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

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

I would like to begin this new series of notes with an analysis of the households of James SIMS and his sixteen children in the U.S. Federal Census from 1810 to 1880.

Generally, when doing census work I start with the most recent and work my way back to the earliest listing, hopefully finding the person of interest with his or her parents.

My 5th great-grandfather James SIMS died before the 1850 census. He was born in 1754 far too early to be found on a census with his parents. As will be seen, even the children of his first marriage born between 1777 and 1794 were not found with him, be it only tick marks, on the pre-1850 census. The reason being six of the eight children were already married and had their own households in 1810.

James was found on four pre-1850 census sheets: 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840. This was only possible as he was the head of a household. He died between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 18461 missing the 1850 census, which would include his place of birth, by about four to five years. However, four of his youngest children from his second marriage lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1880 census, the first to include the place of birth for parents. Three of the four children had Virginia as the place of birth for their father James SIMS. Only daughter Jane’s listing shows West Virginia which is incorrect as the state was only formed in 1863, 109 years after James’ birth.

In the weeks to come, I will be analyzing the census records of James SIMS’ sixteen children in order of birth. Today I would like to start with James’ listings.

Census Analysis for James Sims 1754-1845

The 1790 and 1800 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830, Congress passed a law requiring the return of all decennial censuses from 1790-1830. At the time it was discovered that many of the schedules had been lost or destroyed. Virginia is one of the states with a complete loss of the census schedules for 1790 and 1800.  Tax lists can be used to re-create the schedules which were lost.

1790 U.S. Federal Census substitute: 1789 Tax List

It is known that James SIMS owned land in Bath County, Virginia, and lived there before going farther west. Bath County was created in 1790 from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties.

1789 Tax List B for Botetourt County, Virginia (headings)

On 6 October 1789, James SIMS was in William Davidson’s district in Botetourt County and listed on the Personal Property Tax List B. To be a bit more certain this was the correct person I looked up Benjamin COTTON who would become James SIMS’ father-in-law in 1796. He was also found on the tax list of Botetourt in 1789.

1789 Tax List B for Botetourt County, Virginia

James SIMS was listed with 1 white, 1 black over 16 years of age, and 1 horse.2 The fact that he was a known slaveholder gives some support to this being his tax record.

1800 U.S. Federal Census substitute: 1802 Tax List
1802 Tax List for Kanawha County, Virginia (headers)

In 1802 we find James SIMS on the list of taxable property within the County of Kenhawa (Kanawha) of which Fleming Cobbs was the commissioner.3

1802 Tax List for Kanawha County, Virginia

James SIMS was listed with 1 white person over the age of 16 years and 3 horses. The two columns for blacks over 12 and over 16 are empty. The slave who was with him in 1789 would have been 29 years or older in 1802. As no slave was listed on the 1802 tax list, this brings up questions which need to be researched. Did James SIMS bring slaves with him when he moved from Bath County to Kanawha County? Or did he acquire the slaves seen in later census schedules only after 1802?

In 1802 James’ oldest sons Martin and William were also seen on this list indicating they were 21 years of age or older. In James’ household, there was one son who would turn 17 during the year, Edward born in June 1785. There is no date listed on any of the 24 pages of the Kanawha tax list.

If the tax list was drawn up after Edward turned 17 why was he not counted? Conclusive evidence that Edward was a son of James has not to date been found. He will, therefore, be included in this census work as well as future posts in relation to the James SIMS family.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

Column headers for the 1810 census of Kanawha County, Virginia.

In 1810 James SIMS was 56 years old had been married 16 years to his second wife Elizabeth COTTON. If she bore him children in the first four years of the marriage, they did not survive as no children age 10 years or older were seen on the 1810 census.

1810 U.S. Federal Census for Kanawha County, Virginia. Sheet 207A/132 (penned in) with the SIMMS households at the bottom.

In 1810 when the census was taken, James SIMS and his children were found in Kanawha County in western Virginia. Only one child, his oldest son Jeremiah (1777-1824) had remained in Bath County when the SIMS family moved to Kanawha. Jeremiah moved to Champaign County, Ohio around 1804.

1810 U.S. Federal Census, Kanawha County, Virginia

James was seen on the bottom of sheet 207A followed by his sons Martin and William from his first marriage. In James’ household were his second wife, their four children, and five enslaved persons.

1810 U.S. Federal Census 4
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 207A, Line 23
Name: James Simms
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (James Jr.)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 3 (Margaret, Sarah, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5 (Isaac, Jude, Fanny, Robert, and ?)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 11

In 1810 James SIMS had a dozen living children. Eight of these children were from his first marriage. Six of these were married and had their own households. The remaining two would marry after 1810 and did not have their own households. As each of the children are discussed in future posts we will see the two unmarried children were likely in siblings’ households.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 only James’ son John was still in Kanawha County. Had James and his married children pulled up stakes and left the area?

One of the first things I was taught when I began doing genealogy research for my American families was to consider the formation of new counties and the changing county lines of established counties.

Nicholas County, West Virginia, was originally created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on 30 January 1818, from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha and Randolph counties. This was 45 years before West Virginia became a state. The county’s boundaries were disputed and altered to its current status by another act of the Assembly on 29 January 1820. The county was named in honor of Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761-1820) who was Governor of Virginia 1814-1816.

Therefore, in 1820 James SIMS, his wife, and their minor children were found in Nicholas County on the same land he bought in 1800 in what was then Kanawha County.

1820 U.S. Federal Census, Nicholas County, Virginia

When the census was taken the information was recorded as of 7 August 1820. (As can be seen in the image above, it was not the easiest to decipher.) James was 66 years old and his wife Elizabeth was less than 45 years old (likely 36-39 as will be seen below per 1830 census). They had two sons and four daughters at home. Their oldest son James was about 19 years old and not seen in this listing. Also in the household were nine slaves, two of whom were young men 14 thru 25 years of age. Three persons in the household were engaged in agriculture. As most of the children were under 10 years old with the exception of two daughters who were 10 thru 15, the three persons engaged in agriculture could only have been James and the two enslaved men. These two men were likely Isaac SIMS and perhaps his brother Robert.

1820 U.S. Federal Census 5
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden, Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane & Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2 (unknown)
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3 (unknown)
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Jude and Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

Slaves of the Sims family, black Jude and black Fanny were members of the senior class of the Bethel Methodist Church at Poe on Laurel Creek in 1821.6 The five young male and female slaves under 14 were likely not yet born in 1810 when only five slaves were counted on the census.

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

The decade between the 1820 and 1830 census brought a change in the statistics of the family of James SIMS. His wife Elizabeth gave birth to their eighth and last child about the same time their oldest son James Jr. married Elizabeth STANLEY. This was in 1821. James was now the father of sixteen children born from 1777 to 1821. A range of 44 years.

Besides James Jr., three of James and Elizabeth’s daughters married during the decade. Margaret in 1822, Sarah in 1825, and Milly in 1826. Four children were still at home, a daughter and three young sons. James was by this time 75 years old and Elizabeth was in her late forties.

1830 U.S. Federal Census, Nicholas County, Virginia

1830 U.S. Federal Census 7
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden & Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth 46-49)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (1 of 2 seen in 1820?)
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2 (July Helen and another from 1820?)
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1 (Jude or Fanny)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1830s the last single daughter of James and Elizabeth was married as well as one of their three unmarried sons. Jane married Joseph DARLINGTON in 1831 and Dryden married Rebecca BAYS in 1837. This left two unmarried sons Charles, who had his own household, and George.

James, Elizabeth, their youngest son George, two young boys who may be grandsons, and a young slave made up the household. Four persons were engaged in agriculture. James was by this time 86 years old. Was he included in the count of working persons? It seems likely as only 5 males were in the household with the youngest being under 5 years of age.

The decline in the number of slaves in the household in 1830 to only one in 1840 can be explained. By March 1836 James SIMS had disposed of all slaves with the exception of Isaac who he emancipated in July 1836.8

The sale of one woman slave was recounted to June Settle Ciocca by Lawrence M. Huddleston in 1990. In 1833 a young girl July Hulen (per bill of sale) was sold by James SIMS to John HUDDLESTON. July Helen’s mother had been sold to the Huddlestons earlier and both mother and daughter were so heart-broken that James SIMS agreed to sell the child as well. Mr. Huddleston was in possession of the bill of sale for the young girl.9

1840 U.S. Federal Census 10
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: James Sims Sr.
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 80 thru 89: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (poss. a male age 20 thru 23 from 1830)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 1
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

James SIMS’ wife Elizabeth predeceased him and like James would not be found in the 1850 census. Elizabeth’s date of death is unknown. James lived to see his last two children marry: Charles married Minerva J. SUMMERS in 1842 and George married Margaret Jane DORSEY in 1845.

Coming next…

The census work of James SIMS and his first wife Phebe’s oldest son Jeremiah SIMS.

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

  1. The range for the date of death was explained in Rewriting the Biography: When Did James Sims Die? 
  2. 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses (Binns Genealogy, original records from Library of Virgina, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah), Botetourt, 1789 Personal Tax List B, page 13. ( : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Kanawha, 1802 Personal Tax List, image 21. ( : accessed 13 March 2018). 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 23, James Simms ( : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  5. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll M33_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. ( : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  6. William Griffee Brown, History of Nicholas County, West Virginia, Dietz Press, 1954, p. 166. 
  7. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Roll M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. ( : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  8. Isaac SIMS was featured in Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 2 and Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 3 
  9. A photo of the bill of sale for  July Hulen can be found in Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS, Part 1 
  10. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 67, page 10A+B, line 8, James Sims. ‎( : accessed 5 March 2018). 

My Elf on the Shelf Will Do Lookups

Dear international readers and followers,
you now have the ability to instantly translate my content to a language of your choice using the Google Translate Widget on the sidebar at right.

The holiday season is a bit behind schedule in our household. Yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent and the only seasonal decoration in our home is the Advent wreath.

2016-12-04adventLast July we had water damage in our master bedroom. Fortunately, it’s covered by our home insurance. Instead of having the repair work done this year and then have the other bedrooms done as planned next year, we decided to take a bite in the sour apple (in den sauren Apfel beißen) and get it all done at once. I spent two weeks, an hour or two a day, packing up everything in the bedrooms. Our closet had to be taken apart and stored in the garage. Extra furniture was given away to a good cause.

The painters came to work towards the end of November. They spent a full week removing wallpaper, doing preparation work for hanging the new wallpaper, painting, and putting in the carpet to replace the damaged one in the master bedroom.

When they were finished, we spent several days cleaning and moving our bed and closet back upstairs. We’d spent more than a week sleeping on our mattress in front of the fireplace in the living room. Sound romantic? It would be if we hadn’t had to get up early to let the painters in each morning.

Last Saturday we carried all the packed up boxes from the basement garage up two flights of stairs to the bedrooms. Stick with me, I’m coming to the reason for this post.

We’ve lived in our house for 36 years. The kids are grown and living on their own. Over the years, my genealogy material has been moved from the dining room to the living room to one or the other bedroom upstairs. As I unpack everything I’m going to finally be able to get it organized in my new office. Pictures will be coming soon.

In the meantime, I re-discovered some books I received from RMSR, a SIMS researcher who sent me her entire collection several years ago. Nearly 40 pounds of books, notebooks, and papers pertaining to her research on the SIMS line of Kanawha, Nicholas, and Fayette Counties in West Virginia.

2016-12-03shelvesWhile putting them on the shelves in my new office I thought I’d play Santa’s elf and offer a small gift to my readers. I will do lookups in the following books for the first five readers who comment below.

Lookups in these books:
Annotated 1810 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia,

Annotated 1820 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, April 1992
Annotated 1830 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, 1993
Annotated 1840 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, 1993
Annotated 1850 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, 1987
Annotated 1860 Census for Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, 1983
Published by the Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society, Inc.

Do you have ancestors who lived in Kanawha County before West Virginia became a state? These books were published between 1983-1992 and include annotations (not for all households) made by researchers who were members of the Kanawha Valley Genealogical Society.

Please leave a comment with the full name of your ancestor for my elf on the shelf. We’ll reciprocate with the entry and annotations for the person and/or family. If my elf isn’t too busy, we might even do more than five queries.


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
















Here We Go Dancing ’round the Hill

Last week I had a bit of Difficulty Getting Around the Hill. I wondered what became of several of Dennis HILL and Mary Ann BAKER’s children who seemed to disappear after 1880. Where else can information be found on this elusive family? The question led me to an amazing discover.

I was getting desperate to find information. Not only is HILL a common surname, it is also a word found in so many location names. I tried different internet search combinations. “Dennis Hill” + family + Saline pulled up first my GEDCOM and then two sites with “Dennis Hill Family Bible,” a combination I would never have thought to search. This led me to the MoSGA (Missouri State Genealogical Association) site with their Journal in PDF form – online and free.

Genealogy Happy Dance (1)

Have I mentioned lately that genealogy associations and societies have the best hidden genealogy treasures? Not everything is on the internet but some associations have begun to share their publications online.

I was doing the genealogy happy dance when I found MoSGA’s website which includes their Journal for the years 1985-2005 (more current issue are available in the Members Only section)  and their newsletter for the years 2011-2016. If you have families in Missouri don’t pass up the information you might find on them in the Journal or the newsletters.

The first article in the second issue of the Journal was a transcript of the marriage, birth, and death information found in the Dennis HILL family bible. A new key to open the door in this brick wall!

DSC_0008 1Genealogy Happy Dance (2)

Information found in the bible transcript (we’ll get it in a moment) led to a further online search which turned up another piece to the puzzle. I searched for “Timothy Hill” + Saline + 1900 and found this obituary cut from the Miami News and pasted into a scrapbook kept by Wilbert S. Myers (1871-1940) and now in the possession of The State Historical Society of Missouri.

Died, at his home in Slater, Wednesday, March 28, 1900, at 3 o’clock a.m., at the age of nearly 22-years, Arthur Timothy Hill, after 2 1/2 weeks’ illness, the result of pneumonia.
The deceased was the son of Dennis and Mary Hill and was born in Chariton County, and for 8 years up to last May lived at Miami, when he moved to Slater, where he drove a dairy wagon for Claude Fields. He joined the Christian Church at this place in 1893, and was a consistent member.
Funeral services were conducted at the family residence in Slater by Elder Shelton, and the remains were interred at the Baptist cemetery at this place Thursday, Elder Prewitt officiating.

[Source: Miami News clipping, Wilbert S. Myers diaries and scrapbook, transcribed by Meredyth Lee (Myers) Devin, used with permission]

So much information in two short paragraphs. The HILL family lived in Chariton County until about 1881 when they went to Miami in Saline County. They lived in Miami until May 1899 when they moved to Slater. We are talking about the time period between the 1880 and 1900 census!! Missing years for so many of us. Mr. Myers diaries and scrapbooks may have some tidbits for others with ancestors living in Saline County during the period.

Welcome to a journey back in time….

I wrote to Meredyth Lee (Myers) Devin and she kindly gave me permission to quote the obituary I found on her site. Her grandfather kept diaries which “preserve a way of life in a little town that really doesn’t exist anymore…..just a post office and church among the farms.” Meredith also wrote, “Like you, there are many times when I wish that he (my grandfather) had written more about certain events and more about the people of Miami, but I guess we should be grateful for what we have.” Please take a moment to leaf through Mr. Myers’ diaries on the Rootsweb site Welcome to a journey back in time…. developed by his granddaughter Meredyth Lee (Myers) Devin.

Let’s discuss what I found in the bible transcription

[Source: Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, pg. 69, “Dennis Hill Family Bible” (,_1981_edited.pdf : accessed 30 Jun 2016)] Thank you to Nancy Waller Thomas and Jenna Mills for their help in getting permission from the MoSGA to use this screenshot of the article from the Journal
The introduction to the bible transcription includes census information and the same assumptions I made about the family’s move to Missouri. The year of print of the bible places it’s purchase at 1890 or later. Which means the date of marriage and the dates of birth had to have been written down after the fact. Before I go into the ownership, let’s discuss what I found in the transcription:

    • 16 Nov 1858 – The date of marriage for Dennis HILL and Mary A. BAKER was a match with the marriage record found for Dennis CLAUNCH and Mary Ann BAKER in Gallia County, Ohio.
    • 8 Mar 1838 – The date of birth for Dennis matches what I calculated from the age at death on the cemetery record.
    • 1 Aug 1842 – The date of birth for Mary Ann BAKER – no record has be found to confirm this.
    • 18 Mar 1860 – The date of birth for John W. HILL was a match with the birth record found on
    • 4 Feb 1862 – The date of birth for Sarah E. was a match with the birth date calculated from age at death on the cemetery record.
    • 20 Jul 1864 – The date of birth for Anna was a match for day and month as seen on her death record. The year given on the death record was the same as the year of death, 1919 – an obvious mistake. Her age at death was 52 yrs 3 mos 3 dys on the death record, exactly 3 years less than age calculated from birth date in bible and death date on the death record.
    • 21 Mar 1867 – The date of birth for Ella was a match with Barbara Ellen’s birth record found on
    • 19 Apr 1871 – The date of birth for James Isaac was a match with the date seen on his death record.
    • 4 Apr 1873 – Date of birth for Ivonia – this “fits” for the child named Ida age 7 seen on the 1880.
    • 11 Sep 1876 – The date of birth for Henry A. was a match with the date seen on a descendant’s family tree on Ancestry for Albert Henry HILL.
    • 16 Jun 1878 – The date of birth for Arthur P. “fits” the child “Emety” a son age 2 years in 1880. Arthur P. in the bible entry may be a transcription error and should be Arthur T. as seen in the obituary found in Mr. Myers’ scrapbook (transcription).
    • 20 Sep 1881 – The date of birth of Zettie M. was an off-match with the date found on the grave marker (photo on FAG) of Zetta CAREY (Zettie M. HILL), exactly one year off.
    • 9 Feb 1861 – The date of death for John W. HILL was a match with the death record found on
    • 1 Jul 1892 – The date of death for Sarah E. was a match with the cemetery record.
    • 31 Jul 1893 – The date of death for Dennis matched the pension file and the cemetery record.
    • 12 Sep 1898 – Date of death for Ida V. appears to confirm Ida seen on 1880 census is the same child as Ivonia and Ida V.
    • 28 Mar 1900- The date of death for Timothy is a match with the obituary of Arthur Timothy.

The last date recorded in the bible was the death of the youngest son Timothy in 1900. At the time his mother Mary Ann, his sisters Anna Belle and Zettie May, and his brothers James Isaac and Albert Henry were still living. Four people, excluding Albert who was in Kansas as early as September 1899, could have been in possession of the bible at the time of Timothy’s death.

Last Known Owner of the Dennis Hill Family Bible

I researched Haddon HILL of Leawood, Kansas, the last known owner of the bible, to determine his relationship to the Dennis HILL family.

George Haddon HILL (1898-1980) lived in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1900 and 1910. By the time the WWI draft cards were filled out he was working on his father’s farm in Waldron, Platt County, Missouri, were he was also living in 1920. He was living in Jackson when he married Lena OBERDIEK from Platt in 1925. They lived in Kansas City in 1930 and 1940 and had two daughters.

In 1900 while Haddon was living with his parents Lee Jackson HILL (1862-1940) and Sarah Diana LUSEN (1864-1942) in Kansas City, Missouri, his grandfather Samuel Henry HILL (1817-1906), widower of Jamima WORSHAM (1864-1897), was living in Slater, Saline County, Missouri, with his son Samuel Henry Jr. and his family. The Samuel Henry Hill Sr. family came to Missouri from Lunenburg County, Virginia, after the 1880 census. Before living in Lunenburg they were in the adjoining county of Nottoway in 1850.

The history of Haddon’s family does not show a connection to Dennis HILL other than Haddon’s grandfather living in the same town as Timothy at the time of the later’s death. Interesting to note is that Algernon Archer HILL, Haddon’s uncle, also lived in Slater. He  had two sons, Sam and Claude, who owned the Hill Brothers Funeral Home from 1910-1958.

Was the family bible saved by a non-related HILL family? Following Haddon’s death, did it pass to one of his daughters or was it donated to The State Historical Society of Missouri or a similar association? Or, did Mr. Hill find a home for the bible with a descendant of Dennis HILL?

Updated List of Children of Dennis HILL and Mary Ann BAKER

  1. John William CLONCH b. 18 March 1860 and d. 9 February 1861
  2. Sarah E. HILL b. 4 February 1862 and d. 1 July 1892
  3. Anna Bell HILL b. 20 July 1864 and d. 23 October 1919
  4. Barbara Ellen “Ella” HILL b. 21 March 1867 and d. 14 March 1890
  5. James Isaac HILL b. 19 April 1871 and d. 11 February 1945
  6. Ida Vonia “Ivonia” HILL b. 4 April 1873 and d. 12 September 1898
  7. Albert Henry HILL b. 11 September 1876 and d. 12 Feb 1910
  8. Arthur Timothy HILL b. 16 Jun 1878 and d. 28 March 1900
  9. Zettie May HILL b. 20 September 1881 and d. 19 May 1967

Why Have I Gone Through This Exercise?

The main reason I wanted to learn as much as possible about Dennis HILL and his family was because I believe he may have been the oldest son of my third great-grandfather William CLONCH. Collateral lines are important to my genealogy research. You never know when you’ll find a distant cousin who has the answers to your questions.

childrenAfter the first of this series, The Mysterious Ann Eliza HILL, wife of William CLONCH, was posted Janet Webster Brown, creator of the Genealogy Bloggers group on Facebook, left this comment: “DNA testing might help resolve whether Anna Eliza was the same in both families, yes? no?” All I could say was, “I’m working on it!”

Will DNA help in getting around the hill? Join me next week when I take my first plunge into the genetic pool to figure out what I have and what I need to make DNA work.


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




































Difficulty Getting Around the Hill

In The Mysterious Ann Eliza HILL, wife of William CLONCH I brought up the question of  another child born to the marriage of my 3rd great-grandfather and his wife (not my ancestor) Ann Eliza. Their daughter Mariah Jane was mentioned in William’s last will and testament with “three dollars to Mariah Jane Patterson.” Mariah Jane and her husband John PATTERSON protested the will but were overruled.

My 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS lived with William in what may have been considered a common-law marriage. She gave him eight children, seven who lived to adulthood and were named with their mother’s surname in William’s 1863 will.

Mariah Jane was the only child outside of his DOSS children who was acknowledged by him. No other child came forward to protest the will.

gettingaroundthehillHowever there remains the question of the parentage of a child named Dennis CLONCH found living with William CLONCH’s mother Nancy in 1850. He was likely a grandchild named after his grandfather Dennis CLAUNCH who died in the 1810s leaving Nancy to raise their four known children: Elizabeth, John, William, and Sarah. Before 1850 the surname was spelled CLAUNCH, both spellings were used interchangeably for a decade or two before the CLONCH spelling became common to most members of the family in West Virginia.

Who was Dennis CLONCH and What Became of Him?

The short story is:

Dennis CLONCH was born 8 March 1838 in (West) Virginia. He married Mary Ann BAKER on 16 November 1858 in Gallia County, Ohio. They had a son John William CLONCH born on 19 March 1860 and died on 9 February 1861. The first name given to the child may have caused an earlier researcher to assume Dennis was the son of William’s brother John. Dennis began using the HILL surname after the 1860 census and before 21 February 1862 when he enlisted in the Union Regular Army at Gallipolis, Ohio. Neither Dennis CLONCH nor Dennis HILL were mentioned in the will of William CLONCH in 1863. Dennis moved to Missouri about 1871 and died in Miami, Saline County, Missouri, on 31 July 1893.

It is my belief Dennis, who switched from using CLONCH to HILL as his surname, was the son of Ann Eliza HILL and may not have been acknowledged by her husband William CLONCH. Could this be the reason they parted ways?

And this is the long story:

Dennis CLONCH may be the male child aged under 5 in the 1840 census listing for Eliza CLAUNCH found in Gallia County, Ohio, across the river from Mason County, West Virginia.

1840 U.S. Federal Census
Gallia County, Ohio
Eliza Claunch
1 male under 5 yo
1 male 5 & under 10 yo
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Eliza)

  • No male child under the age of 5 was found in the household of William CLAUNCH (the assumed father)
  • No male child under the age of 5 was found in the household (of the assumed grandmother) Nancy CLAUNCH in 1840. John CLONCH was most likely still living at home with his mother Nancy in 1840 and represented by a tick on the census listing.
  • Elizabeth CLAUNCH, the oldest child of Dennis and Nancy, married Meredith PARSONS in 1825 and was likely deceased by 1840. Her widower did not have a male child under the age of 5 in his household in 1840.
  • Sarah CLAUNCH, the youngest child of Dennis and Nancy, married William WILLIAMS in 1832. Their children are accounted for in 1840.
  • Neither Elizabeth nor Sarah, sisters of my William, would have a son who carried their maiden name as they were married at the time of Dennis’ birth.
1850 > VA > Mason >38th District > Sheet 385A > HH#333-334 > household of John W. Clark 56 with Nancy Clonch 75 and Dennis Clonch 12 (Ancestry)

In 1850 Dennis CLONCH was 12 years old and living in the same household as Nancy CLONCH.

1850 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, (West) Virginia
The 38th District, Sheet No. 385A
Enumerated by me on the 14th day of August, 1850. C. B. Waggener, Ass’t Marshal.
HH #333-334
John W. Clarke 56 M Laborer Virginia cannot read & write
Nancy Clonch 75 F Virginia cannot read & write
Dennis Clonch 12 M Virginia

Note: The relationship between Dennis and Nancy is not mentioned on the census however the ages suggest a grandchild/grandparent relationship.

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 Jul 2013), Dennis Claunch and Mary Ann Baker, 1858.

On 16 November 1858 Dennis CLAUNCH, who was four months shy of 21,  and Mary Ann BAKER went across the Ohio River to Gallia County, Ohio, to marry. The record does not mention places of residence, names of parents, or places of birth. After their marriage they were found back in Mason County with their son John W. who was three months old.

1860 > (W)VA > Mason > District 2 > page 23 > HH#188-164 > household of Dennis Claunch (Ancestry)
1860 > (W)VA > Mason > District 2 > page 23 > HH#188-164 > household of Dennis Claunch (Ancestry)

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, (West) Virginia
Township: Murcers Bottom P.O. Page: 851
HH #188-164
Dennis Claunch 23 M Laborer 0 55
Mary A. Claunch 18 F
John W. Claunch 3/12 M

Their son’s birth and death were recorded in the registers of Mason County under the name CLONCH. His death was reported by his grandfather William BAKER on 9 February 1861. His age was erroneously listed as 9 yrs 9 months 20 days; he was only 10 months and 22 days.

On 21 February 1862 Dennis HILL, no longer going by CLONCH, enlisted in Gallipolis, Ohio, in the Regular Army 19th Infantry Regiment (Union). His rank at enlistment was Private. Born in Virginia, he was 23 years old, blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion, and 6 feet tall. He was given a disability discharge on 2 April 1862 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Following his discharge Dennis returned to Mason County to his wife and baby daughter Sarah who was born on 4 February 1862,  seventeen days before her father was recruited. In 1870 the family was living in Clendenin, Mason County, and had grown to include Dennis 28, Mary A. 26, Sarah C. 8, Mary E. 6, and Barbra 4. The image of the census page is very light still the surname HILL can be deciphered.

1870 > WV > Mason > Clenendin > page 42 > HH #305-307 > household of Dennis Hill (Ancestry)

The family likely moved to Missouri after the birth of son James Isaac on 19 April 1871 and before the birth of daughter Ida about 1873. In 1880 they were found in Chariton County.

1880 > MO > Chariton > Mendon > Sheet 600B > HH#14-14 > household of Dennis Hill (Ancestry)
1880 > MO > Chariton > Mendon > Sheet 600B > HH#14-14 > household of Dennis Hill (Ancestry)

1880 U.S. Federal Census
Chariton County, Missouri
Mendon, Sheet 600B
Hill, Dennis W M 40 married WV VA VA
Hill, Mary A. W F 36 wife married WV VA VA
Hill, Sarah F. W F 18 daughter single at home WV WV WV
Hill, Amanda W F 16 daughter single at home WV WV WV
Hill, Barbara E. W F 13 daughter single at home WV WV WV
Hill, Isaac W M 9 son single WV WV WV
Hill, Ida W F 7 daughter single MO WV WV
Hill, Albert W M 4 son single MO WV WV
Hill, Emety W M 2 son single MO WV WV

MRIN00501 Hill, Dennis and Mary A.
Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934; Name: Dennis Hill; State Filed: Missouri; Widow: Mary A. Hill

In December 2009 I was contacted by a researcher about Dennis CLONCH and Mary Ann BAKER in my database. The couple had the same date of marriage as his daughter-in-law’s ancestors Dennis HILL and Mary Ann BAKER.

He’d obtained the Civil War Pension documents relating to Mary A. HILL’s application for a federal pension on her husband Dennis HILL’s service. The file included an affidavit from the attending physician relating the time and place of death, 31 July 1893 in Miami, Saline County, Missouri.

In the package was also a certified copy dated 1897 of the marriage record of Dennis HILL and Mary Ann BAKER for their marriage in Gallia County, Ohio, on 16 November 1858. When he found my information he thought it was a clerical error (on my part or the county clerk) and after checking with me he requested verification from the county. I never heard back from him. In the meantime I found the marriage record which confirmed the surname was CLAUNCH at the time of marriage and not HILL. I contacted him June 26 and am waiting for a response.

The date of death found in the pension file was confirmed by a cemetery reading of Miami Cemetery, Miami, Saline County, Missouri, compiled by Shirley Haynes & Avlyn Conley and available as a PDF online (page 37 of 92). My annotations to the information are in brackets.

  • Hill, Dennis d. 31 Jul 1893 Aged 55 yrs 4 mos 23 ds.
  • Hill, Sarah E., dau of D. & M. A., d. 1 Jul 1892 aged 30 yrs 4 mos 25 ds
  • Hill, Bernard W. b. 6 Aug 1906 d. 19 Jul 1915 [s/o James I.]
  • Hill, Etta B. 1874-1952 [wife of James I.]
  • Hill, James I. 1871-1945 [son of Dennis]

After Dennis HILL’s death I tried to follow his children. Some were not traceable while others led to some interesting finds.

  1. John William CLONCH 1860-1861. Died at less than a year of age.
  2. Sarah E. HILL 1862-1892. Seen as Sarah C. in 1870, Sarah F. in 1880, and Sarah E. on cemetery reading. Apparently never married.
  3. Anna Bell HILL 1865-1919. Seen as Mary E. in 1870, Amanda in 1880, and Annie in 1900. A death record confirmed her name was Anna Belle and daughter of John (sic) HILL and Mary BAKER. The first name of the father was not a match however she was found in the 1900 census, listed as Annie WANNAMAKER, a widow, and sister of head of household James Isaac HILL. She had a daughter Corinne, born in August 1895 per 1900, who married a widower and raised his daughter. Corinne and her husband did not have any children of their own.
  4. Barbara Ellen HILL 1867-?. Her birth on 21 March 1867 was recorded in Mason County, West Virginia. Seen as Barbra in 1870 and Barbara E. in 1880. No marriage or death record found.
  5. James Isaac HILL 1871-1945. He was found in 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census in Saline County, Missouri, where he married Etta Belle NICHOLS in 1903. His 1945 death record confirms he was the son of Dennis HILL. He had three sons with his wife, one is known to have died young.
  6. Ida HILL 1873-?. Seen only in the 1880 census. No marriage or death record found.
  7. Albert HILL 1876-1910. Seen as Albert in 1880. He married about 1898 Blanche FORQUER, whose parents had moved to Saline County, Missouri before 1900. No marriage record was found. Albert was in Bruno, Butler County, Kansas, in 1900 and in Sedgwick County, Kansas, for the 1905 state census. He died in Sedwick in 1909 or 1910 (discrepancy found, no death record), in any case, prior to the census. His widow was seen with four children in 1910, the youngest would die soon after (the 3rd of 3 to die bet. 1905-1910). By 1915 she’d married a widower Charles H. WAUGH and gave him a son in 1915. They were in Sedgwick for the 1920, 1925, and 1930 census. Albert and Blanche’s son, Robert A. went to California by 1928, was in Los Angeles in 1930. By 1940 his brother Clifton G. had joined him in Bernadino County. Robert died 1965 and Clifton in 1961 in Bernadino County. It is not known what happened to the oldest child, a daughter Bessie b. Sep 1899.
  8. Emety HILL 1878-?. Seen as Emety on the 1880 census. No marriage or death record found.
  9. Zettie May HILL 1882-1967. Born after the 1880 census she was found in 1900 with her brother Isaac and sister Annie. By 1904 she had traveled back to her parents’ home state and county and married in Mason County, West Virginia, Charles Franklin CHAPMAN. They were in Oklahoma for the birth of their first two children, New Mexico for the third, and Texas for the fourth. Following Frank’s death in the early 1930s (she was seen as a his widow in an OK city directory in 1935) Zettie May remarried in 1936 to an older man, Adolphus “Delphus” BOTCHLETT (1853-1945). After his death in 1945 she married Rufus CAREY in 1948.

As Dennis HILL’s wife tried to obtain a pension for his Civil War service we know she was living in 1897. She was not found in the 1900 census with three of her children who were living together in Saline County or with son Albert Henry living in Kansas. She appeared in the household of his son James Isaac HILL in 1920. I assumed she remained in Missouri but could she have gone back to West Virginia before 1900 or when Zettie May went there and married? I widened my search and found her living next door to Zettie May in New Mexico in 1910. How did I miss her?

Where was she in 1900? Was she with one of her other children? Where was she after the 1920 census? No record of death was found in Missouri (records are online). Did she go back to living near her youngest daughter Zettie May? Oklahoma, where Zettie May lived, does not have death records online. She was not found on Find A Grave in the area Zettie May lived nor in Saline County, Missouri.

Two of Dennis HILL and Mary Ann BAKER’s children are known to have died young. Four of their children married and had children yet three children were impossible to locate after 1880. What became of these children? Where else can information be found on this elusive family? The questions led me to an amazing discover. Join me in doing the genealogy happy dance next week, same time, same place.


P.S. Of course I left a comment for Cheri Hudson Passey about my genealogy happy dance on her weekly post Celebration Sunday~Genealogy Happy Dance!

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





















































Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Great-grandfather Roop’s Poetry

I’m presently concentrating my research on the RUPP, RUPE, ROOP, ROUP, ROOPE, ROUPE, RUPPE families and shared my great-grandpa ROOP’s artwork last week.

Walter Farmer ROOP was a blacksmith, coal miner, artist, poet, photographer, and cartoonist. He left us precious memories one of them being this photograph I shared last week.

MRIN00030 IMG_8590“Gauley River” by Walter F. ROOP 1921

Great-grandpa ROOP also left poems he wrote for his wife, about his place of work, and his surroundings. Living in Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia, on the Gauley River Walter was fond of the waterway he photographed and wrote this poem about it 99 years ago.

1917_on_gauley_by_Walter_F_RoopWalter wrote poetry to mourn the death of his wife:

  • “The Letters You Loved and Kept”
  • “That Darling Pal of Mine”
  • “Admiration”
  • “My Garden: Gethsemane”
  • an unnamed poem which begins with “Dear heart, since you have gone to rest I only think of you”.

Recently my 2nd cousin Robert sent me “On Gauley,” shared above, and another poem written by our great-grandfather. “Buck Run” was penned after the two great wars were fought and is about Buck Run No. 1, the coal mine he worked in for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company. “Buck Run” may have been published in the UMW Journal as the copy Robert sent has a published look of a book page.

We know at least one of Walter’s poems “When We Retire” was published in the United Mine Workers Journal, January 15, 1952 issue. David C. Duke author of Writers and Miners: Activism and Imagery in America (published by University Press of Kentucky, 2002) referred to it in the notes on a chapter in the book. I have not found any cousins with a copy of this poem.

I’ve been asked if Walter’s talents were passed on to others in the family. I know his youngest son Alfred Lee ROOP 1919-1981 wrote the poem “Old Fighters Last Battle” which Robert sent to me. I would love to know if any of my other cousins inherited one of his special “heirloom” talents.

Click here to see a list of other bloggers doing the heirloom posts.

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #52 Resolution: A Visit to the James SIMS Property

Week 52 (December 24-31) – Resolution. A resolution can be something that you resolve to do. It can also be the end or conclusion of something. What ancestor do you resolve to find more about in 2016? What ancestor have you resolved conflicting evidence about?

We’ve come to the end of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : 2015 Edition. 2015 was the year of my children’s ancestors in Luxembourg. It’s been a wonderful year of discovery, correcting errors, adding new information and SOURCES, finding even more distant ancestors, and, best of all, stories were written for nearly 100 ancestors. Two weeks were dedicated to my cousin Joe Rooney’s ancestors as I could not pass up the chance to feature them and the wonderful collection of old photographs he shared with me. It may be the end of the challenge but I resolve to continue researching and writing about my genealogical discoveries in the year to come.

There are no favorites but one of my American ancestors, James SIMS 1754-1845 of Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, has placed himself in the limelight several times this year. Early in 2002 I wrote his biography with the help of several cousins. I posted an updated version of the biography on my blog, backdated 25 March 2013 as I began my blog on 23 January 2014.

In February 2015 I wrote Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS (in three parts). It gave Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees the wonderful idea of creating the Slave Name Roll Project. It was also published in The Trading Path, the journal of the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society in April 2015.

In May 2015 Mark Smith approached me and we agreed on my being a guest blogger on his blog Hampshire County Long Rifles. I wrote a post on James SIMS and his sons discussing their gun-making. This allowed me to focus on an aspect of this ancestor’s life I did not know very much about.

These posts have become chapters in James SIMS’ life and times. This week I’m happy to share with you another chapter written by my 5th cousin Jason N. Lombardi.

A Visit to the James SIMS Property

In August, I had the pleasure of making an impromptu four-hour trip to visit a home built by James SIMS near Swiss in Nicholas County, West Virginia. It has been on my to-do list since I first saw a post published on the Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy Facebook group detailing its existence.

Even though I was battling a summertime cold bug that had bitten me, complete with runny nose and cough, the genealogy bug had bitten me as well….and it prevailed! It’s amazing what a genealogist will overcome in effort to search out history when, under similar circumstances, might afford a day off of work or school.

What an experience! Seeing firsthand the property that once belonged to my 4th great-grandfather was without words. Knowing that he was here….his family was here….my people were here. Little did James know that 200 years later, seven generations down the line, someone would be standing in awe at a place he owned.

A perfect last-minute trip. I stood at the front corner of the home and placed my hand on the paint-deprived door frame of the ancient building. The awesome power of family seemed to rush through my veins. At that moment I was connected to James and his family. It was a phenomenal experience as a genealogist for 25 years as many of the homes occupied by my family in the past have been destroyed to time.

James SIMS….you have family that still care and are breathing new life into your legacy.

© Jason N. Lombardi

Thank you, Jason.

52ancestors-2015This is my LAST weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Tuesday’s Child’s Family Heirlooms: Cardinal Feeding Little Ones

After I graduated from high school in 1976 I went to live with my paternal grandmother, Myrtle Hazel ROOP, widow of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY, while attending West Virginia Tech. My cousins called her Grandma Dempsey but, to me, she was just plain Grandma as my other grandmother was Bomi.

1959 025 2In her living room Grandma had an alcove with shelves on the right side of the closed off fireplace where she kept her knick-knacks, souvenirs, pictures, and books. I believe the recessed bookshelves hid the door to the adjacent bedroom but that is a story for a later post. The shelves can be seen in this photo of my parents and me when we were visiting my grandparents in 1959.

Getting back to the time I lived with my Grandma, when I left to go home she took this figurine of a cardinal feeding two little ones off a shelf in her alcove and gave it to me as a gift to remember her and West Virginia by.

007 HeirloomThe Northern Cardinal is the state bird of West Virginia. This is not a valuable piece. On the underside of the figurine is a little gold-colored sticker which reads “Original Artmark” and “Made in Taiwan.”

Grandma may have bought it at a local souvenir shop or received it as a gift. She did not say it had belonged to anyone else before it came into her possession. I would have remembered this as she also gave me two heirlooms which had belonged to her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, which I will share in future posts.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to more posts in the comments.

52 Ancestors: #11 Mary M. DEMPSEY abt. 1845-bet. 1880-1888

52ancestors“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 my 11th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona Duit!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

A Small Explanation Up Front

I have two DEMPSEY lines in my paternal family tree. My entries for this challenge have included my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, all with the surname DEMPSEY:

#1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY 1935-1974
#2 Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY 1899-1975

#4 William Henderson DEMPSEY 1860-1941
#8 William A. W. DEMPSEY 1822-1867

Screenshot of five-generation pedigree generated by Ancestral Quest 14

Mary M. DEMPSEY, one of my 4 paternal great-great-grandmothers, is from the other DEMPSEY line in my family tree. The lines are connected as Mary’s daughters Octava and Laura INGRAM married sons of William A. W. DEMPSEY. However a common DEMPSEY ancestor has not been found to connect the two DEMPSEY lines.

52 Ancestors: #11 Mary M. DEMPSEY abt. 1845-bet. 1880-1888

Mary M. DEMPSEY was born about 1845 to Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who were married on 3 January 1829. They had 5 children before Mary was born and then two more bringing the total to eight children. All of these events took place in Amherst County, Virginia.

Sib 1: George W. Dempsey (1831-aft. 1870)
Sib 2: Geneva Elizabeth “Jennie” Dempsey (1836-aft. 1910)
Sib 3: William S. Dempsey (1839-1860s)
Sib 4: Thomas G. Dempsey (1840-1860s)
Sib 5: John J. Dempsey (1843-1860s)
Sib 7: Martha Ann “Matties” Dempsey (1847-1909)
Sib 8: Julia Victoria Dempsey (1853-1926)

1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Amherst > Eastern District > Sheet 76A > HH #40 [online : accessed 11 March 2014]
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Amherst County, Virginia
Eastern District
HH #40-40
Dempsey, C. Y. 47 M Farmer 500 Virginia
Dempsey, C. M. 35 F
Dempsey, Geo W. 19 M
Dempsey, Elizabeth 14 F
Dempsey, Wm S. 11 M
Dempsey, Thomas G. 10 M
Dempsey, John J. 7 M
Dempsey, Mary M. 5 F
Dempsey, Martha A. 2 F

Following the 1850 census Mary’s older siblings began to marry and have children. Her sister Jennie had illegitimate children, a daughter about 1857 and twin daughters about 1859. Her brother George married Rhoda A. STATON (1825-aft. 1870?) on 20 December 1852 and her brother William married Mary Eliza CLEMENTS (1839-?) on 26 April 1857, both in Amherst County.

The family moved to Fayette County, (West) Virginia

Mary’s father Seaton and her uncle Wilson M. DEMPSEY moved their families to Fayette County, (West) Virginia, in the late 1850’s. Mary’s brother William and sister Jennie remained in Amherst County with their young families.

The 1860 census listing shows Mary’s parents in one household followed by her brother George’s household. Mary and and her siblings Thomas, John, Martha, and Julia were listed in George’s household. Normally Mary and her siblings would have been listed in her parents household. I suspect that the entire family group was living together and George was given a household and family number making it look like his siblings were living in his household.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > District 2 > Sheet 304 [online : accessed 11 March 2014]

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Fayetteville Twp
HH #1352-687
Dempsey Ceton Y. 57 M W farmer Virginia
Clementine M. 47 F W wife Virginia
HH #1353-688
George 28 M W farm labor Virginia
Rhoda 35 F W wife Virginia
Ceton A. 5 M W Virginia
Thomas G. 18 M W farm labor Virginia
John J. 15 M W farm labor Virginia
Mary M. 13 F W Virginia
Martha A. 10 F W Virginia
Juda V. 7 F W Virginia

Older siblings returned to eastern Virginia in the 1860s

Following the 1860 census Mary’s brother Thomas returned to eastern Virginia and joined the 58th Virginia Infantry in August 1861 in Amherst County. It is possible that her brother John also went east and joined up in Rockbridge County where their brother William was living. There is no trace of William, Thomas, or John in 1870 or later. Mary’s brother George and his wife disappear after the 1870 census. Their sons remained in Fayette County while a daughter went back to Amherst and later lived in Rockbridge County.

Mary’s sister Jennie had more illegitimate children and married Marshall S. TERRY (1843-aft. 1920) about 1866-1869 (per 1900 and 1910 census). She died between 1910-1920 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. No marriage record has been found for Jennie and Marshall Terry. In 1895 Chancery Records found in Rockbridge County concerning the estate of her uncle Wesley G. DEMPSEY, one of Seaton and Wilson’s brothers, Jennie was seen as Wesley’s niece Jennie TERRY (née DEMPSEY) wife of Marshall TERRY. Prior to finding the chancery records it had been assumed that the daughter seen only as Elizabeth in 1850 had died by 1860. Finding her as Jennie Terry, wife of a man who was seen as a mulatto in the earlier census listings, has brought up a whole bunch of questions that need to be answered. This discovery also gives me faith in the documents that are going to help open the doors in the DEMPSEY brick walls!

Back in Fayette County, West Virginia

Mary’s parents Seaton and Clementine remained in Fayette County with the three youngest daughters Mary M., Martha A., and Julia V. By 1870 Mary and her sister Martha had married and only Julia was living at home with her parents.

Mary’s sisters Martha and Julia marry

Martha Ann “Matties” DEMPSEY married George L. “Little George” JOHNSON (1846-bef 1880) on 20 September 1866. They had four children before Little George left her a widow. She married second Joseph Henry ARBAUGH (1853-1927) on 18 July 1880 in Ansted, Fayette County, West Virginia. They were the parents of three children. “Matties” died on 11 March 1909.

Julia Victoria DEMPSEY married Joseph Henry PRESSON (1850-1934) on 3 June 1872. They were the parents of 7 children. Julia died 1 May 1926 in Ansted.

What became of Mary M. Dempsey?

On 23 May 1867 Eli WOOD, Minister of the Gospel, performed the marriage ceremony in Fayette County, West Virginia, for  Mary M. DEMPSEY and her groom Irvin Lewis INGRAM, son of Robert INGRAM and Huldah JOHNSON. [line 37]

The 1870 census listing for Mary and her young family has not been located. I suspect that the family may have been missed. From later records we know that Mary’s first daughter Octavia Dell INGRAM (1866-1923) was born 14 March 1866 Fayette County, West Virginia. This was a year prior to Mary’s marriage to Irvin Lewis INGRAM on 23 May 1867.  Following the marriage their second daughter Laura Belle INGRAM (1868-1940) was born 24 April 1868 at Ingram Branch on Loop Creek in Fayette County. There are no birth records for Octava and Laura and we must rely on the information passed on to descendants, in Octava’s case, and given on Laura’s death certificate.

Mary and Irvin’s third daughter’s birth was entered in the register of births: Harriet F. Ingram (1871- ) born 8 March 1871 at Loup Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. This daughter most likely died before 1900 as she has not been found in the 1900 census nor has a marriage record been found for her at Note that her father Irvin was missed in the 1900 census and it is possible that Harriet may have also been missed.

1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > ED #27 Sheet #17A [online : accessed 8 Mar 2014]

In 1880 we see Mary age 31 with her husband Irvin age 35 and their three daughters, Octavi D. age 14; Laura B. age 12 and Harriet F. age 9. This is the last record we find to document Mary’s life.

Was Mary still living when her daughters married in the early 1880’s? Octavia Dell married Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1862-1943) on 19 October 1882 and Laura Belle married William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941) on  1 October 1884. Both marriages were performed by I. C. Cavendish.

Mary’s husband Irvin Lewis INGRAM’s marital status was widower when he married Susie Aliff on 11 February 1888 therefore Mary must have died after the 1880 census and prior to Irvin’s marriage in February 1888. She would have been 43 years old in 1888.

I planned out my 52 Ancestors in January and only noticed today that I would be blogging about the same ancestral line as I did last year on St. Patrick’s Day.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona Duit!

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #10 Irvin Lewis INGRAM 1846-1910

52ancestors“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 my 10th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #10 Irvin Lewis INGRAM 1846-1910

Irvin Lewis INGRAM, my 2nd great-grandfather, died in 1910. I don’t have access to West Virginia newspapers for that time period and do not even know if an obituary was printed for him. I’ve used the information in my genealogy database to write this impromptu obituary in honor of him.

Obituary of Irvin L. Ingram
Irvin Lewis Ingram, 64, passed away at his home in Turkey Creek near Ansted, Thursday, March 4, 1910, as a result of kidney trouble.
He was a blacksmith and a member of the Loop Creek Baptist Church in the early days of its formation.
Irvin was born about 1846 to Robert Ingram and Huldah Johnson on land patented by his father Robert and uncle Matthew in 1843 on Ingram Branch of Loup Creek (also seen as Loop Creek) in Fayette County, Virginia (now West Virginia).
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife Mary M. Dempsey Ingram; daughter Harriet F. Ingram; granddaughters, Lillie Dempsey (1908), Cora Dempsey (1887), Victoria Dempsey (1896), Viola Dempsey (1887), and Pearl Dempsey (1898); great-granddaughter Olive Dempsey (12 Jan 1910); sister Amy Ingram Payne and brother Vincent Ingram.
Survivors include three daughters Octavia Dell (Elijah L.) Dempsey of Turkey Creek, Laura Belle (Fred R.) Dempsey of Victor, and Ocie Ola (Michael C.) Watts of South Caperton; 18 grandchildren Edward Dempsey, Hallie Dempsey, Walt Dempsey, Ada Dempsey, Clara Dempsey, Bert Dempsey, Henrietta Dempsey, Carl Dempsey, Willie Dempsey, Ernest Dempsey, Oscar Dempsey, Roy Dempsey, Fred Dempsey, Clyde Dempsey, Hester Dempsey, Homer Watts, Arizona Watts and Myrtle Watts; two sisters, Maggie Bowling and Mary E. Blake; two brothers, William P. Ingram and Richard E. Ingram; an aunt, Cynthia Ingram Tincher; many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was also survived by his former wife Octava Susan “Susie” Aliff Walk and her children Thomas Holstein, Julian Lee Walk, Mary Ann Walk, and Joseph Walk.
His 24th grandchild is expected in November.
Funeral arrangements are unknown. Burial may have been in Hendrick’s Cemetery, Turkey Creek.

The Details of Irvin’s Life

1850 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Sheet 365B [online : accessed 3 March 2014]
Irvin Lewis INGRAM was the second son of Huldah JOHNSON (1818-aft.1880) and Robert INGRAM (1819-1902). The family of five was seen on the 1850 census in Fayette County, Virginia. Vincent was born abt. 1841, Irvin abt. 1846 and William in 1848.

1850 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Sheet 366A
[online : accessed 3 March 2014]
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Enumerated on 27 August 1850
HH #461-461
Robert Ingram 31 M W Farmer $100 VA
Huldah Ingram 32 F W Virginia
Vincent Ingram 9 M W Virginia
Irvin L. Ingram 4 M W Virginia
Wm. P. Ingram 2 M W Virginia

The next door household was that of Irvin’s grandmother Margaret Ingram, née KINCAID. Her three youngest children were living at home.

During the 1850’s the family grew with the births of Irvin’s three sisters: Amy, Nancy Margaret “Maggie”, and Mary Elizabeth INGRAM.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Page 45 > Sheet 355 [online : accessed 3 March 2014]

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
District No. 1, Page No. 25, Sheet No. 335
Enumerated the 20th day of June 1860,
P. Morton, Ass’t Marshall
Gauley Bridge Post Office
HH # 183-161
Robert Ingram 41 M W Farmer $1000 $200 Virginia
Huldah Ingram 42 F W Virginia
Vincent Ingram 19 M W Farm Laborer Virginia
Ervin L. Ingram 14 M W Virginia
William P. Ingram 12 M W Virginia
Amy Ingram 8 F W Virginia
Nancy M. Ingram 7 F W Virginia
Mary E. Ingram 3 F W Virginia
Amanda Blake 20 F W day laborer Virginia
John A. Blake 1 M W illegitimate Virginia

It is believed that Irvin’s oldest brother Vincent INGRAM died during the 1860’s as no further records are found for him following this census. Did he serve in the Union or Confederate army during the Civil War (1861-1865)? Did he have a middle name that he was known by after the 1860 census?

In 1862 the family was complete with the birth of Irvin’s youngest brother Richard Edward INGRAM.

Irvin was a Baptist

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. The Methodists also allowed the Baptists to use their Lincoln Chapel, a small log building constructed about the time the Civil War ended. The first house of worship owned by Loop Creek Baptist Church built in 1874 was used only a brief time before it was destroyed by fire. Once again Lincoln Chapel was used until 1892.

Irvin and Mary Ingram as well as Mary’s parents, Seaton and Clementine Dempsey, 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 brethen of the fourth oldest Baptist church in Fayette County when it was formed.

Irvin was the first of the Ingram children to marry. On 23 May 1867 Eli WOOD, Minister of the Gospel, performed the marriage ceremony for Irvin L. INGRAM and his bride Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine GOWING. [line 37]

Irvin marries and becomes a father (maybe not in that order)

Irvin and Mary’s first daughter Octavia Dell INGRAM was born in March 1866 per the 1900 census. The age calculation is consistent in census listings. However this was over a year prior to the marriage. Their second daughter Laura Belle INGRAM was born 24 April 1868 at Ingram Branch per her death record. I had hopes of clearing up the confusion with the 1870 census but the small family of four appears to have been missed.

Irvin’s parents and four youngest siblings were found in HH #13-13 in the Falls of Kanawha Township (Fayette County) followed several households later, in HH #16-16, by his brother William Preston, his wife Minerva LIGHT (1849-1920) whom he married 8 April 1869, and their son.

Could Irvin’s absence in the 1870 census mean that he was not in Fayette County? Was his brother Vincent with him and his family? By 1871 we see Irvin and Mary living in Loup Creek at the time of the birth of their third daughter Harriet F. INGRAM (1871-bef. 1900) born 10 March 1871. [line 83]

Irvin’s younger siblings began to marry in the 1870’s: Nancy Margaret “Maggie” INGRAM married 2 February 1872 Marion L. BOWLING (1836-1900) and Mary Elizabeth INGRAM married 22 October 1874 Martin Van Buren BLAKE (1846-1900).

In 1880 we see Irvin and Mary with their three daughters. No other children are known to have been born to this couple.

1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > ED #27 Sheet #17A [online : accessed 8 Mar 2014]

1880 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
Fayetteville District
ED No. 27, Sheet No. 17A
Enumerated the 8th day of June 1880, John T. Smith, enumerator
HH #53
Ingram, Irvin W M 35 married Blacksmith WV WV WV
Ingram, Mary M. W F 31 Wife married Keeping house VA VA VA
Ingram, Octavi D. W F 14 Dau single At home attended school WV WV WV (sic, VA)
Ingram, Laura B. W F 12 Dau single At home attended school WV WV WV (sic, VA)
Ingram, Harriet F. W F 9 Dau single attended school WV WV WV (sic, VA)

The mystery years between 1880-1910 (due to missing census)

The absence of the 1890 census makes it difficult to determine when Irvin’s mother Huldah JOHNSON died. No death record was recorded in West Virginia and by 1900 her husband Robert was seen as widowed, therefore she died between 1880-1900.

Irvin’s oldest daughter Octavia Dell INGRAM married Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1862-1943) on 19 October 1882. Nearly two years later his daughter Laura Belle INGRAM married William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941), the brother of Elijah, on 1 October 1884. Both marriages took place in Fayette County, West Virginia.

Irvin remarries after his wife’s death

Irvin’s wife Mary M. died after the 1880 census and before 1888. We see Irvin, a widower, marrying Octava Susan “Susie” ALIFF (1865-1932), a widow, on 11 February 1888 in Fayetteville. They were married by Irvin’s double second cousin Rev. Henry LIGHT.  On the marriage certificate Susie was listed as Mrs. HOLSTEIN and more research was done to determine her maiden name. [marriage license and return; left page]

Susie brought a son, Thomas Holstein, from her first marriage into the union. Irvin and Susie had a daughter Ocie Ola INGRAM (1889-1949) born 8 July 1889 in Fayette County, West Virginia. [line 185]

His second union is a troubled marriage….

I suspect that Irvin and his second wife Susie were living a troubled marriage long before they were divorced in 1904. In 1897 the birth of a son was recorded twice with similar information. Julian Lee INGRAM (1897-1960) born 9 July 1897 in Star, Fayette County, West Virginia, was the third child of the mother Susie. [page 414, entry 2] and [page 406, entry 4]. The age of the mother is seen as 23 but should be 32. In both records Irvin age 52 is listed as the father. However the child is seen as Julian Lee WALK in 1910 to 1940 census records and his 1960 death record. Julian is listed as a half-brother in the obituary of Ocie Ola Ingram Davis Watts. This would suggest that Julian’s father was not Irvin INGRAM. Samuel Russell WALK, whose obituary listed Julian as his son, gave him his surname and raised him. Note that Thomas Holstein, Susie’s son from her first marriage, is also listed as a son of Mr. Walk in the obituary. Susie INGRAM had two children with Samuel Russell WALK before they were married in 1905.

The 1900 census might have shed more light on the number of children that Irvin and his second wife Susie had. Unfortunately there are several families in my family tree who were missed in Fayette County enumeration including Irvin and his second family (Susie Ingram, Thomas Holstein, Ocie Ola Ingram, and Julian Lee Ingram aka Julian Lee Walk) as well as his brother William P. Ingram and his family. I did locate Samuel Russell WALK, single, with his mother, stepfather and half-siblings.

….ends in divorce….

The divorce of Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Octava Susan ALIFF was recorded at Fayette County courthouse on 15 December 1904. [Note: copy of this record needs to be obtained; would cause for divorce be included in the entry?]

Susan INGRAM did not wait long to remarry. She married Samuel Russell WALK on 23 April 1905 [9th entry from bottom] in Fayette County. As it turns out, Sam Walk was the father of three of the children Susie gave birth to while married to Irvin. I have always suspected this and finally found the records to prove it.

….and three children born during his 2nd marriage were another man’s

A new search on WVCulture turned up a delayed birth certificate (1952) for Julian Lee WALK naming Samuel WALK and Susie ALIFF as his parents. Further a delayed birth certificate (1958) was found for Joseph WALK who was born 22 October 1904, several weeks before Susie’s marriage to Irvin was dissolved. The third child that Susie gave birth to while she was still the wife of Irvin INGRAM was Mary Ann WALK who killed herself in 1918 at the age of nearly 17 years. Her certificate of death shows that Samuel Russell WALK was her father.

While Irvin was having his difficulties with his second wife his siblings continued to marry. His youngest brother Richard Edward INGRAM married Lucy F. HAMILTON (1856-1884) on 21 March 1883. Lucy died in February 1884 two weeks after the birth of their child from a deep cold. The child died about the same time at age 2 weeks. Richard then married Rebecca Wilmuth RINEHART (1856-1909) on 27 May 1888. Irvin and Richard’s “old maid” sister Amy INGRAM married James B. PAYNE (1846-1916) on 23 October 1895 and both died between 1900-1910.

Irvin’s father Robert INGRAM died about 1902 at the home of his cousin Preston KINCAID.

Irvin’s daughter Ocie Ola INGRAM married Clay DAVIS (1883-1906) on 2 February 1906 at Coal Run in Fayette County. The marriage lasted less than three weeks as the young groom was killed in a mine accident on 21 February 1906. Ocie Ola then married Michael Curtis WATTS (1879-1948) on 5 June 1906 at Coal Run.

Irvin Lewis INGRAM died 4 March 1910 at Turkey Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. His daughter Octava DEMPSEY was the informant on his death record where his marital status is listed as single. [fourth entry from bottom]

Addendum: Irvin died 104 years ago. It is not likely that his obituary would have been written the way I wrote it. I wanted it to show all of the people who were in his life: parents, siblings, spouses, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, and, yes, even the children he did not father but were born to his second wife while they were still legally married.

If anyone reading this has more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #8 My Most Frustrating Brick Wall – William A. W. DEMPSEY

52ancestorsWhen 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 : 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!

MRIN08669 William A. Dempsey Gravemarker
Wm A. Dempsey
Pvt Co C
7 Va Inf

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 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
[online : accessed 22 Feb 2014]

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 > Virginia > Fayette > 14th District >Sheet 336B
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.
HH #85-85
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 > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Fayette > Sheet No. 365

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
HH #408-368
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 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.

MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey
Provost Marshal File
Dempsey, William A. W.
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 2
May to Sept /62
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 3
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: George W. Gibson, George W. Commer, Washington B. Woods, Marion Commer, William Ellison
MRIN08669 William A. W. Dempsey 4
List of Prisoners with their Own Statements: William Ellison cont., William A. W. Dempsey, Presley W. Gill

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]

1890b map highlighted
1890 New Map of West Virginia; Rand McNally & Co., 1890; from Rand McNally & Co.’s Family Atlas of the World

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?

MRIN01121 Elijah Lewis Dempsey
Elijah Lewis DEMPSEY (1866-1923)
MRIN08552 William Henderson Dempsey
William Henderson DEMPSEY (1860-1941)

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.”

The description fits his brothers Elijah Lewis and William Henderson DEMPSEY!

Killed in a logging accident?

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.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey