Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Death Knocked Twice

Some people's deaths were never reported to the State.  William Walling's death was reported twice.

William Walling was my 4x great grandfather.  He was born around 1803 in Keyport, Monmouth County, New Jersey to William Walling and Rebecca Dey.  He married Ellen Euphemia Imlay.  I descend from their daughter, Sophia T Walling.

William died in 1870 on July 31st.  A newspaper article four days before his death, described his physical labors constructing a building in Keyport.  I have been seeking documentation on his parents.

William Walling's death appears in the online index of New Jersey Deaths and Burials, 1720-1988 at FamilySearch.org (a free site).  But there seemed to be two entries: 1870 and 1871.  (Remember the past problem with this index:  the year can be off by one because New Jersey's records were not organized based on a calendar year.)

Volume AP is the death ledger for 1869-1870.
Volume AR is the death ledger for 1870-1871.

So I looked up both records.

Volume AP, New Jersey Deaths, Hunterdon-Warren Counties, 1869-1870

Volume AR, New Jersey Deaths, Hunterdon-Warren Counties, 1870-1871

Remember that individual death certificates were not issued until 1878.

Volume AP, page 118, covers deaths in Monmouth County, New Jersey from August 1, 1869 through July 31, 1870.  William Walling died on the last day covered by this ledger book.  Note that his parents are listed as Thomas and Rebecca.

Volume AR, page 111, covers deaths in Monmouth County from August 1, 1870 through September 30, 1871.  However, the first entry is a death on July 25, 1870 and the last is July 26, 1871.  William's parents are listed as William and Rebecca.

William died of stomach cancer in both entries.  Yet he was digging a well a few days before his death.

Also note that another Walling is on both pages.  Wallings are plentiful in the geographic area.

The research point is that a record may be missing completely, appear in duplicate, or appear in a place where it should not be.  So you need to cast a wide net of years and locations when looking for records.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More to Life than Golf?

A family story holds that my mother's uncle "dropped dead" while playing golf.  With the expansion of the collection of death certificates to the year 1955 at the New Jersey State Archives, I was able to locate this uncle's death certificate.

Death certificate for John E Haas, 1955
Son of Samuel Haas and Mary Zolder

John E Haas died June 18, 1955 from "sudden coronary thrombosis and occlusion," or a heart attack.  The location was the Knickerbocker Country Club in Bergenfield, Bergen County, New Jersey.  Whoever filled out this death certificate was very specific about the location.  John died at the "4th Hole."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Y-DNA Results for Duryea

The results of my cousin's Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA have arrived.  He is a first cousin of my paternal grandmother and is a direct male descendant of Joost Duryea, born about 1650.  Around 1675, Joost immigrated to the English Province of New York, formerly the Dutch Nieuw Nederland.  In 1727 Joost died in Bushwick.

The Y Chromosome is passed from father to son mostly unchanged.  Slight changes, or mutations, occur every few generations.  Joost's sons, their sons, and so on received a Y chromosome identical or almost identical to Joost, right down to today's living descendants.

No man is an exact match to my cousin.  The closest match is also a descendant of Joost Duryea.  The genetic distance of 3 tells us that mutations have occurred, but this is expected when the relation is so far back.

This match and my immediate cousin are 6th cousins, once removed.  We all descend from Joost Duryea's son, Charles (1690-1753).  Charles is seven generations removed from my immediate cousin and eight generations removed from this distant cousin.

None of the other matches list a Duryea as the origin of their patrilineal line.  This can be because the relation is further back than Joost Duryea, when surnames were not used or not handed down father to son.  Other reasons include a non-parental event, name change, or an error tracing family lines.

Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA
Most distant direct male ancestor provided by the other matches

I'm happy to finally have a Y-DNA test with results I can work with.  My father tested earlier this year for the surname Lutter.  He has no matches at any level at any distance.  His direct patrilineal line is the shortest line in his family tree.  I have been able to trace back only three generations to his great grandfather, Hermann Lutter (1860-1924).

P.S.:  FamilyTreeDNA has a sale this month.  Plus, coupon codes abound.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Page from the Book of Death

While perusing the death records on my most recent trip to the New Jersey State Archives, a found an entry for a murder-suicide.

In 1878, New Jersey started issuing individual death certificates.  Before then, deaths reported to the State were logged in ledger books.  No individual records were created.  Jersey City's deaths are separate from the rest of Hudson County.  Browsing the pages of death gives you a glimpse of the times.  This page from 1872-1873 records the death of eighteen children and six adults, mostly from infectious diseases that we rarely see today.  One set of siblings was wiped out from diptheria; another from scarlet fever.

What caught my eye was the entry for Mary Gehring, age 55, and Michael Gehring, age 45.  Both were born in Germany.  Their deaths were in September of 1872- no specific day.

I followed their lines to the cause of death.  Mary was murdered; Michael committed suicide.  This is not seen often.

The incident made the first page of the Jersey Journal for September 27, 1872.  According to the article, Mary and Michael Gehring immigrated about twenty years earlier.  They had a violent marriage with periods of not residing together.  On the night of September 26, 1872, Michael returned to the home after an absence.  Initially Michael and Mary were getting along, but soon began arguing.  In front of their 13 year old son, Michael fatally stabbed Mary at least three times and then slit his own throat.

Four children survived couple.  An 18 year old son, Frank, is mentioned; as was Christopher Diericks, a son-in-law.

If anyone has anything further on this family, please let us know.  Any descendants out there?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FindAGrave 11th Anniversary

Yesterday was 10 years, 11 months, and 30 days.
Today is 11 years, 1 day.
Eleven years contributing to FindAGrave!

1,800 memorials are my contribution, with over 2,000 pictures.

When I first started contributing, I did not have a digital camera.  I handwrote the information from the stones and created the memorial later on a computer.  Later I included pictures by using a digital camera: unloaded the pictures onto the computer, compressed their size, and then uploaded to the FindAGrave.

Just this year, in 2014, FindAGrave introduced its mobile app.  Now it is so easy to add a new memorial and include a picture and even the exact location using GPS coordinates via your phone.  You can also locate cemeteries in an area on a map by using the Search for a Cemetery function.

Many people have contacted me about graves I've posted in these eleven years.  Some are seeking family members; others are still gathering information to link lines.  People have posted graves of my family that I needed to see, but had not yet traveled to the location.

In 2013, Ancestry.com acquired FindAGrave.  FindAGrave continues to be free of charge, which it should remain.  The 121 million records continue to grow from volunteer contributors.  Users can add content, or search and view the entire site, for free.