Saturday, March 29, 2014

Find A Grave mobile app

I used the new Find A Grave mobile app!  This is an eagerly awaited, highly useful tool.  The website and app are both free.

I have not posted much on cemeteries lately because of the perpetual blanket of snow on the ground.  Most of the snow has melted now.

You can use the app to locate a cemetery using the map feature.  You can also add new graves and add information to existing entries, including GPS coordinates.

Pick a location and see all the cemeteries nearby

Find A Grave mobile app
Click on a tombstone on the map to see the name of the cemetery,
number of memorials, and number of pending photo requests

I visited Mount Hebron Cemetery in Montclair, New Jersey.  I found a new occupant and used the app to see if a memorial had been added.  It had not.  So I went ahead and created a new memorial right there in the cemetery using the app.

I added the name, birth and death dates, and a photo- at which point the phone became stuck on the upload.

Then it started to rain.

I snapped a picture of the surrounding area, which is a good idea to make it easier to locate the grave for anyone's future visit.

At home, on a wi-fi signal, I tried uploading the photo again and received a Successful message.

This is the web version of the new memorial.  GPS coordinates are automatically included!  You can add GPS coordinates for an existing memorial using the app, but make sure you are standing at the gravesite when doing so.  There is a built-in protection so that you cannot add GPS coordinates if you are not near the cemetery.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Preserving abandoned stories

Someone shared with me records from a locally abandoned prison complex, Essex County Penitentiary, later used as the Annex, in North Caldwell, New Jersey.  After people ceased to use the buildings, they fell into disrepair and people took unofficial tours of the historical grounds.  Records were left behind and sometimes people find them at garage sales in the area.  Great pictures of the buildings before demolition can be found on Abandoned But Not Forgotten; about halfway down are pictures of records left behind.  These lost records tell personal stories of local history.

The records are files of two inmates who arrived at the penitentiary on the same day, March 6, 1931.  These would be wonderful for their families to see.

Elizabeth Jackson, age 22, of 42 Shipman Street in Newark, was sentenced to four months for the crime of fornication.  (Can you imagine a time when this was a crime punishable by jail time?  This woman's jail records paint a personal picture of this prosecution.)

Sarah Steward, also known by other names, including Watkins and Douglas, age 25, of 274 Prince Street in Newark, was sentenced to three months for the crime of adultery.  (Makes you want to know who the married man was and how this act was discovered.)

Sarah Steward's troubles continued after her release.
In this letter from a nurse in New York City, we are provided with a more specific birth location:  Chrisfield, Maryland.

The staple in the upper left corner of the letters caused rust to stain the other documents in the file.

In researching both women, I found only one other record for Sarah Steward.  In the 1930 federal census, she was also in this jail, as per the warden's letter, and is enumerated on that schedule.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Finding a Hometown in Ireland

My grandmother's grandfather was Patrick O'Donnell.  He was from "Ireland," which is not surprising or helpful with such a name.  Without a town, it is impossible to locate with any certainty the correct Patrick O'Donnell in Ireland.  He died in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey- United States- in 1931.  His records on this side of the pond do not specify a place of origin in Ireland.  I found a sister of Patrick named Rose, who married James Kenny in Bayonne in 1883.  Rose provided me with more opportunities to uncover the hometown of her and her brother, but Rose's records also would not give up a location more specific than Ireland.

Enter the family stories.  My grandmother told me that she had a cousin who was a priest.  Not surprising in an Irish Catholic family.  My grandmother's cousin told me that they had a cousin who was a priest at Notre Dame.  This is more helpful, but there is no lack of Irish priests and churches called Notre Dame.  I did take note of two men named O'Donnell who served as president of Notre Dame University in Indiana.

I was at the Bayonne Library yesterday and found an obituary for Patrick O'Donnell in the Bayonne Times using his date of death.  In the obituary, his hometown in Ireland was not revealed, but I discovered two more siblings in the United States.

Patrick O'Donnell was the uncle of a priest, Charles Leo O'Donnell 1884-1934, who was a president of the University of Notre Dame.  Patrick's sister, Rose, was listed, and so was a previously unknown sister- Mrs Kathryn Mason Kennedy of Stockton, California.  A nephew with the last name O'Donnell indicates that Patrick had a brother for me to find and that I should start at Notre Dame University.

Having a priest in your family is great for genealogy.  Reverend Charles is especially wonderful because he was a president of a well-known university and he was a published author of poems.  People have researched Charles and cite his parents as Cornelius (or Neil) O'Donnell and Mary Gallagher.  This O'Donnell branch lived in Indiana, which is why I never found them in New Jersey.  The burial places of Neil and Mary and their children are on FindAGrave with references to hometowns in Ireland:  Ardara for Neil O'Donnell and Killybegs for Mary Gallagher, which are in County Donegal.  In his poem, "A Road of Ireland," Charles wrote:

     "When she came up from Killybegs and he from Ardara
     My father met my mother on the road, in Donegal."

It looks as if Charles' father, Cornelius/Neil O'Donnell was a brother to my ancestor, Patrick O'Donnell; and their sisters were Rose and Kathryn.  From the records I have compiled for Patrick and Rose, the parents of these four siblings were Peter O'Donnell and Margaret Gallagher.  It is interesting that Cornelius O'Donnell may have married a Gallagher; I wonder if there was a relation.  At this point, I do not know if Peter and Margaret came to the United States.
Ardara is few than ten miles north of Killybegs in County Donegal, Ireland.

I now have specific location to look for records on my O'Donnell and Gallagher ancestors.

This story illustrates why you must follow your lines up and then across and back down through siblings and cousins.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Genetic Genealogy: Fourth Cousins

Another successful match in my genetic genealogy pursuits at 23andMe!  This time we have my father's fourth cousin.  The most recent common ancestors were my father's great great great grandparents:  Eliakim Marsh and Susan Long.  They were born in the 1810s and lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  [Elizabeth is currently in Union County, but the area was Essex County until 1857.]  Eliakim died in 1881 and Susan in 1882.
With an autosomal DNA test, you have slightly less than a 1 in 2 chance of sharing any identical DNA with a fourth cousin.  My father and his three siblings all share DNA with this fourth cousin.  The amount of DNA shared ranges from 0.66% to 1.18%, which is on the high side for a fourth cousin match.  This could indicate that we are related on more than one line, or that Eliakim and Susan were related to each other.  Additional research will yield more information.

Of special note is a match to my aunt and uncle on the X chromosome.  This is a 23 cM segment from either Eliakim or Susan- we cannot tell which one at this point.  The X chromosome has a specific inheritance pattern.  The chain is broken in any father to son descent.  A father passes on his only X chromosome to a daughter- an exact copy.  A mother has two X chromosomes that are recombined, likely into two or three segments, and passed on to her children.  Thus, large segments on the X chromosome may travel intact for many more generations than autosomal segments (the other 22 chromosomes).

By identifying the ancestors responsible for an area of a chromosome, we can specifically use that one branch as we look at the other DNA cousins who match on this same segment.

The path of inheritance for this segment of the X chromosome for my aunt and uncle was:
1.  Eliakim Marsh or Susan Long
2.  Susan Marsh
3.  Minnie Bishop
4.  Eugene Cook
5.  Beulah Cook
6.  Jody's aunt and uncle

How did we figure out the relationship and the most recent common ancestors?  Geography.  We looked in our family trees and identified people living in the same area of the world at the same time.  New Jersey, United States, 1800s.  Then we compared surnames.  In reviewing my notes on Marsh and Long, I realized that we had first corresponded years ago on these same people, where the relation had already been figured out.  Here we are, connecting again, because we share identical DNA from our common ancestors born 200 years ago.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Take a ride on a roller coaster

My paternal grandfather, Clifford Lutter (1915-1980), was a photographer, among other careers.  I have many of his photographs and have a separate page for them on this blog.  Some of the aerial shots include what I figured was the Jersey shore.  People offered names for the roller coasters in the pictures.  Most people have named the Jet Star roller coaster of Seaside Heights, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

I was recently contacted by someone who with two new names:  Twister for the coaster next to the pool and Jack Rabbit for the coaster at the end of the jetty, formerly located in Keansburg, New Jersey.  I researched these coasters online and to my delight I found a picture of the Jack Rabbit in Images of America:  Keansburg, New Jersey (Arcadia Publishers).  You can view portions of the book at Google Books.

Google Books
Images of America:  Keansburg, New Jersey
page 41

The picture in the book is dated 1940; no photographer is credited.  The picture looks like it would neatly fit into the series of shore pictures taken by Clifford Lutter.  Look at the placement of the cars on the street and the two ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

Picture by Clifford Lutter from the Lutter Family Collection

This helps us date the picture and provides us with some insight into Clifford's life at the time.  In the 1940 census, Clifford is living in Newark with his mother, Laura Winterton, and his mother's mother, Katherine Dunn.

1940 United States Federal Census
Newark, Essex County, New Jersey

Clifford's mother's occupation is listed as a photographer for N.Y.A. Project.  I think this is an error and that this was actually Clifford's occupation.  N.Y.A. was the National Youth Administration, a federal program to provide work for unemployed young people under the Works Project Administration.  This tells us that Clifford was a skilled photographer at this point of his life, but had difficulty finding paid private work.  When Clifford applied for a Social Security number in 1936, he listed Works Project Administration as his employer.

This is a wonderful discovery that one of Clifford's pictures was published.  I made this discovery because I posted the pictures here and someone contacted me about the roller coasters in the pictures.  This makes me think that more of his pictures may be found in published books, awaiting discovery.