Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Online Newspapers: Chronicling America

Another expansive and free source of online newspapers is the Chronicling America website in the online digital collection of the Library of Congress.  I located some articles here that I was not able to find elsewhere.

You may search terms narrowed by state and date.  The result screen will highlight the desired search word in dark pink.  Click on the link below the image for a view without the pink highlight.  Also record the link so you have a source.

The small dark pink square is the word that you entered in the search box.
The web link below the image will provide you with a clear copy.  You can enlarge the image.

New York Daily Tribune, 7 June 1850.
If you are lucky, you may find miscellaneous information about your family.
George W Duryea broke his leg in 1850.

We can then look over the family's time line to picture this occurrence in light of other known events.
George W Duryea's first son, Jacob, was born 12 July 1850, one month after the accident.
Perhaps he was still recuperating at home when his son was born.
[Hoboken Cemetery, North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey.  Picture by J Lutter.]

New York Daily Tribune, 1 November 1842
This article tells us that Mary B Sillsbee and William Winterton lived at the same address, 2 Carlisle street, New York City.
Further research is required to determine if there was a familial relation
or if they were merely tenants of a multi-family dwelling.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors

Yesterday was a lovely day thanks to a dear friend, Marianne.  She lives in Morris County and is able to highlight areas for local research that I may overlook.  Her insight and evaluation have been so helpful to me.

We visited La Cucina Restaurant in Denville, Morris County, New Jersey.  What does this have to do with genealogy?  I would have never guessed.  The business was a restaurant and store on the Morris Canal since the late 1800s, owned by Edward Cook Peer.  I was able to walk around a home where my relatives worked and where other relatives from the neighborhood dined and shopped!

This is a picture on the wall of La Cucina Restaurant.
The store was on the canal.
Today there is land in front of the house and patrons arrive by vehicle, not boat.
[Photo credit:  Marianne Totaro]
The interior of the restaurant displays old photographs, some of the Peer Family.
The site displays a marker from The Morris County Heritage Commission.
[Photo credit: Marianne Totaro]
The household of Edward Cook Peer in the 1880 census in Denville.
I am descended from Peer and Cook in Morris County, so a person named Edward Cook Peer is of particular interest to me.  I am not sure at this point how he is related to me, but I would suspect that he is related in more than one way.  The most recent Peer in my line was Jane Peer.  She married John Cook in 1772.  They lived in nearby Pequannock.

We absorbed some more of the local surroundings by visiting the alpacas
at Brookhollow Farm in Boonton.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

AncestryDNA: Genetic Ethnicity

The results of the AncestryDNA kit are in.  Please bear with me as I try to decipher the results.

We received a summation of ethnic background.  The person who tested, M.S., is adopted.  To borrow a quote from R.S., "We didn't think she looked Chinese."  The AncestryDNA results reflect our conclusion.  M.S. is thoroughly of European ancestry for the last several generations of ancestors.

Clicking on "See Full Results" reveals histories of the genetic ethnic groups- their migration patterns for tens of thousands of years.  To personalize, people who match M.S. genetically are listed on the side with their corresponding percentage from the chosen geographical area.  Perhaps if both genetic cousins had very tiny percentages of a particular area this could help pinpoint where in their trees to look for the common ancestor.  Genetic ethnicity is not particularly helpful for M.S. at this time.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Jersey Probate Records Online

Family Search has just offered New Jersey probate records- over 3 million images.  Dates range from the late 1600s through the 1900s.  I am going to be very busy!  The records on this site are free and are the digitized versions of the microfilm rolls that you can order through a FamilySearch Center.  Types of records include wills, accountings, and guardianships.  To use the probate records, you need to use the indexes on the film as created by the Surrogate's Court.  The site is actively indexing its holdings and you can volunteer to help index.

You may discover dates of death from these records along with heirs at law (if no will/will rejected) or the people/family to whome the testator devised the estate.  Guardianship proceedings are also informative because all minor children should be named.  The surviving parent did not automatically receive custody of the children, hence the guardianship records.

The records are organized by county.  Keep in mind two things when you search for probate records.  First, boundaries of counties changed over the years and new counties were carved from existing counties.  If you know the name of the town (which also may have changed) where your family lived, you should be able to identify which county to search within a range of years.

The map on the right represents the 21 modern counties of New Jersey.  [Credit Geology.com.]
The map on the right is from circa 1826.  [Rutgers Special Collection]
The second point to keep in mind when searching for probate records is that the will or estate did not necessarily have to be probated in the county where the deceased lived.  The proceedings may be in a neighboring county or in the county where the real property (land/houses) was located.  This could result in probate proceedings in more than one county or even state, so read the records carefully for references to other proceedings.

Page from the Surrogate's Docket Index of Essex County, New Jersey
You may have to play around with the numbers until you find the corresponding documents.

Docket #17226 turned out to be a guardianship proceeding for the minor children of Charlotte Uhl,
awarding her guardianship of her own children after her husband died.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Some Interesting Genetic Matches

Here are some of my more remarkable genetic matches over at 23andMe.

This genetic cousin matches me on three segments, but my mother on only one and my father on none.  I probably received the other two chromosomes from my mother.  The match on chromosome 9 is perhaps just under 5 cM (centimorgan- a unit of measurement) for my mother and therefore under the threshold to report.  The match on chromosome 4 is an area of my mother's genome that was not read!

This genetic cousin matches me on one segment of chromosome 3 that I received from my father.  This man also matches my mother and her uterine brother on segments that I did not inherit (instead inheriting that part of my maternal side of chromosome 6 from my maternal grandfather).  This cousin does not match my father's known third cousin, but he does match some of their common Irish matches- which leads me to a specific branch in my father's tree- perhaps where my parents will share ancestors!

This cousin is really interesting because he matches me on a 21 cM segment- larger than what I usually see- but matches neither parent!  The 5 or 6 cM matches can be missed, as the threshold is 5 cM, but a 21 cM segment really should appear in a parent's account.

These strange matches are likely more distant than third cousins.  Our mutual links in our respective family trees are many generations back where the possibilities double every generation, making this a very large puzzle to piece together.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sorting The Parental Matches and WOW!!!

23andMe has been adding some new features, some of which are helpful to us genealogists, such as family tree capabilities.  A new feature was added today which will greatly help some of us:  sorting your matches into paternal and maternal.

Let me clarify first:  You have two sides to every chromosome.  Twenty two of your twenty three chromosomes have two sides consisting of the side from your mother and the side from your father.  Current science, or the science available to us genealogists, cannot tell you WHICH side- maternal or paternal- is reflected in any one of your results.  As such, autosomal DNA tests produce a pool of genetic matches from both of your parents and you need to sort through them by comparing family tree and triangulating DNA matches with other known close relatives.

The new paternal and maternal sorting feature at 23andMe only works if you have a parent in the database who is sharing genomes with you.  In my situation, I have both parents in the system, so this works very well for me.  This feature does not work at all for my parents because their parents are dead and not in the system.

I set up my family tree and linked my parents to me and voila!  Of my 1600+ matches, 600 are credited to my mother and 200 to my father.  There is no specification for the other 800.  Very correctly, the people who match both my mother and father are credited as such.

I eagerly looked to see if my mystery 5% match from one year ago was attributed to my mother or father, especially since this person is blocked in my parent's account because the relation is too close.  As I hoped (feared?), this anonymous close relative is my mother's cousin.

My mystery second cousin is as close as my mother's first cousin or uncle.
Who is he?

See the pink M by the predicted relation of 2nd cousin?  That means that this person related to me on my mother's side.  So who is he?

We can use the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to rule out some possibilities.  MtDNA is passed from mother to child; males do not pass mtDNA to their children.  My mtDNA group is H1, the same as my mother and her uterine brother, and the same as their mother, Jeannette ODonnell.  Jeannette's four siblings are also all H1, so this man is not a sibling of my grandmother because his mtDNA group is H3a.  It is possible that this person is a son of Jeannette's brothers, or an unknown half-sibling of Jeannette by her father.

Basically, the percentage of shared DNA drops in half for every generation removed or is cut in half when the relation is by one ancestor instead of two.  Full first cousins (two grandparents in common) match 12.5%, while half first cousins (one grandparent in common) match 6.25%.  This is to put in perspective how close a relation this 5% match is to me.  Double that for one generation up and you have an approximate 10% relation to my mother.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Works Progress Administration

Application for a Social Security Number
Note that the employer was Works Progress Administration at 309 Washington Street in Newark, New Jersey

The Depression of the 1930s resulted in high unemployment rates, including my own family.  My grandfather worked for the Works Progress Administration, a government sponsored program that was part of President Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal.  Specific to genealogy, the WPA catalogued and indexed records of vital events and cemeteries.

An article in the summer 2012 newsletter of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey alerted us that we may request employment records for people who worked for the WPA.  You may write to:

National Archives and Records Administration
Archival Programs
PO Box 38757
Saint Louis, MO  63138
or email stlarr.archives@nara.gov

I wrote to them and will let you know about any promising returns.  If you can obtain employment records on an ancestor or relative, proceed.  You never know what surprises await you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

DNA Testing: Grandfather's First Cousin

Katherine Dunn (1865-1944)
Wife of William Walling Winterton
I think I inherited her lower lip.  Maybe the nose.
Another DNA kit is on the way to my paternal grandfather's first cousin.  23andMe had a sale, so it seemed like a good time to test another relative.  The common ancestors of this cousin and my father (and me) were William Walling Winterton (1863-1932) and Katherine Dunn (1865-1944).  They lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey and are buried at Green Grove Cemetery in Keyport.

If we tested both cousins, they would share about 12.5% of their DNA.  We can't test my grandfather because he is deceased, but we do have the results of my father.  My father should share approximately half the DNA that his father would have shared with this first cousin, or 6.25%.  As the next generation, I should share about 3.125% with this first cousin, twice removed.

(Keep these percentages in mind as you flashback one year ago to my 5% match who is still silent.  This person could be as close as a cousin to one of my grandparents.  This is so strange because I *think* I am aware of everyone researching my closest lines and they deny DNA testing.)

DNA inheritance can be rather random, so it will be interesting to see the exact percentages shared.  To view charts comparing DNA of cousins, please view this post by Andrea Badger.

The purpose of testing this latest cousin is to triangulate matches.  The DNA testing companies provide you a bunch of "genetic cousins."  You search your ancestral tree and the tree of your genetic match to locate a common ancestor, or source of the shared genetic material that survived all these generations.  This sounds easy, but it is not.  Once the results of this cousin are complete, we will identify genetic matches in common.  This will point us to a specific branch in my father's tree:  his father's mother's branch.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Two Years of Blogging

Today is my blogiversary!  I have been blogging for two years.  I thank all of my readers for their feedback and support.  I am glad that I have helped many of you uncover your roots.  Your questions help me to view the facts from a different angle.

Blogging inspires me to continue my research, always looking for the next lead.  I have been inspired to visit places in order to have something fresh to write about, and in doing so, often I have found wonderful records to assist my research.

Since starting this blog, I have joined genealogical societies and explored my genealogy through DNA testing.  It has been great learning about DNA and sharing this experience with you here.

I hope to inspire you to research well and often to uncover your own roots.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baby Before Marriage 1892

When looking for a marriage certificate, the general rule is to take the date of birth of the first known baby and work backwards.

A couple surprised me.  Otto Lutter and Martha Klindt were married in 1892 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, eight months after the birth of their first child!  [Otto and Martha were the maternal grandparents of the elusive James Kittson.]  Now this requires more research . . .

First came baby . . .

Then came the marriage.

You will find a free index of births, marriages, and deaths for New Jersey at Family Search.  You will not find the actual certificates online because New Jersey restricts access.  As you use this index keep in mind that the year may be off by one.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Time to Stop Looking

William Walling Winterton and Katherine Dunn had two children in the 1890s in Monmouth County, New Jersey.  I located the birth certificate for their daughter, Laura, or at least I think I did.  The child has no first name.  This was not unusual, but the birthdate on this birth certificate is consistent with other documents about Laura, so this is likely her birth certificate.

Birth certificate for Baby Girl Winterton, born 30 September 1891
in Matawan Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Their next child, a son named William Gladstone Winterton, used a birthdate of 24 April 1898 on various documents.  I cannot locate a birth certificate for him.

William Gladstone Winterton
Age 8 in 1906

Ancestry.com has released United States Consular Registration Applications 1916-1925.  William Gladstone Winterton applied for an extended stay in India for an engineering job and was denied for lack of proof of United States citizenship, that is, his birth certificate.

Reading this mention about a document that I am still looking for one hundred years later is a bit haunting.  Maybe I can stop looking for his birth certificate?  He couldn't find it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Not so Black and White

DNA and genealogy has made national headlines!

President Barack Obama is descended through his "white" mother from one of the first African slaves in Virginia, John Punch.  The report was issued by Ancestry.com, which you can read here.  Then head over to The New York Times article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.  The line of descent was established through document-based research as well as Y-DNA testing.  Let me explain.

President Obama's Y-DNA was not tested for this proclamation.  If you are not a direct male descendant of the ancestor in question, you need a relative who is a direct male descendant to take the Y-DNA test.  The President's line of descent from John Punch is through his mother, so we know right away that the direct male line from John Punch to President Obama was broken somewhere.

Biology lesson:  You have 23 pairs of chromosomes- one from each parent.  The 23rd pair determines sex.  Women have XX as their 23rd pair while men have XY.  The Y chromosome passes from father to son almost unchanged.  This is useful in genealogy for tracing direct male lines, especially because children in the United States usually use the surname of their father.  This is why only a man can take a Y-DNA test and why you see Surname Projects.  [For clarification, males and females can take autosomal DNA tests to capture DNA inherited from all ancestors.]

The New York Times article introduces us to Mark Bunch, a "fifth cousin twice removed" of the President.  Fifth cousins have a common set of 4th great grandparents.  "Twice removed" means that one line is two generations earlier or later than the other.  Follow the link provided by the New York Times and you will arrive at the Y-DNA chart for the Surname Project Bunch.  [John Punch's descendants altered the name to Bunch.]  Y-DNA is categorized into haplogroups based on the migratory patterns of humans tens of thousands of years ago.

The top haplogroup for Bunch is E1b1a, which is found predominantly in Africa, hence the claim that President Obama has African descent through his mother.  Most participants at the Bunch Y-DNA site share almost identical Y-DNA.  A mutation can occur in any generation.  Over time, when enough mutations occur, a new haplogroup arises; hence, we are able to trace migratory patterns of humans for hundreds of thousands of years.

The E1b1a African paternal haplogroup of direct male descendants of John Punch is consistent with written records that he was of African origin.  Conversely, you can be of African origin but have a "European" haplogroup.  The haplogroup is determined by one line of ancestry only and tells us nothing about any other ancestor.

The nearly identical results of analysis of the participant's Y-DNA indicates that all of their direct paternal lines merge at some point back in history.  Each participant lists the most distant direct male ancestor, which is discovered by document-based research.  Please note in the Bunch Y-DNA chart names of ancestors whose surname was not Bunch.  This can be caused by children not carrying their father's surname, or a name change, or a "non-paternal event."

To trace back to a Bunch ancestor in President Obama's line, you must travel through six generations of women.  President Obama's most recent male ancestor with the surname Bunch was Nathaniel, born 1793 in Virginia, and died 1859 in Arkansas.  The President is descended through Nathaniel Bunch's daughter, Anna, hence breaking the Y-DNA path.  To obtain the Y-DNA of this Bunch line, we need to turn to a direct male descendant along this same line.  Mark Bunch, the President's fifth cousin twice removed, is descended from Nathaniel Bunch's brother Charles Bunch down a direct male line and thus carries the Bunch Y-DNA.  Charles Bunch and Mary Bellamy, the parents of Nathaniel and Charles, were the most recent common ancestors of President Obama and Mark Bunch.  This couple was the 4X great grandparents of Mark Bunch and the President's maternal grandmother, making Mark Bunch and the President fifth cousins, twice removed.  [Note:  Mark Bunch confirmed this relation in an email to me.]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's a Small, Small World

Over a year ago, I wrote about my quest to locate a second cousin of my paternal grandfather.  Some more information has come my way and I would like to share with you because it is amazing.

James Kittson died in September of 2003 and his last benefit was in Montclair, Essex County, New Jersey, according to the Social Security Death Index.  A few people with this last name or a close variant live in Montclair currently.  I sent them hand-written notes explaining how I was related to James and that I was looking for his family.  From old phonebooks, I found an address for James Kittson and sent a note to that location as well.

One person called me.  She and I worked together a few years ago.  James Kittson was a boarder in her home for over twenty years!  She said that he was quiet, kept to himself, talked very little, and gave her no information about himself.  After he died, a friend collected his sparse belongings, as he had no family that anyone knew about.

And here is the kicker:  he was a customer at our place of business!

When I heard this, I was shocked!  My mind raced back in time to so many people, names, faces.  I couldn't remember him.  I still can't.

This is so weird learning that our paths crossed- and I had no idea that he was related and that years later I would look for him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Unburying the Ancestors

These pictures of the Zingg family plot at Woodland Cemetery (Newark, Essex County, New Jersey) illustrate the hard physical work required in genealogy.  (Thank you R.B.)  These appear to be stones forming a border.  Any surviving gravestones may be within the borders and below several feet of dirt and tree roots.