Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Death of Elizabeth Duryea, 1901

After discovering that Elizabeth Duryea, widow of Joseph Henley (born Jones?), remarried to Augustus B Palmer in 1885, locating her death certificate was the next step.

According to her obituary in the Jersey Journal, Elizabeth died on March 4, 1901 in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey.

Note: is not a free site.

New Jersey death certificates are not online. Death certificates are available on microfilm at the New Jersey State Archives, but are only filed alphabetically from 1904 through 1948. For a death in 1901, there is fortunately an index and it is online.

Using's index of the New Jersey death index, two people named Elizabeth Palmer died in 1901. The image icon next to the entries links to the index, not the certificates.

Below are some of the microfilm rolls at the Archives for New Jersey deaths for the years 1901, 1902, and 1903.

The correct Elizabeth Palmer was death certificate number 3469.

According to her death certificate, Elizabeth was buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens, New York. The gravestone does not bear her name. She died of cancer of the breast.

Her parents are listed as Joseph L Scott and Sarah M.

Death certificates are great for finding out the prior generation- except when they aren't.

Elizabeth Duryea was the daughter of Sarah Moffitt (1815-1896) and John H[orton] Duryea. Elizabeth was born in 1836, a year likely accurate because Elizabeth was born after her father died in New York City in April of 1836.

Elizabeth lived her childhood in New York City with her mother's sister, Elizabeth Moffitt (1804-1886), wife of VanRensselaer Terry (1801-1857).

Elizabeth's mother, Sarah Moffitt, remarried to Joseph Scott. Elizabeth never knew her biological father and may have regarded Joseph Scott as her father. Or maybe the person providing the information for the death certificate thought that Joseph Scott was Elizabeth's father.

Elizabeth knew that her biological father was John H Duryea. She provided his name, not the name of Joseph L Scott, when she married Augustus B Palmer in 1885 in Jersey City.

Birth records are best for determining names of parents. Marriage records are good because the two people whose record it is- the marrying couple- provided the information themselves. Death records contain information provided by someone who may not have known the parents of the deceased, making them unreliable without supporting records.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Chasing Charles Luther Across the Globe

Charles Luther is a possible brother of my great great grandfather, Herman Lutter (1860-1924). They were both born in what is now Germany.

Interest in this relation was renewed with a DNA match at

Charles Luther may have lived in Newark, New Jersey with Herman in the 1880s. Charles relocated to Chicago, Illinois and lived with Alexander Lutter, who may have been another brother. Alex Lutter witnessed Herman's marriage to Clara Uhl in Newark in 1888.

In Chicago Charles married Theresa Doanow in 1887. That marriage record did not provide the names of parents. (I wrote to the church but have received no response yet.)

Charles and his family moved to Wisconsin and then to Brooklyn, New York. The final census entry I found for him was the 1915 New York State census.

In 1920 federal census for Brooklyn, Charles' wife, Theresa, was remarried to Frederick Brink. 

The New York City marriage index gave 1917 as the year of Theresa's remarriage.

So I searched for a death record for Charles Luther in Brooklyn from 1915 through 1917, but found no match.

Charles' death record may contain the names of his parents, necessary to show the relationship to my branch.

I ordered the marriage application of Theresa Doanow/Luther and Frederick Brink through the New York City Department of Records and Information Services. (The index was made available through actions of Reclaim the Records.)

I'm glad I ordered this record. Theresa Tornow (morphed from Doanow- remember that spelling is inconsistent) divorced from Charles Luther three days before marrying Frederick Brink.

The records sent included a copy of the divorce decree. The copy is not great, but here it is.

The date of death for Charles Luther is not limited to the date of his wife's remarriage. I need to keep searching in Brooklyn and anywhere he lived or his children lived. He may have married again, too, which would be great because his parents should be on such a record.

The family tree now looks like this:

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Marriage Found

For years the union of my fifth great grandparents, Jonas Long and Elizabeth Merrill, circa 1816, has eluded researchers- until now.

Thanks to cousin Chris G, we have a record of this marriage. The couple was not married in Middlesex County, New Jersey, as was popularly claimed. They were married in Staten Island/Richmond County, New York, at Saint Andrew's Church, on October 13, 1816.

Chris G found this entry in the transcript of the records (viewable at a Family History Library) of Saint Andrew's Church, Staten Island, New York, which still exists.

Merrills were abundant in Northfield in this time period. The Longs were not. Jonas Long was probably from neighboring Middlesex County, New Jersey. His parentage is still a mystery, but a clue is in the naming of a son Jacob Van Pelt Long.