I decided to download the raw DNA data and upload to GEDmatch. After the kit (A131214) was tokenized and while I was waiting for the batch processing to complete I did a heritage test.

Admix Results (sorted):

# Population Percent
1 Early Neolithic Farmer 43.00
2 Western European/Unknown Hunter-Gatherer 25.49
3 Ancestral South Eurasian 18.91
4 Caucas-Gedrosia 7.59
5 NearEast 1.65
6 Amerindian 1.43
7 Ancestral South Indian 1.20

1.43% Native American DNA for my brother. I understand he got about 50% of his DNA from our father and 50% from our mother (European). Family tradition is the NA connection is through our paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP‘s mother Rebecca Jane CLONCH. If I keep doubling the percentage (which may not be scientifically correct) I get 91.52% at the 4th great-grandparent level. Dennis CLAUNCH and Nancy BEASLEY are the only known set. Another ancestor at this level was Levina DOSS who had her children with an unknown man. The unknowns are COOLEYs and TREADWAYs.

I admit this was just a game I was playing before I begin to get serious about using the DNA results for research purposes. But who knows, maybe I’m on the right track.

Oh yes, Laura and my brother are “predicted 2nd cousins” and share 381 centimorgans across 15 DNA segments.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Mom’s 80th Birthday Party

A little over two weeks ago the Dempsey family got together at our house to celebrate Mom’s 80th birthday. Normally I don’t blog about living persons but this is a milestone in Mom’s and our lives which deserves to be written about while she is still with us.

We had two family photographers and several others with their cell phones taking pictures but the only way to get a great family group photo is to have someone else do the job. Many thanks to Anne-Ly Mertens-Prott for the wonderful photos and for working over the Luxembourgish translation with her husband Nic for the local online newspaper at mywort.lu.

Photo courtesy of Anne-Ly Mertens
Photo courtesy of Anne-Ly Mertens-Prott

80ten Gebuertsdaag vum Josette Sassel-Wildinger

Freides, de 29. Mee 1936 kruten d’Marie Marcelle Fournelle an den Nicolas Wildinger vun Iechternach Nowuess. D’Josette, hirt eenzegt Kand, huet deen Daag zu Iechternach d’Liicht vun der Welt erbléckst. Seng Mamm huet dacks vum spéide Schnéi, deen et um Päischtweekend no senger Gebuert gouf, geschwat. E puer Woche virun sengem véierte Gebuertsdaag huet d’Josette materlieft wéi déi Däitsch Lëtzebuerg besat hunn. D’Joer duerno ass säi Papp un der Tuberkulos gestuerwen. Den 10. Oktober 1944, war hatt eent vu villen déi aus Iechternach evakuéiert goufen. Zu Fouss ass hatt mat senger Mamm an dem 73 Joer ale Grousspapp iwwer Uesweller, Bech, Hielem an d’Luerenzweiler Géigend gaangen, wou si bis an de Mee 1945, bei Frënn ënnerkomm sinn.

Den 2. Mäerz 1957 huet d’Josette en amerikanesche G.I., de Fred Roosevelt Dempsey vu Victor, West Virginia, deen zu Bitburg stationéiert war, bestuet. Si goufen Eltere vu fënnef Kanner, déi si am Laaf vun de Joren am Georgia, Frankräich, Idaho, West Virginia, Spuenien, South Carolina an Texas, opgezunn hunn. 1974 ass säi Mann Freddy gestuerwen, an d’Joer drop koum d’Josette mat de Kanner Cathy, Debby, Marc, Mike an André zréck op Iechternach. Nodeems hatt d’Kanner während méi wéi enger Dose Joer eleng grouss gezunn hat, huet hatt sech den 28. August 1987 mam Francis Sassel bestuet.

Fir dem Josette säin 80. Gebuertsdaag, si seng Kanner fir déi éischte Kéier zanter 1979 nees all zu Iechternach zesummekomm. Et gouf gefeiert mat sengem Mann, de Kanner, den Eedemen a Schnaueren, a véier vun de néng Enkelkanner: Sheila, Brian, Jenny, Duane. Gefehlt hunn fënnef Enkelkanner: Cindy, Erin, Mike, André an Ian, souwéi zwee Urenkel Savannah an Taylor, déi mat engem schéine Video der Bomi gewënscht hunn.

MomBDay180th Birthday for Josette Sassel-Wildinger

On Friday 29 May 1936 Catherine Josette Wildinger was born in Echternach to Marie Marcelle Fournelle and Nicolas Wildinger. She would remain their only child. Her mother often told of the late snow which fell on Pentecost weekend following her birth. A few weeks before her fourth birthday Josette saw the Germans occupy Luxembourg. The following year her father died of tuberculosis. On 10 October 1944 she was one of many who were evacuated from Echternach, going on foot to Osweiler, Bech, Helmdange, and the Lorentzweiler area with her mother and 73 years old Grandpapa, only returning in May 1945.

On 2 March 1957 Josette married an America G.I., Fred Roosevelt Dempsey from Victor, West Virginia, while he was stationed in Bitburg, Germany. They became the parents of five children and raising them in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, and Texas. In 1975 Josette returned to Echternach with her children Cathy, Debby, Marc, Mike, and André following the death of her husband Freddy the previous year. After raising her children on her own for more than a dozen years she married François Sassel on 28 August 1987.

For Josette’s 80th birthday her children came together for the first time since 1979. She celebrated with her husband, her children and their spouses, and four of her nine grandchildren: Sheila, Brian, Jenny, and Duane. Missing were five grandchildren Cindy, Erin, Mike, André, and Ian, and her two great-grandchildren Savannah and Taylor, who sent a wonderful video with birthday wishes for their grandmother/great-grandmother.

The Day in Retrospect

Following a huge round of applause and a presentation of a large bouquet, a gift from two of her grandchildren, Mom and the rest of us enjoyed watching the video sent by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who could not be here. It was very moving and there was not a dry eye in the room afterwards.

We were able to sit out on the back porch and in the back yard where a tent had been set up to enjoy our plates filled from the cold buffet. After everyone had had their fill and before the cake was brought out, Anne-Ly came by to take the group photos. Mom did not know what was going on when she and her five children were being set up on the steps of the back porch.

80thBirthdayCollage
Photo on right courtesy of Anne-Ly Mertens-Prott

We reproduced a photo of Mom with the kids taken Easter Sunday in 1969 when Dad was on duty in Thailand. The photo was also used on her cake, a gift from the other two grandchildren who were present.

MomBDay5

MomBDay2Mom getting ready to cut the cake with her grown up children.

MomBDayCollagetinyEveryone had a great time, memories were shared and new ones were made. Hopefully it will not be 37 years before we can all get together again.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2016

This is my third year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day. I’d like to thank Barbara Schmidt who got me started with her post My Ancestor Score – February 4, 2014.

We would not be here without all the Valentine couples who came before us. Most were married, some cut it close, and at least two Doss ladies gave us non-paternity events.

Valentine2My Ancestor Score

Nine new ancestors were added since last year – thanks to the church records in Luxembourg. This is not much compared to the 26 from 2015 but as you can see (in the second spreadsheet) I have also been working on my children’s bloodline.

ancestorscore2016Generation 6 is still hanging in there at 30 of 32 ancestors. I continue to search for the key to the door of my frustrating DEMPSEY brick wall. Who were the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY 1820-1867 of Fayette County, West Virginia?

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s Ancestor Score is looking a lot better than mine due to their paternal ancestry being mostly Luxembourgish. Generations 12 to 22 of their paternal ancestry remains to be researched – the numbers seen reflect the ancestors they share with me on my side of the family tree.ancestorscore2016kidsHave you done your Ancestor Score recently? Post your link in a comment and I’ll have a look.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Sitting like a Statue on Your Sources

This morning “Your Memories on Facebook” reminded me of a FB post I wrote the day before my first blogpost was published here. I’ve had a Facebook page for Opening Doors in Brick Walls since December 2, 2012, over a year before I began blogging. When this memory popped up I realized I haven’t moved all of the things I’ve written over to my blog. This was written January 22, 2014.

statueDon’t just sit there like a statue with your sources lying about.

As many of you know, I accepted the challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small. I’m now working on 52 Ancestors: #4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941.

Using the timeline feature of my genealogy program while I write, I find myself asking questions that I never thought of before. I’m taking a second (actually 3rd, 4th, 5th) look at documents and seeing new things. Who was in the household at this or that time? Where is this place? Is he moving around or are the names of the places changing? Why is this information on his death record wrong? Is it wrong? This is turning out to be a really good exercise.

Have you come up against a brick wall? I can recommend writing down everything you know about the person. You can do this for yourself or to share with a relative who might see things from a different angle.

A little warning: you may find yourself taking more time than you planned to do this.
You may also find yourself opening doors in your brick walls!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Laura’s Relish Dish (2)

Earlier in December I shared my great-grandmother Laura Belle DEMPSEY née INGRAM’s glass relish dish shaped like a leaf and a bunch of grapes.

grapedish2Several readers said they would like to see a photo of it with my homemade Santa Fe Cranberry Sauce.

cranberry1tinySince we are taking it easy after all the feasting I thought this would be a great filler, pun intended, until next week.

cranberry2tinyWishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.

 © 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.