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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bestwishescathy1

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

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

52 Ancestors: #38 William DEMPSEY, son of Susannah of Amherst County, Virginia

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #38 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#38 William DEMPSEY abt. 1779-bef. 20 Jun 1836

On 29 June 1835, the Lynchburg Virginian published a notice concerning the death of the wife of William DEMPSEY.1

DSCN2259
The Lynchburg Virginian, June 29, 1835, p. 3, c. 2.: Photocopy of page from microfilm roll #6 of the Lynchburg Virginian from Aug 18, 1834 to July 28, 1836.

Norma Barnett Dempsey found the article referenced in Marriages and Deaths from Lynchburg, Virginia Newspapers, 1794-1836 [by Lucy H. M. Baber Louise A. Blunt, and Marion A. L. Collins, Genealogical Publishing Co. 1980, page 174]. She located it using the microfilm reader at the Roanoke Public Library in the late 1990s.

William DEMPSEY was supposed to be somewhere in the state of Ohio at the time this notice was published. We do not know why he was in Ohio or if he ever returned to Amherst County, Virginia. More records may one day be found. William may have been away from home for quite some time and was presumed dead.

A year after the notice of Mrs. Martha DEMPSEY’s death, the estate of her husband William DEMPSEY was being administered by their son Wilson M. DEMPSEY. William apparently died intestate (without a will) and a certificate was granted to his oldest son Wilson to obtain letters of administration. Wilson entered into and acknowledged a bond together with Peter RUCKER.2

The state of Virginia has no estate packets or probate packets. If the administrator didn’t act correctly, the offended party could bring suit in chancery. The scanned chancery records for the county of Amherst are not available on the Library of Virginia site. [Update: Amherst County digital images available for the years 1779-1869 as of January 2021.]

Norma did a wonderful job of finding the records documenting how the estate was handled.

20 June 1836 – Administrator bond
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Wills of Amherst County, Virginia 1796-1919 Vol. 1 A-D
page 28; Book D Wills
(Library # VR 929.3755 Am47w D29a)
129 Wm.Dempsey
9:228 AB Wilson Dempsey and Peter Rucker, June 20, 1836, for WD

DSCN2260
Amherst Co Va Will Book 9 1834-1838 page 228 (photocopy provided by Norma)

Know all men by these presents that we Wilson Dempsey and Peter Rucker
are held and firmly bound unto Edmund Penn, Ambrose Rucker, James Powell, Arthur B. Davies, John [illegible], William H. Garland and Henry I. Rose Gentleman Justices of the Court of Amherst County sitting and to their successors in Office in the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars current money of Virginia to which payment will and truly to be made we bind ourselves and each of us and each of our heirs, executors and administrators jointly and severally firmly by these present is sealed with our seals and dated this 20th day of June (1836) one thousand eight hundred and thirty six and in the 60th year of the Commonwealth.
The conditions of this obligation is that if the said Wilson Dempsey administrator of the goods, chauses and credits of William Dempsey deceased do make a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the goods chauses and credits of the said deceased which have or/ shall come to the hands possession or knowledge of him the said Wilson Dempsey or into the hands or possession of any other person or persons for him and the same so made do exhibit into the County Court of Amherst when he shall be there unto required by the said Court and such goods chauses and credits do well and truly administor according to Law and further to make a just and true account of his actings and doings therein when thereto required by the said Court and all the rest of the said goods chauses and credits which shall be found remaining upon the account of the said administrator the same being first examined and allowed by the Justices of the said Court for the time being shall deliver and pay unto such persons respectively as entitled to the same by Law. And if it shall hereafter appear that any last Will and Testament was made by the deceased and the same be proved in Court and the executor obtain a certificate of the probate thereof and the said Wilson Dempsey do, in such case being required to render and deliver up his letters of administration then this obligation to be void else to remain in full force                         W. M. Dempsey (seal)
acknowledged in open court                        Peter Rucker (seal)

At a  Court held for Amherst County on the 20th of June 1836.
This bond was acknowledged in open court by the parties therein and ordered to be
recorded.                               Teste
Robert Lindsey

Note: The photocopy was cut off on the left side. While transcribing the deed the missing words were added by comparing it with other deeds of the same period.

15 May 1837 – Inventory3
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Wills of Amherst County, Virginia 1796-1919 Vol. 1 A-D
page 28 – Book D Wills
(Library # VR 929.3755 Am47w D29a)
129 Wm.Dempsey
9:315 Inv. $88.32, May 15, 1837. Lee Millner, Wm. B Shepherd, Wm. B.Toler.

DSCN2263In obedience to an order of the County Court of AMherst we have proceeded to appraise the personal Estate of William Dempsey decd as shown to us by WIlson Dempsey, admr.
2 Beds, Bedstead and furniture 10.001
1 Bed, Bedstead and furniture 5.00
1 Chest 0.25
1 Trunk 0.25
1 Flax Wheel 0.25
1 Cotton Wheel 1.25
1 Desk & Book Case 5.00
1 Chest 1.50
Plates, Knives and forks 0.25
Lot Earthenware 0.75
Shot Gun 4.00
Loom 0.25
Safe 0.13
Skillet & lid 0.12
Lot Castings 4.00
Cags 0.37
Lot Pewter 2.00
Wire Sifter 0.25
Lot Chairs 1.00
Hand Saw & Draw Knife 1.00
7 old Hoes 1.00
1 Auger and 2 Chissels 0.50
1 Lot old Irons 0.50
2 old Plows 0.50
1 old culling Knife & Steel 0.25
2 New Trace Chains 0.50
1 Black Cow & Calf 15.00
1 Red Cow & Calf 15.00
1 Pot Rack 0.50
1 Copper Still 15.00
2 Pad Locks 0.25
1 Axe 0.25
2 flat Irons and trivet 1.00
1 Coulder 0.20
1 Iron Wedge 0.25
Total $88.32

8 Aug 1839 – Dempsey to Hicks deed4
Deed Book X (Amherst County, Virginia); page 239:
lists 5 names on Dempsey to Hicks land deed. August 8 1839. Wilson M., Seton Y., W. G., Louisa, and Eliza Dempsey.
Note: The deed reads “two and three fourths acres.” Did they only sell 2 3/4 acres to Nelson Hicks?

July 19, 1841 Administrator’s Accounts5
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Wills of Amherst County, Virginia 1796-1919 Vol. 1 A-D
page 28 – Book D Wills
(Library # VR 929.3755 Am47w D29a)
129 Wm.Dempsey
10:368 AA from 1828; accts of Wilson M. and Westley G. Dempsey — for the family in 1835. July 19, 1841: W. L. Saunders and Pitt Woodroof.

DSCN2262July 18, 1842 Administrator’s Accounts6
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Wills of Amherst County, Virginia 1796-1919 Vol. 1 A-D
page 28- Book D Wills
(Library # VR 929.3755 Am47w D29a)
129 Wm.Dempsey
11:82 AA William M. Dempsey acct.–Wilson M. & others–business trip to King William; land rent by Wilson M. Dempsey, same for Westley G. and Seaton Y. Dempsey, Admr. is called Wm. M. at end in summary Ju1y 18, 1842.

DSCN2264croppedThe estate of William Dempsey In account with William M. Dempsey (sic, Wilson M. Dempsey)
This sum paid John B. Duncan 5.00
paid Lewis Harrison 0.75
paid sheriff Amherst 1838 0.67
paid ditto ditto 1839 2.42
paid ditto ditto 1841 1.12
paid Peter Rucker 1.35
paid William Coleman 4.57
Paid Peter Rucker 1.50
amount my expenses to & from King William County on business for Est. 7.87
paid Pitt Woodroof & Addison Taliaferro 4.00
Total $29.25

May 16, 1842 and August 18447
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, Amherst County Va. Deeds 1761-1765
page 18 Deed Book
(Libray # VR 929.3755 Am 47d D29a)
183. 16 May 1842 Seaton Y. Dempsey to Jno. J. Morgan $175 int. in est. of William Dempsey dec’d– 1/6th of 330a. Aug. 1844, to —.

May 27, 18448
Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, Amherst County Va. Deeds 1761-1765
Vol. # 5
page 15 Deed Book Z
(Library # VR 929.3755 Am 47d D29a)
163. 27 May 1844 Seaton Y. Dempsey 1, Patrick Drummond 2, Wilson M. Dempsey 3, $1.00 Stock, tools, crops.

January 20, 18459
Deed Bk. AA (Amherst County, Virginia)
Page 368:
Jan. 20 1845,  …210 acres by bid to Wilson M. Dempsey from William Dempsey dec’d. (Note: 210 acres would be 4 times 55 acres; Wilson is buying Wesley, Isham, Louisa and Eliza’s share; Seaton’s share went to Jno. J. Morgan)

August 31, 184810
Amherst County Circuit Court Chancery Files
No. 2 1841-1849
page 448
#431
Sixth Day August 31, 1848 Thursday Amherst County
Wilson M Dempsey_____________________________________Plaintiff
against
Isham C Dempsey, Seaton Y Dempsey, Wesley G Dempsey, Patrick Rowsy and Eliza his wife, Simeon A Burch and Louisa his wife, Zacharias Drummond and John J Morgan, James Powell Sheriff of the County of Amherst Young & Meem ___________Finley and ___________and Morgan ___________Defendants
This cause came on this day to be heard upon the papers formerly read and the report of the commissioner Zach Drummond made in the pursuance of the decretal order of the 7th day of November 1844 and was argued by consul. Upon consideration whereof the court doth ratify and confirm the said report except so much thereof as relates to the portion of Seaton Y Dempsey. The courts being of opinion that the lien of Young & Meem to said Seaton’s portion of the fund is superior to that set up by the said Drummond doth adjudge order and decree that the said Zacharias Drummond do pay to Young & Meem the sum of ninety six dollars and seventeen cents with interest thereon to be computed at the rate of six per cent per annum from the 20th day of January 1846 till paid.
And the court doth further order that the said Zacharias Drummond who is hereby appointed a commissioner for the purpose do convey by deed with special warranty the lands in the bill and proceedings mentioned to the respective purchasers thereof at their several costs.
And the purposes of this suit having been attained the court doth order that the same be discontinued.

William’s wife Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM died on 27 September 1834 in Amherst County, Virginia. As seen above William never returned to Amherst and by 1848 all matters having to do with his estate had been settled. Why did Wilson M. DEMPSEY have to travel to King William County on the business of the estate? When did William DEMPSEY actually disappear? When did the family last hear from him?

In 1830, his wife Martha Dempsey is listed in the Amherst County census with her two young daughters.11 William DEMPSEY was last seen on the 1820 census in Amherst County, Virginia. He was listed as “Will Dempey.” There is no mark in the age category that he would have fit in. Was he away from home on some kind of business? “Will” was not his nickname, this was a quirk of the enumerator who wrote “Will” for every man with the name William.

Let’s jump back to the time when William was in Amherst County. Norma searched everywhere even through a box of loose papers that was accessible to the public at the Amherst County Courthouse. In this box, she found a permission slip dated 21 August 1799 signed by Susannah DEMPSEY who had no objections to her son William DEMPSEY marrying to any person that he choose (illegible due to its being crossed through – this is a close guess). I believe that when his mother signed the slip she did not know that Patsey LANDRUM would be the bride. The bride’s name was apparently added later, perhaps by another person. 

MRIN09274 1799 William Dempsey + Patsey Landrum Marriage Consent 1MARRIAGE CONSENT
This is Certify that I have no objections against
my son William Dempseys marrying to [text marked out] Patsy Landrum
provided she is willing
given under my hand this the 21. day of August 1799
Test   George Wright
Allen Cameron                     Susannah Dempsey

On the same day William DEMPSEY and Allen CAMERON, who had witnessed the permission slip, went bond on the marriage “intended shortly to be had and solemnized between Patsey Landrum (Spinster) and the above bound William Dempsey.”

MRIN09274 1799 William Dempsey + Patsey Landrum Marriage BondMARRIAGE BOND
Know all men by these presents that we William Dempsey & Allen Cameron
are held and firmly bound unto James Wood Esquire the Governor of
Virginia for the time being and to his successors in office for the
use of the Commonwealth in the sum of one hundred and
fifty Dollars current money to which payment well and truly
to be made we bind ourselves and each of us our and each of
our heirs executors and administrators jointly and severally
firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated
this 21st day of August 1799
The condition of the above obligation is such that
whereas there is a marriage intended shortly
to be had and solemnized between Patsey
Landrum (Spinster) and the above bound
William Dempsey
Now if there should be no legal cause to
obstruct the said marriage then the above
obligation to be void or else to remain in full
force and virtue
Signed & ackd                        Wm Dempsey (his mark & seal)
in presence of                          Allen Cameron (his mark & seal)
S Garland

Both of these documents show that Susannah DEMPSEY was the mother of William DEMPSEY who married Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM on 21 August 1799 in Amherst County, Virginia. Without these documents I would have believed the information given in the following:

1799marriageerror
William Montgomery Sweeny, “Marriage Bonds and Other Marriage Records of Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1800”, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1937.

Here we see that Susannah DEMPSEY is listed as “her mother,” therefore the mother of the bride. What complications this would have caused in further research! The mention of the certificate of marriage by the Rev. James BOYD (sic, FLOYD) is information not found on the permission slip or bond.12

Other than the DEMPSEY to LANDRUM marriage, there were two other DEMPSEY marriages found in Amherst County during this time period.

◉ Jane DEMPSEY (ca 1774-aft 1820) married Allen CAMERON (ca 1771-aft 1820) on 21 December 1795 in Amherst County, Virginia13
◉ Tandy DEMPSEY (ca 1777-1836) married Nancy THOMPSON (?-aft 1830) on 19 January 1801 in Amherst County, Virginia14

Notice that Allen CAMERON who married Jane DEMPSEY in 1795 was a witness on the 1799 permission slip and went bond with William DEMPSEY when he married. Could it be that Jane and William, and maybe even Tandy, were siblings?

In 1800 William and Tandy, both seen with the surname spelled DEMSEY, were on the Amherst Tax List with 1 tithable each (white male over 21 years old) and 0 horses.15

Following William’s marriage to Patsey they had six known children as seen in the records found for the estate of William DEMPSEY:

◉ Wilson M. DEMPSEY (ca. 1802-aft. 1883)
◉ Seaton Y. DEMPSEY (ca. 1803-aft. 1880)
◉ Isham C DEMPSEY (ca. 1806-aft. 1854)
◉ Wesley G. DEMPSEY (ca. 1808-1890)
◉ Louisa J. DEMPSEY (ca. 1812-1888)
◉ Eliza DEMPSEY (ca. 1815-aft. 1860)

By 1810 William and Patsey’s four older boys seen above are enumerated for the first time in the census taken in Amherst County. The image found on Ancestry is not as legible as the one found on the Internet Archive. The transcription of the census on Ancestry shows that there were also 3 slaves in the household (see arrow on the second image). There may have been a fifth son who pre-deceased his parents. Also in the household was a young woman aged between 10-16. Was she a child of William’s wife from a previous relationship, a girl hired to help in the household, or a relative?

1810censusdempsey
1810 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst (ancestry.com)

1810censusdempsey1810 U.S. Federal Census16
Amherst County, Virginia
William Dempsey
5 males under 10 yo (Wilson M., Seaton Y., Isham Coleman, Wesley G. & unknown)
1 male 26 & under 45 yo (William b. 1765-1779)
1 female 10 & under 16 yo (unknown b. 1795-1800)
1 female 26 & under 45 yo (Martha b. 1765-1778)
Numbers of Slaves: 3
Number of Household Members Under 16: 6
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 11

During the 1810s William DEMPSEY bought land in Amherst County and witnessed his neighbors’ deeds. The 330 acres of land that he owned at the time of his death was located in Buffalo Springs, Amherst County, now known as Forks of Buffalo, located twelve miles west of the present town of Amherst on U.S. Route 60. Many land deeds from 1813 to 1830 show that William shared lines with several neighbors, notably Higginbotham, Sandidge, Rucker, Coleman, Gillespie, Rowsey, and Toler.

15 June 181017
Land Purchase (120 acres)
WILLIAM WILLMORE and wife, SUSANNA, Amherst County, to WILLIAM DEMPSEY, Amherst County.  7000 pounds inspected tobacco – 120 acres. Lines:  JOSEPH HIGGINBOTHAM, BENJAMIN SANDIDGE, RACHEL ATKINSON. Witnesses:  NELSON CARTER.  To WILLIAM DEMPSEY, 20 October 1815.
[Source: Amherst County Virginia Courthouse Miniatures, The Deeds of Amherst County – Deeds Books 1-5, by Bailey Fulton Davis, A.B. Th. M., Pastor of Baptist Church, Amherst Courthouse, Virginia; page 135, #367]

1 June 181118
Land Purchase
JONATHAN C. DEVASHER and wife, ELIZABETH, Amherst County. $400  no acres.  Lines:  mouth of a branch running into Long Branch. To WILLIAM DEMPSEY, 20 October 1815.
[Source: Amherst County Virginia Courthouse Miniatures, The Deeds of Amherst County – Deeds Books 1-5, by Bailey Fulton Davis, A.B. Th. M., Pastor of Baptist Church, Amherst Courthouse, Virginia; page 43, #487]

17 June 181119
Land Purchase (96 acres)
CHARLES L. BARRETT and his wife, SARAH, Amherst County. £100 96 acres. Lines: JOSEPH HIGGINBOTHAM, Horsleys Creek, Childress’ Gap Road, WILLIAM SCHOFIELD dec’d. To WILLIAM DEMPSEY, 20 October 1815.

Note: This entry wasn’t included in the many entries Norma sent from the Amherst County Virginia Courthouse Miniatures. It is unknown if she missed it or if it was missed by Davis in his compilation.

27 January 181720
Witnesses deed
JAMES  SMITH. to heirs of my brother WIATT SMITH…for $1.00 and love; two slaves named. Witnesses: WILLIAM DEMPSEY, WILLIAM COLEMAN, BENJAMIN HIGGINBOTHAM, ROWLAND GILLESPIE.
[Source: Amherst County Virginia Courthouse Miniatures, The Deeds of Amherst County – Deeds Books 1-5, by Bailey Fulton Davis, A.B. Th. M., Pastor of Baptist Church, Amherst Courthouse, Virginia; page 117, #225]

20 October 181721
Witnesses deed
JOSEPH HIGGINBOTHAM, Amherst County, to BENJAMIN SANDIDGE, Amherst County.. .no amount; 14 1/2 acres south side Buffaloe. Lines:  the road.  Witnesses:  CHARLES L. BARRET, WILLIAM COLENA, WILLIAM DEMPSEY, DAVID CLARKSON, WILLIAM COLEMAN.
[Source: Amherst County Virginia Courthouse Miniatures, The Deeds of Amherst County – Deeds Books 1-5, by Bailey Fulton Davis, A.B. Th. M., Pastor of Baptist Church, Amherst Courthouse, Virginia; page 140, #518]

In 1820 we see William as the head of household in the census, however, he is not included in the count. Also in the household are his wife, the six known children as well as an unknown male under 10 and an unknown female 10-16.

1820censusdempsey
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst (ancestry.com)

1820 U.S. Federal Census22
Amherst County, Virginia
Will Dempey (sic)
2 males under 10 yo (Wesley G. and unknown)
3 males 10 & under 16 yo (Wilson M., Seaton Y., Isham Coleman)
3 females 10 & under 16 yo (Louisa, Eliza and unknown)
1 female 26 & under 45 yo (Martha)
2 persons engaged in agriculture

William’s sons began to marry in the late 1820s:

◉ Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married Sarah Elvira THOMAS (1809-1879) on 5 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia23
◉ Seaton Y. DEMPSEY married Clementine M. GOWING (1814-1880) on 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia24

By 1830, as was mentioned previously, William DEMPSEY was not seen in the census. His wife Martha, no longer using her nickname Patsey, had their two youngest daughters in her household. Their married sons Isham and Seaton had their own households. Young Wesley may have been with his brother Seaton. Wilson who didn’t marry until 1839 hasn’t been located.

While William’s estate was being taken care of his oldest son and young daughters, first seen with their maiden names, married:

◉ Wilson M. DEMPSEY married(1) Evalina Carolyn RHODES (d. bef. 1848) on 30 December 1939 in Amherst County25
◉ Louisa J. DEMPSEY married Simeon A. BURCH (1790-1870) on 8 October 1840 in Amherst County at the residence of her brother S. Y. Dempsey26
◉ Eliza DEMPSEY married Patrick H. ROWSEY (1814-1858) on 4 February 1843 in Amherst County27
◉ Wilson M. DEMPSEY married(2) Paulina (maiden name unknown) (1815-1881) abt 1848

After William DEMPSEY’s estate was finally settled his youngest son Wesley G. DEMPSEY married Mary HUGHES (1823-1889) on 6 May 1856 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.28

ღ ღ ღ ღ ღ

The story of my 4th great-grandfather William DEMPSEY of Amherst County, Virginia, is dedicated to Norma Barnett Dempsey and her husband Richard, my 4th cousin. I found Norma when I began researching my paternal family history on the internet in 2000. She sent me large envelopes full of copies of everything she had found on the DEMPSEY families in old Virginia. I’m amazed at her determination in researching the DEMPSEY family as her husband does not carry the Y-DNA of the line. His mother Cindy, grandmother Nannie, and great-grandmother Polina did not marry but had children to whom they gave their maiden name – DEMPSEY. Three strong single women raised their families in an era when the rights and privileges of women were limited.

This Post was Updated on 18 September 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format. Records found by Norma and mentioned in abstracts were located on FamilySearch as the collections are now available to the public. They have been cited in the footnotes. Chancery records for Amherst became available in late 2020. All sources used by Norma have been kept in the text of this post to give her credit for the preliminary work.

Several years after this was published, a new theory on the death of William DEMPSEY was formed as DNA evidence came to light. If you are interested, please continue by reading: Dempsey Research Question Crafted During the Research Planning Magic Challenge written 9 January 2021.

© 20142022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Virginia Chronicle, a historical archive of Virginia newspapers, providing free access to full-text searching and digitized images of over a million newspaper pages by the Library of Virginia, Lynchburg Virginian, Volume 13, Number 95, 29 June 1835, page 3, column 5. “—–, on the 27th September, 1834, at her residence, Mrs. Martha Dempsey, of Amherst county, Virginia. The papers in the State of Ohio are requested to publish the foregoing, for the information of Mr. William Demspey, the husband of the deceased, who is supposed to be somewhere in that State.” (https://virginiachronicle.com/?a=d&d=LV18350629.1.3 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  2. Virginia. County Court (Amherst County), “Order books, 1766-1904,” browse-only images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia, Order books 1836-1840, 1844-1848 (1840-1844 missing at time of filming), Film 1888563, DGS 8151602, image 27 of 478, page 33, 20 Jun 1836, admin bond for est. of William Dempsey acknowledged by Wilson M Dempsey and Peter Rucker, appraisers appointed. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-3S6W-S?i=26&cat=275660 : accessed 4 February 2022). 
  3. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Amherst Will Books, Vol 7-9, 1827-1838 > image 589+590 of 651, Will Book 9, page 315-316, 15 May 1837, Wm Dempsey inventory (accessed 19 January 2018). NOTE: “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983 > https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/ is not available in Ancestry‘s catalog. It is only viewable using a backdoor link. The collection “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1900” is available and searchable at https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62347/ but the quality is poor compared to the first. 
  4. Virginia. County Court (Amherst County), “Deed books, 1761-1900; general indexes to deed books, 1761-1903,” (database with images), FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949; citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia., Film 30294, DGS 8571075, Deed books, v. 1847-1853, image 358 of 509, Deed Book X, page 239-240, 8 Aug 1839, Wilson M, Ceaton Y., Wesley G., Louesia, and Eliza Dempsey to Nelson Hicks, 2 and 3/4 acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3Q1-K91D-F?i=357&cat=282807 : accessed 15 May 2022). 
  5. Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983, Amherst Will Books, Vol 10-12, 1838-1852 > image 191 of 831, Will Book 10, page 368, administrator’s accounts of Wilson M.and Westley G. Dempsey – for the family in 1835. 19 Jul 1841: W. L. Saunders and Pitt Woodroof (accessed 19 January 2018). 
  6. Ibid., Amherst Will Books, Vol 10-12, 1838-1852 > image 257 of 831, Will Book 11, page 82-83, administrator’s accounts of the estate of Wm Dempsey from 1838-1842, 18 Jul 1842 (accessed 15 May 2022). 
  7. Amherst County Deeds, Film 30295, DGS 8316258, Deed books, v. Y-Z 1841-1846, image 102 of 623, Deed Book Y, pages 183-184, 16 May 1842, Dempsey to Morgan, 55 acres (1/6 of 330 acres). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRY-XQLZ-G?i=101&cat=282807 : accessed 14 May 2022). 
  8. Ibid., Film 30295, DGS 8316258, Deed books, v. Y-Z 1841-1846, image 388 of 623, Deed Book Z, pages 163-164, 29 May 1844, an indenture: Seaton Y Dempsey of the first, Patrick Drummond of the second, and Wilson M. Dempsey of the third. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRY-XQ2V-4?i=387&cat=282807 : accessed 14 May 2022). 
  9. Ibid., Film 30296, DGS 8571076, image 200 of 623, Deed Book AA, page 368, 20 Jan 1845, Drummond to Dempsey, 210 acres, highest bidder on tract, acknowledged 21 March 1849. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3Q1-T9QH-P?i=199&cat=282807 : accessed 10 May 2022). 
  10. Chancery Records of Virginia, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Local Government Records Collection, Virginia Memory (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/), Amherst Court Records, Amherst County Chancery Causes 1779-1912, W M Dempsey/Wilson M Dempsey v. Isham C Dempsey etc Zachariah Drummond etc, 1848-003 (36 pages). (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=009-1848-003 : accessed 28 October 2020). 
  11. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Nara Roll M19_194, FHL Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst County, page 506 (double-page spread), line 6, Martha Dempsey (accessed 19 Feb 2013). 
  12. “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, Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 724 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 437, 5th entry from bottom of page, Aug 1799, William Dempsey and Patsey Landrum married by James Floyd. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-N8P3?i=723 : accessed 21 Jan 2021). 
  13. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 392 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 106, 21 Dec 1795, Allen Cammeron (sic) and Jane Dempsey (Dempsie in parenthesis above her name), parent or guardian of wife is “Spencer, Thomas” giving consent. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-NZV4?i=391 : accessed 13 September 2022). 
  14. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 435 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 149, 19 Jan 1801, Tandy Dempsey and Nancy Thompson, securities Charles Thompson and S. Garland. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-NCVQ?i=434 : accessed 13 September 2022). 
  15. The Virginia Genealogist (magazine), John Frederick Dorman (Editor), Vol. 5-6 (1961-62), page 82. 
  16. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 66, FHL Film 0181426, image: Vam252_66-0309, Virginia, Amherst County, page 296, line 10, William Dempsey (accessed 31 September 2015). 
  17. Amherst County Deeds, Film 30289, DGS 8140711, image 547 of 633, Deed Book L, page 367, 15 Jun 1810, Willmore to Dempsey deed. 120 acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKW-FQMF-P?i=546&cat=282807 : accessed 10 May 2022). 
  18. Ibid., Film 30289, DGS 8140711, image 607 of 633, Deed Book L, page 487-488, Devasher to Dempsey, no acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKW-FQ9J-P?i=606&cat=282807 : accessed 15 May 2022). 
  19. Ibid., Film 30289, DGS 8140711, images 606+607 of 633, Deed Book L, page 486-487, 17 Jun 1811, Barrett to Dempsey, 96 acres. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKW-FQ9J-P?i=606&cat=282807 : accessed 10 May 2022). 
  20. Ibid., Film 30290, DGS 8316257, image 545 of 733, Deed Book N, page 225 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRY-XQZM-4?i=544&cat=282807
  21. Ibid., Film 30290, DGS 8316257, image 658 of 733, Deed Book N, page 518 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRY-XQH1-F?i=684&cat=282807
  22. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_131, Virginia, Amherst County, page 191 (handwritten), sheet 24 (stamped), line 4, William Dempsey (accessed 19 November 2004). 
  23. “Virginia, Marriages 1740-1850,” (index-only), Ancestry, citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, Precision Indexing Publishers, Bountiful, Utah. Two marriages are listed: 1. Coleman Dempsey and Elvina Thomas married on 5 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and 2. Coleman Dempsey and Sarah E. Dempsey married on 6 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. I am assuming that it is the same marriage and different dates refer to bond, license, and/or return. 
  24. Amherst Marriages 1763-1853, Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 589 of 786, Amherst County Register of marriages, page 301, entry 2, 3 Jan 1829, Seaton Y Dempsey and Clementina Gowing, security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 26 February 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 647 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 359, first entry, 30 Dec 1839, Wilson M. Dempsey and Carolyne Rhoads, father Reuben Rhoads, security or witness Edward Rhoads. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZ6Y?i=646 : accessed 26 February 2022). 
  26. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 652 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 364, 3rd entry, 8 Oct 1840, Simeon A. Burch and Louis Demsey, brother of Louisa: Seaton Y Dempsey, witnesses: John A. Staton, Clementine Dempsey, and W. S. Saunders. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-NZB1?i=651&cat=680855 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  27. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 668 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 379, 6th entry, 4 Feb 1843, Patrick H. Rowsey and Eliza Dempsey, Seaton Y Dempsey security. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZ8C?i=667&cat=680855 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  28. Rockbridge County (Virginia) County Clerk, Birth records, 1853-1896 and marriage records, 1782-1913; general indexes to marriage & birth registers, 1778-1918, FamilySearch, Film 33799 (Item 3), DGS 7579057, Register of marriages (licenses), 1854-1866 (original), image 235 of 329, 1856 Marriage Licenses, right page, 4th entry, license 14 Apr 1856, Wesley G. Dempsey & Marry Hughes married 6 May 1856 by Rev. J. James Largent. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-2BFK?i=234&cat=473852 : accessed 7 May 2022). Note: daughter of Thomas Hughes, deceased, affidavit of A. Entsminger that she is above 21. 

52 Ancestors: #20 Seaton Y. DEMPSEY abt. 1803-bet. 1880-1890

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #20 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#20 Seaton Y. DEMPSEY abt. 1803-bet. 1880-1890

It is my belief that my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s middle name was Younger after Captain Younger LANDRUM, who served during the American Revolutionary War and may have been Seaton’s mother’s uncle. This is supported by the fact that a great-grandson Edgar Younger DEMPSEY also had this unusual middle name.1 But, until I find proof, he is Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.

Martha “Patsy” LANDRUM (1778-1834) and William DEMPSEY (1779-bef. 1836) were married in 1799 in Amherst County, Virginia.2 Seaton was their second child born abt. 1803 in the same county. He had the following siblings:

Sib 1: Wilson M. DEMPSEY (1802-1883) born abt. 1802; married(1) Evalina Carolyn RHODES ( -1848) on 30 December 1839 in Amherst County, Virginia;3 married(2) Paulina _____ (1815-1881) abt. 1848
Sib 3: Isham Coleman DEMPSEY (1806-1854) born abt. 1806; married Sarah Elvira THOMAS (1809-1879) on 5 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia4
Sib 4: Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890) born abt. 1808; married Mary HUGHES (1823-1889) on 6 May 1856 in Rockbridge County, Virginia5
Sib 5: Louisa J. DEMPSEY (1812-1888) born abt. 1812; married Simeon A. BURCH (1790-1870) on 8 October 1840 in Amherst County, Virginia, at the residence of S. Y. DEMPSEY6
Sib 6: Eliza DEMPSEY (1815-aft. 1860) born bet. 1815-1820; married Patrick H. ROWSEY (1814-1858) on 4 February 1843 in Amherst County, Virginia7

Seaton and his family were neighbors of Benjamin SANDIDGE who first exploited Buffalo Springs, the sulphur springs situated in the foothills of northern Amherst County, near Allwood. “In an 1820 tavern bond, Sandidge pledged to provide a wholesome diet, clean lodging and stabling, no unlawful gaming, and no more drinking than was necessary on Sunday.”8

Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Landon S. GOWING, father of Clementine, went bond on 3 January 1829 for the marriage of Seaton and Clementine.9

1829bond
1829 Marriage Bond (photocopy courtesy of Geraldine Dempsey Workman)

In the Register of Marriages for Amherst County, Virginia, we see that Landon S. GOWING was security and Phillip SMITH Sr. and Robert TINSLEY were witnesses for the marriage of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine GOWING on 3 January 1829.10

1829marriage
Register of Marriages, Amherst County, Virginia (LDS Film 30273, pg. 301)

Following his marriage, Seaton was seen with his young wife Clementine and a male aged 10 and under 15 years in the 1830 census.11 This young man was most likely his brother Wesley. Their mother, not their father, was enumerated with her two daughters.12 The 1810 through 1830 census listings and their complications will be discussed when I do Seaton’s parents’ stories.

1830censusdempsey
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst> Sheet 519 (left)
1830censusdempsey2
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst> Sheet 519 (right)

Three children were born between 1830 and 1840: George W. abt. 1831, Geneva Elizabeth abt. 1836, and William S. abt 1839. These children are reflected in the 1840 census.13 Also in Seaton’s household was a young lady 20 and under 30 years old, most likely his sister Louisa who married later in the year at his residence.

1840censusdempsey
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst > Sheet 214 (left)
1840censusdempsey2
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst > Sheet 214 (right)

Seaton’s mother died on 27 September 1834. Her death notice was published in the Lynchburg Virginian along with a request for papers in the state of Ohio to publish the same for the information of Mr. William DEMPSEY who was supposed to be somewhere in that state.14 Apparently, her husband did not see the notice and in June 1836, a year after publication, their son Wilson M. DEMPSEY was made administrator of the estate of William DEMPSEY.15 It took a dozen years to settle the estate. Deeds found by Norma Barnett Dempsey prove that Wilson M., Seaton Y., Isham Coleman, Wesley G., Louisa J., and Eliza were the children of William DEMPSEY and Martha LANDRUM.

In 1842 Seaton sold his interest in the estate of William DEMPSEY dec’d, 1/6th of 330 acres, to John J. Morgan.16 His brother Wilson bought the rest of his siblings’ share, 210 acres, in 1845.17 Wilson had quite a head for business, or profited from his first marriage, while Seaton did not appear to do as well. However, in 1850 we see Seaton, a farmer, with real estate valued at $500 while Wilson had no real estate and was an overseer. It is not known how Wilson disposed of the 275 acres that he had from his father’s estate.

In the 1840s four more children were born to Seaton and Clementine: Thomas G. abt. 1840, John J. abt. 1843, Mary M. abt. 1845, and Martha Ann abt. 1847. They were enumerated with Seaton and Clementine in the 1850 census of Amherst County, Virginia.18

1850censusdempsey
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Amherst > Sheet 76 > HH#40 [ancestry.com : accessed 19 Feb 2013]
Before his last child was born Seaton saw his oldest son George W. marrying Rhoda A. STATON on 20 December 1852 in Amherst County, Virginia.19 The following year Julia Victoria, the baby of the family, was born. Seaton’s second-oldest son William S. married Mary Elenor CLEMENTS on 26 April 1857 in Amherst County, Virginia.20 Seaton’s first grandchild Clementine was born in Amherst County abt. 1857 to his unmarried daughter Geneva Elizabeth.

Sometime following the above events Seaton and his brother Wilson moved their families from Amherst to Fayette County in western Virginia. This was the late 1850s and tension over slavery had begun to disrupt Virginia. Was this the reason they moved farther west or the promise of a better life? They established their homes in the Laurel Creek area. Later the place would be known as Dempsey, a quiet little community situated in a valley just five miles west of Fayetteville, called Laurel Creek by some of the residents from the stream of water that flows through it.

In 1860 Seaton had only $100 of personal estate while his brother Wilson is seen with real estate valued at $1000, personal estate valued at $8000, and 9 slaves.21,22,23 Wilson may have used his personal funds to set up the country store operated by his only son John Edward “Ed”. The store, one of two in the area, was the location of the first post office established in 1865 giving the community its name – Dempsey.

1860censusdempsey
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Fayette > Fayetteville > HH#687&688

The 1860 census listing is a bit confusing. Seaton is seen with his wife Clementine and in the next household, his oldest son George is with his wife Rhoda, their son Seaton A. and his siblings Thomas G., John J., Mary M., Martha A. and “Juda” V. I believe that George was living on his father’s farm.

Three of Seaton’s sons died during the Civil War or immediately following the war: John J. died on 3 April 1864, William S. between August 1867 and February 1868, and Thomas G. between 1865 and 1870.24,25

There were not only deaths during this decade. Following the war Seaton’s daughters began to marry:

Martha Ann “Matties” married George L. “Little George” JOHNSON (1846-1874) on 20 September 1866 in Fayette County, West Virginia26

Geneva Elizabeth “Jennie” “Janie” married Marshall S. TERRY (1843-1920) bet. 1866-1869 in Virginia27

Mary M. DEMPSEY married Irvin Lewis INGRAM (1846-1910) on 23 May 1867 in Fayette County, West Virginia28

This left only Julia Victoria, age 16, at home with her parents in 1870.29 Seaton had acquired real estate valued at $500 and had $130 in personal property. Also in his household was a man named Joseph Hardy, a farmer with real estate valued at $1500 and personal property valued at $180. Could the enumerator have forgotten to fill in the household number which would have made this man the head of his own household?

1870censusdempsey
1870 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Fayetteville > Page 39 > HH #257-256 [ancestry.com : accessed 19 Feb 2013]
Seaton’s youngest daughter Julia Victoria married Joseph Henry PRESSON (1850-1934) on 3 June 1872 in Fayette County, West Virginia.30

Seaton, his wife Clementine, their daughter Mary and her husband Irvin INGRAM were on the church rolls of Loop Creek Baptist Church in 1875. The church was located in the Wriston community area on the south bank of Loop Creek at the mouth of Carter’s Branch.  M. Bibb, W. P. Walker, Eli Wood, and Washington McGraw were the brethren of the fourth oldest Baptist church in Fayette County when it was formed. The Loop Creek Baptist Church of Christ was constituted in August 1865 by a presbytery appointed by the Hopewell Baptist Church. The church was organized with a membership of 19. Religious services were held in the homes of the faithful until a church could be built.31

1880censusdempsey
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > ED 27 Sheet HH #

In 1880 Seaton and his wife Clementine were alone, all living children being married and on their own.32 Victoria, as she was usually known, was living next door to her parents. She was with her husband Joseph Henry PRESSON and their children.33 Martha Ann “Matties” was widowed and remarried on 18 July 1880 to Joseph Henry ARBAUGH (1853-1927) in Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia.34

No death record has been found for Seaton Y. DEMPSEY. I believe that due to the fact that he was not mentioned in the chancery records concerning the estate of his brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY he may have died before 1890.35 There is a possibility that Seaton and/or Clementine were living at the time of the 1900 census but were not enumerated as was the case of their daughters Mary (Irvin INGRAM) and Victoria (Joseph PRESSON).

I am very grateful to Norma Barnett Dempsey who shared all of her DEMPSEY research with me after I first contacted her in April 2000. Not only did she research the DEMPSEYs in Amherst, she also looked into other DEMPSEY families in Virginia and West Virginia in hopes of finding a connection. Norma’s husband descends from Seaton Y. DEMPSEY through his oldest son George W. DEMPSEY and then through three generations of strong DEMPSEY women who passed on the DEMPSEY name to their children.

This Post Was Updated on 15 May 2022Missing source citations were added and some corrections were made to the text and format.

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


  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983746, image 2071, Certificate of Death 16546, Edgar Younger Dempsey, died 21 Feb 1944, Leevale, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983746/0002071.gif : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  2. “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, Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 724 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 437, 5th entry from bottom of page, Aug 1799, William Dempsey and Patsey Landrum married by James Floyd. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-N8P3?i=723 : accessed 21 Jan 2021). 
  3. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 647 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 359, first entry, 30 Dec 1839, Wilson M. Dempsey and Carolyne Rhoads, father Reuben Rhoads, security or witness Edward Rhoads. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZ6Y?i=646 : accessed 26 February 2022). 
  4. “Virginia, Marriages 1740-1850,” (index-only), Ancestry, citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, Precision Indexing Publishers, Bountiful, Utah. Two marriages are listed: 1. Coleman Dempsey and Elvina Thomas married on 5 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia and 2. Coleman Dempsey and Sarah E. Dempsey married on 6 March 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. I am assuming that it is the same marriage and different dates refer to bond, license, and/or return. 
  5. Rockbridge County (Virginia) County Clerk, Birth records, 1853-1896 and marriage records, 1782-1913; general indexes to marriage & birth registers, 1778-1918, FamilySearch, Film 33799 (Item 3), DGS 7579057, Register of marriages (licenses), 1854-1866 (original), image 235 of 329, 1856 Marriage Licenses, right page, 4th entry, license 14 Apr 1856, Wesley G. Dempsey & Marry Hughes married 6 May 1856 by Rev. J. James Largent.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-2BFK?i=234&cat=473852 : accessed 7 May 2022). Note: daughter of Thomas Hughes, deceased, affidavit of A. Entsminger that she is above 21. 
  6. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 652 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 364, 3rd entry, 8 Oct 1840, Simeon A. Burch and Louis Demsey, brother of Louisa: Seaton Y Dempsey, witnesses: John A. Staton, Clementine Dempsey, and W. S. Saunders. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-NZB1?i=651&cat=680855 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  7. Ibid., Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 668 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 379, 6th entry, 4 Feb 1843, Patrick H. Rowsey and Eliza Dempsey, Seaton Y Dempsey security. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZ8C?i=667&cat=680855 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  8. Sherrie McLeRoy and William McLeRoy, More Passages: A New History of Amherst County, Virginia, Heritage Books, 1995, page 77. 
  9. Virginia, Amherst County, A collection of loose papers at the Amherst County Courthouse, Marriage Bond dated 3 January 1829 Seaton Y Dempsey and Landon Gowing bound for the marriage of Seaton Y Dempsey and Clementine Gowing, copy of original obtained by Geraldine Dempsey Workman from the Clerk Circuit Court Amherst County before 1997. 
  10. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Amherst County Register of marriages, page 301, entry 2, 1829 Jan 3, Dempsey Seaton Y and 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 26 February 2022). 
  11. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Nara Roll M19_194, FHL Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst County, page 519 (double-page spread), line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey (accessed 19 February 2013). 
  12. Ibid., Virginia, Amherst County, page 506 (double-page spread), line 6, Martha Dempsey (accessed 19 Feb 2013). 
  13. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8057/), 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, FHL Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst County, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey (accessed 19 February 2013). 
  14. Virginia Chronicle, a historical archive of Virginia newspapers, providing free access to full-text searching and digitized images of over a million newspaper pages by the Library of Virginia, Lynchburg Virginian, Volume 13, Number 95, 29 June 1835, page 3, column 5. “—–, on the 27th September, 1834, at her residence, Mrs. Martha Dempsey, of Amherst county, Virginia.
    The papers in the State of Ohio are requested to publish the foregoing, for the information of Mr. William Demspey, the husband of the deceased, who is supposed to be somewhere in that State.” (https://virginiachronicle.com/?a=d&d=LV18350629.1.3 : accessed 7 May 2022). 
  15. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62347/), citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Amherst Will Books, Vol 7-9, 1827-1838 > image 545 of 651, page 228, administrator’s bond, Wilson Dempsey and Peter Rucker for the estate of William Dempsey (accessed 19 January 2018). 
  16. Virginia. County Court (Amherst County), “Deed books, 1761-1900; general indexes to deed books, 1761-1903,” (database with images), FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949; citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia., Film 30295, DGS 8316258, Deed books, v. Y-Z 1841-1846, image 102 of 623, Deed Book Y, pages 183-184, 16 May 1842, Dempsey to Morgan, 55 acres (1/6 of 330 acres). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRY-XQLZ-G?i=101&cat=282807 : accessed 14 May 2022). 
  17. Ibid., Deed books, v. AA-BB 1847-1853, Film 30296, DGS 8571076, image 200 of 623, Deed Book AA, page 368, 20 Jan 1845, Drummond to Dempsey, 210 acres, highest bidder on tract, acknowledged 21 March 1849. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3Q1-T9QH-P?i=199&cat=282807 : accessed 10 May 2022). 
  18. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern, page: 76A (stamped), lines 1-9, household 40-40, C. Y. Dempsey (accessed 13 February 2013). 
  19. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 784 of 786, left page, 5th entry from bottom, Geo W Dempsey and Rhoda A. Staton married 20 Dec 1852. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZMP?i=783 : accessed 21 January 2021). 
  20. Amherst County (Virginia) County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1854-1920, 1974-1977; indexes to marriages, 1854-1970,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Amherst County Courthouse in Amherst, Virginia., Film 1888584 Items 3-4, DGS 7735324, Marriage registers, v. [2-3], 1854-1900, image 54 of 525, page 25-26, 12th entry, 26 Apr 1857, William S Dempsey and Mary Elenor Clements, citing Amherst County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-F88F?i=53 : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  21. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653, FHL film 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page 142, sheet 317, lines 28-37, households 1352-687 and 1353-688, Ceton Y and George Dempsey (accessed 19 February 2013). 
  22. Ibid., Roll: M653_1344, FHL Film 805344, Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page 50, sheet 360 (not written on the sheet, see previous 359 and next 361), household 364-327, lines 7-12, Wilson M. Dempsey (accessed 19 Feb 2013). The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. “.” 
  23. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Virginia, Fayette County, DIstrict 1, page 2, column 2, lines 11-19, Wilson M Dempsey (accessed 28 Aug 2015). 
  24. Robert J. Driver, Jr., The Confederate Soldiers of Rockbridge County, Virginia: A Roster, McFarland, Aug 23, 2016, p. 75, Dempsey, John J. and Dempsey, William S. (https://books.google.lu/books : accessed 31 March 2018) 
  25. Robert J. Driver, Jr., 58th Virginia Infantry, Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1990, p. 102, Dempsey, Thomas G. 
  26. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 241, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1865-1866, page 3, line 33 of 45, 20 Sep 1866, George L. Johnson and Martha Ann Dempsey, citing Fayetteville. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00241.jpg : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  27. Per the 1870 census Geneva Dempsey was living in the household of Marshall Terry and using his surname. The 1910 census shows that they had been married 41 years (married about 1869) while the 1900 census showed 34 years (married about 1866). This could mean they married between 1866 and 1869. However, when their daughter Ella was born in 1871 a note that the parents were not married was made to the register. Further, in May 1872 a son was born out of wedlock with no father named. 
  28. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764/, image 244, Fayette County, West Virginia, Register of Marriage 1867, page 6, line 14, Irvin Ingram and Mary M. Dempsey, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00244.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  29. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1686; FHL film 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 39, sheet 132A (stamped), lines 21-24, household 257-256, Seton Dempsey (accessed 25 January 2022). 
  30. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 259, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1872, page 19, line 18, 3 Jun 1872, Joseph H Presson and Julia V Dempsey, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00259.jpg : accessed 28 February 2022). 
  31. Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia), database created from microfilm copies of the Beckley, West Virginia, newspaper, Ancestry, Historical Newspapers Collection, Wednesday Morning, 31 March 1965, page 4, Yesterday and Today, column by Shirley Donnelly, “Loop Creek Church Dates From Civil War”. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/51098/images/News-WE-BE_PO.1965_03_31-0004 : accessed 5 Feb 2021). This article gives the history of Loop Creek Church and includes the names of Seaton and Clementine Dempsey and Irvin and Mary Ingram. 
  32. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 027, page 31, Sheet 28C, lines 13-14, household 264, Seaton Y. Dempsey (accessed 25 January 2022). 
  33. Ibid., Roll: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 027, page 31, Sheet 28C, lines 15-19, household 265, Henry H. Preyston [sic, Presson] (accessed 25 January 2022) 
  34. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 279, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Marriages 1880, page 38, line 29, 18 Jul 1880, Jos H. Arbaugh and Martha A. Johnson, citing Fayette County. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00279.jpg : accessed 27 February 2022). 
  35. Chancery Records of Virginia, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Local Government Records Collection, Virginia Memory (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/), Rockbridge County (Va.) Chancery Causes 1781-1931, W H Maxwell & wife v. Admr. of W G Dempsey etc, 1895-044, original case number 205.625, 185 images, citing original records housed at the Rockbridge County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=163-1895-044 : accessed 15 March 2013).