DEMBEY (DENBY) FAMILY
The Dembey family of Steuben County in the Southern Tier of New York has its origins in Beaufort County along the Eastern shores of North Carolina where the name is pronounced and spelled “Denby”.
Samuel Denby of Chocowinity, Beaufort County, North Carolina appeared as a head of household in the 1790 Federal census. Little is known of this early Denby ancestor but he is believed to be the father of a Samuel Denby who was born in Chocowinity in 1795.
This second Samuel Denby married Sarah Freeman circa1830. Sarah, too, had been born in the Chocowinity area in 1810. Samuel and Sarah had a family consisting of, at least, five children.
Blount born 1831
2. Mary born 1833
3. Elizabeth born 1834
4. Franklin born 1840
5. Sally Ann born 1841
Blount Denby married Elizabeth Salter Adams circa 1854 in Chocowinity and
engaged in farming. Their home was a log cabin. Wiley and Elizabeth Denby were the parents of a large family of eleven children. (Children’s birthdates are according to ages found on the 1880 Federal census.)
2. Sarah born 1857
3. James born 1860
4. Sophia born 1862
5. John born 1863
6. Mary born 1865
7. Emily born 1866
8. Permelia born 1868
9. Frances born 1871
10. Fenner born 1873
11. Harvey Henry born 1875/6
Harvey Henry Denby, possibly the last child of Wiley and Elizabeth Denby, fondly recalled, to his relatives, his birth in a log cabin in “Little Washington” (Chocowinity). North Carolina. It was he who met and married Juniatta Deane Hazen, daughter of Samuel Reuel Hazen and his wife Rebecca Paine. Juniatta had been born in 1885 in Stumpy Point, Hyde County, North Carolina and was, reportedly, named for a friendly Indian. Family history also related the story that Samuel Hazen was a Union Civil War veteran originally from Catharine, Schuyler County, New York who, in the 1870s, went to North Carolina to meet again with some Confederate veterans, he had befriended, who had fought for the Union with the troops from North Carolina. In 1879 Samuel married his “Southern belle” Rebecca and, circa 1901, their daughter Juniatta married her “Southern gentleman” Harvey.
It was at this time the Painted Post area of Steuben County, New York was experiencing a manufacturing boom so the Denby and Hazen families left North Carolina for greener pastures. Harvey soon secured a good job with the Ingersoll-Rand plant in Painted Post as did other family members. Not long after his employment Harvey built a lovely home for his bride on Rand Avenue, in Painted Post, New York.
By the time of the 1910 census Harvey’s surname appeared as “Dembey” so he must have adopted this spelling before that date. The reason he did so is unclear as he and his southern family members had always enjoyed cordial relations. Harvey was of a kind and gentle temperament so there was no indication of any name change due to malice.
To Harvey and Juniatta Dembey were born a daughter Ethel Marie in 1903 and a son Reuel Leverett in 1907. Ethel Dembey became a schoolteacher and taught in several one-room schoolhouses including the Red Schoolhouse near the Watson Homestead in the Town of East Campbell, New York. Her career and life were cut short when Ethel contracted blood poisoning and died in 1933. Her father often related his sad story of bringing home her body by train and the only thing he could think of was the sad song “In the Baggage Coach Behind”. Ethel was buried alongside her grandfather Samuel Reuel Hazen in Savory Cemetery, Chambers, New York.
Reuel Leverett Dembey married Sarah (Sally) Miles of Corning, New York. They were the parents of three children: Thomas, Mary Sandra and Richard.Although the North Carolina branch is known as “Denby” while the New York branch is known as “Dembey”, they share a mutual North Carolinian ancestry and heritage.
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