Category Archives: Dempsey

1992: Building a Baltimore Baedeker

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

In 1992, I decided to take a genealogy road trip to  Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Maryland to visit the homes and neighborhoods where my Irish and Welsh ancestors, the Dempseys and the Owens, had lived during 1800s and early 1900s.

https://www.loc.gov/item/2009575802/
Civil War-era map of Washington and Baltimore vicinities.(1861). Click here to enlarge.  In 1992, while living in Washington, D.C., I decided to make a road trip to Baltimore, Md., to see my Welsh-Irish ancestors’ homes and  neighborhoods. Image: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

I lived nearby in Washington, D.C., then, but planned to move back to New York City soon, so the time seemed right to visit the home city of the Welsh-Irish ancestors I knew so little about.

Road trip reconnaissance

I was excited about giving substance to the addresses I had collected for my Dempsey and Owen ancestors — and was tempted to rush off to Baltimore right away.

But any successful road trip takes planning, so I sat down to draw up a one-day itinerary of every ancestral location I wanted to visit — building a sort of Baltimore Baedeker that would serve as my guide for the journey of discovery.

New Cathedral Cemetery

Their obituaries said my great grandmother Elizabeth C. (Dempsey) Owen and her mother Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey were buried in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery. So I called the cemetery to see if their staff could provide the burial location.

“Yes, we have records for them,” said the woman at the cemetery office. “They are in a family plot in Section SS. It belonged to Clinton Webb.” She promised to send a map of the cemetery, then read me all the names and burial dates.

That’s when I learned that a host of other Dempsey-Owen family members were laid to rest with my ancestors around one central stone — gathered together for eternity as they had been in life.

My direct ancestors are highlighted in the table below, and I have added relationships for reference. But where was my great, great grandfather William P. Dempsey? I wondered.

New Cathedral Cemetery – Dempsey-Owen Graves – Sect. SS, Lot 212 
Burial Date Name Relationship
2 April 1907 Clinton Webb Husband of Mary A. (Dempsey) Webb
15 Dec. 1909 Francis Owen Son of  Frank H. & Elizabeth (Dempsey) Owen
24 Aug. 1916 Lillian Irene Dempsey Grand-daughter of Katherine (Gormley) and William P. Dempsey.
11 May 1917 John T. Dempsey Relationship not known.
23 Apr. 1918 Dorothy Owen Daughter of Frank H. & Elizabeth (Dempsey) Owen
28 July 1922 Elizabeth Owen My great grandmother (nee Dempsey); wife of Frank H. Owen
5 Jan 1923 Katherine Dempsey My Irish gg grandmother (nee Gormley); wife of William P. Dempsey
25 May 1935 Mary A. Webb Daughter of Katherine (Gormley) and Wm. Dempsey; wife of Clinton Webb
28 July 1949 Frank H. Owen My Welsh great grandfather; husband of Elizabeth C. Dempsey

St. Martin Church

In 1923, a high mass of requiem was celebrated for my great, great grandmother Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey at the Roman Catholic St. Martin Church, 31 North Fulton Avenue in Baltimore, according to her obituary.

Might the church office have details about her participation in the congregation? Or information about where her husband, William P. Dempsey, was buried? I definitely wanted to stop there — so the church was the next phone call on my list.

To be continued. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Seeking my Dempsey-Owen heritage

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

March is here and with it the annual series about my Irish (Dempsey) ancestors in time for St. Patrick’s Day. This year, I will include a bit about my Welsh (Owen) ancestors, too.

Celtic shamrock pattern. NARA cenus research on my Dempsey and Owen ancestors prompted a genealogy road trip to Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Md., to find out more. By: Internet Archive Book Images

The last few years I have written about my Dempsey ancestors in Civil War Baltimore, my great, great grandparents Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey and William Patrick Dempsey the blacksmith and speculated on possible Viking heritage — because William hailed from County Wexford.

Meanwhile, the Dempsey Cousins Family Research Team is now up to 17 descendants, We have made some valuable discoveries together and continue to stay in touch — sharing stories and family history finds as they come our way.

So this year, I thought I would write about how I got started researching my Dempsey and  Owen ancestors — which ultimately led to these wonderful cousin connections. And also what I have learned about my Irish-American great grandmother Elizabeth C. Dempsey and her Welsh husband Francis Hugh Owen — also called Frank and, in his later years, Pop.

The research journey begins

This particular genealogy journey began in the early 1990s, when I lived and worked for several years in Washington, D.C. — home of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Although I had previously dabbled in family history research, I hadn’t pursued it in a concerted way before moving to D.C. But all that changed when I discovered the baptismal record of a Charbonneau ancestor while vacationing in Montreal — and a friend told me I could find even more genealogy records at NARA.

Seriously? Just a Metro ride away? That’s when I began spending my free evenings and Saturdays at the National Archives!

Armed with two binders — a blue one for my Dad’s side and a red one for my Mom’s side — I poured through the federal census returns looking for any and every ancestor.

What great way to get started! Nearly every NARA visit yielded a new discovery — details I frequently shared with my parents and siblings. So the research strengthened family connections, too — much as it has with my Dempsey cousins.

My mystery ancestors

Pretty soon, my research binders were bursting and my new discoveries less frequent — so I turned to analyzing what I had found. Of particular interest were my Dempsey and Owen ancestors, who were somewhat of a mystery to me.

My paternal grandmother Mary Frances Owen was born 22 March 1889 in Baltimore. The oldest child of Elizabeth C. Dempsey and Frank Owen, she was also a grand-daughter of William Patrick and Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey.

She met my grandfather William Ray Charbonneau in New York’s Adirondack region while working as a nanny for a Baltimore family that summered there.

When they married, she became an “away” descendant, geographically removed from her large Dempsey-Owen family in Baltimore — so I learned little about these ancestors when I was growing up.

A Baltimore road trip? Why not!

However, my NARA research began to provide details about my Welsh-Irish heritage and piqued my interest in finding out more. I only lived about an hour from Baltimore — why not plan a genealogy road trip to visit the houses and neighborhoods where my Dempsey and Owen ancestors once lived?

To be continued. Please stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Xavier and military cartography

Letter X: Twenty-fourth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

A wonderful benefit of the Dempsey Cousins Family Research Team is learning about collateral relatives and the interesting lives they led. One of these was Francis Xavier Dempsey, maternal grandfather of cousin Barb from our Dempsey team.

 2nd Lieutenant Francis Xavier Dempsey, 26, at the front in Langres, France, during WW I. Big Frank, a lithography transfer and pressman in civilian life, served as a U.S. Army cartographer whose unit helped mechanize military map-making and reproduction in the field. Photo courtesy of Barb/Dempsey Cousins Family Research Team
2nd Lieutenant Francis Xavier Dempsey, 26, at the front in Langres, France, during WW I. Big Frank, a lithography transfer and pressman in civilian life, served as a U.S. Army cartographer whose unit helped mechanize military map-making and reproduction in the field. Photo courtesy of Barb Schmidt/Dempsey Cousins Family Research Team

With many thanks to cousin Barb, here is the fascinating story of Francis Xavier’s work as a cartographer during WW I:

A grandson of William Patrick and Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey,  Francis Xavier Dempsey was born on 26 Jan. 1893 in Baltimore City, Baltimore Co., Md. He was a son of James Joseph and Mary Elizabeth Dempsey — and a nephew of my great grandmother Elizabeth C. Dempsey (James Joseph’s sister).

As a boy, Francis Xavier apprenticed as a lithography transfer and pressman at Baltimore’s Crown Cork and Seal Company. That’s where he was working at the outbreak of World War I.

When Big Frank — as his descendants call him — enlisted on 15 Dec. 1917 in the U.S. Army 29th Engineers, the company’s newspaper Crown Topics gave him a rousing sendoff:

Sergeant Frank Dempsey, formerly of Guilford Avenue Lithography Department…is now printing maps for Uncle Sam. By special orders of his Major General, he has taken a special course in lithographic work…and expects to leave for France at any time. We are proud of you!

During his military service, Francis Xavier was stationed in Langres, France — where he served as a cartographer and was promoted in the field to 2nd Lieutenant. Big Frank and his unit did important work during and after WW I, as described in this 16 May 1919 article in The Base Bull, a military newspaper:

U.S. Engineers Break Map-making Record

Paris, April 10 — The 29th Engineers of the American Expeditionary Force are conducting interesting experiments in map-making and reproducing in the field. With a 5-ton truck as a printing and lithographic establishment, they have turned out 10,000 copies of field maps an hour. The French and British are taking a keen interest in the outfit, as they have used a railway train for such work, and their best output has been 300 copies per hour. In some operations of the war, every man in a trench raid party has been furnished with a map, so the importance of quick map-making is very great.

In Maps point the way I wrote about the importance of civilian maps for studying the places where our ancestors lived — and perhaps even finding their names associated with land and workplaces.

Military cartography, such as that done by Francis Xavier Dempsey, adds another dimension to researching veteran ancestors and learning more about the battles they fought in.

Up next: Yes! Almost there! Please stop back.

© 2016 Barb Schmidt and Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Undergarments and Aunt Kate

Letter U: Twenty-first of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

My dad was always ready with a story about one family member or another — that’s how I learned about undergarments and Aunt Kate.

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My paternal grandmother’s sister Katherine (Owen) Negri. Aunt Kate’s career was fitting and selling women’s undergarments. I met her as a child when she visited during a business trip. Family photo courtesy of Jane (Owen) Dukovic

Her full name was Katherine (Owen) Negri. She was one of my paternal grandmother’s larger-than-life Welsh-Irish sisters from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Md. — and I actually met her a couple of times when I was growing up.

“She came to visit us at the farm once,” Dad said. “Her voice was so loud that she scared you every time she talked.” I was a toddler at the time, so I don’t really recall that visit.

But she came to see us another time — after we moved near Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y., and she was living in New York City — and that’s the visit I remember.

Aunt Kate was tall and fashionable in a tailored dress — deep green, if I recall correctly — and I was mesmerized by her tiny folding umbrella. We always carried the big umbrellas with the hooked handle, so I stared and stared at her little umbrella hanging from the doorknob.

“Are you trying to figure out how it works?” She asked, startling me from my reverie. And before I could answer, she popped it open to full size — amazing!

Kate Martin’s career

I always wondered how she came to call. When I asked Dad he said it was because Aunt Kate’s career was selling women’s undergarments, and she was in our area on a business trip.

“She traveled from one department store to another doing fittings. She’d put an ad in the paper the week before, with her photo and everything, to announce she was coming,” he explained. “She used the name Kate Martin for business, so if somebody telephoned and asked for that name, she’d know it was a business call.”

When I moved to New York City after college, one of my paternal relatives told me, “You’re just like Kate.”

I laughed at that. But maybe there is something to it. Because soon enough I had a career and an assertive city personality to go with it. And now when it rains, I reach into my bag and take out a little folding umbrella — just like the one Aunt Kate astonished me with all those years ago.

Up next: Vincenzo Del Negro witnesses a wedding. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Two Years: Second Blogiversary

Letter T: Twentieth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Tomorrow will mark two years since Molly’s Canopy first appeared as a family history geneablog on 24 April 2014. Since my Second Blogiversary falls on an A to Z Challenge rest day, I decided to celebrate early and reflect on the blog’s development since my First Blogiversary one year ago.

Two roses and rosebuds_2
Roses and rosebuds (2014). Two blooming roses for the Second Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy and two rosebuds for the future. Photo by Molly Charboneau

At the start of my second blogging year, in May 2015, I was finishing up the last posts about my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull’s Union Army service during the U.S. Civil War.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial was drawing to a close and I attended and wrote about a ceremony marking the war’s conclusion 150 years before.

Over the summer of 2015, I finally had an opportunity to research in the U.S. Sanitary Commission collection at the New York Public Library — and came away with two more details about my ancestor’s medical treatment during the Civil War.

Then it was on to peace time and Embracing the Empire State, as Arthur Bull returned home to New York State and I began exploring his back story.

Spending a year and a half focused primarily on a single ancestor’s experiences taught me the value of taking a deep dive into one particular family on my tree and drawing lessons from the history they lived through. Subsequent posts unfolded in serial format, as my focus turned to the Bull family and their civilian lives before and after the war.

Cousins come calling

Perhaps the most exciting development in year two of Molly’s Canopy was the arrival of cousins — first my Dempsey cousins and soon thereafter cousin Don from my Bull line, whose ggg grandfather was likely a brother of my ggg grandfather Jeremiah Bull (Arthur’s father).

Through blog comments and email, we got to know one another and shared information about our respective research — making the family history journey so much richer.

Cameo appearances

The other development in year two was cameo appearances by individual ancestors and collateral relatives. First was my maternal Aunt Rita for Veteran’s Day, then my paternal grandmother Mary Frances (Owen) Charboneau for the holidays and most recently my maternal grandparents Tony and Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence for Valentine’s Day.

My readers particularly enjoyed these portraits — which provided a break from the longer saga of the Bull family and allowed me to introduce new ancestors who will appear again on the blog when their family’s stories are told.

GeneaBloggers introduction

Two landmark events turned the end of my second genealogy blogging year into a new beginning.

On April 18, I was honored to be introduced to the genealogy blogging community as part of the GeneaBloggers interview series profiling family history bloggers.

May I Introduce To You…Molly Charboneau could not have appeared at a better time, since this is my Second Blogiversary week!

In my challenge post for Letter P — Proud to be a family history blogger — I shared my tremendous sense of validation to be recognized by my peers in this way.

Blogging challenge

And now I am heading into my third year of Molly’s Canopy by participating in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge — and a challenge it is, but an satisfying one.

Blogging daily, except Sundays, has allowed me to share shorter, single posts about individual relatives, research techniques, past discoveries and the joy of the search on the theme Ancestors From A to Z.

And I am meeting so many wonderful bloggers in the process — family historians; genealogists; writers of narrative and memoir, and other fellow travelers who show up at the page (or screen) and write passionately about the subjects that move them.

How wonderful to have them along as I celebrate Two Years: Second Blogiversary — joining my loyal readers who have accompanied me from the beginning — to usher me into year three.

Thank you all for making my family history journey so much more enjoyable!

Up next: Undergarments and Aunt Kate. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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