About Cathy

Genes and Roots started in October 2018, when Cathy decided to just “go for it” and start a genealogy blog, with the intent of documenting her work on her family history (and DNA discoveries).

Cathy got “bit” by the genealogy bug as a teenager in August 1977, after her mother’s maternal grandmother died.  Hazel (Englehart) Holst was Cathy’s last living great-grandparent.  Fortunately, Cathy’s mom had, years earlier, asked her Hazel for information about her family, and taken notes! 

It turned out that Hazel was a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of person – at least as far as family history goes.  Everything Hazel said – including “My mother was a Copple” – has turned out to be something Cathy was later able to document.  (The Copple part, however, was only verified when DNA testing went mainstream.)


Cathy’s maternal roots are deep in the U.S. – her great-grandmother Hazel’s line goes back to ca. 1726 in the States – as well as Italy (Le Marche province), and Slesvig-Flensburg, formerly of Denmark, now part of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany.

Cathy’s paternal side hails from Ireland – all but 7 of her dad’s 8 great-grandparents, anyway.  (The eighth might be originally from England, having arrived in the U.S. by 1800).  Her Dempsey ancestors, from County Offaly, arrived in the United States during the Famine years, stopping in upstate New York, before traveling to San Francisco.  Her grandmother’s parents arrived in San Francisco from Athea, County Limerick, circa 1899/1900.  Other ancestral counties include County Kilkenny, County Kerry, and County Clare.  


Cathy was born in the Bay Area, but grew up in Alachua County, Florida, and Dallas County, Texas.  She and her husband live in North Texas with their “Halloween” cats: Simba (orange) and Leo (black).

Cathy’s people were the ordinary “salt of the earth” – farmers, mostly, but also preachers, factory workers, small business owners and schoolteachers.  Cathy’s most famous kinsman was her great-grandfather William’s younger brother, Con Colbert (Conchúir Ó Colbáird) of Athea, County Limerick, who was executed in May 1916 at the age of 27, for his part in the Easter Uprising.


© 2019, copyright Cathy Dempsey. All rights reserved.