Thursday, May 31, 2012 DNA Update

I am awaiting an invitation to's new autosomal DNA testing.  Some have already received the invitation to obtain a DNA kit.  I received an email from Ancestry on 30 May 2012 that I am still on the list and demand is high.  I will share with you when the invitation arrives.

I am interested in trying this service and comparing Ancestry to 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.  I am hoping that my paternal grandfather's cousin will agree to test.  (That's you, D.W.)

Having results spread across the three different companies will cripple comparisons.  For now, I can compare results from 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA at GedMatch, hindered only if a match at one company did not upload results to GedMatch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Family Tree DNA Coupon

Unique coupon code for autosomal testing at Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA mailed unique, one-time coupon codes for the Family Finder (autosomal) testing through June 10, 2012.  The current price is $289.  The coupon price is $179.  If you purchase this test, you will receive future offers for other genetic tests.

Two more codes: 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ebay Mitchill Family Documents

Ebay auction listing for papers of the Mitchill family of Long Island, New York

Ebay has a listing for what appears to be a collection of papers of the Mitchill family of Cow Neck, Long Island, New York.  Included are the family bible with names and dates of birth, marriage, and death; deeds; wills; ledgers; and more.  The price is rather steep at $1,500.

Picture of Mitchill family paper collection at ebay.

The Mitchill Family Bible containing important life dates.
Cow Neck, Long Island, New York is a peninsula on the northern coast of the Island.  When these records were made, Cow Neck was in Queens, but now lies in Nassau County.

1848 map of Long Island, New York by J. H. Colton
Cow Neck is circled.
The Mitchills are an old Long Island family.  I hope that the possessor of these old papers donates the collection to a local repository if these items do not sell.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spring Seminar 2012 in Newton, New Jersey

Saturday (May 19, 2012) was the Spring Seminar of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey at the First Presbyterian Church in Newton, followed by a tour of the Sussex County Historical Society.

The Presbyterian Historical Society told us about their physical repository in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 425 Lombard Street. The records are not indexed, so you will need to know names, dates, and specific churches to conduct an effective search.  Records may also be maintained at the original location, so check before driving to Philadelphia.

Joseph R Klett discussed how to use the records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors, which were incorporated original landowners.  These early records are now housed in the Archives at Trenton.  Some are searchable online, but most are not digitized, indexed, or abstracted.  (You can't find everything online!)  I did not realize that in the 1600s, Burlington County stretched as far north as the New York State border; or that the East Jersey Proprietors dissolved in 1998 while the West Jersey Proprietors is still an active organization.

Online link to the index for some early proprietor records at the Archives.

Gerald H Smith advised us to use a property description in a deed to draw the lot and then use land maps to locate ancestors and the neighbors that they often married.
Typical property description.  Although the trees are likely long gone, use the lengths, angles, and neighboring properties to draw out an approximate shape for the lot.  Main roads and rivers as borders may still exist.

Old property descriptions use a length of "Chains." The Historical Society had such a measuring device on display.
The Historical Society has files on many local families from Sussex County and neighboring counties of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Your original family photographs could be waiting for you here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

DNA Updates: Three Companies Want Your Business

Message received when requesting autosomal testing kit from Ancestry.

Three companies are competing for your genetic genealogy business.  If you have not tested your DNA yet, you are approaching a great time.

Ancestry has offered DNA testing of Y-DNA and mt (mitochondrial) DNA for years.  They recently acquired GeneTree and have announced that they will offer autosomal DNA testing.  This will bring them into direct competition with 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.  I requested additional information and received the above message that there is an unspecified waiting period for ordering the autosomal kit.  I do not know how much Ancestry's autosomal testing will cost.

Current pricing at FamilyTreeDNA for autosomal testing.
FamilyTreeDNA offers the three main tests:  autosomal (they call it "Family Finder Testing"), Y-DNA, and mitochondrial DNA.  Autosomal testing is currently $289.  You can order the whole testing package for $837.  The advantage of testing Y-DNA at FamilyTreeDNA is that they offer surnames studies.  You can discover if your Y-DNA matches someone else.  You can also do this at Ancestry, but they do not offer the comprehensive surnames studies.  Another advantage at FamilyTreeDNA is that your matches are not anonymous, unlike 23andMe.

Current pricing at 23andMe
23andMe has also made some changes.  Its current price is $299 for autosomal testing.  They have eliminated their criticized subscription plan, which was $5 or $9 per month.  You will receive your Y-DNA haplogroup (if male) and your mtDNA haplogroup, but you will not be able to identify who else in their database is a precise match along those specific lines.  You can upload your results to other free sites, such as GEDmatch and Ysearch, to possibly locate exact matches.  A disadvantage at 23andMe is that most of your matches are anonymous and will not answer your request to compare family trees.  Whereas Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA are solely for genetic genealogy, 23andMe offers health reports based on DNA.  This dual offering has genealogists chasing genetic matches who are only in the database to discover which diseases they may develop.  23andMe launched a new feature about two weeks ago, allowing you to compare all of your genetic matches (who have consented to "share") to one another.  You may possibly be able to group your matches into working branches of your genetic tree.

I have used all three sites.  The Y-DNA and mtDNA testing at Ancestry led me nowhere, and I am hoping that they offer some kind of a reduced upgrade to their autosomal testing.  I have promising leads at FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, but to date I cannot confirm any genetic matches with a paper trail.  I have so far uncovered two known distant cousins of the same branch in the 23andMe database and we do not share any identical DNA.  The new comparison feature allows me to compare these two distant cousins to my other matches to perhaps place them in the same branch as the known distant cousins.

I have worked on my family tree for years.  I traced up and back down.  I can identify several lines to the 1500s and have names of many living cousins as far as the tenth degree.  It is very disappointing to be presented with hundreds of genetic matches and have no idea how they are related.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City 1898

For a bit on the history of Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City, New Jersey I turned to the digitized newspaper archives at  This fee-based site offers the Jersey Journal from 1867-1922.  The first mention of Holy Name Cemetery is found in obituaries of 1897.  An article appeared in 1898 detailing that a new section of Hudson County Cemetery would be called Holy Name.  The article was about plans for a monument for a woman named Mrs. Davis.  Find A Grave does not have a listing for such a memorial, so I do not know at this time if it was ever built.  At some point in history, St. Peter's Cemetery and the generic names of Hudson County Catholic Cemetery and Roman Catholic Cemetery faded, leaving Holy Name Cemetery to describe this entire burial area.
If anyone has any further details on the history of this cemetery, we would welcome your input.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Local Repositories

Today I visited the Denville Historical Society and Museum in Denville, Morris County, New Jersey.  Someone told me (thank you MT) that some papers of a family of interest were housed at this location.  The Museum is a cute little house with artifacts from the area.  Books and papers are kept in a separate room.  I found great treasures in the binders:  notes from researchers, original photographs, and memorabilia.  Most of these items and the information contained in them are not digitized or online.  Although so much invaluable information has appeared online in recent years, there is so much more that is not online and will not appear online soon.  You still need to physically search for information.  This information could be anywhere, but start with the area in which the family lived and check all libraries, museums, historical societies- any possible repository.  And don't be surprised to find documents and pictures sitting unmarked in a box in a backroom.

Original family photographs

Death certificate from a researcher


Copy of Vanderhoof family record book

One of several branches of the Peer family tree