Tag Archives: William Patrick Dempsey

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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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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