Thursday, January 27, 2011

DNA results: Relative Finder at 23andme

My DNA results for finding relatives appeared late last night at 23andme, days ahead of the predicted time frame.  I have 986 possible relatives.  (None of this is definite, hence the fuzzy words.)  The closest relation could be a third cousin.  The next closest are nine fourth cousins, ten fifth cousins, three sixth cousins, two seventh cousins, and more and more cousins with increasing degrees.  The distance of the relation is not fully accurate, but demonstrates the amount of DNA that is the same in both people.  My "third cousin" and I match 0.63% of our DNA, while my "fourth cousins" match anywhere from 0.41% to 0.51%.

The profiles are anonymous, unless the participant has chosen a public profile.  You can contact only five anonymous people per day.  I contacted my allotted five and look forward to hearing from them.

This will be very interesting to see if the common ancestor can be identified for any of these matches.  I am expecting surprises.  Third cousins have the same great great grandparents.  Everyone has sixteen great great grandparents.  I can identify twelve of mine.  Of my 32 great great great grandparents, twelve are unknown, and two have unknown last names.

Relative finder results at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DNA results for health traits

In December I submitted my DNA sample for analysis by 23andme.  The results for my health became available yesterday.  I am most interested in establishing genealogical connections, not my risk of diseases.  The website allows you to opt out of seeing the results.  I was curious and decided to view the results anyway.

The site posts disclaimers that the results do not mean that you have any disease, condition, or trait.  If you feel that you do have a particular health problem, you need to see a doctor for evaluation.

The results revealed slightly elevated or slightly decreased risks of several cancers, autoimmune disorders, and other diseases such as restless leg syndrome.  Nothing to worry about, or even run to a doctor.

For traits, I supposedly carry sprinter genes- meaning that I can run fast.  I cannot.  I do run, but my goal is a mile under ten minutes.

The genealogical results should be available next week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Wonderland

The first snowfall for this region was December 26th.  Several inches to over a foot blanketed the area.  We were hit again a few more times.  I have not seen the ground since the first snowfall.

This stymies research.  Travel is difficult.  In the cemeteries, only the tallest of stones are visible, and paths are non-negotiable.  Feeling devoid of a good cemetery visit, I visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County, New York today.  Eight years ago today, my grandmother was buried there.

Corner marker at the Sewell grave.  I don't see too many butterflies.

Sewell grave with butterfly cornerstones.

Rendall and Fisher graves.  Newcomers to this gravesite may have to wait until spring to see what lies beneath.

Someone visited the Brewer family plot before I did.

One of the main attractions for tourists- the grave of Washington Irving.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City, New Jersey

If you had Catholic family living in Hudson County, New Jersey, or even New York City, in the late 1800s through the 1900s, you need to check the burial records for Holy Name Cemetery.  Older death certificates refer to this cemetery as “Hudson CCC” or “HCCC,” which stood for Hudson County Catholic Cemetery.
Barely legible, this death certificate from 1893 indicates burial at Hudson County Catholic Cemetery, now known as Holy Name Cemetery, in Jersey City.
According to, there are over 264,000 burials at Holy Name.  You can view close to 20,000 of these burials at  Plot cards are available on microfilm through your local family history center.
The cemetery is well maintained with an office on site, active groundskeepers, and current burials.  Locating a plot can be confusing because several sections seem to have the same lettering system.  This could be because more than one cemetery originally occupied the grounds now called Holy Name.  (If anyone wants to send me a reliable link about this, please do.)  I found a detailed map on one of the microfilm rolls that is useful in determining the correct section.

Map of Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey

Partial listing of burials for Catherine O'Donnell at Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City.  FHL #1412638.
In the above listing, the women named Catherine O’Donnell in plots A E 79, M 65 A, A 458 No, and 6 A 129 are not buried with or near one another.  You can imagine how confusing this becomes.
After discovering your plot of interest, the next step is to look up all burials in that specific plot.  Using the Catherine O’Donnell buried in grave A E 79 in 1921, we can find additional burials not named O’Donnell, as well as the grave owner.  We find that a woman named Mary Lee, age 58, was buried in the plot in 1876, as well as a baby named George Bundschub in 1877.  The owner was Edward O’Donnell.  Finding out all of the burials in a plot, even if they do not share the last name of your original inquiry, is necessary to map out a family.
Good luck using the above map to locate the grave!

O'Donnell plot at Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City.  Section G, row 10, plots 29 and 30.
The stones in the far background are in a circle for priests and nuns.
Picture taken 30 May 2007 by J. Lutter.

Map provided at the office of Holy Name Cemetery to find the above O'Donnell plot.