James Dempsy

James H Dempsy was a resident of Westfield Indiana until his death December 31st 1880. We want to highlight him as an African American (and part Native American) member of our community and a veteran of the Civil War. As his marker states he was part of the Indiana 28th US CT - United States Colored Troops. After seeing a lot of action during their time during the Civil War, they were sent to Texas to try help suppress some unrest Ex-Confederate officers were stirring up there and in neighboring Mexico. 

Some of these troops were from Hamilton County and according to research by our County Historian David Heighway (read more here) some of them landed in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865, the day General Granger issues several General Orders, including the famous General Order No. 3 (click on the link for more information, also below a picture of the order in the local newspaper) declaring freedom for the enslaved people of Texas. So it is very possible that James Dempsy from Westfield, Indiana was there. It is also very likely that he talked about this memorable event when he returned to Westfield Indiana after his service was over.

James was the son of James P Dempsy who was born in 1805 in Guildford County, North Carolina on an Indian Reservation. Guildford County is close to Surry and Stokes counties where a lot of the original settlers of Westfield, Indiana came from. There is still to this day a Westfield, North Carolina as well there. He died in 1861 in Hamilton County.

James H Dempsy mother Rebecca Terry Ressar Dempsy lived from 1820-1875 and died in Hamilton County, Indiana.

James H Dempsy was born in 1842 in Marion County Indiana. His grandfather James J Dempsy (born 1783 in Hallifax, NC) died the year after in 1843 also in Indiana. It looks like the family moved to Indiana after 1830.

In the 1860 census he is shown living at a 17 year old with is family in Westfield. He was the oldest of 7 siblings at the time.

After the war James went back to Westfield and worked as a Farm Laborer, according to the 1870 census he lived in the household of David Fodrea (a Farmer originally from North Carolina)

James married Malinda Wadkins on December 8th 1870

In the 1880 census James and Malinda reside in their own home. They have three children, Edward 8, Rosa 5 and Harvey 3 years old.

BELOW: Gravemarker issued by the Federal Government for James Dempsy - South side of Anti-Slavery Friends Cemetery in Westfield, Indiana at 345 North Union Street.

BELOW: Request for Gravemarker for James Dempsy. Contract date August 21st 1888

BELOW: James Dempsy (Dempsey here) pension record

BELOW: Death Certificate for Rosetta D Harvey, daughter of James Dempsy and Malinda (Watkins) Dempsy. Note - she lived at 314 East North Street in Westfield, Indiana. Her daughter Nora Heathcock reported it.

BELOW: General Order No. 3 issued June 19th 1865 by Major-General Granger in Galveston Texas