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).

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…

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.