Category Archives: Dempsey

Bridesmaids revisited #tbt

Lately I have been writing about family reunions and social gatherings — those landmark events that bring together relatives, in-laws and family friends in celebration of life’s special occasions.

So I was delighted when my sister Amy sent me a photo recently of my dad and me at my youngest sister’s wedding 30 years ago — just in time for #throwbackthursday. Dad was the father of the bride and I was maid of honor.

Father of the bride and maid of honor (1987). My dad Norm Charboneau and I share a relaxed moment at my youngest sister’s wedding 30 years ago. Photo by Norma Tagliaferro

Dad, 63,  was still working but preparing for retirement. On the table in front of him, as always, was his trusty camera — evidence of his lifelong passion for photography.

At 37, I was not yet bitten by the genealogy bug — but  I was becoming nostalgic.  On my left wrist I wore a vintage wind-up dress watch my mom gave me — a gift to her from Dad. And my antique necklace resembled the one my mom’s sister, Rita Mary Laurence, wore as maid of honor at my parents’ 1948 wedding.

Meeting extended family

A new family connection took root that day when I met some of my Welsh-Irish collateral relatives for the first time — my dad’s cousin Jane (Owen) Dukovic, her husband Jim and their son John.

Jane is a daughter of Arthur T. Owen, a brother of my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau. I didn’t know it then, but Jane is also the family historian for the Owen-Dempsey branch of the family.

Several years later, when I began doing genealogy research in earnest, Jane’s knowledge, photos and carefully-crafted family trees proved invaluable. And that family connection has continued to grow — as evidenced by the great turnout at a recent reunion of  Dempsey and Owen descendents.

Aunt Rita as maid of honor

The bride and her maid of honor (1948). My aunt Rita Mary Laurence, right, adjusts my mom Peg’s veil before her November 1948 wedding in Gloversville, N.Y. Scan of a family photo by Molly Charboneau

My Aunt Rita was maid of honor for my mother — her only sibling — wearing an aqua gown with matching jewelry. She was 19 and training for a career as a blood bank technician. My mom, Peg, was 22 and working as a music educator.

On 31 Oct. 1948 — shortly before my parents’ wedding — Rita wrote with her usual wry humor about the upcoming nuptials in a letter to a family friend, who was kind enough to send me a copy.

We’ve got everything almost set for Peg’s wedding — I’m to be maid of honor — this should be priceless to say the least.

The happy couple are center stage at a wedding. But supporting cast is also important — at major events, in a family’s history and in life — as captured in this pair of #throwbackthursday photos and the stories behind them.

Up next: Having introduced Aunt Rita’s letter, let’s hear what else she had to say about her life at the time. Please stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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2017: Dempsey-Owen Family Reunion

Giving my paternal grandmother her due, here’s a post about a recent reunion of descendants from her ancestral families.

July 2017: A colorful welcome sign directs Dempsey and Owen cousins to the family reunion in Maryland. Photo: Mary Jentilet

The last post featured a journal entry by my paternal Welsh-Irish grandmother Mary Frances “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau about a 1934 Charboneau Reunion .

So what better time to write about this year’s reunion of descendants of her Dempsey and Owen ancestors?

Ancestral diaspora

My Grandma Charboneau moved to New York State’s Adirondack region from Baltimore, Md., after meeting my grandfather William Ray Charboneau during a summer stay in the North Country.

When they married in 1910 she put down new roots and raised her family in upstate New York. So our Charboneau branch was geographically removed from her large Owen-Dempsey family in Baltimore — a diaspora experienced by other branches of the extended family, too.

Dempsey-Owen Reunion reconnects Welsh and Irish cousins

July 2017: Owen-Dempsey Reunion in Maryland. More than 40 cousins attended the reunion — some of them meeting one another for the first time. Photo: Max

Yet where there is a will to reconnect with family, there is always a way. That’s how the wonderful Owen-Dempsey Reunion drew more than 40 cousins to Maryland in July 2017 — some of them meeting one another for the first time.

The Owen Reunion of cousins descended from my great grandparents Elizabeth C. (Dempsey) and Francis Hugh “Pop” Owen  — Grandma Charboneau’s parents — has been held every few years for some time. My late dad, Norm Charboneau, regularly attended with my mom Peg.

Meanwhile, Molly’s Canopy readers may recall that a Dempsey Cousins Family Research Team — descendants of my great-great grandfather William Patrick Dempsey and his first and second wife, including many Owen cousins — has been connecting and researching together since 2015.

A landmark event

July 2017: Cousins get acquainted. Cousin Barb from the Dempsey Cousins team, center, shares family trees and stories at the Dempsey-Owen reunion in Maryland. Cousin Randy Charboneau, at rear, represented our branch of the family along with his wife Joyce. Photo: Carolyn Dempsey

“What about inviting the Dempsey cousins to this year’s Owen Reunion?” asked cousin Dorene. Cousins Mary and Diane, the reunion organizers, enthusiastically agreed. So that’s what happened — and the group photo captures the landmark event!

Everyone was thrilled to meet their new cousins and reunite with family branches long separated by time and circumstance — and the genealogists and family historians in the group were gratified to find one another and compare notes.

Alas, not all the cousins could make it — so mini-reunions are a possibility for the future. Meanwhile, I can’t help but think how pleased my dad and grandmother would be to see so many branches of their ancestral Dempsey and Owen families uniting once again.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1993: Dempsey-Owen neighborhoods & a Baltimore mystery solved

Fifth and last in the March 2017 series about my Irish (Dempsey) and Welsh (Owen) ancestors in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Maryland.

Despite a dwindling parish, Baltimore’s stately St. Martin Church was still open when I traveled there with a friend in 1993. A high mass of requiem had been celebrated there for some of my ancestors, so I was pleased to finally visit the church and review their records.

January 1993: Webster Lane, Baltimore, Maryland. My Irish great, great grandparents Katherine (Gormley) and William Patrick Dempsey, a blacksmith, lived with their family at 2 Webster Alley (renamed Webster Lane) from 1870 to 1886. Photo: Molly Charboneau

In the chancery, Sister Eleanor showed me church registers that confirmed the death and funeral dates for my great grandmother Elizabeth (Dempsey) Owen in 1922 and my great-great grandmother Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey in 1923.

When I asked the sister why their cause-of-death columns were blank, and she studied the registers for a moment.

“That depended on how thorough the record keeper was,” she replied. “Some filled in the column, some didn’t.”

Alas, there was no parish record for my great-great grandfather William P. Demspey, the blacksmith.

Church tour and the monsignor

After I finished making notes, the nun led us into the church.

Surveying the vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and elevated altar, I could easily imagine the packed Sunday services my Welsh-Irish ancestors attended — their pew likely crowded with family worshiping together.

On our way out, Sister Eleanor pointed to a bronze portrait on the wall. “Well, there he is,” she announced.

“Who?” I asked.

“Monsignor O’Donovan,” she replied. “He’s the pastor who left the information off your ancestors’ records.”

We all laughed, and I was reminded of my dad’s sense of humor –a legacy from my grandmother Mary Frances (Owen) Charboneau.

Stops at family homes

My Baltimore trip wrapped up with stops at the onetime homes of my Dempsey and Owen ancestors. Some we couldn’t find because street addresses and routes had changed. Elizabeth’s last home, where her wake was held, had been torn down for a new highway.

January 1993: 1954 W. Fayette Street in Baltimore, Maryland. My great-great grandmother Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey’s last residence and likely site of a huge family reunion shortly before she died. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Yet we found the two locations I most wanted to see.

  • 1954 W. Fayette Street. Described in Katherine’s obituary as her last residence, this may have been where a huge Dempsey family reunion was held shortly before she died.
  • Webster Alley (renamed Webster Lane). Where Katherine, William and their children lived from 1870–1889 and the likely location of his blacksmith shop.

The Webster Alley house no longer stands, replaced by newer dwellings. Katherine’s last residence was modernized with a stone facade and awnings.

But both were situated where I expected, in solid, working-class neighborhoods that once housed a tremendous influx of Irish, Welsh and other immigrants — and later welcomed a northward migration of African Americans seeking a better life.

Baltimore mystery solved

Which brings me back to the mystery of the 1963 Dempsey-Owen stone. When I returned from Baltimore, I called my dad to tell him about it.

“Do you know why there was no stone for so long?” I asked.

“Oh, sure,” Dad replied. “The family was arguing for years over who would pay for it.”

He said most of the Dempseys and Owens were supporting big families and couldn’t afford to buy the costly monument. Yet they clearly wanted a memorial for their departed loved ones — why else discuss it over and over?

Finally, almost sixty years after the first burial, one of grandmother’s sisters resolved the family dilemma. Charlotte (Owen) Wilson — then 70, married and childless — stepped up in 1963 and purchased the Dempsey-Owen stone.

Discovering Aunt Charlotte’s generosity and love of family was the perfect ending to my Baltimore genealogy road trip.

Up Next: Please join me daily in April for the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge. My theme this year is “Whispering Chimneys:  An Altamont childhood”…where my genealogy journey began.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1993: Dempsey-Owen discoveries in Baltimore

Fourth in a March 2017 series about my Irish (Dempsey) and Welsh (Owen) ancestors in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Maryland.

In January 1993 I finally headed to Baltimore — the hometown of my paternal Irish (Dempsey) and Welsh (Owen) ancestors. I hoped to make some new discoveries during the trip, but never imagined how quickly they would come!

Dempsey-Owen family plot in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery (1993).  I discovered the family stone at the center of this photo was not purchased until 1968 — through burials began in 1907 — and wondered why. Photo by Molly Chaboneau

My travel partner, a college classmate, recommended we begin at New Cathedral Cemetery, where my ancestors are buried. I wanted to pay my respects and photograph their stone, so I readily agreed.

New Cathedral Cemetery

As we drove to the entrance on Old Frederick Road, I was surprised by the immensity of the urban burial ground.

Most of my ancestors were laid to rest in smaller cemeteries, but New Cathedral’s grounds ranged over hill and dale — the cemetery’s road map resembling a small-town street plan!

My inquiries at the office yielded two unexpected details:

  •  Katherine Negri, one of my grandmother’s sisters, arranged for my great grandfather Frank H. Owen’s 1949 burial. (Aunt Kate lived in New York City then, so this was singular news.)
  • Even more surprising, the Dempsey-Owen stone was not placed on the plot until 1963.

“1963? Are you sure?” I asked. The family burials took place between 1907 and 1949 . Why wait so long?

“That’s what it says here,” replied the woman at the desk. “The stone came from Seubott Memorials in 1963 . They’re over on Frederick Avenue.” I added the address to my itinerary.

Visiting the ancestors

We drove into the grounds, turned left over a stream, then right to Section SS, where Plot 212 was a short walk from the road.

Standing before their central stone — with Dempsey on one side and Owen on the other — I felt a warm connection to these ancestors who I once barely new. I silently thanked them for leaving the archival trail that had led me to their final resting place.

Departing New Cathedral with a newfound sense of my Welsh-Irish heritage, I wondered what more I would learn about my paternal grandmother’s family on this genealogy journey.

More stops, more surprises

Dempsey-Owen family plot in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery (circa 1940). At right, my great grandfather Frank H. Owen (husband of Elizabeth C. Dempsey) visiting the family grave site before it had a central stone. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Our next stop was C.M. Seubott Memorials to see what they could tell me about the 1963 purchase of the Dempsey-Owen stone.

Memorial companies are often good sources of family history information, and Seubott was no exception.

“Yes, the stone was purchased on May 15, 1963, and delivered to the cemetery on May 23,” a staff member confirmed. “Paid for by Charlotte Wilson, 520 South 8th Street, Springfield, Illinois.”

Really? Another surprise.

Aunt Charlotte (maiden name Owen) was another of my grandmother’s sisters. I made a note to call my Dad when I got home to see what he knew about this mystery. Then we headed to our next stop — St. Martin Roman Catholic Church.

To be continued. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1992: Baltimore road trip itinerary

Third in a March 2017 series about my Irish (Dempsey) and Welsh (Owen) ancestors in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Maryland.

To prepare for a 1993 Baltimore road trip in search of my Dempsey and Owen ancestors, I compiled a list of family landmarks and addresses from my research. Then I called ahead for hours and directions to the ones I wanted to visit.

http://www.geocities.ws/parrothead_21228/BaltoCatholic.html
St. Martin Church in West Baltimore, Maryland. My Dempsey and Owen ancestors worshiped at this church, which had a parish of 7,300 families in 1920. Photo: Baltimore’s Catholic Churches

On my first call to the caretaker of Baltimore’s huge New Cathedral Cemetery, I was surprised to learn that a number of collateral relatives were interred with my direct ancestors. Soon a cemetery map arrived by mail with a route traced in red to my Dempsey-Owen ancestors’ final resting place.

St. Martin Church

So I was hopeful about my second call to St. Martin Roman Catholic Church in West Baltimore, located at 31 N. Fulton Ave. at West Fayette Street — a parish of 7,300 families in 1920 when my Irish ancestors worshiped there.

A High Mass of Requiem was celebrated at the church on 5 January 1923 for my Irish immigrant great-great grandmother Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey. Her wake took place down the block at 1954 West Fayette Street, her last home.

A year earlier, my great grandmother Elizabeth C. (Dempsey) Owen, one of Katherine’s daughters, was buried from the church on 28 July 1922 after a wake at her 1519 West Franklin St. residence.

St. Martin was still open and holding services when I called in 1992. The chancery staff confirmed they had some birth, marriage and death records that I could look at — so I added the church to my road trip itinerary.

Nearby family homes

Next, I made a list of family houses where I wanted to stop — in addition to the last homes of Katherine and Elizabeth.

  • 2 Webster Alley – The 1880 home of Katherine and William P. Dempsey and family.
  • 1602 E. Chase St. — Where Katherine lived in 1900 with daughter Mary and son-in-law Clinton Webb.
  • 3018 Roseland Place (Walbrook) — Where Katherine lived in 1923 with daughter Margaret and son-in-law William Waidner.
  • 428 Govane Ave. – The 1900 home of Elizabeth and Frank H. Owen.
  • 424 Striker St. – Elizabeth and Frank’s home in 1920.

Research materials for the trip

Finally, I packed the research materials I wanted to bring with me.

  • Updated family group sheets for the Dempseys and Owens.
  • Copies of obituaries to refer to on the trip.
  • A map of Baltimore with family landmarks and addresses marked, along with a penciled-in route for the day.
  • A camera to photograph the landmarks and family homes.

A travel partner

By early 1993, I was ready to head to Baltimore and by chance  a travel partner volunteered to go with me — a classmate from a course I was taking to prepare for graduate school.

He’d had been wanting to go to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and was familiar with the city. I liked the idea of a driver who knew his way around, and dinner at the harbor would be a great ending to the research day. So I showed him the map and itinerary, and we set a January date for the trip.

To be continued. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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