This is my 9th year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day. I first read about this way keeping tabs on the progress of genealogy research on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014.
Last year I cut off the ancestors after the 10th generation. This year I’m bringing back the full scoreboard with comparisons to even years only since the chart was getting too large.
My Ancestor Score
In generation 6, I’m still missing the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY. I wonder if this generation will ever hit 100%. The increase in generation 7 was an ancestor I discovered last year.
While researching 5th great-grandparents in my maternal line, parents and grandparents of the persons of interest were discovered increasing the numbers in generations 9 and 10. At least one record confirming the names was found and reasonably exhaustive research still needs to be conducted.
In the early generations, the numbers fluctuate when I find a branch that needs a bit of pruning. More often than not, when I prune a branch it starts sprouting new shoots.
My Children’s Ancestor Score
My children’s ancestor score seems to have an error in generation 10. I think I may have miscounted back in 2020 and carried it over in 2021.
Their first eight generations are nearly 96% known. They have all been written up except for Henry TREADWAY and Sarah JOHNSON (5th greats) and the living persons in the first three generations.
How do you keep track of your ancestors?
And what does your Ancestor Score look like? Do you keep track of your ancestors differently?
My 2nd great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM (1846-1910) was married twice. During his marriages, seven children were born. DNA has proven that his first two daughters from his first marriage to my 2nd great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY were his biological children. Their third daughter’s birth was reported by her father I. L. INGRAM in March 1871.1 She likely died after the 1880 census as no other records were found.
The four other children were born after Mary’s death and during the time Irvin was married to Octavia Susan ALIFF. Irvin married Susie on 11 February 1888.2 Their first daughter was born in 1889, 17 months after the marriage took place.3 Descendants of three of her eight children had their DNA tested and are in common with matches whose MRCA (most recent common ancestors) are Robert INGRAM and Huldah JOHNSON, the parents of Irvin.
The next three children that Susie gave birth to were born in 1897, 1901, and 1904. The son born in 1897 was registered as Irvin’s son.4 Birth records for the daughter born in 1901 and the son in 1904 were not found. When the daughter died in 1918 Samuel Russell WALK was the informant on her certificate of death and gave his own name as her father.5 The delayed birth certificates of the two sons created in 1952 and 1958 both identify their father as Samuel Russell WALK.6,7
While revising my 2014 post on Irvin Lewis INGRAM, I checked it against the information in my GEDCOM file. As I moved old source citations out of his notes into the source citation window, I found a task I had not followed through on.
The divorce of Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Octava Susan ALIFF was recorded at Fayette County courthouse on 15 December 1904. This fact was not supported by a document and I failed to note who gave me this information.
Per the FamilySearch catalog, divorce records for Fayette County, West Virginia, are included in the Chancery orders. I searched the Chancery orders, 1832-1927 for a record dated 15 December 1904 and found the missing record.8
Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram
In Chancery Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram This cause came on this day to be heard when the plaintiff’s bill and its exhibits, upon the answer of the defendant thereto and general replication to said answered when the depositions on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant when consideration of which the court is of the opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in her said bill. It is therefore adjudged, ordered, and decreed that the marriage heretofore celebrated between plaintiff Susie Ingram and defendant I. L. Ingram be, and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Susie Ingram and I. L. Ingram, be, and they are hereby divorced from each other from the bonds of matrimony.
I thought the entry for the suit would have more details about the divorce. It seems not. Susie was the plaintiff which means she was the one to file for the divorce.
How long had the divorce proceedings been going on? Are chancery records filed in Fayette County Court? Have they been filmed or digitized? Will they be available online?
By the time the marriage was dissolved on 15 December 1904, Susie’s son Joseph was nearly 8 weeks old, Mary Ann was 3 years old, Julian was 7 years old, and Ocie Ola was 15 years old. Wouldn’t the children be mentioned in records presented in chancery when the suit was filed?
If the records of the children can be believed, Irvin and his second wife Susie were living a troubled marriage long before they were divorced in 1904. Samuel Russell WALKER, the man Susie married after her divorce from Irvin, was documented as the father of Julian, Mary Ann, Joseph, and an unnamed daughter born after they married in 1905.
One record at a time, I’m learning about my ancestors. It’s always been this way but some records tell more and some leave me with more questions.
And, yes, I am still checking DNA matches for the possibility that Susie’s sons may have been INGRAMs and not WALKs.
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 584755, image 32, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1871, line 83, March 1871, Harriet Ingram, citing Loop Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00032.jpg : accessed 25 January 2022). ↩
Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 166, Fayette County, West Virginia, Clerk’s Certificate and Marriage License, page 288 (stamped), Irvin Lewis Ingram (widower) and Susan Octava Holstin (widow), citing Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Vrginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00166.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). ↩
Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 223, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 208-209 (stamped), line 185, 8 Feb 1889, Ociola Ingram, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00223.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). ↩
Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1952762, image 175, West Virginia, Standard Certificate of Death, Registered No. 9428, 9 July 1918, Mary Ann Walk, citing Dorothy, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1952762/0000175.gif : accessed 9 February 2022). ↩
Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4835009, image 1431, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 47395, Julian Lee Walk, 9 Jul 1898, subscribed 25 January 1952, citing Red Star, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4835009/01431.jpg : accessed 10 February 2022). ↩
Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4017263, image 272, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 6516, Joseph Walk, 22 Oct 1904, subscribed 12 Aug 1958, citing Coal Run, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4017263/00272.jpg : accessed 9 February 2022). ↩
West Virginia. Circuit Court (Fayette County), Chancery orders, 1832-1927, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Fayetteville, Film 1738697, DGS 7617580, Vols. 8-11 1904-1910 (v. 8 from p. 280 & v. 11 to p. 275) > image 23 of 836 > Vol. 8 page 316, 15 December 1904, Susie Ingram vs I L Ingram in chancery. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99V1-FHJC?i=22&cat=441399 : accessed 9 February 2022). ↩
When I began doing family research on the internet, I connected with Robert N. Grant, author of Sorting some of the Wrights of Southern Virginia. I found him on a mailing list (pre-Facebook days) where he mentioned a couple of my surnames. This was back in May 2000 when he was working on the draft of his work on 1825 Achilles WRIGHT of Oldham County, Kentucky (the year before his name indicates the year of death in the said county). Bob sent me a paper version of this draft via snail mail (yes, it was that long ago) that included information on my LANDRUM and CRISP lines of Amherst County, Virginia as Achilles had lived in Amherst and Nelson counties in Virginia before moving to Kentucky.
Repaying an Act of Genealogical Kindness
The book is part of a series of books that are available on FamilySearch. Years later I was able to return the favor. In October 2014 I found chancery records involving a James WRIGHT and sent the link to Bob. I received a reply the same day thanking me. I’d caught him pre-retirement and in July 2015 he wrote:
I wanted to thank you again for the very helpful reference to the Nelson County Chancery Court cases involving James Wright. They clearly identified James, the son of 1825 Achilles Wright of Oldham County, KY, as the James who married Lucy Crisp. Thank you!
In addition, the case clarified that Elizabeth Wright who married Elijah Skidmore was a daughter of James and not, as had been reported previously, a daughter of his brother 1845 George Wright of Trimble County, KY. That rewrote a portion of my materials as well.
I have an updated version of my material on 1825 Achilles Wright and his descendants and would be happy to send that to you, if that would be of interest to you. It includes a transcription of the chancery court case that lays out the family of James and the family of Lucy’s parents.
A Lesson Learned from Bob’s Research
When I found those chancery records I knew I had to send the information to Bob to repay him for sharing his work with me. I never forgot this act of kindness on his part as he also taught me the importance of personal property tax and land tax lists without knowing it.
By reading through his draft, I learned how the PPT and land tax lists can be used in our research. Although the annual PPT lists may appear to include very little information compared to census records, when they are viewed as a whole, the information can be used to fill in the missing years between the census. For persons of the same surname, relationships may have been expressly or implicitly stated. They can also help with determining when a person lived in a certain place and when he may have moved or died. Most importantly, the names found on the lists can help identify the male members of households in pre-1850 census listings.
The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax as well as all “tithables,” or taxable individuals and goods in the household. Included were the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of enslaved people both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables.
During the past five years or so, I’ve been checking the catalog at FamilySearch for collections that are available to all users on the site and not only at the Family History Library or associated libraries. Land tax records for several counties in West Virginia were found to be accessible in 2019.
Earlier this week in the Facebook group Rockbridge County Virginia Genealogy, I replied to a query. Someone asked if the tax lists were available online. Not knowing the answer, I checked the catalog and I discovered the Personal Property Tax lists for Rockbridge County, Virginia, are online on FamilySearch.
Rockbridge Couty, Virginia, Personal Property Tax Lists
I’d been waiting to be able to work with tax lists for many of my lines since I first read Bob’s draft. Discovering their availability for Rockbridge pushed me to do some browsing in these records.
One of my DEMPSEY brick walls began to crumble in 2007 when I found Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The initials are the same as those he used on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List (a Civil War document). I am convinced these initials were very important to him.
In Section VII of A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia1 the taxpayers of the county for 1841 were listed. The numbers after their names refer to the road precincts in which the persons lived.
Appendix D in the book gives a description of the precincts.
By searching through the taxpayer’s list for others who were in precinct 43, I was able to put together this list of persons who were likely his neighbors.
Rockbridge County, Virginia
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road
Dempsey, William A. W.
Others who lived in the same road precinct:
George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley. (Note to self: Agnor was later seen as Agnew)
The problem was that the source was not a primary source. Finding the mention in the book was not the same as accessing a digital copy of the tax list collection: Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850, main author: Commissioner of the Revenue (Rockbridge County, Virginia).
I searched first for the image of the 1841 tax list naming William A. W. Dempsey.
Wm. A. W. DEMPSEY was enumerated on 29 March 1841. In the column for white males of 16, there is a 1 indicating one person 16 or older was tithable. It is my understanding that the person named had to be of age therefore 21 years old or older. William was therefore born about 1820 or earlier.
In 1842, William was not found. In 1843 he was visited by Samuel Walkup in the southwest district on 5 April 1843. The entire list was viewed. I found William was the only person who was visited on that day. Is this an indication that he lived in a sparsely populated area?
No Dempsey was found in Rockbridge County on the PPT for the years 1844 to 1851.
William A. W. DEMPSEY was in Fayette County at the time of the 1850 census. The PPT for Fayette County, available for the years 1831 to 1850, showed a William DEMPSEY in 1846, 1849, and 1850. No initials are noted.
Working backward, I checked in Rockbridge before 1841.
William A. W. DEMPSEY was listed as 28 in 1850 and as 40 in 1860 on the census of Fayette County. If this William DEMPSEY was William A. W. DEMPSEY and only men 21 or older were named then he was born 1818 or earlier. He was visited a month after John W. DEMPSEY. If they had been closely related or living near each other, wouldn’t they have been visited within a day or two?
John W. DEMPSEY (1802-1873) married in Rockbridge in 1824. He was on the Fayette County census in 1840 and the PPT lists from 1840 to 1850. He has been proven to be the son of Tandy DEMPSEY who was in Rockbridge in 1820 (per census) and earlier (per tax list), in Logan (now WV) in 1830 (per census), and in Jay County, Indiana, by early fall 1835 until 8 August 1836 when his death was the first recorded in the township of Bear Creek.
If John W. DEMPSEY was the father of William A. W. DEMPSEY, the 1836 to 1838 tax lists (above) do not help to show this as male white tithables 16 and older were not noted. If this category had been included then John and all males 16 and older (possible sons in the household) would have been included in the count. Further, if John was the father, he would have had to have been married before his 1824 marriage.
From 1835 back to 1822 (W.C. Lewis district) no Demsey or Dempsey was found on the PTT.
Personal property tax books, 1824-1850 for Logan County are restricted at this time on FamilySearch. When they are available, I need to check if Tandy, John W., and other siblings were in Logan before 1835. Tandy was in Indiana by 1835, is known to have been in Logan for the 1830 census and the 1827 tax list (from a transcript).
Other Virginia Counties Need to be Checked
Rockbridge County is surrounded by the counties of Augusta, Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Alleghany, and Bath. I’ve searched Botetourt and will be working through each of the other counties to find Dempsey individuals who may have crossed over the county lines. Formation of the counties will also be considered.
Botetourt had the expected Rev. Absalom C. DEMPSEY (1787-1872) on the tax list from 1809 to 1851. The Reverend was the son of another William DEMPSEY who died before June 1806 and grandson of a William DEMPSEY who died about 1806. The estimated deaths of Absolom’s father and grandfather were found in chancery records that also name children of the younger William, including William the 3rd who died intestate, unmarried, and without issue before 1822 (see images 4 and 5).
Montgomery has also been added to the list of counties to check as there is a connection between men found on the Botetourt tax lists and at least one known to have been in Montgomery. Hugh DEMPSEY (born 1785 or earlier) was not named as a son of the senior William mentioned in the chancery records. He was seen in Botetourt from 1808 to 1828, was on the 1830 census in Montgomery before going to Missouri before 1840.
Orange County will also be carefully checked as I have researched the DEMPSEY family coming out of this county in my process of elimination.
Recap for William A. W. Dempsey
My review of the Rockbridge County PPT brought to light two tax listings for my great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY. Listed with the middle initials he used during his lifetime, he was found in the county in 1841 and 1843. The 1839 listings may or may not be for my William.
As other counties in Virginia (including present-day West Virginia) are checked, I hope to be able to sort all of the DEMPSEY individuals into their appropriate family groups.
As my William A. W. DEMPSEY went to Fayette County after 1843 and by 1846, it has been speculated that he may have been a son of John W. DEMPSEY who married Margaret FITZPATRICK in 1824. This John moved to Fayette County by July 1839 when he married his second wife, Amelia RIDDLE. I also once considered this possibility. As genealogy research has not so far turned up any supporting evidence for this assumption, I’ve turned to genetic genealogy and evaluating DNA matches. If my William A. W. DEMPSEY were the son of John W. DEMPSEY and the half-sibling of John’s children from both marriages, I should be seeing matches with some of their descendants. So far, none have been found.
And the search continues, for the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.
Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552. Images of the pages in the book courtesy of Archive.org. ↩
Mollie’s father was Wesley G. DEMPSTER, a man who appeared in Scott County, Virginia, shortly before the 1880 census. He likely died between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887. A death record was not found.
Mollie married at the age of 16 and had a family of nine children born between 1898 and 1917. Six of these children have descendants who’ve had their DNA tested. Descendants of the other three may have tested. They haven’t been found on the match lists of the tests I have access to.
Can DNA unravel the mystery of George W. Dempsey’s disappearance?
It’s complicated! I’ve been learning about DNA since the end of May 2016 when my brother turned his AncestryDNA test over to me. It has been a slow, uphill climb learning to work with the DNA results. I know this post may be hard to follow, I hope I haven’t made it too complicated. I’m assuming my readers have a basic understanding of autosomal DNA.
This is an example of one of my notes on Ancestry for a match: [C8] 1C (Lois) Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
In brackets is the cluster number (from the first time I clustered my matches) followed by the level of cousinship. In parenthesis is the name of the child of the most recent common ancestors (MRCA) that the match descends from followed by the MRCA.
My private but searchable family tree is attached to the DNA tests I manage. Confirmed matches are connected in this tree. The tree is also used to work out unknown matches.
As I have few maternal matches and my mother has tested, all maternal matches are starred. This allows me to use all 24 colors for custom groups for my paternal matches. I created custom groups for each of my paternal 4th great-grandparent couples. The four blue colors were used a bit differently than the green, pink, and yellow as there is a brick wall at the 3rd great-grandparent level for my William A. W. DEMPSEY. He is not from the same line as Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.
Ancestral Quest’s Color Coding feature made it easy to work out the custom color groups on Ancestry.
Paternal first cousins share the DEMPSEY-ROOP couple with me and are given each of the 16 custom groups (4 shades of the 4 colors). Second cousins who share DEMPSEY-INGRAM receive 8 custom groups (4 shades of blue and of green). Third cousins who share INGRAM-DEMPSEY receive 4 custom groups (4 shades of green). This is one way to visually cluster matches.
Note: The same system can be used for both maternal and paternal matches. In this case, the 5th generation (3rd great-grandparents) is used instead of the 6th generation (4th great-grandparents) as seen in my example.
This is my top match in the group of matches who descend from Mollie on Ancestry. The top shared matches (ICW = in common with) with Match 1 are two of my first cousins with whom I share grandparents Fred R. DEMPSEY and Myrtle H. ROOP. The next two ICW matches are both 1C1R but not from the same generation. This is confirmed by the colored groups. The match with only blue and green is a 1C1R through my paternal grandfather’s parents.
I have guest or collaborator access to a few of my DEMPSEY cousins’ AncestryDNA. They have given me permission to use their tests as examples along with their first names or initials. In the image above, the two cousins with trees are the 1C1R (E.D.) and 1C (Laura) in the table below.
DNA matches descending from 6 of Mollie’s 9 children were found to match 6 tests I have access to. E.D. (1C1R) is my father’s paternal first cousin. She is a generation closer to Seaton and Clementine than myself, my brother, my first cousin Danny, and my second cousins, Laura and Sheila. The second cousins are E.D.’s nieces through two of her siblings. If they had been her children I would not have used them as they would carry the same DNA and would only duplicate the results. All of the cousins have their DNA uploaded to Gedmatch or MyHeritage except for Sheila.
Shared Clustering Tool
My brother’s and my AncestryDNA tests were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool. Clustering has given me a relatively good idea of where in the family tree a match or group of matches fit in.
Jonathan’s method uses all matches and shared matches (ICW) down to 6-8 cMs on Ancestry to form clusters that point to a shared ancestor. A cluster represents a DNA segment shared by the clustered matches. Even though Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser, the segments can be ascertained (guessed) by comparing to matches who’ve transferred their AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or Gedmatch.
The data needed for clustering was downloaded from Ancestry using the Shared Clustering Tool. I’ve been manually adding new matches since Jonathan disabled downloading of data from Ancestry in May 2020. Soon after this, Ancestry sent cease and desist orders to many third-party tools.
Early this month, I subscribed to DNAGedcom for $5/month to get an up-to-date list of matches and of ICW matches from Ancestry using the DNAGedcom Client. The ICW match list can be used to generate clusters using the Shared Clustering Tool.
The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import all DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. With all information in one place, the tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions.
The Barron-Dempster matches who descend from Mollie were found to be in clusters [C54], [C29], [C30], and [C8]. All notes on Ancestry have been imported into GDAT. Since my notes begin with the cluster number, I can sort matches to view a list of only the relatives (matches) in a particular cluster.
Cluster [C54] is large with over 400 matches ranging from 229 cMs down to 7 cMs. The identified relatives have the following MRCA: Dempsey-Ingram, Dempsey-Gowing, Going-Potter, and Crisp-Lucy. These are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING. The cluster appears to be pointing to the GOWING branch but the many matches that are still unknown will help to “walk the segment back” to the shared distant ancestor.
Of these over 400 matches, nine were found on sites with chromosome browsers. None of these have a confirmed MRCA but they share DNA on the same segment (different lengths) on chromosome 9. This segment is also shared with E.D., Danny, and Laura seen in the DNA comparison table (above, in the Ancestry section). The red segments (below) are Danny, his sister, and my Dad’s Lazarus kit. They share my paternal grandfather (PGF) and paternal grandmother’s (PGM) lines, i.e. DEMPSEY-ROOP. The blue segments are people who share only my PGM’s line, i.e. DEMPSEY-INGRAM, and include Laura and E.D.
Using the same process as above, I found:
[C29] includes about 200 matches. Only two in the cluster have chromosome data and share a segment on Chr. 6. An MRCA has not been found for either. The segment triangulates with a known 4C1R (George W.) Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING as well as E.D. Danny did not receive this segment but his sister (who did not test with Ancestry) is one of the matches who triangulate with the [C29] matches.
[C30] has about 100 matches. MRCAs in the cluster include Ingram-Dempsey(1), Dempsey-Gowing(20), Gowing-Crisp(3), Going-Potter(1), and Crisp-Lucy(4). The cluster is associated with a segment on Chr. 2 shared with E.D., Danny’s sister, and Laura.
[C8] has about 120 matches. This is E.D., Danny, and Laura’s cluster. They correlate with many other clusters but this is their main cluster. MRCAs in the cluster include Dempsey-Wood, Wood-Honaker, Wood-McGraw which suggest the cluster is coming from the PGF (blue) side. The two Barron-Dempster matches (Match 2 and 5, father and daughter) associated with this cluster share at two segments with several of us. One of these segments may have a distant connection to the blue side.
My brother received very little DNA shared with the Barron-Dempster matches – only a 12 cMs segment with Match 1 and 9 cMs of the same segment with Match 1a (child of 1).
Clusters fluctuate as new matches are added. Since my test was clustered in September 2019 many new matches have been added. I ran a new cluster report this week including all new matches and ICW matches since 2019 with 20 cMs or greater. In most cases, the matches in the original clusters have remained the same, i.e. are still clustering with the same matches. The new heatmap shows the two [C8] matches are now clustering with a [C29] and a [C30] match, on the edge of the larger [C29] cluster and correlating with a cluster made up of [C54] matches.
To give a clearer picture of the clusters, here is a screenshot of my E.D.’s heatmap. It was generated using the data of her top 333 matches with 50 cMs or higher. All of the Barron-Dempster matches (highlighted in green) over 50 cMs are found in this heatmap of clusters 4 through 8.
Clusters 4 & 5 have descendants of Mary M. DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
Cluster 6 has descendants of William S., George W., Martha Ann, and Julia DEMPSEY, all children of Seaton
Cluster 7 has a descendant of Geneva DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
Cluster 8 has only Barron-Dempster descendants
The Barron-Dempster matches correlate only with clusters 4 through 8. They don’t correlate with clusters 1-3 or 9-33 (not seen in this close-up of the heatmap). The correlation can be seen by the red outside of the cluster boxes.
Of the 35 matches shown above, 6 are mystery matches, 8 are Barron-Dempster matches, and the rest are descendants of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING through six of their eight children. The two missing children are sons who served in the Civil War, died during or soon after the war, never married, and had no known descendants. The mystery matches, like the Barron-Dempster matches, correlate only with clusters 4 through 8 and are likely descendants of Seaton and Clementine through one of their children.
What Are the Odds?
I used the What Are the Odds? tool on DNA Painter to chart Mollie’s family tree down to her descendants who are matches. This is not the real purpose of the tool.
The matches, descendants of Mollie, are shaded green. I used my E.D.’s shared cMs amounts for all matches. The numbers in parenthesis are the range of cMs shared between the match and the other tests I have access to. The bottom row represents the line that I share with my cousins and is used for comparison: my great-great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, my grandfather Fred R. DEMPSEY and his brother Earl S. DEMPSEY, my father’s generation represented by E.D. (1C1R), and my generation (with my cousins and brother).
The WATO tool is used to check the probability that the amount of cM shared corresponds to the relationship in the tree. As I had already used it to chart the tree of the Barron-Dempster matches, I tried doing the reverse of what is intended with the tool. I used it to determine if the amount of cM shared by E.D. with the matches would place her in the correct position in our family tree.
Hypothesis 2: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 1 and grandchild of Laura Belle INGRAM scored 9 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis
This is the most likely hypothesis.)
Hypothesis 3: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 2 and grandchild of Hypothesis 1 scored 3 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis)
Hypothesis 1: E.D. is the child of Laura Belle INGRAM and grandchild of Mary M. DEMPSEY scored 1 (Possible but not significantly more likely than the other hypotheses.)
Hypothesis 2 with a score of 9 is the most likely and puts E.D. in the right place in our family tree and shows that it is possible that Mollie was the grandchild of Seaton and Clementine.
How does Mollie fit into my family tree?
Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing along with traditional genealogy. Using all of the tools mentioned above as well as genealogy research, I have come to a conclusion on how Mollie fits into my family tree.
The cluster heatmap above shows the Barron-Dempster matches are relatives of my 1C1R E.D. and share the same ancestry as the DEMPSEY-GOWING matches. The same is true for the other tests I used in this example: my brother, Danny, Laura, Sheila, and myself. The WATO tool also backs up this assumption.
If the matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER fit into the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, could Wesley G. DEMPSTER be an alias for a son or nephew of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING?
I don’t think the relationship was a nephew as:
Seaton’s brother Wilson M. DEMPSEY was found in the 1840 census with two persons in his household: himself and his wife. No children from the marriage that took place in 1839 and no children born before this marriage.
Seaton’s brother Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married in 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and removed to Ross County, Ohio, by 1830. He emigrated from Ohio to Missouri in 1854.
Seaton’s brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY was likely with Seaton in 1830, wasn’t found in 1840, was single in 1850, married in 1856, and died in 1890. “W. G. Dempsey left surviving him no children nor the descendants of a child, no father, no mother, no brother, no sister” per a chancery case.
Seaton’s sisters Louisa J. (md. 1840) and Eliza (md. 1843) were 18 or younger and it is not likely that one of them was the mother.
As the clusters are pointing to the GOWING-CRISP branch of the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, the matches are likely related through the GOWING side, i.e. other possibilities are the two sisters of Clementine GOWING.
Clementine’s sister Emmeline GOWING married William Dison LAWHORNE in 1828 and in 1840 the only male child in their household has been identified and cannot be Wesley.
Clementine’s sister Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 and in 1840 the three male children have been identified and none can be Wesley.
I believe from about 1880 George W. DEMPSEY, the only living son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, used the alias Wesley G. DEMPSTER, and was the father of Mollie.
Consequently, Mollie Lee DEMPSTER would have been a half-sibling to George’s three children. Her descendants would share on average the same amount of DNA as the descendants of all of Seaton and Clementine’s other children. The amount shared with any of George’s descendants would not be greater as the common ancestral couple would be Seaton and Clementine. Early on in my analysis, I had not considered this and thought George’s descendants should have higher amounts of DNA which is not the case.
What else can I do to solve this mystery?
I haven’t exhausted the DNA tools to prove the possibility of Wesley G. DEMPSTER’s being the same person as George W. DEMPSEY. I’m just at a standstill as none of the Barron-Dempster matches are on any of the sites with chromosome browsers. Being able to compare the DNA segments would help to confirm I am on the right track or not.
I’ve sent messages to all of the matches. First, a short teaser asking if they were interested in figuring out who Mollie’s father was. Then messages to the same persons with the link to my second post in this series. I even mentioned the offer to upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage and get FREE access to all DNA features. I’ve received no replies to date and none of the tests are showing up on MyHeritage. I’d hoped my messages were read even though no replies have been received.
I was only given access to E.D.’s AncestryDNA test last week. Maybe once I begin working more with her match list I will begin to make connections with people who are interested in solving the mystery.
Have I completely confused you? Have I piqued your interest in some of the tools I’m using for DNA analysis? Do you have a similar DNA mystery you are trying to solve?
George W. DEMPSEY was born about 1831 in Amherst County, Virginia, and lived in Fayette County, Virginia (before the state of West Virginia was formed), from about 1855 when his father moved the family there until sometime after the 1870 census. George did not die on 16 November 1879 as many online family trees indicate. He was not found on the 1880 census as George W. DEMPSEY. His 13 years old daughter Polina was found in Amherst County, his oldest son Andrew remained in Fayette County, and his son Robert (found in later years) is unaccounted for in 1880. If he was still living, where was George in 1880?
Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950)
The mystery of George W. DEMPSEY’s disappearance was not a question I was looking into. I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches with an unusual surname in their trees that was similar to DEMPSEY.
Using my DNA tools, I found a group of matches associated with several clusters that point to my GOWING-CRISP family group AND/OR those branches further back. Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP were the parents of Clementine M. GOWING, mother of George W. DEMPSEY.
The matches have a common ancestor named Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). By comparing the ICW (in common with) matches and working out their trees, I was able to find 14 matches that descend from Mollie through seven of her children: 2 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 4 2xgreat-grandchildren, and 1 3xgreat-grandchild. [23 Feb 2021 Update: Number of matches and their relationship to Mollie adjusted after charting the matches.]
I built a documented tree for Mollie adding all records found on Ancestry as well as FamilySearch. A little over a week ago, I discovered an interesting article written in 1893.1 For the most part, it confirms much of the information I found and even gives a bit more insight into the man who was Mollie’s father.
A Little Waif – Mollie’s Story
About fifteen years ago a man by the name of ___ Dempster, with his young wife, moved into the neighborhood of Rye Cove, Scott county, Va. Dempster was a man of perhaps forty, while his wife was several years younger. They were both handsome and intelligent, and Dempster possessed an education which placed him above the average. After a time a daughter was born in the newly established household, who was the joy and pride of her fond parents.
Mollie’s parents’ names were unknown when I searched the 1880 census for persons with the DEMPSTER surname. Only one couple was found in the southwestern part of Virginia.
In 1880 the possible parents of Mollie Lee DEMPSTER were living in Taylor District, Scott County, Virginia. Wesley DEMSTER (sic) doesn’t appear to have an occupation as the field indicates At home. His wife Mary was keeping house. Both were born in Virginia as were their parents. Wesley was 50 years old, nearly a decade older than noted in the article. The columns for Cannot Read and Cannot Write are not marked and therefore both were literate confirming the statement in the article that Mr. DEMPSTER was an educated man.2
Mollie’s 1880 birth record was located by browsing the Virginia birth registers for Scott County, Virginia, on FamilySearch. She was born on 11 July 1880 – after the census was enumerated. The informant on the register of the county is listed as a friend named Wm P. GOOD. He was the head of the household listed just above the DEMPSTER couple on the 1880 census. The parents of Mollie L. were Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Mary J. DEMPSTER.3
Near the Dempsters lived at that time Mr. W. W. Taylor, now of this place. About the time of the birth of the little girl to the Dempsters a girl baby was born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. The children grew up together, and there was quite an attachment formed between the two families.
Mrs. Dempster died when her child was about four years old. Soon a step-mother was brought in over the child. At the age of eight years her father died, and, in the meantime Mr. Taylor’s little girl had died.
Again, browsing the registers of Scott County for deaths, I found Mollie’s mother Mary J. died of consumption on 12 January 1883 when Mollie was 2 and a half years old. Wesley reported the death and gave the name of her mother as Virginia LARKEY. No father was named. Mary J. was 30 years 2 months and 13 days old on the day of her death placing her birth on 30 October 1852. Ditto marks were made in the field for the place of birth indicating she was born in Scott County.4 I was unable to trace her before the 1880 census.
Over a year and a half later, on 23 September 1884, Wesly DEMSTER (sic), widowed, age 50, born in Nelson County, Virginia, married Polly CAMBELL, age 35, born in North Carolina. The parents of the groom were Wilson and Mary; the father of the bride was Wyat CAMBELL.5
The death records of two of the TAYLOR children were located. On 10 September 1885 Emoline TAYLOR age 5 years 1 month 10 days died of Diptheria.6 On 30 July 1887 Nancy E. TAYLOR age 11 months died of Flux.7 Both girls were daughters of William W. and Mary TAYLOR. Emoline would have been the child born about the same time as Mollie.
If Wesley died when Mollie was about 8 years old, Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR likely asked the stepmother to turn her over to them after the death of their second daughter in 1887. On the 1900 census, Mrs. TAYLOR is listed as the mother of 7, 2 living. The two living children were the sons who were still at home.8
Per the article, Wesley died about 1888. No death record was found in Scott County for the years between 1885 to 1890. I was, however, able to narrow the range of the date of death.
Wesley G. DEMPSTER gave a deposition in a chancery cause on 23 November 1886 in Estilville. He traveled 14 miles to give evidence on behalf of the complainant, W. P. GOOD, owner of a lumber mill near Natural Tunnel. The case file is 287 images. I found it yesterday and only had time to skim through it. I found mention of Wesley DEMPSTER who was “clerking in the store & measuring lumber in the yard” and kept the books for Mr. GOOD. At the time of the deposition, DEMPSTER had quit working for Mr. GOOD.9
After the death of Dempster Mr. and Mrs. Taylor went to his second wife and asked that the little girl be turned over to them to raise, which was done. Shortly after this Dempster’s second wife went deranged, and is now an inmate of an insane asylum.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have, since taking charge of the little girl, cared for her just as if she was their own. She is now a bright, intelligent girl of thirteen, and is very fond of her foster parents.
The information about the step-mother being an inmate of an insane asylum confirmed the 1900 census listing found for a widowed lady named Polly DEMPSTER, an inmate in the Southwestern State Hospital.10 The article, written in 1893 pre-dates the census.
Two cases were found in the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records mentioning Polly CAMPBELL aka Polly DEMPSTER. A judgment dated 16 May 1906 in the cause of Southwestern State Hospital vs B.J. Broadwater committee of Polly DEMPSTER awarded payment of nearly $5,000 to the hospital for the period 15 September 1887 to 29 March 1905. The case was not closed until 1912. The date range for the payment due to the hospital would suggest that Polly may have been an inmate since 15 September 1887. This would have been two months after the youngest TAYLOR girl died.11
I had not located a 1910 census listing for Polly prior to this find. With the knowledge that she may still be living, I searched again in the location of the hospital. Polly age 72 and widowed was in the hospital and therefore still living on 15 April 1910.12 She was indexed as “Polly Dunfota”
Dempster, during his residence in Scott county, was very particular to never tell where he came from, and when approached on this subject always evaded an answer; nor was he ever heard to mention the name of a relative; so that now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.
Dempster is described as having been a large, stoutly-built man, weighing over 200 pounds.
As discussed in part 1, on 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest. The record concerning the arrest gave this physical description of George: age 31 years, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers).13
There was no mention of George W. DEMPSEY’s weight or build in the description and no mention of Mr. DEMPSTER’s height, complexion, hair, or eyes in the article.
Mollie’s Story continues after 1893
When I began researching Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, I found an extract of her 1896 marriage record with W. W. TAYLOR and Mary E. TAYLOR as her parents.14 Mollie was single and only 16 years old. Her parents’ surname did not match hers suggesting they may not have been her parents. The record can only be viewed at a family history library or a FamilySearch affiliated library.
Even though I was not able to access the marriage record, I found a short mention of the marriage in The Post in a series called “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post.” It confirms that Robert P. BARRON and Miss Mollie DEMPSTER were united in the holy bonds of matrimony at the home of W. W. TAYLOR in 1896.15
Although the relationship of the TAYLORs to the bride and groom is not mentioned in the clipping, it is now known that Mollie was taken in and raised by them.
Wesley G. DEMPSTER
As seen in the chancery records found, Wesley’s death can be narrowed down to between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887.
The name Wesley G. DEMPSTER sent off warning bells as my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY, father of George W. DEMPSEY, had a brother names Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890). Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Wesley G. DEMPSEY were not one and the same person as both were found in the 1880 census in different places. Wesley DEMPSTER age 50 was in Scott County and Wesley DEMPSEY age 71 was in Rockbridge County.
There is no trace of Wesley G. DEMPSTER before he shows up in the Scott County records. He should not be confused with Wesley DEMPSTER (1833-1913) born in New York and died in Chicago, Illinois. Some trees on Ancestry have the death of this man in Chicago attached to Mollie’s father, Wesley G. DEMPSTER.
Who were Wilson and Mary DEMPSTER, the couple named as the parents of Wesley G. DEMPSTER when he married in 1884? No person named Wilson DEMPSTER of the age to be the father of Wesley born between 1830-1834 was found in the census including in Nelson County, Virginia, where Wesley was supposedly born per the 1884 marriage record.
However, Wilson M. DEMPSEY is a familiar name in the DEMPSEY family history. He was the brother of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Wesley G. DEMPSEY. Wilson was married twice, in 1839 and abt. 1848, both marriages being later than the estimated birth of Wesley G. DEMPSTER.
The article notes Wesley’s evasion of any questions about his family or where he came from. Is it a coincidence that the first names of two of Seaton’s brothers were the names used in records found for Wesley G. DEMPSTER? Is it possible the name he gave on his marriage record for his father was not his father’s and only a name he gave to cover up his true identity?
The story that came to life in “The Little Waif” was not known when I wrote about George W. DEMPSEY, the person of interest in my first post. The article was only found while I was writing about Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, my second person of interest. The newspaper article supports the information found for Mollie and her parents, both biological and foster.
Part 3 will cover the DNA tools I used to analyze the DNA matches and a conclusion/theory of where Mollie fits into my family tree. It would be incredible if I could refute the 128 years old claim: now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.
1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1389; Virginia, Scott County, Taylor, Enumeration District 076, page 245A, Lines 24-25, HH #208-208, Wesley Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
“Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Collection Record 1853-1912, Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 121 of 687, line 14, entry of death Mary J. Dempster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-T8C?i=120&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry.com, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 337187, Reference ID: 337187. Wesly Demster, male, widowed, age 50, born abt. 1834 in Nelson VA, father Wilson, Mother Mary, married 23 Sep 1884 in Scott VA, Polly Cambell, female, age 35, born abt. 1849 in NC, father Wyat Cambell. ↩
1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241732, Virginia, Wise County, Richmond, Enumeration District 127, Page 2A, HH #19-20, line 1-4, William W. Taylor. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). ↩
Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, (Digital images available for the years 1816-1912. Indexed information and originals available through 1942), Local Government Records Collection, Scott Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. W P Good v. S M Winchester, 1897-046. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1897-046 : accessed 20 February 2021). ↩
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 145, Page 2A, line 17, Polly Dempster, patient. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). ↩
1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1649, FHL microfilm: 1375662, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 80, Page 5A, line 23, Polly Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” FHL Film Number: 34394, Reference ID: p 63 cn 112. Mellie L. Dempster, female, single, white, age 16, born 1880 in Natural Tunnel (Scott County VA), father W.W. Taylor, mother Mary E. Taylor, married 28 Sep 1896 in Big Stone Gap (Wise County VA), Robert P. Barton, male, single, white, age 28, born 1868 in Turkey (Lee County VA), father Wm. N. G. Barron, mother Louisa J. Barron. ↩
“Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post”, The Post (Big Stone Gap, Virginia), 24 Oct 1946, p. 10, col. 4; image copy, Newspaper.com (http://newspaper.com : accessed 11 February 2021), Historical Newspapers from 1700s to 2000s by Ancestry.com. ↩
We would not be here without the ancestral couples who came before us. What better day to feature them than on Valentine’s Day. Nearly all of my ancestors were married, some cut it close, and two ancestresses never bothered to marry.
I’ve been writing about The Ancestors since I began blogging, going back one generation at a time. Generations 2 through 7 are complete except for one set of 4th great-grandparents. The 8th generation is off to a good start with nearly a dozen couples’ stories already written. Vital statistics, spouses, children, residence, occupation, ownership, military service, and miscellaneous biographical information were used in the stories.
There are close to 400 known ancestors in the next four generations – many have baptism, marriage, and burial records, some have more biographical detail, while others may only be names gleaned from their children’s records.
In the past, I’ve kept track of the ancestors back to the earliest known ancestor in the 21st generation. This year I decided to count only the ancestors back to my 7th great-grandparents.
My Ancestor Score
Nearly 90% of my ancestors are known up to generation 8. The numbers go down significantly in the next two generations due to the brick walls in my paternal lines in the US.
New Names in the Family Tree
The name of Henry TREADWAY’s first wife was found this past year in a book with a series of sketches on early families of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio, written by Mrs. Mary Donaldson Sinclair (1862-1940) in the early 1930s, and published at that time by The Steubenville Herald-Star. The article included not only Henry TREADWAY’s wife’s name but also her parents’ names and where they were from. Three new names in the family tree (generations 7 and 8) need to be researched. Perhaps they will firm up the assumption that Henry TREADWAY and Sarah JOHNSON were the parents of my 3rd great-grandmother Sarah Ann TREADWAY. DNA matches to descendants of three other children of Henry have been found in one cluster and are the reason I’ve taken a closer look at available publications.
Henry TREADWAY and his wife are the 4th great-grandparents I mentioned above that have not yet been featured on my blog. I plan to take time to review the research I’ve done and, finally, write about them sometime this year.
I have a theory I’m working on. It might not be very smart of me to share it here, but I see no other way to get others involved in helping me solve this mystery.
I know what happens when the wrong information is posted on the internet. People believe it, re-post it, and, suddenly, it becomes an accepted but unproven fact. The ancestor or relative’s story is changed as people go click-happy accepting hints.
In this first of two parts, a bit of background information will be shared on the person of interest.
Who was George W. Dempsey (b. abt. 1831)?
George W. DEMPSEY was the oldest child of my 3rd great-grandparents Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who married 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia.1 Seaton, per the census, was the head of a household in 1830 with a young man, likely his younger brother Wesley, and a young woman, his wife Clementine.2 The young married couple didn’t yet have children. By 1840 they had three children including George who was less than 10 years old and over five.3 In 1850 George was still living at home and 19 years old.4 No birth records were found for Amherst County at this time and George’s birth has been estimated at about 1831.
On 20 December 1852, George married Rhoda A. STATON in Amherst County.5 Less than a year later, on 19 November 1853, their son Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY was born.6 Sometime after Andrew’s birth, Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s family moved to the Fayetteville Township area of Fayette County, (West) Virginia. George and Rhoda were in his father’s household in 1860 with their son “Ceton A.” listed as age 5.7 If other children had been born to the couple before 1860, they did not survive. George’s oldest sister Geneva Elizabeth DEMPSEY remained in Amherst County and his brother William S. DEMPSEY, the second oldest son, had married and remained in Rockbridge County.
On 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. George, age 31 years, was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers). He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest.8
A year later George and Rhoda’s son Robert L. DEMPSEY was born in March 1863.9 Four years later, George and Rhoda had a daughter on 11 May 1867 in Fayetteville Township.10 She was named Polina E. and would go by Bettie and Lina in later years. In 1870 the little family was found in the census in Fayetteville Township: George A. (sic), Rhoda, Andrew S., Robert L., and Pertina E.11
On 29 December 1874, Andrew S. DEMPSEY, son of Geo. W. and R. A. DEMPSEY, married in Fayetteville. The marriage register entry does not indicate if the parents were living or deceased.12
There is the possibility that George was the man mentioned in a document dated 8 March 1876 when a contract with one Geo. W. DEMPSEY for road work on Arbuckle road in Fayette County was annulled.
I’ve researched all three DEMPSEY lines who lived in Fayette County at this time. There was a younger George Washington DEMPSEY, son of John W. DEMPSEY and Amelia RIDDLE, born in December 1851 who would have also been old enough to be the man mentioned in the record above. I cannot at this time say if this contract was for George b. 1831 or George b. 1851. I had planned on sharing the images and transcription of the document but decided against it. Anyone interested in the document can view it at the link in the citation.13
George W. DEMPSEY and his wife were not found in the 1880 census. Therefore, there is a decade from 1870 to 1880 in which their whereabouts are unknown.
The death of George W. DEMPSEY
George W. DEMPSEY did not die on 16 November 1879 and he was not buried in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, in grave number 5369.
The man buried in Hampton National Cemetery served as a volunteer in Company K of Regiment 8 of New Jersey.14, 15 He was a 70 years old widower and had been a resident of the National Soldiers Home for 5 years16. He was born about 1809 and over 20 years older than George W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County. Records found for this man’s death have been erroneously attached to George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. and Clementine.
I learned the date of death was wrong, i.e. not for George W. DEMPSEY of Virginia, by viewing the documents. This is why we should always view the available images and not rely on the index. If only an index is offered, it is wise to review the source information to learn if the records are available in image form on the same site or on another.
With the confusion concerning George’s death in 1879 out of the way, what happened to him? Where was he in 1880?
The Children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON from 1880 until…
In 1880, two of the three known children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON were found in the census. They lived about 165 miles apart. That may not seem like much in our days but in 1880 this was not a quick drive on the interstate.
Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY (1853-1924) was 27 years old, married with two children, and living in Fayetteville17 where the family had been since coming from Amherst County around 1855.18
Andrew would remain in Fayetteville and raise a family of nine children. No death record has been found but his tombstone in Huse Memorial Park indicates he died in 1924.
The whereabouts of Robert L. DEMPSEY (1863-aft. 1930) in 1880 is unknown. Robert married Mary Frances DARR in Kanawha County in 1892. None of the records found name his parents and a record of death is missing. Robert and his wife gave their children unusual middle names which strongly support his being George’s son. His oldest son was named Paul Seaton, his youngest son Edgar Younger (the assumed middle name of his great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY), and his son Robert Darr was given his mother’s maiden name.
Polina Elizabeth DEMPSEY (1867-1941) was 13 years old in 1880, a servant living in Pedlar District of Amherst County with a MASON household.19
Bettie, as she was more often known, lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from at least 1884 when her first daughter was born in Cornwall.20 Bettie had eight children before marrying William W. SORRELS in 1916. Her 1941 death certificate gives her mother’s name as Rhoda STATON and her father’s name as not known.21
What Happened to George W. DEMPSEY?
With two of the three children of George and Rhoda accounted for in the 1880 census, several questions remain. Where were George, Rhoda, and Robert in 1880? Why was their 13-year-old daughter found in Amherst? Were both George and Rhoda still living, only one of them living, or neither?
Assuming George W. DEMPSEY was living in 1880, where might he have gone? Could he have started a new family? Have descendants of his known and maybe unknown children had their DNA tested?
The second part of this post will be published in two weeks’ time as next Sunday’s post will be My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021.
Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853 (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Date: 1829 Jan 3; Name of husband: Dempsey, Seaton Y.; Name of wife: Gowing, Clementina; Security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Roll: 194; History Library Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst, page 519, line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey household. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern District, page: 76a (stamped), lines 1-9, HH #40-40, Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 February 2013). ↩
Audrey Blankenship Gill, photographer, photo of a grave marker in Huse Memorial Park, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, taken on 3 April 2007. Inscription: Dempsey, Andrew Seaton Nov. 19, 1853-Mar. 12, 1928 and Dempsey, Caroline Burgess June 12, 1852-May 10, 1933. ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653, Family History Library Film: 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page No. 142, lines 28-37, HH #1352-687 and #1353-688, Dempsey households. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
Month and year of birth from the 1900 census. I have not found records supporting his middle name being Luther as seen on many family trees. A son’s delayed birth certificate and a daughter’s obituary name the father as Robert Lee DEMPSEY. ↩
1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686, Family History Library Film: 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 113A, line 40, and page 113B, lines 1-4, HH #9-9, Dempsey George A (sic). The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). ↩
West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 (database index, FamilySearch, database images <I>West Virginia Division of Culture and History</I>), 29 Dec 1874, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, Andrew S. Dempsey, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, s/o Geo W. and R. A. Dempsey, Caroline Burgess, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, d/o Andrew and ~ Burgess. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12086567&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). ↩
Loose papers, ca. 1787-1875 (1901), (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the West Virginia University Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Contains original deeds, guardianship, wills, road records, and other types of documents that were recorded before the courts. DGS 7616766, Film 186347, Loose papers (boxes 1-2), env. ?-1 to ?-3 (no dates), env. 1787-1, 1824-1, 1841-1, 1851-1 to 1869-3, image 498 (lower right) and 499 (upper right) of 584. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VT-QCR9?cat=302047 : accessed 5 February 2021). ↩
1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 27, page 31B, lines 17-20, HH #339, Andrew S Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
Seaton’s youngest child was born in Amherst in 1853. His brother Wilson was in Fayette County for the birth of a slave named Orange on 11 June 1855. Wilson’s residence at the time was listed as Amherst. He may have set up temporary housekeeping in Fayette with Mary, the mother of Orange, and preparing for the permanent move from Amherst to Fayette with his second wife and children from both marriages. ↩
1880 Census, Roll: 1353; Virginia, Amherst County, Pedlar, Enumeration District 20, page 238D, line 22, HH #27-27, Marvel Mason. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). ↩
“Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 23586, Registration area no. 815B, Registered no. 9. Nanny Dempsey, female, white, age 64, born 10 May 1884, died 20 Oct 1948 in Vesuvius, Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 3 Nov 1948, mother Betty Dempsey. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2016). ↩
Ibid., State file no. 25092, Registration area no. 815A, Registered no. 9. Betty P Dempsey Sorrels, female, white, age 71, born 11 May 1870, died 8 Sep 1941 in Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 9 Nov 1941, mother Rhoda Staton, spouse W W Sorrels. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2016). ↩
In September 2020 I participated in the Research Planning Magic Challenge hosted by Julie Cahill Tarr in a private Facebook group.
Participants ranged from beginners to advanced genealogists. Even though there were a little over 150 members, the group worked well together. Each participant focused on their own research project. The group remained positive as members helped each other by reviewing the day’s assignment, giving suggestions, and useful resources.
During the 5-day genealogy challenge, we learned to craft a research question, evaluate the background information, brainstorm ideas for records (even if non-existent), and set up a research plan.
This is my research question, the background information, and the research plan developed from the brainstorming.
Was William DEMPSEY (b. abt. 1779) who married Martha LANDRUM in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1799, the same man as William DEMPSEY (b. bet. 1771-1780 per 1840 census) who married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831 and found on the 1840 census for Noble County, Indiana, where he died in 1845?
William(1) DEMPSEY, son of Susannah (maiden name unknown) DEMPSEY and an unknown father, was born about 1779 in Virginia. He married Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM in 1799 in Amherst VA with his mother’s permission.
They had 6 children who lived to adulthood as seen in probate and chancery records. He was named on the 1820 census; no tick was made for his age group. His wife was named in the 1830 census. After his wife died in 1834, newspapers in Ohio were “requested to publish the foregoing (wife’s death), for the information of Mr. William Dempsey, the husband of the deceased, who is supposed to be somewhere in that State.”
William(2) DEMPSEY born bet. 1771-1780 married Jane CALHOUN in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1831. They were the parents of 6 children mentioned in an affidavit relative to his will. His children’s places of birth show he moved from Ohio to Indiana about 1833-1835 (a coincidence that this overlaps with the published death notice of Martha in the Ohio newspapers?). He died in Noble County, Indiana in 1845. No records have been found for him before 1831 although a son was born about 1822 in Gallia County, Ohio.
I’ve known for 20 years that William(1) of Amherst went to Ohio and never returned.
Shared Clustering of my AncestryDNA turned up a match who descends from William(2) of Indiana. The match is in a cluster that goes back further than William(1) of Amherst has been traced – to Barnett Dempsey of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have 2 clusters for this potential ancestor – possibly for him and his wife OR for his parents. I was trying to find the connection between William(2) of Noble and Barnett of SC when I ran into the brick wall. William(2) “appears” in Gallia OH for his 1831 marriage with no records found prior. I wondered if he might be my 4th great-grandfather who “disappeared” in Ohio after 1820 and before his wife died in 1834.
At this time no records have been found that would definitely prove William(1) and William(2) are two persons – no records placing both men in different places at the same time.
Originally formatted to include a column for Date (search performed) on the left and a column for Notes at the right, the table was not WordPress friendly.
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY
Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia
Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia
1800-1958 – Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958 at FamilySearch Historical Records – free; Index. Name index to marriage records from the state of Ohio. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and some FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later.
Marriage record for William(2) DEMPSEY
Was William(2) married 1822 or earlier as a son was born abt. 1822 in Gallia
Chancery Records: Amherst Co., VA
Chancery records have recently gone online for this county. Do they cover the period following William(1)’s wife’s death? The probate, chancery, land deeds, etc. from a cousin who did courthouse research includes photocopies of records found. But were all records found and/or copied?
Case files (digitized) for Amherst are presently only available up to about 1836.
NOTE: This was checked when the records for Amherst were added. The file is indexed (as of Sept 2020) but not yet digitized.1848-03 Original Case No. 024. Now available. Needs to be transcribed.
Presumption of death – law in Virginia for the 1830s period?
Would there be records other than the administrator’s bond, inventory of the estate, sale of land that would indicate William(1) was deceased when his estate was administered?
DNA matches(1) Re-new contact with the match on AncestryDNA that lead to William(2). Would he consider sharing his paternal ICW matches for research purposes? At this time only two matches have been proven to be descendants of William(2). Other cousins may have matches I am not seeing.
Analysis of DNA data in Genome Mate Pro, master repository.
War of 1812 Pension Record
Pension records need to be checked as William(2) is seen on Find A Grave as a veteran of the War of 1812. If this was the case, his widow might have tried to obtain a pension.
War of 1812 Veteran
William(2) DEMPSEY is on a list of veterans for the War of 1812 (see photo on Find A Grave)Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 September 2020), memorial page for William Dempsey (15 Feb 1770–17 Aug 1845), Find a Grave Memorial no. 46143160, citing Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Kay Cynova (contributor 47064119).
Cosperville Cemetery, Wawaka, Noble County, Indiana
Collection not loading 21/9/20. Still not loading 9/1/21: We’re sorry, this page is temporarily unavailable.
Following the Research Plan
After setting up the research question, reviewing the known information, and drawing up the research plan, I set everything aside.
Since the preliminary work has been done and recorded in writing, I can always come back to the research question to work on as I have time.
As the Amherst County Chancery record I mentioned above is now available, it will be the first thing I’ll pursue in more detail. I’ve skimmed through the 36 images but a transcription of the pages needs to be done to save time and get all pertinent information recorded.
I’m hoping that other DEMPSEY cousins will become interested in this research question.
I’d love to hear from any DEMPSEY cousins who have DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas as this is where the descendants of Barnett DEMPSEY were found. Also, DNA matches with DEMPSEY lines coming out of Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri where descendants of William(2) DEMPSEY lived. It is always possible that the matches share DNA from an as yet unknown distant “common” ancestor.
What did I miss in the brainstorming part? Any suggestions as to other resources that might help bring me closer to the answer. Were William(1) DEMPSEY and William(2) DEMPSEY the same person or two different individuals?
This is my seventh year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day. I first read about this way of keeping tabs on the progress in my genealogy research on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014.
My Ancestor Score
In the first eight generations, there were no changes. I’m still missing my 3rd great-grandparents Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY. In generations 9 through 13, new ancestors were found, mostly on my maternal side. In all, I have 81 new ancestors.
Stats for the previous years are included for comparison in the table above and below (for my children).
My Children’s Ancestor Score
My children’s ancestor score reflects the increase in my score as well as new ancestors from their father’s side. Nearly all of their new ancestors were found while I worked on and wrote about their 6th great-grandparents. This research included looking into these ancestors’ parents, grandparents, and, in some cases, even great-grandparents.
In both of the Ancestor Score charts, I’ve counted at least one ancestral couple several times. Martin FEILEN was counted in the 1656 Feuerstätten-Liste (fireplaces list) for Luxembourg. He and his wife Catharina were my children’s 9th great-grandparents (through son Mathias) on their paternal side. They were also their 9th great-grandparents (through son Mathias and through daughter Kunigunde) and their 10th great-grandparents (through their daughter Kunigunde) on my side! They were each counted four times.
[There are a few more cases of pedigree collapse in the family tree. I haven’t considered reducing the number of possible ancestors in each generation to reflect duplicates.]
Please leave a link in the comments below if you’ve recently calculated your Ancestor Score. I’d love to take a look.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Wishing you a year full of love and meaningful friendships.
Last Sunday I gave feedback to Ancestry on my ThruLines™. As I was writing the feedback message I realized it might be good material for a blog post. At the end of the feedback message, I let them know I might use it in a post.
Wowsers! Those ugly grrr!! images I’d added to my great-grandfather’s step-mother and all of her ancestors are missing.
Could it be Ancestry took my feedback into consideration and got the step-relationships fixed? Had they been ready to roll out a fix before or after I sent my feedback? Does it matter? Well, yes, I would like to know why it happened so quickly following the feedback I gave. I want to know if this step relationship bug in the ThruLines™ was solved for everyone or just for me.
I’m seeing Milla Susan PETERS as my great-great-grandmother. I’ve been hoping to see her ever since they gave me Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON, the 2nd wife of Gordon Washington ROOP, as a potential 2nd-great-grandmother showing half-cousins as full cousins.
Why, you ask, was I so excited about one ancestor being corrected? One right ancestor means I should be seeing her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in my ThruLines™. All of these ancestors are from lines with many descendants who have had their DNA tested.
Although Milla Susan’s ThruLines shows only two DNA matches, the next generations have many more matches:
107 DNA matches through Jordan N. PETERS (father of Milla Susan)
33 DNA matches through Rachel PROFFITT (mother of Milla Susan)
68 DNA matches through Zachariah PETERS (father of Jordan)
129 DNA matches through Kesiah LIVELY (mother of Jordan)
113 DNA matches through David PROFFITT (father of Rachel)
110 DNA matches through Sarah COCKRAM (mother of Rachel)
123 DNA matches through Joseph LIVELY (father of Kesiah)
128 DNA matches through Mary L. CASH (mother of Kesiah)
97 DNA matches through Augustine “Austin” PROFFITT (father of David)
97 DNA matches through Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON (mother of David)
231 DNA matches through Edward COCKRAM (father of Sarah)
232 DNA matches through Mary WORTHAM (mother of Sarah)
It’ll take time to confirm each match is a descendant of the ancestor he/she is listed under as the lines down are only as reliable as the trees ThruLines™ uses to make the connection. The large number of matches for the PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines was expected due to the families being large and having many descendants.
But wait! Not only was the step-relationship corrected for Milla Susan PETERS, but I am now seeing <<drumroll>>
William is my most frustrating brick wall. Sarah Ann’s branch and all matches associated with it are very important. I hope they will help me to sort out all the matches for her side. This would leave only matches which will point to William’s unknown parents and ancestry. At least that is the way I believe it should work. ThruLines™ is showing potential parents for him which I cannot accept at this time.
Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestry is bringing in many matches which will also have to be verified.
41 DNA matches through William A. W. DEMPSEY.
45 DNA matches through Sarah Ann WOOD (wife of William A. W.)
87 DNA matches through Elijah WOOD (father of Sarah Ann)
93 DNA matches through Rachel HONAKER (mother of Sarah Ann)
92 DNA matches through William WOOD (father of Elijah)
90 DNA matches through Mary Ann McGRAW (mother of Elijah)
162 DNA matches through Frederick HONAKER (father of Rachel)
154 DNA matches through Rachel WISEMAN (mother of Rachel)
70 DNA matches through Bailey WOOD (father of William)
95 DNA matches through Nancy _____ (mother of William)
147 DNA matches through Martin McGRAW (father of Mary Ann)
109 DNA matches through Margaret “Polly” _____ (mother of Mary Ann)
173 DNA matches through Hans Jacob HONEGGER (father of Frederick)
30 DNA matches through Maria GOETZ (mother of Frederick)
202 DNA matches through Isaac WISEMAN (father of Rachel)
204 DNA matches through Elizabeth DAVIS (mother of Rachel)
Another New Feature
ThruLines™ are now connected to the tree linked to a DNA test. On the pedigree view of the tree, there is now a DNA symbol in on the left to turn on this feature which adds a little blue ThruLines™ icon next to the ancestors’ names. William, Sarah, and Milla are ThruLines™ ancestors but in the pedigree view above they haven’t been updated. I discovered this about the same time my ThruLines™ were fixed on Wednesday.
Did the feedback I sent on Sunday to Ancestry on the ThruLines™ help them to get this fixed? I will likely never know. But I believe this was a lesson in giving the best feedback possible to help the team to get ThruLines™ working correctly. As I wrote in my feedback to them, ThruLines™ could be a powerful tool.