Walter Bernard Dempsey, my grand-uncle: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #7

Prompt (from 2018, week 25): Same Name

One of the Walter Bernard’s in my family was the fourth child of William and Mary (Lamburth) Dempsey, their third son, and an older brother of my grandfather.  Walter is enumerated with his family at 485 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, in the 1910 Federal census (shown below).[1]

Dempsey Household SanFrancisco_1910

A few short years after the census, he was dead.  The family story was that he attended a New Year’s Day parade, some of the confetti/ticker tape got up in his nose, and he died a few days later.   His death certificate states he died of meningitis on 5 January 1918, his illness having lasted 4 days.[2] Possibly the family story, then, is true.  He seems to have gotten sick around New Year’s Day.

Here is the only photo we have of him, reportedly taken around 1915.  He definitely resembles my grandfather.

walterbernarddempsey_1914

Walter’s death certificate gives his age at death as 15 years 2 months and 11 days.  By my calculations, that makes his date of birth 25 October 1902, which doesn’t match the birth date provided on the death certificate as 24 October.  The informant on Walter’s death certificate is the “San Francisco Hospital”, although surely they would have to have gotten information from either Walter’s doctor or Walter’s parents.

Further complicating the birth date issue is the delayed birth certificate application for his younger sister Mary Loretta, applied for in March 1949, on which Mary Loretta’s mother Mary (Lamburth) Dempsey attests that Mary Loretta’s birthdate was 24 December 1902.[3]

P20-COLL-VITAL-Walter Dempsey

If Walter was born in October 1902, Mary could not have been born 2 months later.  Either Walter’s birth date and age at death is incorrect (meaning he possibly was born October 1901, and thus was 16 when he died), or Mary’s delayed birth certificate application was incorrect, meaning she was born in December 1903 rather than December 1902.  The next child along was my grandfather, born in December 1904, which leaves plenty of time for a full-term pregnancy to occur after a possible 1903 birth for Mary Loretta.

Given that both Walter, Mary Loretta and my grandfather Cassius were all born late in the year, the 1910 census information (with Walter being 8 years, Mary being 7 years, and Cassius being 5) seems to indicate that Walter was born in 1901, Mary in 1902, and my grandfather (correctly) in 1904.

In sum, one of the records (Walter’s death certificate or Mary’s delayed birth certificate) is incorrect.  It’s a tossup as to which is correct, and in some ways it doesn’t really matter so many years later.

 

Cite/link to this post: Cathy M. Dempsey, “Walter Bernard Dempsey,” Genes and Roots, posted 27 Feb 2019 (https://genesandroots.com : accessed (date)).

[1] 1910 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 29, San Francisco Assembly District 31, page 9A, family 161, William J Dempsey household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7884 : accessed 20 September 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T624, roll 96.

[2] California Department of Health Services, death certificate state file no. 18-002555, Walter Dempsey (1918); Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Sacramento.

[3] San Francisco County, California, Application for Delayed Birth Certificate with accompanying affidavits, 12 March 1949, for Mary Loretta Dempsey (24 Dec 1902), sworn by Mary E Dempsey, mother; photocopy in possession of grand-niece Cathy [blog author].

William Colbert, First of 13 children : 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #6

Prompt for 2019, week 1 — “First”.

My great-grandfather, William Cornelius (aka Willie) Colbert, was the eldest of 13 children.  He was baptized on 31 January 1877, in Moanlena, Mahoonagh Parish, Co. Limerick, Ireland, to Michael Colbert and Hanora Josephine McDermott.[1]  

william colbert baptism record_mahoonagh parish_limerickgenealogy

William had 7 sisters, and 5 brothers, one of whom was Con Colbert, who was executed on 8 May 1916, after the Easter Uprising.[2]  

Sometime in 1890 or early 1891, the family moved from Moanlena to Athea, as William’s youngest two siblings, Dan and Bridget, were baptized at Templetathea West, Athea parish, Co. Limerick.  Williams’ mother Hanora died in childbirth with the last child born, Bridget, on 17 Sep 1892.

As a young adult, Willie became attracted to a young dairy maid named Eileen Houlihan, daughter of Charles Houlihan and Anna Carmody, also of Athea, Co. Limerick.  The story goes that William’s father Michael wanted no part of William being involved with Eileen, so Michael paid the passage for Eileen to go to San Francisco[3], where her older sister Margaret had immigrated to in 1897.[4]

As one might suspect, that got Michael nowhere, as Willie soon headed to San Francisco himself.  I found a passenger record for a William Colbert from Athea, who traveled to New York from Queenstown on the SS Etruria in July 1899, at the age of 22[5].  That fits with what I know of my great-grandfather.  It also fits with the stated immigration date given on the 1910 Federal Census. 

nyt715_76-0252

Here is a zoomed-in look at the same record: 

passlist_zoom

However, what doesn’t fit William is his stated final destination: the home of his sister Maggie Collins, at 513 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, New York.  While William did have a sister Margaret, she was only 15 and living in Ireland in 1899.  And given that Eileen’s sister Margaret was already in San Francisco for roughly 2 years when Eileen traveled to the U.S., Eileen had no reason to stop in Brooklyn either.  In other words, Margaret Houlihan was not Maggie Collins/Cullins.  Finally, William was aiming to meet up with Eileen, so why delay in Brooklyn?  Long story short, this may or may not be “my” William Colbert.  Some facts fit, some do not.

In any case, Willie is not found on the 1901 Irish census, and by November 1901 he had met up with Eileen in San Francisco, as the filing of their marriage license on 7 November 1901 was recorded in the newspaper.[6]

williamcolbertmarriagelicenseinfo

William and Eileen lived fairly close to each other, as the image below indicates. It was a half-mile walk from one house to the other. (The addresses are based on the newspaper article above.)

mapwherewillieandeileenlivedin1901

colbhoulihan2color

William Colbert and Eileen (Houlihan) Colbert, my great-grandparents, ca. 1901

Their first child was Marie Honora, born 27 May 1902.  She was followed by Anita in 1903, my grandmother Margaret in 1908 (click here for the profile on her), and William in 1910.[7]

In May 1905, two of William’s siblings, John Michael and Johanna (aka Nan), sailed together on the SS Campania from Queenstown, Co. Cork, Ireland to New York, and then traveled to San Francisco.[8]  John and Nan are listed on rows 2 and 3 of the passenger manifest below, and state their brother William paid their passage, and their ultimate destination was his place in San Francisco.  They, like William, would live the rest of their lives there.

nyt715_567-0464

William was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in June 1905; the records were destroyed in the Earthquake of 1906.  In May 1929, he apparently submitted the necessary paperwork for his naturalization to be restored.[8a]

p13-10-court-williamcolbert

Eileen died in December 1911.[9]   William remarried sometime after the 1920 census, in which he is enumerated as a widower[10], and before 30 August 1923, when his daughter Cornelia (aka Connie) was born.[11]  His wife’s true name was Harriet H. (Maley) Buchan, a native of England, but the name given on the birth certificate for Cornelia was Dorothy O’Maley, a native of Scotland. 

conniecolbertandherfather

William with his youngest child, Connie, circa 1930

My grandmother and her brother William (aka Babe) knew the woman as Mrs. Buchan.  Mrs. Buchan had a daughter Dora, roughly my grandmother’s age, and by tracing Dora’s passenger records, I was able to find a link to my great-grandfather’s San Francisco address, helping to tie the two families together even when personal information (names, birthdates) varied.[12]

The family is intact at the time of the 1930 census enumeration.[13]  William is living with “Dorothy” (aka Harriet), and four of his 5 children: Marie, my grandmother Margaret, William, and Cornelia.  Only Anita was not enumerated with the family.

By October 1931, however, my great-grandfather was dead, his body found in the San Francisco Bay.[14]  When I was first finding out more about my great-grandfather’s life, I asked my dad about William’s death.  William died 18 months before my grandmother married, so Dad never him.  He said that accounts varied.

I may have it wrong as to who said what, but my grandmother said it was suicide, one of her siblings said it was murder, and another sibling said it was an accident.  (Or vice versa – maybe my grandmother was the one who said it was an accident.) 

The idea that it might be suicide came from the fact that “Dorothy” (aka Harriet) had reportedly taken off to Shanghai, China, with little Connie, and Willie was going to go after her.

The idea that it might be murder came from the fact that my great-grandfather reportedly had a stash of cash with him (perhaps $5,000?) and that money was nowhere to be found when his body was retrieved.

Finally, the idea that it might just have been an accident was due to the likelihood that he had been drinking.

sf_20thstreetandbay_googlemap

Potrero Point is close to the foot of 20th Street and the Bay.

At the time I first heard this story, roughly 25 years ago, I decided to just order his death certificate from Sacramento.  And so I did.  But the certificate is equally vague on the reasons leading up to Willie’s death by drowning, stating “whether accident-suicide or murder, jury unable to determine”.

p32-10-vital-williamcolbert-copy

A few years ago, I found the coroner’s report online at FamilySearch.org.[15]  It’s not significantly different from the death certificate.  Willie’s brother John was an informant in both cases.  Willie’s car was missing, and while members of the family thought he might have driven overboard into the Bay, the car was later found to be at the intersection of Mason and O’Farrell Streets.

masonandofarrellstreets_googlemap

William was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, in Colma, California.[16]  I cited the Find A Grave memorial, but I’m the one who created and maintains that memorial, so I am citing myself!  The photo of the grave is one I took; what I have mislaid is the location of his grave.  The cemetery office will have that information.

 

 

Cite/link to this post: Cathy M. Dempsey, “William Colbert, First of 13,” Genes and Roots, posted 12 Feb 2019 (https://genesandroots.com : accessed (date)).

Citations
[1]
Diocese of Limerick, Parish of Mahoonagh, 31 January 1877, baptism of William Cornelius, son of Michael Colbert and Honora McDermott.

[2] For a brief overview, see such sites as: https://ireland-calling.com/con-colbert-easter-rising-1916/, https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/easter-rising-hero-con-colbert, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Con_Colbert, and https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/4272.

[3] The story has come down to me through my father via his cousins, children of the late Anita (Colbert) Foley.  The reasons for Michael’s resistance to Eileen Houlihan are unknown. 

[4] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1597, microfilm publication T715, 8892 rolls (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 5, 4 September 1897, SS Etruria, List B, page 54 (stamped), line 15, Margaret Houlihan; digital images, “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7488 : viewed 21 October 2018), image 94. As noted on the manifest, Margaret’s ultimate destination being San Francisco, where her cousin Ellen Walsh lived. 

[5] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1597, microfilm publication T715, 8892 rolls (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 76, 30 Jul 1899, SS Etruria, List A, page 177, line 16, William Colbert; digital images, “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7488 : viewed 30 January 2019), image 252.

[6] “Marriage Licenses,” San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California), 8 November 1901, page 13, column 3; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, (http://cdnc.ucr.edu : accessed 30 October 2018).

[7] For additional sources on the children of William and Eileen, see Cathy Dempsey (cathymd) “Dempsey Family Tree” tree, Ancestry.com.

[8] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1597, microfilm publication T715, 8892 rolls (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 567, 1 May 1905, SS Campania, List L, page 114, line 2, John Colbert; digital images, “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7488 : viewed 30 January 2019), image 464.

[8a] Restoration of Naturalization Record, Judgement Book A-No. 2, William Colbert, 29 May 1929 referencing 27 Jun 1905,
Instrument in Writing, County Clerk, San Francisco; digital images,
FamilySearch (https://https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSM1-ZJTX?i=602&cat=612802 : accessed 18 Jun 2018)> img 603 of 883; citing San Francisco City Archives, San Francisco History Center, Public Library, San Francisco.

[9] California Department of Health Services, death certificate state file no. 11-034498, Ellien [Eileen or Helen] Colbert (1911); Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Sacramento.

[10] 1920 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 120, San Francisco Assembly District 23, page 2A, dwelling 25, family 25, William Colebert household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6061 : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T625, roll 135.

[11] City and County of San Francisco, California, birth certificate local registered No. 6057, dist. No. 3801, Cornelia Colbert (1923); City and County of San Francisco, Office of the County Clerk.

[12] For additional sources on William Colbert’s daughter Cornelia and her mother’s relatives, see Cathy Dempsey (cathymd) “Dempsey Family Tree” tree, Ancestry.com.

[13]  1930 U.S. census, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 43, San Francisco city, page 16B, dwelling 355, family 365, William Colbert household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6224 : accessed 29 October 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T626, roll 195.

[14] California Department of Health Services, death certificate state file no. 31-061761, William C. Colbert (1931); Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Sacramento.

[15] “California, San Francisco County Records, 1824-1997,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G5FQ-9Z96?i=340&cc=1402856 : accessed 13 May 2015), Coroner’s Records > Coroner’s register, Oct, 1931 > image 341 of 428; San Francisco Public Library, California.

[16] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 31 January 2019), memorial page for William Cornelius Colbert (31 Jan 1877–21 Oct 1931), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10411679; citing Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA; Maintained by cmdempsey (contributor 46568461).

I’d Like to Meet… a miscellany, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #6

Prompt for 2019, week 4 — I’d Like to Meet…

Just as an aside, since I started the 52 Ancestors prompt series back in October, I’m off kilter with the “official” 2019 calendar, and mixing / matching prompts from this year and last year. 

The current week’s prompt led me to realize that I don’t have just one ancestor I’d like to meet.  It’s a cop-out, though, to say I want to meet them all (although, of course, I would — back through the mists of time), so I’ll list just a few back through the generations and why I’d particularly like to meet them.

  1. Elizabeth (Holst) Diamantini,  my maternal grandmother.  I wrote about her here.  The reason I want to meet her is the most basic — of my 4 grandparents, she is the one I never knew.  My mother barely knew her either, given that my mother was just a toddler when my grandmother died.  It’s fair to say that my foray into genealogy started here — trying to answer questions I had, and my mother herself had.
  2. Eileen (Houlihan) Colbert, my paternal great-grandmother.  She died in 1911[1], the first of my great-grandparents to die.  She was only 34 years old at her death in San Francisco, and was a native of Athea, Co. Limerick, Ireland[2].  She left behind a sorrowing husband, and four children (three daughters and a son) all of whom were under the age of ten.  Eileen was my dad’s own maternal grandmother; his mother, like my own, was a toddler when her mother died. 
    Thus my reasons for wanting to meet Eileen mirror my reasons for wanting to meet Elizabeth.
  3. Caterina (Cammoranesi) Bolognesi, born ca. 1847 likely in Ascoli, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy, died ca. 1915 in the same place[3].  She is one of my eight great-great grandmothers.  Why do I want to meet her?  Because she is only a name and approximate birth date and death date.  I know nothing of her at all, have no photo, don’t know her parents or her siblings.  I do not know anything about her life, or life in general for residents, in the province of Marche in the 19th century.  Without any “flesh” she is barely even “bones” to me.  Yet she and I share a name, although I was not named for her.
  4. My 3rd great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Copple (born ca. 1829 Washington County, Indiana – died 1911 Yavapai County, Arizona)[4].  Ben married Phoebe Harvey in 1851 in Jasper County, Missouri[5], and they moved west to California by 1861, the parents of four (possibly five) daughters.  Phoebe died, apparently in childbirth, and Ben ditched his girls, leaving them to be raised by strangers in and around Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.  Ben hung out in Mendocino County (adjacent to Sonoma County to the north) for about a decade and then headed down to Arizona, where he lived out his life in and around Cornville, Prescott and Sedona.  He married again[6], and had 3 sons[7]
    I would like to meet him to better understand why he made the choices he did.  As tempting as it is for me, in 2019, to think of him as abandoning his girls, I know times and mores were different back then.  And I’ve found some leads (through Healdsburg-area newspapers) that seem to point to his daughters having some contact with him[8], at least in their adult years.
  5. My 4th great-grandmother, Margaret (Blalock) Copple (born ca. 1810 in Kentucky, died 1892 in Jasper County or Newton County, Missouri)[9].  Margaret was the mother of Ben Franklin Copple and his younger siblings.  But that’s not why I want to meet her.  When I was researching Jacob Copple, her husband, and reading through the records of his probate, it made me tear up to see the pitiful little she owned, priced to sell to pay for Jacob’s farm debts[10].  Jacob died in 1871; what kind of life did Margaret led after his death, and after administering his estate — he left no will — and selling what she owned for the benefit of Jacob’s creditors?  Her two eldest sons were in California at the time; neither returned home to Missouri again.  Her siblings were either deceased or still in Indiana.  Her only kindred around her at such a tough time seems to have been her children and grandchildren.  I hope they brought her some comfort.
  6. My 5th great-grandfather, Philip Copple, father of Jacob and grandfather of Ben Franklin Copple.  He was born in North Carolina, probably in Rowan County or Randolph County[11].  He married Anna Patsy [Patsy Anne?  Martha Ann?] Wright in Wayne County, Kentucky[12], and later moved to Washington County, Indiana probably by 1812 with many of his own Copple kin, as well as his wife’s family.  Philip’s in-laws are famous today as southern Indiana 19th century preachers, in particular his brother-in-law John Wright.  Philip was reportedly a preacher too.  I would like to meet him and ask him about his religious beliefs, listen to his preaching (assuming he was a preacher), as well as ask him about his own family (to see if I’ve gotten the relationships correct, as there are multiple Philip Copples in Washington County, Indiana in the early 19th century — and multiple Jacobs, Barbaras, Margarets, etc.)  Are my facts straight?

So, I could go on up a few generations, but I’ll leave off with these six ancestors for now.  Ask me on a different day and you’ll probably get a completely different answer!

What about you?  Which ancestor or ancestors would you most like to meet?

[1] California Department of Health Services, death certificate state file no. 11-034498, Ellien [Eileen or Helen] Colbert (1911); Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, Sacramento.

[2] Church baptismal record for Helen Houlihan, 24 Mar 1877, church not named, Parish: Athea, County: Limerick, Father: Charles Houlihan; online transcriptions (http://limerick.rootsireland.ie : accessed 27 Sep 2012).

[3] See Cathy Dempsey (cathymd) “DNA_Direct Ancestors” tree, Ancestry.com.

[4] “Arizona, County Coroner and Death Records, 1881-1971”, Benjamin Franklin Copple, death date: 7 July 1911;Ancestry.com, digital database (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60874 : accessed 15 August 2017) > Yavapai > Death > 1865-1928.  Note that date of birth conflicts with censuses during Ben’s lifetime (1840 – 1910) which gave an approximate birthdate of 1832.

[5] “Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002,” Franklin Copple and Plebe [Phebe] Harvy, 21 Dec 1851; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1171 : accessed 13 June 2016) > Jasper > Record Images for Jasper > 1841-1874 > img 122.

[6] “Arizona, County Marriage Records, 1865-1972,” Benjamin Franklin Copple and Marena [Marova] Jane Johnston, 28 May 1880; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60873 : accessed 13 June 2016) > Yavapai > Marriage Records, Index, 1871-1928 > img 1426.

[7] “Summons 16967 in the Superior Court of Arizona, County of Yavapai”, Prescott Evening Courier (Prescott Arizona), 26 June 1947, p 15:4; digital images, Google News (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=MNNNGtAgD4EC&dat=19470626&printsec=frontpage&hl=en : accessed 21 Aug 2014).

[8] “B.F. Copple and son Bert Copple, ” Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar  (Healdsburg, California), 10 September 1908, page 2, column 2; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, (http://cdnc.ucr.edu : accessed 30 October 2018).

[9] Find A Grave, database (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 January 2017), memorial page for Margaret Blalock Copple (1809-1892), no. 91276187, citing Fidelity Cemetery, Fidelity, Jasper County, Missouri, USA; created and maintained by Dona (Wilcox) Cupp (contributor 46971570).  Margaret was buried in Jasper County, Missouri, but was living in Newton County as of the 1880 census enumeration.  See:  1880 U.S. census, Newton County, Missouri, population schedule, Enumeration District 98, Marion Township, (handwritten) page 12D, (stamped) page 398, dwelling 102, family 108, Margaret Coppy [Copple] household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6742 : accessed 29 October 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T9, roll 705.

[10] “Missouri, Wills and Probate Records, 1766-1988”, estate of Jacob Copple, file 475, Newton County, Missouri; digital database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9071 : accessed 20 October 2017) > Newton > Probate Case Files, No 450-485 > imgs 940-981.

[11] Find A Grave, database (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 January 2017), memorial page for Margaret Blalock Copple (1809-1892), no. 45709964, citing Old Mill Creek Church of Christ Cemetery, Salem, Washington County, Indiana, USA; created by jpmgs (contributor 46910169); maintained by Bill Myers (contributor 46945321).

[12] “Kentucky, County Marriages, 1783-1965,” Phillip Copple and Anne Wright, 1804; database with images, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61372: accessed 13 June 2016) > Wayne > 1801-1860 > img 27.

Cassius Dempsey: By the crook of a finger – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, # 5

The other day I asked my dad if he knew how his parents met.  As a matter of fact, he did, and I’m glad I asked him before it got too late.
Dad told me that he mostly heard the story from his dad… Grandpa (aka Cassius Patrick Dempsey) had gone to one of the local public dance halls, I guess for the Irish neighborhood, and my grandmother was sitting against the wall with some of her friends.

Grandpa noticed her immediately, and there were plenty of men who approached her to dance; she turned down every last one of them.  She laughed and talked with,  her gal pals, but did no dancing.  But Grandpa, from across the room, kept an eye on her, and when, in her laughing and talking, she turned his way and he grinned and crooked his finger at her.

nanaGrandpa

And my grandmother nodded ever so slightly, so Grandpa came over to talk to her.  

So, by the crook of a finger, here we all are: my dad, his siblings, me and my own siblings, and my cousins, and now the next generation.  It’s an odd feeling to realize an entire relationship existed and generations of the Dempsey family exist by the crook of a finger…

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Colbert Dempsey: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #4

Nearly 5 years ago, Amy Johnson Crow came up with the idea of writing about a different ancestor each week (hence “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” — see here and here.) The premise was to put together a story in words, images or videos (or some combination) about a different ancestor, so the stories you had about your family were captured.  And if you were a hard-core researcher, so much the better — it was a way to organize the “stuff” you had gathered about a family member and get it into a coherent format, perhaps even seeing where you might lack info.

Which brings me to this “52 Ancestors” post.  I realized as I wrote up this summary about my paternal grandmother that I actually know very little about her!  I saw her only a few times in my life, first of all, and most of what I know about her is either from records (census, vitals) I discovered or stories my dad told me.  And then I have to balance that with the fact that all of her children and grandchildren are still alive… how much is “too much” for a blog post?

So, what do I know of my paternal grandmother’s life?  

Her name was Margaret Aileen Colbert and she not only lived her entire life in San Francisco, California, but she lived her entire life in the same house, just off Army Street (now known as Cesar Chavez Street).  She was the third of 4 children born to William Cornelius Colbert and Ellen (aka Eileen) Houlihan, both formerly of Athea, Co. Limerick, Ireland.

Margaret was born on 19 January 1908; the name on her birth certificate is given as Eileen.[1]  She had two older sisters: Honora Marie, born in May 1902 in San Francisco, and Anita, born in September 1903 in San Francisco.  Margaret’s younger brother William C. Colbert (aka “Babe”) was born in June 1910.

Nana_BirthCert

A copy of my grandmother’s birth certificate (see source citation below)

Margaret was just shy of 4 years old when her mother, Ellen (Houlihan) Colbert, died in San Francisco on 15 December 1911, of peritonitis due to a miscarriage.  Her father eventually remarried, circa 1922, to a woman named Harriet Maley, and in August 1923, Margaret’s half-sister Cornelia was born.

NanawithFriend500dpi

Margaret (left) with a friend, ca. 1930

Margaret’s father died in October 1931, when Margaret was 23 years old.  Then, 18 months later, she married Cassius Patrick Dempsey.  I do not know how they met.  They married in Hollister, San Benito County, California – and I do not know why they married there instead of their hometown of San Francisco.

Throughout their marriage they lived in the house that my grandmother’s Uncle Jack Colbert built, which was also the house she grew up in.  My father was their eldest child, of three children.  A sister followed 6 years later, and a brother 11 years after that.  All of them grew up in the same house too.

nanaGrandpa

My Nana and Grandpa, ca. 1933

IMAG4327 - Copy (2)

Me with my grandparents, 1962

I was 8 months old when my parents and I moved to Florida from California; we lived in Florida for 5 years, where my siblings were born.  Then we moved to the D/FW area.  My grandparents came out to Florida for Christmas in 1963, when I was a toddler.  That was the only time we ever saw them for Christmas, not that I remember it!  We do have home movies, and photographs, however.

NanaGrandpa63

My grandparents with my sister, Christmas 1963, in Florida

As for times I remember seeing my grandmother, I can count them on one hand, as we rarely made the long trip out to San Francisco, and they never visited us in Texas. 

The last time I ever saw my grandmother was when I visited my aunt (who is also my godmother) in San Jose over the Bicentennial Fourth of July.  My aunt and uncle were away for a short business trip, and my grandparents came down from San Francisco to stay with me and my younger cousins.

My grandmother died of heart failure on 30 October 1983, at the age of 75, when I was 22 years old.  She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

 

 

[1] City and County of San Francisco, California, birth certificate local registered No. 370, Eileen [Margaret] Colbert (1908); Office of the County Clerk, San Francisco.

Charles Holst: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #3

  My great-granddad Charles Holst was one of 3 great-grandparents who were alive when I was born, and one of 2 I can actually remember, although the memory is fuzzy.  Grandpa Charlie (so-called by my aunt and uncles to differentiate him from the other grandparents) was born in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California, on 18 October 1884, to Peter Holst, who was 37, and Caroline (Thomsen) Holst, who was 41.

Charlie had an older sister, Annie, born in 1875, an older sister Mary born in 1881.  Another son, named Peter, was stillborn a year before Charlie was born.  Reportedly, there was another brother, George, who was born in 1885, but I have found no records backing up his existence.

CharlieWithSpirit

Grandpa Charlie Holst with his horse named Spirit

The Holsts did not live in town, but instead on a ranch on Dry Creek Road, about 4 miles from Healdsburg proper, back in the hills.   Charlie’s father had a vineyard and a winery; the winery remained in production until Prohibition.

GrandpaCharlieandChasMoisan

Charlie Holst (left) with Charles Moisan, his wife’s brother-in-law

Grandpa Charlie’s parents were ethnically Danish, having both been born in the Duchy of Slesvig near Flensburg – an area which is now in Germany, and, in fact, became part of Bismarck’s Prussian Empire before they immigrated to the United States.

There is little I know about my great-grandfather.  I don’t know if he spoke Danish in addition to English.  I don’t know where he went to school, if he went to school at all – presumably there was a local school in the Healdsburg area.  I don’t know how he met the woman he would marry, Hazel Hannah Englehart, but possibly it was through her father, who reportedly built (or painted?) the Holst farm house, as he was a painter and carpenter. 

In any case, I had always been told that Charlie and Hazel married in January 1908, in Marin County, just south of Petaluma.  But when I ordered a copy of their marriage record, I discovered they married on 28 January 1909.  Their firstborn, a son named Charles (Junior) and called “Sonny”, was born just 6 months later on 2 August 1909. 

Their next child was my grandmother, Elizabeth, born in June 1914.  Another son, William, was born in 1921, and then a stillborn baby girl in 1928.

With Prohibition arriving in 1920, Charlie and his father ripped out all the vineyards they were cultivating, and starting growing plum trees.  Charlie’s father, a viticulturist, died before the repeal of Prohibition, as did his mother.  Charlie remained on the land, and made a living off the land until he died in 1968.

His children grew up and moved away, one serving in World War II and another having a family in Sonoma County, then divorcing his wife, and later moving to Oregon with his second wife.

HolstFamily1961

The Holsts in 1961.  L to R: Hazel (Englehart) Holst, Grace (Proden) Holst, Bill Holst (with dog), Charlie Holst, Charlie Holst Jr. (aka “Sonny”)

Their land off Dry Creek Road was where we visited when I was a four year old.  I remember the pink house they lived in, the sunshine, the hills which seemed to hug the house they were so close.  I remember going outside, and seeing my great-grandpa in the vegetable garden they had alongside the house, wearing denim overalls.   Although my mom tells me both my great-grandparents saw me as a baby, before we moved to Florida, that is my only memory of my great-granddad.  He died 2 years later in April 1968, and is buried in Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg.

James Diamantini: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #2

My granddad was the youngest of 3 sons, born to Giuseppe Diamantini and Maria (Bolognesi) Diamantini in Sonoma County, California, on 16 October 1914.   My mother — his daughter – always said he was born in Calistoga, which is in Napa County, or in Mark West Springs, which is in Sonoma County.   The California Birth Index lists the county as Sonoma; I still (!) need to order the actual certificate, so I guess we’ll see.   

The U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936 – 2007, database online at Ancestry.com lists Grandpa’s birth place as Santa Rosa South, and his name as James Diamantine.  He made his application in 1942, and at this time, he and his brothers were Anglicizing their name from Diamantini to Diamantine.

I knew my grandfather’s name to be James Eugene, but I do not know the name he was born with.   According to the California Birth Index, a first name for my grandfather is not listed on the birth certificate.  However, on the 1920 census, his name is given as Trenton (which doesn’t sound very Italian to me, nor is it a family name that I know of.) 

1920 census, Sonoma County, California (click to zoom in)

My granddad’s two older brothers were Gaspare Antonio (aka “Gilbert”), born in 1904, in Italy, and Francis Angelo (known as Frank), born in January 1909, in Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.   Although the State of California required registering births as of July 1, 1905, there is no certificate for Frank.  My great-grandparents,  just recently in the U.S. – they arrived in 1908 – likely did not know “the routine”.     However, I do have a copy of Frank’s Social Security Application, on which he states his date and place of birth.

 I have not been able to find the family on the 1930 census (yet), but presumably they were living near Healdsburg, as my grandfather attended Healdsburg High as a member of the Class of 1934.   

While in high school, my granddad played football, and also met my grandmother, Elizabeth.

my grandparents

James and Elizabeth married on 22 November 1934, in Healdsburg, and then went to live in Tracy, California, where they worked at the service station owned by James’ older brother Gil.  My mother was born within two years of their marriage, and life was good, until Elizabeth died in 1940, after giving birth to a stillborn daughter.

my grandparents’ marriage certificate

After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather came back to the Hayward area, where his parents were living.  They fixed him up with an Italian woman his age who lived down the street from them, and the two were married in May 1941.  James and Jean (“Nonna”) had 6 children in the next 10 years.  

Grandpa worked in the shipping yards during World War II, and later worked with his brothers, who owned a lumberyard.   He was also a beekeeper, and, in the early 1970s, he and Nonna moved out to Manteca, California, where they had a ranch, and where he cultivated a vineyard.

But Grandpa began to suffer from Parkinson’s during the late 1970s, and so he and Jean decided to sell the Manteca property, and move back to Hayward.  I only saw my granddad a few times when I was growing up, and didn’t go out to California to see my mom’s relatives at all for a period from about the age of 10 to the age of 25.  

Grandpa’s Parkinson’s got worse over the years, to where he could barely walk and talk.   He died in May 1995, at the age of 80, in Hayward, and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, near his parents and his brothers.

Sources:

Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database,
Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60901 : accessed 11 January 2016), entry
for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.

Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014,” database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693 : accessed 11 January 2016), entry for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.

1920 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 152, Santa Rosa, sheet 4, page 12B, dwelling 83, family 84, Joe Diamantini household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6742 : accessed 20 December 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T625, roll 151.

“California Birth Index, 1905-1995,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGQF-SHV : accessed 7 July 2016), Diamantini, 16 Oct 1914; citing Sonoma, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.

Elizabeth Holst Diamantini: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #1

This is what I know about my maternal grandmother — nearly nothing.

Elizabeth died young – 2 months past her 26th birthday –likely from deep vein thrombosis, as she she had been in the hospital lying in bed for 8 days after delivering a stillborn baby girl in Tracy, California, in August 1940.

My mother was only 4 at the time, and her only real memory of her mother was the day she came home from the hospital.   Her memories, as she’s told them to me, are like snapshots: My grandmother was helping my mother wash up for bed when she slumped over; the next thing my mother remembers is her own grandmother, Hazel, yelling to her, “Go get your father!”  And, finally, she remembers her father bringing her into the bedroom, where Elizabeth’s body was laid out on the bed, and was told to kiss her mother good-bye.  She didn’t want to – her mother was so still, with her skin growing cool.  It was scary.

And in the years afterward, no one talked about it.  No one.  Not her dad.  Not her grandmother Hazel, who buried her only daughter.  Not her granddad Charlie.  Not her uncle Bill, or uncle Sonny, who survived their sister.  That’s life, we can’t change the past, let’s move on.  You didn’t know her, how can you mourn?

The mystery of my grandmother’s existence – what was she like?  Who were her people?  — was really what drove me to genealogy.

Elizabeth May Holst was the middle child and only daughter of Charles and Hazel (Englehart) Holst, born on 25 June 1914, in Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.   Her brother Charles Junior (aka “Sonny”) was 5 years older, and her brother William (“Bill”) was 9 years younger.    There was a fourth child – a girl – stillborn in 1928.

Elizabeth’s parents referred to her as “Honey”; in her later years, her brothers-in-law would call her “Betty”.   (“Betty” is how I think of her, too, since I knew my grandfather’s brothers, and never knew her as a grandmother.)

Elizabeth_6thgradeClass - Copy

The girl circled in yellow is my grandmother, in the 6th grade.

Betty attended Healdsburg High, graduating in 1932.  I know she took Home Economics, as my mom has a bound set of handwritten notes and recipes Betty wrote down from class.

Eliz_Classmates_Nov1930

She may have taken music classes; in the above photo, taken in November 1930, she is playing the mandolin (third from right).

Grandma Mandolin

Grandma’s mandolin

Above is Betty’s mandolin, currently in my mom’s possession, on a rocking chair which belonged to Betty, and resting on a quilt Betty made.

Here is Elizabeth at 17, her senior picture:

Eliz age 17 - Copy

And below, is a photo from her high school graduation day.  She is at the ranch off Dry Creek Road, near Healdsburg.

Elizabeth_HSGraduation - Copy

It was in high school that Betty met James Diamantini, a first-generation American, whose parents were Italian Catholic immigrants from the Marche province of Italy.

Eliz and James - Copy

James and Elizabeth got married on 22 November 1934 in Healdsburg.  Elizabeth converted to Roman Catholicism prior to their marriage, and took the confirmation name of Catherine.  The strong Protestant heritage of my grandmother was something new I learned in my research and may explain why my great-grandmother did not attend her daughter’s wedding.

MyGrandparents_WeddingDay - Copy

My grandparents on their wedding day.

After the wedding, my grandparents moved down to Tracy, California, in San Joaquin County,  where they ran a gas station.

Elizabeth at Gas Station

It was in Tracy where my mother was born about 16 months after my grandparents were married.

MomandherMother

Mom, as a baby, with her mother.

My grandmother got pregnant a second time in 1940; unfortunately, the baby girl was stillborn in August 1940 in Tracy.  Sadly, my grandmother passed away a week after the stillbirth, the day she came home from the hospital.  She was only 26 years old; my mother was just 4.

ElizDiamantini_Obit

Elizabeth is buried in Oak Mound Cemetery, in Healdsburg.