Friday, September 27, 2013

New Index: First German Reformed Church, Newark, New Jersey

Thank you to Tom and Kathryn Peters for indexing records of the First German Reformed Church in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.  This church was located on Mulberry Street.  About 52,000 names are indexed, covering years 1847-1904.  The index is housed at the Old Newark website.  The actual records are held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The Lutheran Archives Center.

This was no easy task.  Look at this writing.  I would not have been able to decipher most of it.  Tom and Kathryn's efforts were a true labor of love.

Marriage record of Fidel Bossert and Regina Pfeiffer
24 October 1853
First German Reformed Church, Newark, New Jersey

The index is divided by baptisms, marriages by groom, marriages by bride, and two sections of deaths/burials.  Because of spelling inconsistencies and difficulties in deciphering the names, you will need to view similar nearby names as well as alternate spellings.

Groom index, First German Reformed Church
Far easier to read than the original above

Bride index, First German Reformed Church
Marriage entry for my third great grandparents, David Uhl and Clara Patschke

My 3rd great grandparents, David Uhl and Clara Patschke, were married at this church in 1865.  The general rule with immigrants is that they did not come alone.  Clara's parents were August Patschke and Wilhelmine.  I do not know if they came to the United States.  In this index, I quickly found a marriage record for Wilhelmine Auguste Patzschke, in 1860, contemporaneous with Clara Patschke.  This is a great lead to explore if these two women were perhaps sisters.

1870 United States Federal Census
Heinrich Wilhelm Heiner from the marriage index is spelled William Hyner in this census record.
Newark, Essex County, New Jersey

Gospill's City Directory for Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, 1867
The indexed records were from the First German Reformed at 43 Mulberry.
Newark city directories are available at
To find churches for events in your family trees, you can look at the local city directory for the relevant time period.  If you have a government record or family bible entry, the officiant is perhaps recorded.  This can help you identify the relevant church.  Otherwise, begin with the church that was geographically closest to your ancestor's home.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bilineal Cousin

A genetic cousin appeared in my sister's autosomal DNA matches at 23andMe.  The match illustrates how your DNA results can confuse your search, especially if you do not have other close family members tested.

The shared identical DNA between S. G. and my sister was two segments comprising 0.40%  This is worth exploring and could be as close as a third cousin.  Upon comparing other family members, we can see that the actual relationship will be more distant and from two separate ancestral lines.

23andMe:  DNA Relatives (viewed with Google Chrome Extension)
The M/P indicates that this cousin matches my sister through both parents.
(The M/P function only works if you have both parents tested at 23andMe and link them to the child.)

Cousin S. G. matches my sister through both our mother and father.  My sister inherited both segments from each parent, while I inherited none.  This is the randomness of DNA inheritance.

23andMe: Family Inheritance Advanced.
Cousin S. G. shares one segment with each parent.  My sister inherited both segments.

23andMe: DNA Relatives
Cousin S. G. matches my mother 0.25%

23andMe: DNA Relatives
Cousin S. G. matches my father 0.14%
The aggregate in my sister is thus 0.40%

So how is S. G. related to my parents?  I don't know.  Because close cousins have tested on both sides of my family, I can narrow down the possibilities.

23andMe: Family Inheritance Advanced
S. G. matches three members of my paternal family on the same segment.

S. G. matches my father and one of his siblings on the same segment.  More importantly, S. G. matches their mother's maternal cousin on the same segment.  This eliminates 75% of my father's family tree from holding the Most Recent Common Ancestor.  The match will be in my father's mother's mother's family tree.

I cannot narrow down the possibilities in my mother's tree, though.  S. G. does not match any of my mother's close maternal relatives.  This DOES NOT rule out a match on her maternal branch.  The common ancestral line could be anywhere in my mother's family tree.  This is much more difficult to work with.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

DNA Match between Fourth and Fifth Cousins

I met a fifth cousin online ("R.B.") when she wrote to me after I posted pictures of our mutual family graves.  Our common ancestors are our 4th great grandparents, Stephen Cook (1797-1853) and Elizabeth vanderHoof (1799-1878) of Morris County, New Jersey.  R.B. tested her autosomal DNA at FamilyTreeDNA while most of my family tested at 23andMe.  I previously uploaded results for some family members from 23andMe to FamilyTreeDNA, but R.B. was not in the matches.  Once you reach the third cousin level, your chances of sharing any identical autosomal DNA drop.

So we turned to GedMatch to compare our DNA.  GedMatch accepts files of DNA tests done at Ancestry, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA.

R.B. and I share no detectable identical DNA.
No DNA detected between my fifth cousin, R. B., and me

Fortunately, I have members of the prior generation to test.  When choosing relatives to take DNA tests, the oldest generation available is preferred because half the DNA is lost with each new generation.

R.B. shares a little identical DNA with my father and my father's third cousin from this Cook line.  This could be a coincidence of no genealogical value, or it could be the same DNA passed generation to generation from Stephen Cook or Elizabeth vanderHoof.
Autosomal DNA comparison between 4th cousins, once removed
The segment size (11.1 cM) is good, but the number of SNPs (1038) may be too low to be identical by descent.
A relationship was predicted within six generations, which is fairly accurate.
Autosomal DNA comparison between 4th cousins, once removed
Both the segment size (6.6 cM) and the number of SNPs (1017) may be too low to be identical by descent.
No predicted relationship.

Fortunately, my father's siblings have also tested.  One sibling may demonstrate a match where another one will not.  That is the case with my uncle.
Autosomal DNA comparison between 4th cousins, once removed
Two identical segments of DNA are found.  Both brothers share the segment on chromosome 15 with R.B.
The segment on chromosome 3 contains more SNPs and is more likely to indicate a shared ancestor. 

R.B. and my uncle share two small segments of identical DNA, enough to trigger an estimate to the Most Recent Common Ancestor:  4.7 generations.  The actual number of generations back to the most common recent ancestors, Stephen Cook and Elizabeth vanderHoof, is 5 generations from my father and uncle and 6 generations from R.B.

Chart of Consanguinity
My uncle is 5 generations from Stephen Cook and Elizabeth vanderHoof,
while R.B. is 6 generations from this couple,
so R.B. and my uncle are 4th cousins, once removed.

What is gained from this information?  Two items.
First, the shared DNA within the parameters of the 4th to 5th cousin range makes it more likely that we have the correct Cook family lines.  It is not proof that we are related through Cook and vanderHoof, as the identical DNA could be from another shared line that we are unaware of at this time.
Second, we can view other genetic cousin matches on these same segments and specifically look for connections to Cook or vanderHoof.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finding a German Hometown

One of the benefits of testing the DNA of family members for genealogy purposes is meeting other researchers online to exchange information and expand the family tree.

A genetic match to cousins of my paternal grandmother provided me with a fantastic link, providing me with a German hometown.  (Thank you D. L.)  My cousins' Wrage line had me chasing alternate spellings in New York because of the silent W and the German pronunciation.  Without a specific place or town in Europe, finding and identifying the correct Wrage family in a German area in 1850 (if it even was Wrage in Europe) was futile.

1869 Passenger List- Hermann Wrage and son, Hermann Wrage.
This was not the older Hermann's first trip to New York.
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, database online

The genetic cousin alerted me to a wonderful book online (The History of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, New York, from 1853-1903 by Hugo W Hoffmann at GoogleBooks) containing a picture of the immigrant Hermann Wrage, along with his birthplace, father's name, and a glimpse of his life as a soldier in Europe and then a pastor at the Church in New York.

Hermann Wrage  1831-1882

Hermann Wrage was also a published author of grammar and language books.  The advertisements for his books can be found in newspapers in the 1870s and 1880s and the actual books today are online at GoogleBooks.

Very importantly, I found out Hermann's town of origin in Europe:  Flensburg.  This is so much more helpful than working with "Germany" or "Prussia" as the place of origin.  Flensburg is currently in Germany on the northern border with Denmark.  Genetic cousins of Danish heritage in the DNA databases could be related through this Wrage branch.

Google Maps
Hermann Wrage's hometown, Flensburg, is in Germany, but next to Denmark.

23andMe: Genome of Cousin B. D.
The match on chromosome 1 with Danish and Swedish ancestry could be related through B. D.'s Wrage branch.

Next I searched for the surname "Wrage" for a geographical genealogy.  The surname is concentrated in the present-day State of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, near Denmark.  This is the area of Hermann Wrage's stated hometown, Flensburg.  I can expect to find more records here.
GeoGen Surname Mapping for surname WRAGE

Another great feature at GeoGen is the Name Graph, which provides alternate spellings for a surname.  Wrage might appear with or without the W, and could even start with a vowel.  Finding and confirming records on this line will be tricky at times, especially if the family was Danish and became German before coming to New York.

Alternate spellings for surname WRAGE