Sunday, November 2, 2014

Secondary Sources

I finally tracked down the death certificate of Charles Cook, my great great grandfather.  He was a resident of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey when he died December 6, 1937.  I looked at the death certificates year after year until I found the correct one.  This is sometimes what has to be done if the date cannot be obtained from another record.

Unlike the death certificate of his father, Charles' death record provided the name of the cemetery where he was buried, Locust Hill in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey.  His father's record provided only the town of burial.  I made several trips, inquiries, and searches until I found the relevant Cook grave in Dover.

Cook family plot at Locust Hill Cemetery in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey.
Charles Cook (1859-1937) does not have a marker.

When you look at a record, it is important to keep in mind which pieces of information are primary versus secondary.  The date of death and location are primary, as the facts were recorded at the time of the event.  The date and place of birth and names of spouse and parents are secondary sources.

Charles' date of birth is quite specific on his death record:  October 22, 1857.  Unlike most people born in the 1850s, Charles' birth in Denville, Morris County, New Jersey was recorded at the state level.  Charles was born June 11, 1859.  The birth record is a primary source for Charles' birthdate.

The 1860 federal census gives Charles Cook's age as 1 year.  This is consistent with a birth in 1859.  Ages skew in later census years.

The names of Charles Cook's parents are not consistent with other records.  His father was Calvin Cook (1826-1889), not William.  His mother was Mary Neil (1830-1898) or O'Neil, not Caroline.  Charles' wife was Minnie Caroline Bishop (1866-1910).

As you gather documents, evaluate if you are looking at primary or secondary sources.  Remember, though, that primary is not synonymous with absolute truth.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Legible Writing, a Rare and Wonderful Find

The marriage record for Carl Robert Bossert and Pauline Mathilda Maier is the clearest and most detailed I have found.  It's as if the writer wanted to convey legible information to future viewers.

We have full names of both parties.  The bride's birthdate is given, which was not directly asked.  Full names of both sets of parents are given:  Johannes Bossert, Johanna Kukle; Friedrich Maier and Mathilda Heiss.  We also get the hometowns in Germany:  Remsheim and Oberenzingen, both in Württemberg.  The marriage date is clarified:  "July fourth (4) 1897."  You don't find this often.

JewishGen helps you locate places in Europe, even if the name or borders have changed

I attempted to find these locations on a map.  My current theory is that the bride is from Oberensingen, which is now in Nürtingen in the district of Esslingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

The groom's location is trickier.  I don't find Remsheim.  On a subsequent marriage record, Robert Carl listed his birthplace as Wimsheim.  This I can find, about 30 miles northwest of Oberensingen.  Wimsheim is in the district of Enz in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Wimsheim and Oberensingen are in southwest Germany near Pforzheim and Stuttgart.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cause of Death Family Tree

Happy Halloween!

Inspired by other researchers, I created a family tree for my father listing causes of death and ages, when known.  Going back through the great great grandparents, his ancestors died from a variety of causes, such as heart problems, cancer, diabetes, and cystitis.  As the records go back in time, the names for the diseases become more archaic, such as "phthisis," which means tuberculosis.

Most of these ancestors lived into their 60s and 70s.  The youngest to die was William Cummings, who was around 24 years old when he died in 1882.  Two ancestors died in their 40s- maternal grandmother, Rene Marion Duryea, and a great grandmother, Minnie Caroline Bishop.

Cause of Death Family Tree
Halloween special

I could not decipher one cause of death.  Mary Evensherer, died 1916, age 74.  Looks like "chronic endocarditis" or "chronic enterocolitis."  The secondary cause looks like "cystitis," but I cannot make out the next word.

Any ideas?  Leave your comment below.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still missing close relatives at FamilyTreeDNA

Following up on the DNA files uploaded to FamilyTreeDNA ("FTDNA") with their free promotion.  I uploaded several kits originally processed at 23andMe (and one from AncestryDNA, but we'll deal with that at a later date).

The uploaded kits received twenty matches (except for the person with half African ancestry) as promised, with limited viewing.  My concern when the the results were first released was that the top twenty matches in the entire database were not shown, but rather the matches were gathered from the existing pool of paid clientele.  The uploaded kits needed a few days to fully process, so I waited.

Some of the paid kits received email from FTDNA that new relatives were found.

Family Finder at FamilyTreeDNA for Jody's father

My father's list of relatives, called Family Finder, contains the top three people that he has been seeing, Me, his daughter; his third cousin, and his fourth cousin.  Now on the list is his paternal first cousin, once removed.  This cousin is one of two kits whose results I completely "unlocked," which is a part of the transfer promotion.  You can unlock more matches by paying $39 or by getting four people to upload their DNA files from 23andMe or AncestryDNA.

My father's other close relations, including another daughter and three siblings, are not shown in his list of relatives.  But their information is at FTDNA.

Family Finder at FamilyTreeDNA for Jody's sister

My sister's uploaded information remains locked.  She has twenty matches.  Although she is not displayed in our parent's lists of relatives, they are displayed to her.  She can see me, as well as our mother's brother, which are all previously uploaded and paid accounts.  She cannot see any of the newly uploaded, free accounts for our father's siblings or the cousins of our grandparents, including the one that is now "unlocked" via four referrals.

(People have been posting their unique links to unlock their relatives.  So here's one for an uncle's account.  If you have tested at 23andMe or AncestryDNA, please try to use someone's link to upload your file to FTDNA.)

At this point, I don't know if the site has not finished processing all of the newly uploaded accounts and matching them with everyone else already computed.  The uploaded accounts are not getting a full view of the close relations at FTNDA, and neither are the existing, paid accounts.  This situation does not allow someone to do a complete check for close relatives at FTDNA.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ezra Dunn's Obituary

Newspapers for Matawan (New Jersey) are online!  Searchable!  For free!  Here's the link through the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library.  The covered years are 1869-1973.

I happened upon the papers in a search for Ezra A. Dunn (1821-1898).

I found a detailed article about Ezra from 1898, when he died.

According to this article, Ezra Dunn was from Mercer County (New Jersey) and came to Matawan (Monmouth County, New Jersey) in 1845.  This could be why I cannot connect Ezra to older Dunn families in the Matawan area.  Mercer County is west of Monmouth County.  West of Mercer is another state, Pennsylvania, so records may also be across the Delaware River as I go back a few more generations.

Ezra's marriage date (to Hermoine Dunlop) is given as 1849.  The first child I can find for them, Margaret, was born in early 1850.

The article describes Ezra as "methodical in his business relations."  His pottery business records are now housed at the Monmouth County Historical Association.  They are copious and detailed.  "He also kept a record of the death of any of his acquaintances."  Sounds like me- but 150 years ago.  It is great to read a description of the habits of an ancestor.  Their personalities can often only be inferred from sparse facts about their lives- dates of birth, marriage, death, and locations lived.

I wonder what happened to Ezra's records of people's deaths.  It could be so insightful and helpful.