Rewriting the Biography: Dryden SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

James SIMS was the father of sixteen known children. Eight of them were born during his marriage to his first wife Phebe. Following her tragic death the winter of 1793/1794 he married Elizabeth COTTON in 1796. With Elizabeth he also had eight children. The second youngest was their son Dryden who was born about 1818, the year Nicholas County was formed from Kanawha County.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 Dryden was in the household of his father James SIMS. At the time he was James’ youngest child. However he may not have been the youngest person in the household as there were also nine enslaved persons with five of these being in the under 14 years category.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for James SIMS

1820 U.S. Federal Census 1
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane and Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret and Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Black Jude and Black Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830 Dryden was about twelve years old and should have been enumerated in the 10 thru 14 years category. The census, however, shows his age was 15 thru 19 years. A younger brother had been born during the 1820s and Dryden was no longer the youngest.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for James SIMS

1830 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth 46-49)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

Dryden SIMS married Rebecca BAYS, daughter of Thomas BAYS and Nancy Ann LINEGAR. Rebecca was born in Giles County, Virginia, on 28 November 1819. The marriage took place in Fayette County on 18 October 1837.3 Records of birth and marriage have not been found to confirm these dates. Rebecca may have been born in a part of Giles County which became Fayette County.  A part of Giles went to Logan when the county was formed in 1824 and a part of Logan became Fayette County in 1831. Thomas BAYS was enumerated in Logan in 1830 and in Fayette from 1840 until 1860.

Dryden and Rebecca had one son born following their marriage and before the 1840 census. Dryden had several other children in his household. As all of the census listings of the children of his father James SIMS have been worked through, I have made this assumption concerning these extra children. Two of the orphaned children of Dryden’s sister Sarah may have been taken in by him and his wife, namely Mariah FOSTER and James FOSTER who did not fit in any other SIMS household.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS

1840 U.S. Federal Census4
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 9, Line 30
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Dryden Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Alfred)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (not a son, may be Sarah’s son James)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Dryden)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (not a daughter)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (not a daughter, may be Sarah’s daughter Mariah)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Rebecca)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1840s Dryden and Rebecca had four more sons. Dryden was a farmer but did not own land. In his household was a single man named Paschal HENDRICK (ca. 1816-1883) who owned land. Were Dryden and his family living on and working his land?

Next door to Dryden was his nephew Jonathan SIMS, son of his half-brother William, and in the next household was his sister Jane SIMS, wife of Joseph DARLINGTON.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS

1850 U.S. Federal Census5
Nicholas County, Virginia
The 43rd District
Sheet No. 371A, Line 23-29, HH #412-412
Dryden Sims 32 M W Farmer Virginia
Rebecca Sims 30 F W Virginia
Alfred Sims 11 M W Virginia
William Sims 8 M W Virginia
Andrew Sims 6 M W Virginia
Alexander Sims 3 M W Virginia
Thos Sims 8/12 M W Virginia
Pascal Hendrick 34 M W Farmer $400 Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

Dryden and Rebecca lost their son Thomas born in 1849 during the 1850s. Two daughters and a son were born by the time the 1860 census was taken. The son was only two months and listed as Lenard M., the same name as the head of the next household, Lenard MORRIS. The name of the child appears to be incorrect as will be seen in later census listings. Dryden was still farming and had land valued at $300.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS household

1860 U.S. Federal Census6
Nicholas County, Virginia
Nicholas District, Nicholas Court House
Sheet No. 1004, Page No. 86, Lines 14-21, HH #770-578
Dryden Sims 42 M W Farmer $300 $400 Virginia
Rebecca Sims 42 F W wife Virginia
William J. Sims 17 M W farmer Virginia
Andrew J. Sims 15 M W farmer Virginia
John Alexander Sims 12 M W Virginia
Mary J. Sims 10 F W Virginia
Nancy E. Sims 6 F W Virginia
Lenard M. Sims 2/12 M W Virginia

Dryden and Rebecca’s oldest son Alfred Hansford SIMS had married his first cousin Mariah FOSTER in January 1858. Mariah, who likely grew up with Alfred, had married Jordan HUDSON in 1846, lived in Missouri for a short time before returning to the Fayette/Nicholas counties area where two children were born before Jordan’s death. Alfred and Mariah’s first child Alfonso Graves was born very close to the date of marriage as his age was given as 63 years when he died in September 1920. He was with Alfred, Mariah, and her two HUDSON children in Nicholas County in 1860.

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

The 1860s brought much change to the family of Dryden SIMS.

The second son William Henry Harrison SIMS married Sabina Hester McCARTY about 1861. The groom was seen in most records as William H. H. however records have been found with the middle names Henry and Harrison which led to the conclusion that he was named after William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) the ninth President of the United States who served the shortest tenure in presidential history to date. The couple had four children by 1870 and was living in Kanawha County.

The third son Andrew Jackson “Jack” SIMS married Virginia A. Sintilla MORRIS in 1865. She was the daughter of Lenard MORRIS, a neighbor in 1860, and seen as Cynthia on that census listing. They had one son and were living next door to William H. H.

The oldest daughter Mary Jane SIMS married Charles Marvin MORRIS in 1866. They had a son and daughter and were living a couple of households away from her oldest brother Alfred. Her husband Charles was the first cousin of Jack’s wife.

The oldest son Alfred Hansford SIMS‘ family had increased to six children. They were living in Nicholas County close to his sister Mary Jane.

Dryden and Rebecca had moved to St. Clair County, Missouri, with their remaining unmarried children before the 1870 census. John Alexander, their fourth son was at home with no occupation listed even though he was 22 years old. Nancy Elizabeth was fourteen and did not attend school unlike her brother Thomas Newton who was attending. Thomas would be the child seen as Lenard M. in the 1860 census obviously named after his deceased brother Thomas who shared the name with their maternal grandfather. Thomas was born 11 April 1860 per his grave marker – a match for the two-month-old son on the 1860 census.

1870 U.S. Federal Census for St. Clair County, Missouri for Dryden SIMS household

1870 U. S. Federal Census7
St. Clair County, Missouri
Chalk Line District
Sheet No. 430B, Page No. 15, Lines, 19-23, HH #101-98
Sims, Dryden 51 M W Farmer Virginia US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Rebecca 51 F W Keeping house Virginia
Sims, Alexander 22 M W At home Virginia US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Nancy E. 14 F W Virginia
Sims, Thomas N. 9 M W Virginia attended school within the year (cannot read & write appears to have been struck out)

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Rebecca SIMMS was found in the household of Andrew Jackson KING as the widowed mother-in-law. Andrew had married Dryden’s daughter Nancy Elizabeth about 1878. Dryden SIMS apparently died prior to the enumeration of the 1880 census.

1880 U.S. Federal Census of St. Clair County, Missouri, for A.J. KING household

1880 U.S. Federal Census8
St. Clair County, Missouri
Monegan Township
Supervisor’s District No. 6
Enumeration District No. 229
Enumerated on the 30th day of June 1880 by Charles W. Nesbit
Sheet No. 317C, Page No. 23, Lines 24-28, HH #204-212
King, A. J. W M 21 married Laborer MO TN MO
King, Nancy E. W F 21 wife married Keeping house WV VA VA
King, Mary J. W M 8/12 October daughter MO MO WV
Simms, Rebecca W F 60 mother-in-law widowed WV VA VA
Cook, Joel W M 45 single Justice of Peace disabled IL TN TN
Note: Column for disabled includes: maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled.

Dryden’s oldest son Alfred Hansford died before 1880 if we are to believe the census listing of his wife Mariah who was living in Fayette County with their four youngest children and listed as widowed.

William H. H. was now the father of seven and still living close to his brother Andrew Jackson in Elk District of Kanawha County. Jack was the father of four. Mary Jane was living in Jefferson District of Nicholas County and the mother of five children.

John Alexander who at the age of 22 was without occupation in 1870 likely died in Roscoe, St. Clair County, Missouri on 1 March 1873. Likely because a cemetery listing for the Roscoe Cemetery shows John A. SIMS son of D. and R. died 1 March 1873 at the age of 4 years. I suspect the grave marker may have been difficult to read and the age should be 24 years. The Find A Grave memorial does not include a photo of the marker and birth is listed on the memorial is 27 May 1868. I cannot access the original RootsWeb page which had the cemetery reading for John Sims in the Roscoe Cemetery and cannot trust the unsourced Find A Grave information.

The youngest of Dryden’s children, Thomas Newton SIMS was not located in the 1880 census. Per descendants of this line, he married Margaret Ann BOUDINIER on 15 March 1878 in Appleton City in St. Clair County, Missouri. No known children were born to this couple before the 1880 census.

The Years After the 1880 Census

In The Matter of Dryden SIMMS Estate, J. W. WHEELER named Thomas SIMS and Lizzie KING (daughter of Dryden) as the heirs on 12 May 1881, a full year after the 1880 census in which his wife was listed as a widow. WHEELER was appointed the administrator of the estate as Dryden had not left a will.  There was no mention of the children who had remained in West Virginia when Dryden removed to Missouri in the late 1860s.9

John W. WHEELER was unable to find any property of any character whatever belonging to the estate and it was ordered that he be discharged of his duties on Friday, August 18th, 1882.10

Alfred Hansford SIMS, who appeared to be deceased at the time of the 1880 census turned up in Buchanan County, Virginia when he married Marinda Magdaline VANCE on 1 August 1898. Alfred was 59 and Rinda was 17. They had one son George William SIMS (1899-1942). In June 1901 during the flood on the Dismal River near Whitewood, Virginia, Rinda who was pregnant with her second child went out to grab clothes from the line when a falling tree hit and killed her and her baby. After the Dismal River flood Alfred moved from Buchanan County to Paynesville on top of Bradshaw Mountain in the Sandy River District of McDowell County, West Virginia. He died soon after and was buried in Vance Cemetery at Paynesville. His son was raised by the VANCE grandparents, Alexander and Betty Harmon Vance.11

William H. H. SIMS continued to live in Kanawha County with his wife Sabina with whom he had seven children.

William Henry Harrison SIMS and Sabena Hester McCARTY ca. 1890. Courtesy of Ronald W. HURLEY, 28 January 2002.

This photo of William and Sabena needs to be dated more precisely. Circa 1890 is the year Ron gave when he shared the picture with me over sixteen years ago.

William Henry Harrison SIMS abt. 1920. Courtesy of Ronald W. Hurley, 9 February 2002.

All of William and Sabena’s children married and only one did not have children. After Sabina’s death in 1911, William was found living with his granddaughter Minnie Rebecca VANDAL and her husband John H. ORD in 1920 in Clendenin, Mason County, West Virginia. He died in Kanawha City in 1921 at the age of 78.

Andrew Jackson SIMS, father of four, was widowed in 1887 and remarried twice more. First in 1888 to Celia BROWN. She gave him a son who died in 1890 at the age of 1 year. Celia died the following year. About a year later he married Mary Savannah KEITH who gave him four more children. The two oldest died the same day at the age of 4 and 6 in 1899. Jack died in 1915 at the age of 70 in Clay County where he had lived since his second marriage.

Mary Jane SIMS and Charles Marvin MORRIS were the parents of seven children, six living. Mary Jane was likely divorced from Charles before 1886 when she was seen marrying Ebenezer MILAM. Charles Marvin MORRIS died 31 March 1889; his death was reported by his step-mother Rhoda DARLINGTON, widow of William B. MORRIS and daughter of Dryden’s sister Jane SIMS. Mary Jane had four children with her second husband before being widowed in 1906. In 1910 she married her first husband’s first cousin Hillary Jones MORRIS, a son of Lenard MORRIS mentioned earlier. The marriage did not last as Hillary was seen marrying again in 1918 with his marital status being divorced. Mary Jane went back to using MILAM, her second husband’s surname. She died in 1936 shortly before her 85th birthday in Charleston, Kanawha County.

Nancy Elizabeth SIMS had ten children, eight of whom were living in 1900. Nancy died before the 1910 census, likely between 1904-1906. Her husband Andrew Jackson KING was found in the 1910 census but not in 1920 or 1930. He died in 1936 in Roscoe, St. Clair County, Missouri per his death record.

Between 1880 and 1894 Thomas Newton SIMS and his wife had seven children, one of whom died as a baby. Per a handwritten obituary found on a descendant’s tree, he was the father of ten, six were living when he died on 3 March 1896. The three children who pre-deceased him are unknown at this time. Also surviving him was one sister per the obituary. The person who wrote it did not know he had four siblings still living in West Virginia. Thomas’ death was likely attributed to blood poisoning he developed when he cut his leg with an ax while chopping wood according to his granddaughter Georgiana Rae EVERHART (1908-2005). The obit claims he had been in poor health for two years. Thomas’ widow moved to Henry County, Missouri before 1900, remarried about 1905, moved to St. Louis County, Missouri by 1910, and died there in 1927.

A nice collection of photographs of William H. H. SIMS and his family were shared with me by Ron HURLEY. I have only shared two of these in this post as the rest were not identified at the time. I plan on sharing the photos in a future post.

The last installment will be for George Washington “Wash” SIMS, the youngest child of James SIMS and his second wife.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Dryden SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. 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, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  3. R.C. and Beverly Bays Steele, Descendants of Thomas Bays (1798-1886), page 3. (https://books.google.lu/books/about/The_Descendants_of_Thomas_Bays_1798_1886.html?id=PYUxAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y : accessed 27 August 2018) 
  4. 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, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, imagea 24 + 25 of 67, page 9, line 30, Dryden Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  5. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_963; Image: 304; Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District; image 63 of 93; Sheet No. 371A, lines 23-30, HH #412-412, Dryden Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2018). 
  6. 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_1365; FHL Film: 805365; West Virginia, Nicholas County, Nicholas District; image 80 of 118, Sheet No. 1004, Page No. 86, Lines 14-21, HH #770-578, Dryden Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  7. 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_807; FHL Film: 552306; Missouri, St. Clair County, Chalk Level, image 15 of 22; Sheet No. 430B, Lines 19-23, HH #101-98, Dryden Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  8. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, 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: 714; Missouri, St. Clair County, Monegan; image 23 of 27; ED No. 229, Sheet No. 317C, Page No. 23, LInes 24-28, HH #204-212, A. J. King household. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  9. “Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9LM-36NZ?cc=2399107&wc=QZ9D-HPN%3A1328143201%2C1328162674 : accessed 25 August 2018), St Clair > Administrator bonds, letters, settlements, 1867-1890, vol A5 > image 184 of 327 > right page > 1881 Dryden Sims administrator bond; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. 
  10. “Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99LM-3P6Z?cc=2399107&wc=QZ9D-7FH%3A1328143201%2C1328145386 : accessed 25 August 2018), St Clair > Probates, 1878-1888, vol D-E > image 209 of 684 > right page, 4th entry > 1882 Dryden Sims final settlement; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. 
  11.  Quintin Dale Vance, Wanda Rizpah Green, Edna M. Horne, David Vance and family, published 1985, page 35. Quoted by one of the authors, Wanda Green (1937-2006) in an email received 2 December 2002. 
Advertisements

52 Ancestors: #9 Sarah Ann WOOD 1827-1887 – Her Husband Came From Outer Space

52ancestorsHope that caught your eye! No, I’m not convinced that one of my ancestors was an alien from another world. After last week’s entry about my most frustrating brick wall, William A. W. DEMPSEY, I had to do something to lighten things up before I go on with his wife Sarah’s story.

This is my 9th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #9 Sarah Ann WOOD 1827-1887

Sarah Ann WOOD was born about 1827 in (present day) Fayette County, West Virginia, the third child of Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER who were married in 1825 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.

In 1885 Elijah WOOD named his nine living children in order of birth in his last will and testament. Sarah was named third after Allen Alexander and Amanda Jane; Mary Salina was named fourth. Allen, Amanda, Sarah, and Mary were born between 1825-1830 per the 1830 census when the family was living in Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia. Allen was their first child born nine months after the marriage in October 1825 per the 1900 census. The 1840 census numbers are consistent with the 1830. There are no birth records for this time period so I have to trust the census for an estimate of when the children were born.

I am puzzled by the fact that the family was enumerated in Greenbrier County in 1830 as the area that they lived in was part of Nicholas County at that time. Or did they move out of that area for a short time? Sarah’s great-grandfather Bailey WOOD first settled in Woodville (also known as New Haven, Westlake and now Ansted) in the 1790’s when the area was part of Greenbrier County. Due to the changing county lines it fell to Nicholas County in 1818 and then Fayette County in 1831.
[See this nifty interactive map on the formation of the Virginia counties.]

I’m multi-lingual and sometimes the right term in English just doesn’t want to come to me when I need it. There is a wonderful German word to describe the vital records for the time period that my Sarah lived in: lückenhaft (incomplete, sketchy, fragmentary, scrappy, gappy). When documentation is “lückenhaft” and your ancestor fits into the gaps found between the records it’s disappointing. Looking on the bright side, it is encouraging to find records for siblings and other relatives to put things into perspective.

Sarah marries and begins having children

When Sarah was about 16 years old her sister Amanda Jane married Joshua J. PARRISH on 1 June 1843 in Fayette County. The marriage record [right page, entry 8] was found at West Virginia Vital Research Records (my #1 favorite free site).

Sarah was most likely the next of Elijah and Rachel’s children to marry. She married William A. W. DEMPSEY about 1846 as we see Wm. A. W. age 28 and Sarah A. age 22 in the 1850 census with their oldest child Elizabeth Rachel age 3 and James Alexander age 1. The young family was living in HH#85, in the immediate area of Sarah’s parents in HH#94, in Fayette County.

1850census
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > 14th District >Sheet 336B
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0943unix#page/n275/mode/2up%5D
In the 1850’s Sarah gave birth to three more children: Mary Virginia in June 1854, Eunice J. on 1 May 1855, and John Henry on 7 November 1857. The closeness of these births makes me wonder if she may have had more pregnancies between 1849-1854, children who did not survive.

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

In 1860 the family was living in the household of the widower John A. McGRAW and his three motherless children. John’s deceased wife Nancy M. McGRAW (maiden name McGRAW) was Sarah’s double first cousin once removed. I would like to think that the families were living together because Sarah was helping with the care of the widower’s children who had lost their mother in 1855. I believe that the families may have been living together for several years. Both families had sons named James. Sarah’s son James was seen with only his middle name, Alexander, possibly an attempt to avoid confusion as the boys were close in age. That same year Sarah gave birth to her sixth child, my great-grandfather, William Henderson DEMPSEY, born on 14 September 1860.

Sarah’s husband is arrested as a rebel

During the Civil War while pregnant with her youngest child Elijah Lewis (b. 19 October 1862), Sarah’s husband William A. W. DEMPSEY, a farmer and citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, was arrested as a rebel by the Union army. He had left home on the 18th of May 1862 to get work in the valley when he heard firing at the Court House. He gave the names of his brothers-in-law Simpson Wood, Styris Wood, and G. W. McVay of the Oil Works as references as well as saying he knew Hamilton of Hawks Nest. James B. Hamilton was well known and his marriage linked him to the large WOOD family. He had married Sarah’s first cousin Matilda Wood in 1853.

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

The Difficult Years Following The Civil War

Times were hard for Sarah and her family following the Civil War. Sarah’s mother Rachel died in the 1860’s and her father Elijah remarried. About 1867 Sarah’s husband William was killed in a logging accident leaving her with a passel of children aged between twenty-one and five. Her oldest child Elizabeth Rachel “Lizzie” DEMPSEY married Robert HUGHES, a widower, in 1868.

The family is dispersed

Sarah still had six children to feed and raise. The extended WOOD family came to her rescue. The family was scattered at the time of the 1870 census. James was living with his Aunt Amanda Jane (WOOD) PARRISH:

1870censusjames
1870 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 147B
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1686unit#page/n296/mode/1up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]
Eunice and John were with their grandfather Elijah WOOD:

1870censusjohn
1870 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 144A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1686unit#page/n289/mode/1up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]
Elijah, the youngest, and his mother Sarah were with his aunt Turzey (WOOD) NEAL:

1870censussarah
1870 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 148A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1686unit#page/n297/mode/1up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]

William, age 10 at the time and working as a farm laborer, was living with the Abraham “Abram” FORSYTHE family. Mr. FORSYTHE was first married to Sarah HENDRICK (d. 1859) and second to Mary WESTLAKE in 1862. Both Abram’s brother Samuel and Mary’s sister Mathilda were married into the large WOOD family.

1870censuswm
1870 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 147A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1686unit#page/n295/mode/1up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]
Lizzie was with her husband, raising his two motherless boys from his first marriage and their own son.

1870censushughes
1870 U.S. Federal Census > West Virginia > Fayette > Falls of Kanawha > Sheet No. 111A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1686unit#page/n223/mode/1up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]

Sarah’s daughter Mary Virginia, about 16 years old at the time, was not found. She was in the area as she was the next of Sarah’s children to marry. She married John A. SNELL (1850-1897) on 16 September 1872 in Fayette County.

Two marriage licenses found for Sarah

A few months later Sarah had an offer to marry as a marriage license was taken out on 27 November 1872 in Fayette County, West Virginia, for James B. REID born in Scotland, widowed, son of Wm & Mary, and Sarah Ann DEMPSEY, widowed, daughter of Elijah WOOD. Geraldine Dempsey Workman believed that this marriage did not take place as there was no minister’s return. This would make sense as several weeks later, on 14 January 1873, Sarah married John M. FOX. The marriage licenses were found on the same page of the marriage register. [Reid line 17; Fox line 32]

Sarah’s children were growing and coming of age to marry. Eunice J. DEMPSEY married John Isaac SCAGGS (1841-1903) on 11 May 1873 and James Alexander “Buck” DEMPSEY married Mary E. SADDLER (1855-1920) on 25 December 1874, both marriages in Fayette County. This left her with her three youngest sons still unmarried in 1880. John and Elijah were living with their grandfather Elijah WOOD:

1880censusjohn
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 104A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801402unit#page/n209/mode/2up : acccessed 3 Mar 2014]
and my great-grandfather William, adopted, was with the John CAMPBELL family. No record has been found to show that this was a legal adoption.

1880censuswm
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Mountain Cove > Sheet No. 114A
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801402unit#page/n229/mode/2up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]
In earlier research some confusion was caused by the presence of a grandson named Charles A. DEMPSEY in the 1880 household of John Fox and his second wife Sarah. Since Sarah first marriage was to a Dempsey one could assume that the grandson was the son of one of her children. But he was not. This is a lesson to those who do not look at all the persons involved in their ancestors lives. Charles was the son of John Fox’s eldest daughter Mary and her husband Seton B. DEMPSEY. To date no relationship has been found between the families of Sarah’s first husband William DEMPSEY and Seton B. DEMPSEY.

1880censussarah
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Mountain Cove > 105C
[online https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18801402unit#page/n211/mode/2up : accessed 3 Mar 2014]
Sarah’s son James Alexander was living next door to her in the above.

Sarah’s youngest sons marry in the early 1880’s

Following the 1880 census Sarah saw her youngest sons marry their life partners. John Henry DEMPSEY married Amanda Ann “Mandy” McCLUNG (1864-1938) on 22 February 1882; Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY married Octavia Dell INGRAM (1866-1923) on 19 October 1882; and my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY married my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM (1868-1940) on 1 October 1884.

Sarah and her father Elijah die a year and half apart

In 1885 Sarah’s father Elijah WOOD passed away. Sarah followed him a year and a half later on 1 April 1887 [2nd entry]. It is believed that she is buried in Good Luck Cemetery also known as Fox-Wood Cemery on Chestnutburg, Ames Hgts Rd. 1.75 mi. off Rt. 19, Fayette County, West Virginia. She was survived by six or seven children, about 20 grandchildren, and her second husband John M. FOX who died 12 January 1896. Sarah’s seven children gave her a total at least fifty grandchildren, although about seven did not live to adulthood, and nearly 180 great-grandchildren.

Flat rock tombstone may be Sarah’s

MRIN08669 S C Fox Stone at Fox Cemetery
Fox tombstone courtesy of Becky Fox

Lyle LeMasters wrote in December 2000 that he believed that my great-great-grandmother Sarah Ann Wood Dempsey Fox is buried in the old cemetery on the old Chestnutburg Road now known as the Old Mill Creek Road. The Foxes are buried at the very top of the hill and different families are buried in lines coming down the hill. The Wood family graves are about the 3rd or 4th row down the hill. The graves are all facing east to meet the rising sun. He further said that her stone is like the old Fox stones, a rock tombstone in the ground and roughly carved initials and years in the stone. She is not buried with the Foxes but is buried down along the line of the Woods graves. The reason that he believes that this is her stone is that she was the only one that came close enough to fit. His aunt Becky Fox shared a photo of the marker with me.

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