52 Ancestors: #17
Rachel HONAKER, wife of Elijah WOOD
My 3rd great-grandmother Rachel HONAKER, one of eight children of Frederick HONAKER and his second wife Rachel WISEMAN, was born about 1804 (1850 age 46, 1860 age 56) in Monroe County in Old Virginia, now West Virginia. Besides her two brothers and five sisters, she also had two half-brothers and two half-sisters.
The Honaker Family Association (HFA)
Before I get into how I know that my Rachel HONAKER was the daughter of Frederick and Rachel, I want to introduce you to the National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families, Inc.
Which Rachel was the daughter of Frederick HONAKER?
On 24 April 2014 Lyle LeMasters wrote the following to me:
I had a time trying to convince the Honaker Family that [our] Rachel was from this line. Her half and full siblings sold their part of Frederick’s land and she was listed in the deed records right in the middle of the rest of their deeds. The Honaker association finally accepted her as the daughter of Frederick with the deed. It just goes to show not to stay focused on your specific ancestor but the whole group of related or possible relations….. [I underlined for emphasis.]
As he wrote above Lyle was able to clear up part of a mix-up concerning several ladies named Rachel HONAKER in 2001. The HFA considered him the research authority on the WOOD line and wrote the following in their supplement:
“There is mass confusion among Rachels here. Researchers reported that this and two other Rachels married William Brown in Monroe Co., W.Va. The others were this Rachel’s niece, Rachel (Frederick, Jacob) and her cousin Rachel (Jacob). Present evidence is sufficient to determine that this Rachel married Elijah Wood. We are unable to determine now which of the other Rachels married William Brown. To further complicate things, Elijah Wood married, second, Rachel Louisa McGraw prior to the 1870 census.” [Source: The Honaker Family in America, 5 October 2001 Supplement, Chapter 3 – Frederick Honaker]
Even this explanation is confusing as we see two men named Jacob. One of them was Frederick’s brother and the other was Frederick’s son. The brother Jacob left a will in Russell County, Virginia, naming his children [Christeny Jones, wife of John Jones, Nancy Smith, wife of John Smith, Mary Penson, wife of John Penson, Elizabeth May, wife of John May] but no daughter named Rachel, single or married to William Brown. I believe that the elder Jacob was confused with Frederick’s oldest son Jacob who had a daughter named Rachel. But we are interested in Frederick’s daughter Rachel who married Elijah WOOD.
Rachel’s father Frederick HONAKER left a will (images 149 and 150) naming all of his children, several being underage. He wrote his will on 20 [or 30] November 1824. It was presented in December Court 1824 and proven in January Court 1825. Rachel married Elijah WOOD on 4 January 1825 [line 6]. The following month Elijah and Rachel WOOD sold her part of her father’s estate as seen in:
Monroe County, (West) Virginia Deed References: 1825 Elijah & Rachel Wood to Andrew and George Beirne Deed Bk H pg 218
The description says land only.
Rachel Honaker Wood’s brother Jacob sells land in 1825 to Andrew and George Beirne in Deed Bk H pg 219 Int Frederick Honiker Land
This Indenture made this 21st day of February 1825 between Elijah Wood and Rachel his wife late Rachel Honiker of the one part and Andrew & George Beirne & Co of the other part the first named parties of the County of Nicholas and latter of the County of Monroe each of the state of Virginia Witnesseth that the said Elijah ?(middle initial can’t make it out) Wood and Rachel his wife for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid by the said Andrew and George Beirne & Co on or before the delivering of these presents the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged have granted bargained and sold and by these presents do grant sell and convey unto the said Andrew and George Beirne & Co their heirs and assigns forever all that part or parcel of land lying and being in the said County of Monroe which was devised to the said Rachel Wood formerly Honiker by the will of said Frederick Honiker decd be the same more or less with such appurtenances as may be thereunto belonging & at the same time subject to such restrictions as are mentioned in the will aforesaid and the said Elijah Wood & Rachel his wife for themselves and heirs do covenant with the said Andrew & George Beirne & Co and their heirs the land with its appurtenances aforesaid from themselves & their heirs & from all other person or persons whatever to the said Andrew & George Beirne & Co & their heirs or assigns will warrant and forever defend.
In witness whereof the said Elijah Wood & Rachel his wife have hereunto set their hands and seals the day & year first written. Elijah Wood seal Rachel her x mark Wood
Monroe County Clerks Office 22nd Feb 1825 This deed of bargain and sale from Elijah Wood and Rachel his wife to Andrew & George Beirne & Co was acknowledged before the Clerk and the same is admitted to be recorded. Teste Isaac Hutchinson C.M.C.
This proves that Rachel HONAKER who married Elijah WOOD was the daughter of Frederick HONAKER. I don’t have a copy of this deed which Lyle LeMasters found and transcribed helping him to have the mixup corrected in The Honaker Family in America. On my wishlist: copies of the entire batch of deeds that pertain to Frederick HONAKER’s estate.
Rachel’s life as a wife and mother
In twenty years, from 1825 to 1845, Rachel gave birth to eleven known children. By 1830 she had a son Allen Alexander and three daughters, Amanda Jane, Sarah Ann, and Mary Salinas. Two sons, James Simpson and Elijah Stuart, and three daughters, Turze Lucresia, Nancy E., and Rebecca Ann, brought the number of children up to nine in 1840. In the 1850 census, we see two more sons, William Frederick and Lewis L. All have been documented as seen in Elijah’s story.
According to the 1850 census, unlike her husband Elijah who would become Justice of the Peace from 1852-1858, Rachel could not read & write.
Rachel was last seen in the 1860 census. She died sometime during the 1860s decade as Elijah is seen with his second wife Rachel Louisa McGRAW in the 1870 census. Unless the Elijah WOOD family kept a family bible that was passed on to an unknown descendant, we will probably never know exactly when Rachel died as many records during this era were lost due to the Civil War.
In my research I’ve found 71 grandchildren, 276 great-grandchildren….and still counting.
Please don’t hesitate to submit corrections, additions, or comments. They are always welcome!
New generation — 3rd great-grandparents — 8 sets on my paternal line, one set is unknown. This will get me through another 14 weeks!
52 Ancestors: #16 Elijah WOOD abt. 1806-1885
I’ve never thought of Elijah WOOD as being a brick wall. While preparing his story I realized that I don’t have anything that shows [or proves] that my 3rd great-grandfather was the son of William WOOD (1777-1835) and Mary Ann McGRAW (1781-1845).
1825 – First Record Found for Elijah WOOD
Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER were married by John CAMPBELL on 4 January 1825 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia. The entry in the marriage register does not give the names of the bride and groom’s parents. [line 6]
Elijah and Rachel had 4 children by the time the 1830 census was taken: Allen Alexander (1825-aft.1900), Amanda Jane (1826-aft. 1885), Sarah Ann (1827-1887), and Mary Salinas (1829-bef. Aug 1901).
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia
Enumerated as of 1 June 1830
Sheet No. 209A&B
1 male under 5 yo (Allen Alexander)
1 male 20 & under 30 yo (Elijah)
3 females under 5 yo (Amanda Jane, Sarah Ann, Mary Salinas)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Rachel)
6 person in household
On the 2nd day of October 1835 Elijah and Amos WOOD were administrators at the sale of the personal property of William WOOD. At the sale, Elijah bought one foot adz, plank per hundred, one stone hammer, one shovel, and one mooly (sic, muley) bull.
Elijah and his wife had 5 more children by the time the 1840 census was enumerated: Turze Lucresia “Turzey” (1832-bet. 1885-1888), James Simpson (1833-1887), Nancy E. (1835-1898), Elijah Stuart “Sty” (1836-1921), and Rebecca Ann (1840-1866).
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Enumerated as of 1 June 1840
Sheet No. 149A&B
2 males under 5 yo (James Simpson, Elijah Stuart)
1 male 10 & under 15 yo (Allen Alexander)
1 male 30 & under 40 yo (Elijah)
2 females under 5 yo (Nancy E., Rebecca Ann)
1 female 5 & under 10 yo (Turze Lucresia)
3 females 10 & under 15 yo (Sarah Ann, Amanda Jane, Mary Salinas)
1 female 30 & under 40 yo (Rachel)
11 persons in household
2 persons engaged in agriculture
Shirley Donnelly wrote a column published in the Beckley Post-Herald (West Virginia) entitled “Yesterday and Today”. On 28 April 1975 his article “River Towns Full of History” included the following about land in the Lansing area that Elijah WOOD sold in 1841 [this needs to be researched; 11/26/1858 Elijah Wood to Eliza A. Townsend Bk E pg 282 Nr Chestnutburg – this deed may reference back to the 1841 land sale]:
“Lansing….is an old Fayette County settlement. It is located on the Chestnutburg road that runs out of Ansted and into the Edmond community. It is near where the high bridge is now under construction over New River Gorge. The land at Lansing was first owned by Elijah Wood of the Ansted area. Wood sold some of his land in the Lansing section to John Townsend in 1841.”
In 1845 Amos WOOD wrote his last will and testament and named his brothers Elijah and Allen as executors. The handwritten pages 107-110 in the Book of Wills, where Amos’ will would be found, are missing however this collection of records was also typed up at one time and added to the back of the will book.
Elijah and his wife had their two youngest children in the 1840s: William Frederick (1842-1916) and Lewis L. (1845-bef. 1885). Their three oldest daughters married: Amanda Jane married Joshua J. PARRISH on 1 June 1843; Sarah Ann married William A. W. DEMPSEY abt. 1845; and Mary Salinas married George A. McGRAW on 1 June 1850.
His oldest son Allen Alexander was working as a blacksmith in Greenbrier County in 1850.
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District, Sheet 337A
Enumerated by me on the 26th day of July, 1850. T. B. Hamilton, Ass’t Marshal.
Elijah Wood 43 M Farmer $700 Virginia
Rachel Wood 46 F Virginia cannot read & write
Turze Wood 18 F Virginia attended school
Simpson Wood 17 M Laborer Virginia attended school
Nancy Wood 15 F Virginia attended school
E. S. Wood 13 M Virginia attended school
Ann E. Wood 11 F Virginia attended school
Wm. Wood 8 M Virginia
Lewis Wood 5 M Virginia
During the 1850s six of Elijah’s children married: Allen Alexander married Margaret Ann HOOVER on 12 February 1851; Turze Lucresia “Turzey” married John H. NEAL in 1854; Rebecca Ann married William W. RYAN on 25 December 1855; James Simpson married Ellen E. ALEXANDER on 1 Jun 1856; Nancy E. married Charles B. JOHNSON on 11 December 1856; and Elijah Stuart “Sty” married Margaret Virginia TOWNSEND before 1860.
Elijah WOOD was a Justice of the Peace in Fayette County as seen in the following bonds:
6/10/1852 Elijah Wood to VA Comwth Bond Bk D pg 332
6/15/1854 Elijah Wood to VA Comwth Bond Bk D pg 539
6/12/1856 Elijah Wood to VA Comwth Bond Bk D pg 713
[Source: Lyle LeMasters, per email 21 April 2014]
This left Elijah and his wife with only their two youngest sons living at home and attending school in 1860.
1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
District No. 2, Page No. 11
Enumerated by me on the 11th day of June, 1860. P. Morton, Ass’t Marshal.
Fayetteville Post Office, Sheet No. 321
Elijah Wood 53 M Farmer $2500 $500 Virginia
Rachel Wood 56 F Virginia
William Wood 18 M Farm Laborer Virginia attended school
Lewis L. Wood 15 M Farm Laborer Virginia attended school
There were several deaths in the family in the 1860s: Elijah’s wife Rachel HONAKER died during the decade, his daughter Rebecca Ann died 19 March 1866, and his sons-in-law, William A. W. DEMPSEY died about 1867 and George A. McGRAW about 1868.
Elijah’s son William Frederick married Martha Ann HESS on 4 February 1864. Elijah remarried before the 1870 census, however, no marriage record has been found for Rachel Louisa McGRAW and Elijah WOOD.
After the death of Elijah’s son-in-law William A. W. DEMPSEY, his widowed daughter Sarah Ann had to put her children in the care of her siblings and father. Elijah took in Eunice and John DEMPSEY.
1870 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
Mountain Cove Township, Page No. 99
Enumerated by me on the 14th day of July 1870. Wm. T. Lowry, Ass’t Marshal.
Fayetteville Post Office, Sheet No. 144A
Wood, Elijah 63 M W Farmer $1300 $350 Virginia male US citizen over 21 yo
Wood, Rachael L. 45 F W Keeping House Virginia
Dempsey, Unis 14 F W At Home Virginia
Dempsey, John 12 M W Farm Laborer Virginia
Two of Elijah’s daughters, both widowed, remarried in the 1870s. Mary Salinas married Michael Price ARBAUGH on 26 Apr 1871 and, following his death, she married Milton SIMS on 4 February 1876. Her sister Sarah Ann had planned to marry James R. REID (a marriage license was taken out on 27 November 1872 but not used) and seven weeks later married John M. FOX, a widower, on 14 January 1873.
By 1880 Elijah’s granddaughter Eunice DEMPSEY who had been living with her grandfather in 1870 had married. His grandsons John and Elijah DEMPSEY were living with him in 1880.
Also in his household was his mother-in-law Polly McGRAW. Her presence in his household has been very helpful in proving that Elijah was married twice. The age difference in the 1870 and 1880 census as compared to the 1850 and 1860 for Elijah’s wife Rachel/Rachel L. suggested that Elijah was married twice – both ladies being named Rachel. Earlier census listings for Polly McGRAW show that she was the mother of Rachel Louisa McGRAW.
1880 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
Mountain Cove, Page No. 21
Enumerated by me on the 10th day of June 1880. W. C. Miller, enumerator.
Enumeration District No. 30, Sheet No. 104A
Wood, Elijah W M 73 Farmer WV WV WV
Wood, Rachel L. W F 54 wife married Keeping house WV WV VA Wife
Dempsey, Elijah W M 17 laborer single Farm laborer WV WV WV
Dempsey, Jno H. W M 22 laborer single Works in coal yard WV WV WV
McGraw, Polly W F 72 mother-in-law widowed Keeping house WV WV WV
1885 – Elijah WOOD left a last will and testament!
Page 7 (right page) Last Will and Testament of Elijah Wood Decd I Elijah Wood in the name of God Amen do make and publish this as my last Will and Testament. First: I direct that I shall be buried in a suitable manner in accordance with my station in life. Second: I will and bequeath to my beloved wife Rachel Louisa the home place where I now live during her natural life, should she prefer that the place be sold she is to receive one third of the proceeds of sale or so much thereof as she may need for support. I also give to her one cow of her choice, one hog of her choice, one bed and my kitchen furniture. I also give to her interest on four hundred dollars of my personal estate or more if she should need it during her life. Third: I give and bequeath to my grandson John H. Dempsey my farm situate on horse shoe Creek Consisting of two tracts containing Sixty acres more or less and he is charged with the payment of one hundred Dollars to be paid to the rest of my heirs but it is my wish and I direct that he shall not be oppressed in the payment of said one hundred dollars. $100.00 Fourth: I give and bequeath to my grandson Elijah Lewis Dempsey one hundred dollars to be paid out of my personal estate. Fifth: I give and bequeath to my granddaughter Jerusha Rogers the sum of fifty dollars to be paid out of my personal estate.. Sixth: I will and bequeath all the rest of my estate to my nine living children Viz Allen A. Wood, Amanda J. Parrish, Sarah A. Fox, Mary Salina Sims, Tersey Lucresia Neal, James S. Wood and Nancy E. Johnston, Elijah S. Wood, W. F. Wood and I do make them the residuary legatees of my estate to them equally portion and portion alike. Seventh: I do appoint and constitute G. W. Imboden and James Simpson Wood my son as the executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made. Given under my hand and seal this 14th day of March ad 1885 Elijah Wood seal
Page 8 (left page) We the subscribing witnesses have this day witnessed the foregoing will signed and declared by Elijah Wood as his Will and in his presence and signed in the presence of each of us and we have signed in the presence of each other this 14th day of March 1885. Allen McGraw George L. McClung G. W. Imboden
In the office of the clerk of the county Court of Fayette County West Virginia September 23, 1885. This day the last Will and Testament of Elijah Wood late of this county deceased was presented and offered for probate by James Simpson Wood one of the Executors named in said will and after having upon oath the evidence of Allen McGraw, George L. McClung and G. W. Imboden the three subscribing witnesses thereto as to the signature of said Elijah Wood deceased to said will and the genuineness of the same. It is ordered that the said will be and the same is hereby admitted to record. And whereas the said G. W. Imboden the other executor named in said will refused to qualify as such executor the said James Simpson Wood Executor appointed and named as aforesaid Appeared and took the oath required by law and together with J. A. Taylor and F. M. McClung his surety entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of six thousand dollars conditional according to law And on motion of the said James Simpson Wood Executor as aforesaid, Wm Deitz, Franklin Hess, and Wm Martin are hereby appointed appraisers to appraise the personal estate of the said Elijah Wood deceased and report to this office according to law. Teste: E B Hawkins Clerk Fayette County Court Clerks Office September 23rd 1885 The foregoing will was this day presented in my office proved by the oaths of the subscribing witnesses thereto and admitted.
Elijah named his nine living children: Allen A. Wood, Amanda J. Parrish, Sarah A. Fox, Mary Salina Sims, Tersey Lucresia Neal, James S. Wood and Nancy E. Johnston, Elijah S. Wood, W. F. Wood. His daughter Rebecca Ann had died in 1866 and son Lewis L. may have died between 1860-1885. No trace of him was found after the 1860 census. I believe it can be assumed that Lewis predeceased his father as he is not listed as one of the living children.
Elijah made bequeaths to John and Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY, sons of his daughter Sarah Ann, and to Jerusha ROGERS, daughter of his deceased daughter Rebecca Ann.
Elijah’s death record
Elijah WOOD, a white male farmer, died on 10 September 1885 in Fayette County, West Virginia. The cause of death was “hemorrhage”. His widow Rachel L. Wood, the informant, did not give the names of his parents. [entry 73]
Getting back to his parentage
Unfortunately WOOD is a common surname in Old Virginia. I need to analyze the pre-1850 census listings for Greenbrier, Monroe, Nicholas, and Fayette counties for WOOD and WOODS. The county lines were changing as new counties were being formed in Old Virginia. Woodville, now known as Ansted, once part of Greenbrier County, fell to Monroe County in 1799, to Nicholas County in 1818 and finally to Fayette County in 1831 as the counties were formed. The image quality of the census has gotten better over the last dozen or so years and I am finding some errors in work I previously did on the census. I believe that by taking a new look, maybe even starting from scratch, could help. This project will be discussed in a later post.
I put out some feelers to see if other descendants [of Elijah WOOD; William WOOD, believed to be his father; or Bailey WOOD Sr., believed to be his grandfather] may have some keys that will help unlock and push open the door in this brick wall!
Lyle LeMasters’ work has been used as a guide by many descendants of the WOOD families in the Fayette County, West Virginia, area. He did early census work and searched for land records, wills, etc. I am happy to say that he replied right away:
Hello Cathy nice to talk to you again. There is no 100 percent proof without a will and all of the children or surviving grandchildren of a child being named. Elijah and 2 brothers being named in relationship as you stated is proof but still does not establish their parents without one of them having a death record naming their parents. The same goes for Bailey Wood Sr. and some of his children selling land in a deed as their part of Bailey Wood Sr.’s estate. This is not 100 percent proof but they would have to be heirs or entitled to sell the land. No will for Bailey Wood Sr. was found to date to establish his children. Considering they were the only Wood family in that area while the others were using Woods helps but it is not 100 percent proof. The Bailey Wood Sr. land grants and the land sold also help prove a possible relationship of his heirs but not 100 percent.
And so the research to prove the parentage of Elijah WOOD continues.
Hope 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Eunice and John were with their grandfather Elijah WOOD:
Elijah, the youngest, and his mother Sarah were with his aunt Turzey (WOOD) NEAL:
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.
Lizzie was with her husband, raising his two motherless boys from his first marriage and their own son.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
When I made the decision to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I chose to begin with my father and work my way back through the generations of my paternal line. I’m starting on his great-grandparents with this week’s contribution. They’ll take me through another 8 weeks!
52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY
My father’s cousin Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007) was the first person I know of who worked on our family tree. I have so much respect for the work she did pre-internet. In 1995 she wrote “This project started when Laura my youngest daughter had a mini course in high school at Midland Trail. The paper work was passed onto Earldine my oldest daughter. She tired of the project when the information was scarce. By that time I picked it up as a hobby. I took a night class taught by Laura’s teacher in high school. I began at our courthouse, then ventured onto other courthouses in other states.”
“Geraldine Workman of Lansing has worked tirelessly and quietly in the fields of genealogy, historical identification and preservation. She is a charter member of the Fayette and Raleigh County Genealogical Society and held numerous offices. As archivist she spends many hours researching and answering inquiries that are directed to the society. She co-authored four census books for Fayette County, invested 20 years in the preservation of the records of hundreds of cemeteries, and as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, helped identify 20 unknown Confederate soldiers buried in a local Civil War interment site. Nominated by Genealogy Society of Fayette and Raleigh Counties.”
[Source: Meet West Virginia’s History Heroes For 2001; West Virginia Division of Culture and History; online http://www.wvculture.org/history/hisher01.html : accessed 20 Feb 2014]
William A. W. DEMPSEY (b. ca. 1820-1822 d. ca. 1867)
William A. W. DEMPSEY’s parentage has remained a mystery to me for the nearly 20 years that I’ve been doing genealogy. I need a key to open the door in this brick wall.
Not only do I not know who his parents were, it’s been nearly impossible to prove family tradition with documents (that I have access to) from the time period that he lived in. He was seen on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and the 1850 and 1860 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia, with his wife and children; however a marriage record has not been located. Part of the family tradition is that he served during the Civil War and died in a logging accident after the war. No documentation has been found to confirm when he died or his cause of death. My paternal great-great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY lies in a grave marked with another man’s name! This error could lead other genealogists down the wrong path. However we are uniting in an effort to get this corrected!
I’ve suspected for several years that Geraldine applied for and placed a Civil War marker on William’s grave in the cemetery in Chestnutburg on Ames Heights Road, 1.75 miles off Route 19, Fayette County, West Virginia, for the wrong veteran.
My respect for Geraldine and her work kept me from bringing up the subject of the Civil Marker marker. I placed a remark in William’s notes in my gedcom file questioning the possibility that there was an error. Then I decided to go public and posted the photo above [I have a tiny obsession with old doors] with my findings to my Facebook page in December 2012.
This past week while preparing to write this entry for the Challenge I contacted Geraldine’s daughters. Laura confirmed that she removed the information about William’s serving in the 7th Virginia Infantry from her Ancestry.com tree last year. Laura and Earldine, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have talked about correcting the error. Earldine said her mother had told her that she may have had the wrong Dempsey long after the marker was set. However at the time it was no longer a priority as Geraldine was diagnosed with cancer.
In search of William’s parentage I studied all of the Dempsey families in the Virginia/West Virginia area during that time period hoping to make a connection. I had help from Norma Dempsey who in 2001 sent me copies of everything she accumulated in the search for her husband Richard’s Dempsey line [he descends from my other Dempsey line]. I checked on the 7th Virginia Infantry. To make a long story short, I found enough information to show that William A. DEMPSEY of Orange County, Virginia, was the man who served in Company C of the 7th Virginia Infantry and not our William A. W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County, West Virginia.
US Census 1820, 1830, 1840
Without the names of his parents it is impossible to locate William A. W. DEMPSEY in the U.S. Federal Census prior to 1850.
The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part I)
At least that is what I thought on 10 November 2007 when I found William A. W. DEMPSEY listed on the 1841 tax list of Rockbridge County, Virginia. The question I asked myself was were people taxed at the age of sixteen, eighteen or twenty-one during this time period in this county? Assuming that it was age twenty-one, William would have been born 1820 or earlier. Initials seen on the taxlist are the same as on the 1850 census in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Does William’s being in Rockbridge County mean that he may be related to Tandy DEMPSEY of Rockbridge (whose son John W. DEMPSEY also lived in Fayette County) and in turn to the DEMPSEY’s of Amherst County?
1841 Rockbridge County, Virginia, Taxlist
Name: Dempsey, William A. W.
43 – Nathaniel Gaylor’s to Cumings and Carter’s, intersecting Gilmore’s Road. Others who lived in the same road precinct:
George Agnor, Jacob Agnor, Sr., Jacob Agnor, Little Jake Agnor, John Agnor, John H. Agnor, David Entsminger, Albert Gilliat, and William T. Ruley
[Source: Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.; “A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia”; published by The McClure Co., Inc., Staunton, Virginia 1920; pgs. 380, 552]
William’s Marriage and Children’s Naming Pattern
William A. W. DEMPSEY married Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER, most likely before the Mexican-American War which began 25 April 1846. A marriage record has not been found. Their first child Elizabeth Rachel “Lizzie” was born about 1846. Following the end of the Mexican-American War on 2 February 1848 their second child and first son James Alexander “Buck” was born on 1 April 1848. Their first daughter’s middle name was the same as Sarah’s mother and grandmother. Is it possible that their first son was named for William’s father and/or grandfather?
US Census 1850
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
The 14th District, Sheet 336B
Enumerated by me on the
25th day of July, 1850.
T. B. Hamilton, Ass’t Marshal.
Wm. A. W. Dempsey 28 M Laborer VA
Sarah A. Dempsey 22 F VA
E. R. Dempsey 3 F VA
Jas. A. Dempsey 1 M VA
US Census 1860
In 1860 the family was living in the household of the widower John A. McGRAW and his three motherless children. John’s deceased wife Nancy M. McGRAW (maiden name McGRAW) was the double first cousin once removed of Sarah Ann WOOD. I would like to think that the families were living together so that Sarah could help care for the widower’s children who had lost their mother in 1855. I believe that the families may have been living together for several years. Both families had sons named James. William’s James was seen with only his middle name, Alexander, possibly an attempt to avoid confusion as the boys were close in age.
1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
District 3, Page No. 55
Enumerated by me on the 3rd day of
July, 1860. P. Morton, Ass’t Marshal.
Pleasant Hill Post Office, Sheet No. 365
John A. McGraw 45 M Farmer $2000 $100 VA
Margaret McGraw 17 F Day Laborer VA
James McGraw 11 M VA
N. J. McGraw 9 F VA
Wm. Dempsey 40 M Farmer $0 $30 VA
Sarah Dempsey 36 F VA
Elizabeth Dempsey 14 F VA
Alexander Dempsey 10 M VA
Mary V. Dempsey 8 F VA
Eunice J. Dempsey 7 F VA
John Dempsey 3 M VA
The wall is beginning to crumble!! (Part II)
The American Civil War began 4 February 1861 when William was about 41 years old. In December 2012 I found William A. W. DEMPSEY in the Union Provost Marshals’ File. What is this and why is it important?
The provost (pronounced provo) marshals served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps as military police. I found two databases: “United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866” and “Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians” on FamilySearch.com. From information about the files and their content, I learned that some cross-reference slips in the first database are stamped “PROVOST MARSHAL FILE” and show the name of a civilian and a number that cites a document in the second database.
On the lower right image:
“William A. W. Dempsey – citizen residing on Dogwood Ridge, Fayette Co., farmer, left home on the 18″. Started when they heard firing at the Court House, came down to get work in the Valley, refers to Simpson Wood, Styris Wood, and G. W. McVay, of the Oil Works, (brothers-in-law of his). Knows Hamilton as Hamilton of Hawks Nest.”
Dates mentioned in the other statements in the document allowed me to conclude that the 18th was in the month of May. James Simpson Wood and Elijah Stuart “Sty” Wood were William’s wife Sarah Ann Wood’s brothers. George Washington McVey (of the Cannelton Oil Works) may have been mentioned as a reference as he was an outstanding citizen. He was not a brother-in-law but lived in the same area as the Wood families. [See images 722, 723, 724]
The documents show that my William was taken prisoner by the Union army between May and September of 1862 and his statement proves that he was a citizen of Fayette County and living at Dogwood Ridge. Generals John B. Floyd and Henry A. Wise were in charge of the Civil War encampment known as “Camp Dogwood at Dogwood Gap” which was placed high on Dogwood Ridge, where the surrounding plateau could be easily watched. There is no mention of William’s being a member of the Confederate army.
Importance of Middle Initials
William A. W. DEMPSEY was seen with double middle initials in 1841 on a tax list, in 1850 on the census, and in 1862 on the Provost Marshals’ List. I am convinced that these initials were very important to him. Alexander may have been one of his middle names as it is a name that was passed down through the generations. Multiple middle initials might point to his having been named after a relative or an important or famous person.
Did William resemble his sons?
John Henry DEMPSEY:
Jessica Bartrum Taylor wrote, “We don’t have a photo of John Dempsey. My grandmother, Lucille Geraldine Hess Bartrum, described him as having a big handlebar mustache and being a big, tall man with black hair.”
Following the end of the Civil War in 1865 and before the 1870 census William A. W. DEMPSEY died. Geraldine wrote, “….as fate would have it Wm. A. would not live to see his family grown. We’re told by family members he was killed in a logging accident about 1867 or 1868.”
Next week I will discuss his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, their seven children, and what became of the family after William’s death.
Few families know their history as well as the descendants of Hans Jacob HONEGGER (HONAKER), a Swiss-German immigrant who sailed to Philadelphia in 1749. Credit is given to:
– Nadine W. Larson who researched Honegger’s ancestors and wrote Hans Jacob Honaker – From Switzerland to America, 1987, 249 pgs.
– Frieda Patrick Davison who edited Honaker Family in America, Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD, Copyright 1998 by The National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families
– The National Association of Hans Jacob Honaker Families as they continue to make annual updates to the above book as well as publishing a quarterly newsletter.
My line is through Hans Jacob’s son Frederick Honaker who married Rachel Wiseman. They are buried in Rehoboth Church Cemetery, Union, Monroe County, West Virginia.
**I’m hoping someday FamilySearch.org will have the images of the Swiss records online so that I can see the documents that Nadine used to add 8 generations to the HONEGGER family tree back to the 1500s.