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…

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures Really ARE worth a thousand words (or more!)…

I’ve been struggling to make sense of — or, more accurately, wisely use — my dad’s matches at Ancestry to extend some of his lines.  Dad has one great-grandparent who was born in the U.S.; the others were all born in Ireland (where all but three remained throughout their lives.)  So, I’ve long thought most of my dad’s matches are not easily assignable to one of his great-grandparents because there is much I don’t know about the aunts/uncles/first cousins of those ancestors.

Now, that may still be the case to some degree, but I did have an eye-opener when I used the NodeXL template with Excel to cluster my matches.  NodeXL is a template for graphing your networks (often in reference to social media)  — see here. I found about the tool from reading Shelley Crawford’s blog Twigs of Yore; she has an entire step-by-step series on how to create visual networks of your Ancestry DNA matches using NodeXL and Excel. (An indexed version is here.)

So, I downloaded my dad’s matches at year-end from Ancestry using DNAGedCom, and loaded the data into the NodeXL template.  I limited the number of matches to those who share at least 17 cM with my dad; I also did not include my brother or me as matches, nor my paternal 1st cousin.

The reason you want to exclude close matches is  because they will match so many people you (or your target person) that there will be connections all over the graph, and you won’t be able to discern any useful information.

For this same reason, I also excluded children and grandchildren of matches, for those cases I know about.  (As a disclaimer, just to be clear, with Ancestry’s matches, I have no way of telling if match A and match B are, say, child/parent to each other — unless I personally know A and B, or unless I’ve “met” online regarding our shared matches, and they’ve shared that with me.)

That’s the context; here is the first picture of Dad’s top 1,000 (or so) matches clustered into the top groups.

dad_ancestrymatch_clustering_majorgroups

The bigger dots represent the closest genetic connections to my dad.   Big dots exist in the navy dot group (upper left), the turquoise group (lower left) and the kelly green group (upper right).

The grey lines denote connections, both within groups and between groups.  In one easy glance, one can determine that the group most tightly related to each other is the group on the top row with dark green dots.  It looks like a web.

As far as inter-group connections go, the turquoise dot group seems to have the most connections with other groups.

So, when I highlight the turquoise group, what do I find?  Connections to most every group of matches my dad has — except for the navy blue group.   Which is kinda cool — but so what?  Unless you know something about the matches within the group.

dad_ancestry_match_lamburthcluster_all her lines

So, the matches in the highlighted group above are all kin to my dad’s great-grandfather, Archibald Lamburth (born c. 1833 Tennessee – died 1909 San Francisco).  He has the distinction of being my dad’s only great-grandparent born in the United States.  Given that the bulk of Ancestry’s DNA customers are U.S.-born, and that many with colonial ancestry say they have many thousands of matches, I suspect most of these connections will tie back to 18th-century U.S. and the colonies should I ever break this “brick wall”.

My second surprise was looking at the navy blue group.  Other than the one outlier I have yet to explore, all the matches are intra-group matches.  This group includes known close relatives of my dad’s maternal side.

dad_ancestry_match_nanacluster_all her lines

My dad has matches to his maternal grandfather‘s side (and his parents AND grandparents), as well as to his maternal grandmother‘s side (and her parents), the clustering algorithm does not distinguish between the two lines — at least based on the current population of matches used.

I may need to do a separate analysis on these particular matches — perhaps bringing down the filter to 15 cM — to see if I can break out that group into Maternal Grandfather and Maternal Grandmother.

Right now, the only useful information is that my dad’s mother’s matches and my dad’s father’s matches are separate.  They weren’t related to each other, based on the information we currently have — the above graphs, plus the genealogy I’ve already done.

The next picture, below, shows how some close genetic relatives (> 275 cM shared, in this case 1st cousins 1 generation removed), share matches with other groups.  This cluster could be a Dempsey cluster, with ties to Lamburth kin.  Which makes sense in my family tree since a Dempsey married a Lamburth.

dad_ancestry_match_bartjones billydodge cluster_their daughters_dempseylamburthlandriganhurley

Notice also that the group is somewhat open, like a child’s scribble.  Not everyone within the group is closely connected to everyone else in the group.

An example of a tightly-connected group is below. This is the group with dots in chartreuse green. Right now, I have no idea how they fit into the family tree.  It’s pretty much a self-contained group, with minor ties to the Lamburth (dad’s paternal grandmother’s side) group, but nothing significant.   Yet.

dad_ancestrymatch_clustering_group8

That was a look at my dad’s clustered Ancestry matches; sometime in the near future, I’ll take a look at my mom’s clustered Ancestry matches using the NodeXL tool.

 

1940 WPA Model of San Francisco — Digitized

If you have any interest at all in historical San Francisco, or if you — like me — have ancestors who lived there, this is worth checking out! 

https://www.davidrumsey.com/blog/2019/1/1/huge-san-francisco-1940-wooden-model-digitized

It can be viewed via Google Earth, Luna, and other tools — links available at the David Rumsey website above.  

Bay Area historian Gary Brechin has been a lead player in seeing that the model — originally used for city planning — be preserved and restored.

 

How Complete is my Tree?

Are you sure that the segment of DNA you share with your DNA match is due to your common 3rd great-grandparents Joe and Sally (Harper) Booth (that’s a fictional couple, by the way) — and not due to a common ancestor you may not yet have found?  How complete is your tree? 

Recently, Blaine Bettinger posted in Facebook’s Genetic Genealogy Tips and  Techniques group, about the completeness of your genealogical tree being critical to accuracy in ascertaining the correct common ancestor with your DNA matches.  He referenced a post by Amberly Beck (see here) in which she discusses the completeness (or lack thereof) of her maternal line.

Rather than looking at just my maternal line or just my paternal line, or even just looking at my whole tree at once, I decided to review my results by grandparent. 

how complete is my tree

I “found” 9 ancestors last year on my maternal side without using DNA at all! Instead, I used DanishFamilySearch.com, a site which has been transcribing Danish census records, and allowing registered users to post their family tree information on their site, and the newly online Danish census records (in Danish, of  course!) at familysearch.org 

So, yay!, that was success for my grandmother’s line.  I now know 4 more of my maternal grandmother’s 16 2nd great-grandparents, and 5 more of my grandmother’s 32 3rd-great grandparents.

As for my 3 other grandparents, there was no change in the past year.  Not surprising, because I spent time on the BU Certificate course for 15 weeks (during which I spent little time on my own genealogy), and I also spent some time continuing to validate with DNA matches my Copple line (which is also on my maternal grandmother’s tree). 

Meaning, as I build out collateral relative trees for my Copple ancestors and find I have — more accurately, my mother has — DNA matches with descendants of those collateral relatives (siblings and 1st cousins of my own ancestors), that is slowly strengthening the case that the DNA shared belongs to the Copple line and not some other unknown line.  (Well, until I am able to build further back; the shared DNA may actually relate to, say, the wife of my most distant Copple ancestor, and not to him.)

I’ve done nothing really on my maternal grandfather’s line — I know the Italian town he came from and his grandparents’ names.  I also know I would likely find records on their parents via the local Catholic church.  As it would likely require assistance from a researcher over in Italy or a trip to Italy myself, it just has not been a priority for me.  Perhaps someday.

Like my maternal grandfather, my paternal grandmother was a first-generation American.  Her uncle was Con Colbert who was executed for his role in the Easter Uprising in 1916.  Consequently, he is somewhat famous in the Republic of Ireland; therefore, some of his family history was researched by a professional genealogist for the centenary in 2016.  So, I have a bit more on her kin than on my maternal grandfather’s kin.  I’ve also been fortunate two years ago to find some of the baptismal and marriage records for her maternal line ancestors (also Irish) online — one such place is here.

I have a “brick wall” at my great-great grandfather Patrick Dempsey.  Per his obituary, he was “of King’s County”.  That’s now County Offaly, but that doesn’t mean he was born and baptized there.  It may just mean he was from there last before coming to America circa 1850 or so.  There are about a half-dozen potential Patrick Dempseys baptised in Co. Offaly when he was thought to be born (ca. 1830), but I have no oral history as to his family.   Maybe his parents and siblings died in the Famine?

This year, I’d like to find out more about my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandparents: Anderson and Ermine (Farnham? Farley?) Lamburth — Grandpa Dempsey’s one line that has reportedly been in the U.S. since at least 1800.  Of course, I’d also like to break the brick walls of my 3rd great-grandmother (aka my maternal grandmother’s great-grandma) Phoebe Harvey — or her mother-in-law Margaret (Blalock) Copple.  We’ll see.

How about you?  Do you have a particular line you’re thinking of researching next?