Thursday, March 31, 2011

Paternal Distant Relative Matches

My father's relative finder results seem to be partially complete at  He has only 142 matches.  For comparison, my mother and I have over 1000 distant relatives in the database.  Ironically, I have only a few generations documented on my mother's lines, but so much more on my father's lines.

There are several connections who have extensive genealogies and are willing to comb over our trees to search for a common ancestor.  These results have shown me that I have so much more paper documentation to discover.

Genetic matches for David Lutter in the 23andme database.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DNA updates: Comparing my genes to both parents

The health results component is complete for my father's DNA kit from 23andme.  This took about three and a half weeks from receipt of the kit at their lab.  Based on the processing of my specimen, the genetic relative results should arrive tomorrow.

In the meantime, I looked over the health traits.  Because my mother and I are also in the system, I can look at the genotypes of my parents and compare them to my own, seeing which parent gave me which gene for the profiled traits.

The results for eye color are not surprising.  Blue is recessive to brown.  My mother has blue eyes, as do I.  My father has brown eyes.  He inherited the gene for brown eyes from his mother and the gene for blue eyes from his father.
He blessed me with his father's gene for blue eyes.
The lumbar disk disease trait.
This should settle the debate over which side of the family causes bad backs.
The answer:  both of my parents carry the exact same genes for bad backs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DNA updates: relative matches for Mom

Within hours of the health results arriving, the genetic matches became available for my mother at 23andme.  She has around 1000 matches, same as I do.  My paper research has so far uncovered only Irish roots.  The matches in the database are mostly not Irish.  This tells me that I have a lot more paper research to do.

For those of you who are wondering about privacy concerns and revealing unknown children or parents, we now appear as a potential "parent or child" match in the database.  Our identities were hidden and our matches were described as "close" until we consented to be revealed to each other.  Before consenting to be revealed, the website cautioned that the information may be welcome to some, disturbing to others.

Aside from me, my mother's closest match shares about 1.5% of her DNA.  I sent her a request to share.  It is up to this person to consent.  She can ignore us or reject the request, and there will be no way of knowing who she is.  To compare, my closest match shares about 0.6% of my DNA.

For the 100 people who consented to share genomes with me, I am able to compare my results with them and with my mother.  I started with my closest match, who is not my mother's closest match, by the way.  I am a little confused by the results.

It would seem that I am related to this person on my mother's side.  All three of us match on two areas.  My mother has an additional matching segment, which is okay- it just means that I did not inherit this particular segment from my mother.  The part that confuses me is how I match this distant cousin on chromosome 1- but my mother does not share this connection.  Does this mean that this person is also related to my father?  His results are not available yet.

I anticipate a lot more work ahead.

DNA updates

My mother's partial results have appeared at  These are the health traits, such as risk for various diseases, based on her genetic profile.  The turn around time was about four weeks from receipt of the specimen.  Although the relative matches are not available yet, I can compare my profile with hers.  I have roughly half of her genetic make-up, which is exactly how the results should read.

The dark blue segments indicate identical segments of DNA.

For comparison, my closest relation (besides Mom) in the database shares the above three segments with me.

I can compare my genetic traits with my mom.  She is a little shorter than I am, and the following inheritance pattern could explain why.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

23andme DNA update

I am slowly sifting through the relative matches at  Most of the relations are predicted to be quite distant.  In spite of some extensive documentation on some lines, I have not established a common ancestor for any of these genetic matches.  Some matches also have extensive paper-based genealogies, but most do not, which makes this process more challenging.

One hundred of my distant genetic relatives with no contact exchanged.
You can click on an icon to reveal limited information about a genetic match.
You may contact up to five people a day in this way.
This profile looks a little more promising.  This person has updated her profile to include genealogical information, which could indicate that she is interested in trying to establish a common ancestor.
The results of my parents are not processed yet.  I hope that their results will add a new dimension to this matching game.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Changing landscapes

I research Bishop and variant spellings in Morris County and Newark, New Jersey.  I came across this article about Frederick and Henry Bischof eating poisonous plants in woods by Woodland Cemetery in Newark in 1895.  [Hence the name Woodland?]  Over 100 years later, I document graves at Woodland Cemetery.  Lewis Street was northeast of the cemetery and ran from West Kinney Street to 17th Avenue.  The area was redeveloped into housing and the current streets do not bear the name Lewis.  The woods are also gone.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Original immigrants, documents, and place names

Patrick Frances O'Donnell was born around 1856 in Ireland.  In the 1900 United States federal census, he is living with his wife, Delia Joyce, and six children in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey, with an immigration date of 1880.  I was working under the theory that he was the original immigrant- the first in that family to come to the United States.

While playing around at the website, I came across the following record.
According to the death certificate for Patrick O'Donnell, his parents were Peter O'Donnell and Margaret Gallagher.

This was a great find.  Rose O'Donnell could be the sister of Patrick O'Donnell, indicating that Patrick came over with family.  I neeeded to find the original marriage document, so I went to the archives in Trenton.

Rose O'Donnell married James Kenny in Bergen Point, New Jersey in 1883.  She was the daughter of Peter O'Donnell and Margaret Gallagher.  But, Patrick and his family lived in Bayonne.  What of the Bergen Point location?  I immediately thought of Bergen County, New Jersey.  I did some searching online and came up with an answer:  Bergen Point is a southern location within Bayonne.  Now it looks as if I have found a sister for the original O'Donnell immigrant.

Bergen Point, Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey


The Preston family had many misfortunes and many family stories about these tragedies told through the years.  In addition to deaths by train, there were deaths by "drowning in the bay."  I have uncovered records that shed light on one such drowning.

John Preston, his wife, Bridget, and their ever-growing family moved to Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey around 1901.  They had previously resided in Warren County, New Jersey and before that, Dutchess County, New York.  Tragedy struck when their son, Edward, almost 18 years old, drowned in New York Bay.  The story is that he dove in and never came back up.  According to the newspaper account, Edward came back up to call for help, but drowned before his body was found.

Edward was buried at Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.  I have a listing of Preston burials at this cemetery, so I easily located Edward's death certificate.  The cause of death promised an explanation in a local paper.

Preston deaths in New Jersey for the year 1903, all counties.
The death indexes for years 1901, 1902, and 1903 are on one microfilm reel.
The number next to a name is the death certificate number.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another train collision

John Preston was the son of Irish immigrants, born around 1860 in New York.  His son, Michael J Preston, was killed by or near a train in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1918.  I previously wrote about uncovering documents that shed light on the family story about Michael's fatal train ride.  The missing part from that story was the dog.  "The dog always went to meet him at the train station.  We knew something was wrong when the dog returned without him that day."  Michael was killed late at night and I hoped that the dog was not supposed to be wandering about at night for Michael.  So who else was killed by a train?

I located the 1928 death certificate of John Preston.  I think that the circumstances of his death would support the dog part of the story.  John worked for the Central Rail Road of New Jersey.  He was about 69 years old on June 28, 1928 when struck by a train in the morning.  My grandmother would have been old enough to remember the dog's return without its master.