Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Genetic Genealogy Success Story (Finally)

I have figured out my first genetic cousin match after years of collecting and analyzing.

The match is in my maternal grandmother's tree.  This surprised me because I have not been able to trace my grandmother's Irish tree very far back.  I thought my DNA success would be in my father's extensive Colonial American tree.

I noticed this close match in the DNA Relatives feature of my maternal uncle at 23andMe.  After the eight known close relatives, this match immediately followed, matching my uncle 0.87% over five segments.  (In contrast, this match in my mother's DNA Relatives is number 45.)  The match was anonymous, so I sent a request to "share genomes."  The other person, D. J., accepted, enabling me to compare him to my close relatives.  D. J. matched my mother, her half brother, and their first cousin; but not my maternal grandmother's paternal cousins (the O'Donnell side).  I figured the match would be through my maternal grandmother's mother's side (the Preston side).

Family Inheritance:  Advanced

My sister and I inherited almost all of the DNA that my mother shares with this cousin.

Parents and grandparents of my maternal grandmother, Jeannette O'Donnell.
Because this mystery cousin matched my mother and her half brother, the match was from Jeannette's tree.
The mystery cousin did not match Jeannette's paternal cousins,
so the match was through Jeannette's mother, Anna Preston.
Family Tree Maker 2012

Next I viewed D. J.'s genetic distant cousins who also shared the matching segments.  23andMe makes available the Ancestry File of people who are sharing genomes with you.  This file contains their genetic matches and the segments where they match.  This provides limited info:  If the match is anonymous, no name is displayed; and if a match has not filled out a survey specific to this file, the person is omitted entirely.

Ancestry Finder matches of cousin D. J. from 23andMe

I was expecting Irish matches.  These look like my mother's paternal matches, not maternal.  If none of her close maternal relatives had tested, I would have erroneously classified D. J. as a paternal match of my mother.

Next I looked at D. J.'s Ancestry Composition.

Ancestry Composition of cousin D. J. at 23andMe

D. J. is approximately half Ashkenazi.  This bumps his smaller matches (in this case, Irish) out of the picture almost entirely.  My uncle is not Ashkenazi.  D. J. placed at the top of his unknown matches.

D. J. answered my inquiry.  The focus would be on his father's tree.  D. J.'s paternal grandfather was Norwegian and his paternal grandmother was of Irish heritage, born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1922; last name Beirne, pronounced Burn.

Irish and Bayonne, New Jersey was a great place to look for the common ancestors!

Notice that he did not give me a surname that matched any of my ancestors.  Because I had traced my family tree up and then across and back down, I knew Beirne.

Obituary of my great grandmother, Anna Preston, wife of Frank O'Donnell.
Her sister, "Mrs Thomas Burns," is mentioned.  This is Hannah.

This was a difficult family to find because the name was spelled Byrne or Burn in indexes.  I figured it must have sounded like Burn.  My great grandmother's sister, Hannah Preston, married Thomas Beirne in Bayonne in 1911.

Copied at New Jersey State Archives in Trenton by J Lutter

I had found two children for this couple:  Mary, born 1912, and William, born 1915.

Copied at New Jersey State Archives in Trenton by J Lutter

Copied at New Jersey State Archives in Trenton by J Lutter

I guessed that D. J.'s paternal grandmother was Mary Beirne.  He replied that her name was Regina, born 1922.  I had come across Regina Beirne.  She was the contact person on Thomas Beirne's registration for the draft of World War II.  I had not determined how she was related.

Draft registration, 1942

If Regina was a daughter of Hannah Preston and Thomas Beirne, how did I miss her?  I returned to the 1930 census to find Regina.  If she was born in 1922, I should have found her with her family in 1930.

Line 46 is Regina Bierne.
1930 United States Federal Census
10 West 17th Street, Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey
ED 197, page 6A (

Do you see how I missed Regina?  She is listed with the prior Aiello family.

I checked my grandmother's family notes and sure enough, she had written "2 girls & 1 boy" for Hannah.

Family notes of Jody's grandmother

This makes D. J. my third cousin!  We share a pair of great great grandparents:  John David Preston, born about 1857 in Pine Plains, Dutchess County, New York, and Bridget Sheehey, born about 1857 in Ireland.

And here are our great grandmothers, Hannah and Anna Preston, sisters, in the household of their parents in the 1900 census.
Household of John D Preston
1900 United States Federal Census
Independence, Warren County, New Jersey
ED 190, page 7B (
Back to the DNA:  My sister and I match this third cousin 0.56% over three segments.  This is about half the DNA that my father and his siblings share with their third cousin.  D. J. is a second cousin, once removed to my mother, her brother, and their first cousin.

By comparing other genetic matches to this known third cousin, I can isolate some matches to the Preston branch of my mother's family tree.

For further studies, D. J.'s father could be tested.  This will show us additional common Preston segments, but will also reveal many more Preston genetic matches that are missed in D. J.'s own account because of his mother's Ashkenazi heritage.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gleanings from the Life of a Musician

Howard Lutter was one of my great grandfathers.  He was (and still is) known for his musical talent, expressed mainly in his creation of player piano rolls.  His own family had little contact with him, though, and most of my information about him is from my research of public records.

Howard Harry Lutter was born June 10, 1889 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, at 51 Lincoln Street to Herman Lutter and Clara Uhl.  Howard reported his own birth 46 years later, perhaps to apply for a Social Security account number.  Howard's father, Herman Lutter, was born around 1860 in Thuringia.  Howard's mother, Clara Uhl, was born in Newark around 1865.  Clara's father, David Uhl, was born in 1836 in Hesse.  Clara's mother, Clara Patschke, was born in 1841 in SachsenAnhalt.

Birth record for Howard Harry Lutter
Available at the New Jersey State Archives, Trenton

Howard's parents were married January 24, 1888 in Newark.  The marriage was brief.  From the divorce records of Herman Lutter and Clara Uhl, we learn that the couple split in November of 1888, eight months before the birth of Howard.

Herman Lutter v Clara R Lutter
Chancery Court of New Jersey
Available through New Jersey State Archives (off-site storage)

This father-son relationship was probably strained.  When Herman died in 1924, he left only $5 to Howard.  In comparison, Herman requested a tombstone costing "not less than $600 dollars" and left $2000 to Howard's step-mother, who he was also divorcing.  (I still have not found such a tombstone.)

Estate of Herman Lutter
M6226, filed July 16, 1924
County of Monmouth, State of New Jersey
Available at the New Jersey State Archives

The 1895 New Jersey state census shows young Howard "Rutter" with his mother, Clara, and her family in Newark.

1895 New Jersey State Census
Newark, 7th Ward, 6th District, Essex County
Family 144, page 22

In the 1900 federal census, Howard Uhl is listed in the household of his maternal grandmother, Clara Uhl [Patschke] at 64 Boston Street in Newark.  Residing with them is Howard's mother, Clara, and his maternal aunt, Lilly.

1900 United States Federal Census
Newark, 7th Ward, Essex County, New Jersey
64 Boston Street

Howard Lutter first appeared in the Newark City Directory in 1908, working as a clerk at the Prudential Insurance Company.

1908 Newark City Directory by The Price and Lee Company
Available at

On September 17, 1910, Howard Lutter married Laura [Ethel] Winterton in Newark.  She was the daughter of William Winterton and Catherine Dunn, formerly of Matawan, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  Howard listed his occupation as "Pianist."

New Jersey State Marriage Record
Howard Lutter and Laura E Winterton
September 17, 1910 in Newark
Available at New Jersey State Archives

Howard Harry Lutter registered for the World War I draft in Newark.  He gave an address of 22 East Alpine Street in Newark.  His occupation was Pianist- Master maker- at Bennett & White, Inc, at 67 Goble Street in Newark.  He claimed exemption from the draft because of "Objection to all forms of war, fighting; Indispensable to conduct of his business."

World War [One] Draft Registration Cards

In the 1911 Newark City Directory, Howard is listed as a musician for the first time.  In the 1915 directory, he is removed to New York City.  He turns up in Philadelphia instead for the birth of his first child, Clifford Lutter, born March 18, 1915 at University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The family's address was 1534 Arch Street in Philadelphia.  Clifford's wife, Beulah Cook (my paternal grandmother), explained to me that Howard was performing in Philadelphia at the time Clifford was born.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Certificate of Birth
Clifford Lutter, born March 18, 1915 in Philadelphia

Howard's second child, Beryl Lutter, was born in 1918 at Newark Beth Israel Hospital in Newark.

State of New Jersey
Certificate of Birth
Baby [Beryl] Lutter, born April 1, 1918 in Newark

The copyright date on this sheet music is 1919.

The 1920 federal census provides the only snapshot of the Howard and Laura living together.  They resided at 194 Chadwick Avenue in Newark.  Howard's occupation was "musician."  With them were their two children, Clifford, age 4, and Beryl, age 1.

1920 United States Federal Census
Newark, 16th Ward, Essex County, New Jersey
194 Chadwick Avenue

Finding small blurbs such as this one provide some insight into the professional life of Howard Lutter.

In the 1930 federal census, Howard H. Lutter was residing at 171 Ampere Parkway in Bloomfield.  His occupation was "sound effect" at Vitaphone.  With him was his wife, Fiorita, children Rita, age 16, Clifford, age 15, and Beryl, age 12.  Laura Winterton is lodging at a private residence nearby.  Fiorita is actually Fiorita Lorenze, wife of James Howard Winnie.  They were the parents of Irene, born 1912, and Fiorita or Rita, born 1914.

1930 United States Federal Census
171 Ampere Parkway, Bloomfield, Essex County, New Jersey

1920 United States Federal Census
453 North Eighteenth Street, Bloomfield, Essex County, New Jersey

State of New Jersey
Birth Certificate
Irene Emilie Winnie, born September 24, 1912 in Newark

State of New Jersey
Birth Ceritificate
Fioreda Louisa Winnie, born July 14, 1914 in Newark

In the Newark City Directories in the 1930s, Howard Lutter was listed as a sound engineer in Brooklyn, while Rita was working as a swimming instructor.  In the 1941 directory, Howard's occupation shifted to "sound engineer and janitor's helper."  In the 1940 federal census, Howard Lutter was residing at 59 Peck Avenue in Newark with Rita.  He gave his occupation as janitor, temporary, Board of Education.  He reported working 17 weeks in 1939 and earning $1445.

1940 United States Federal Census
59 Peck Avenue, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey

Howard Lutter registered for the World War II draft in 1942.  He listed his address as 59 Peck Avenue in Newark; wife Rita; employer Newark Board of Education.

World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
Collection at

Howard's last entry in the Newark City directories was in 1947.  [The collection of Newark City Directories at stops at 1923.  Other years are housed at the Newark Public Library on Washington Street.]

In 1954, Howard Lutter appeared on the Los Angeles, California voter rolls.

1954 Registered Voters of Los Angeles
California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968
Collection at

My aunt recalls meeting Howard when she was very young.  This was probably in 1955 when Howard's mother Clara died, which would have caused Howard to fly back to Newark from Los Angeles.

Howard Lutter died March 3, 1959 at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarta, Los Angeles County, California.  The cause of death was chronic granulocytic leukemia (also called chronic myelogenous leukemia).  He was buried at Glen Haven Memorial Park.  A kind soul photographed the grave for me.  According to the death certificate, Howard worked as a sound technician for twenty years for the Board of Education in New Jersey.

State of California
Certificate of Death
Howard Lutter, died 1959

Howard's first wife, Laura Winterton, died in Newark in 1962.

State of New Jersey
Certificate of Death
Laura Lutter, died 1962
Available through mail by the New Jersey Department of Health

Fiorita "Rita" Lorenze died in 1969.

State of California
Certificate of Death
Fiorita "Rita" Lutter, nee Lorenze, died 1969

I continue to research Howard Lutter and find out more about the man and his life.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chromosome Mapping

My genealogical research has been enhanced through the use of DNA studies.  Several relatives have kindly submitted their DNA to help me gather both known and unknown branches of the family tree.  Increasing numbers of people are testing their own DNA for different reasons.  Some methods of analyzing the results are provided by the testing companies themselves, while other tools are being developed by (extra)ordinary people.

This weekend I had the pleasure of learning about a new tool developed by Kitty Cooper:  Chromosome Mapper.  (This is for autosomal DNA results and not Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests.)  I was introduced to the idea of colorfully mapping the chromosome by Jim Owston.  The purpose of mapping a chromosome is to visually identify which pieces of DNA came from which ancestor, thereby helping you identify ancestors in common with your genetic distant cousins.

[Here's the short technical aspect:  to use the Chromosome Mapper, you first need to have your autosomal DNA tested, obtain the results, and then identify ancestors in common with some of your matches.  From there, you need to create an Excel spreadsheet of the matches and the MRCA (most recent common ancestor).  If no close relatives have tested and you have not identified the MRCA of any match, then you cannot map your chromosomes.]

My father, David Lutter, has three cousins tested from his mother's side and one cousin from his father's side, so the common ancestors were already identified.  Plugging their numbers into the Chromosome Mapper produces a useful visual tool.

The colors represent areas of David's DNA that can be attributed to specific ancestors.
Chromosome Mapper at

When a distant genetic cousin matches David and one of his known close cousins on the colored areas shown above, we know which branch of the family holds the common ancestral line.

Ancestral fan chart (Family Tree Maker 2012)
DNA matches on the blue areas of David's DNA come from the Dunn/Winterton branch of his family tree.

Distant DNA cousins who match David on the orange areas of his chromosome map come from the Neil/Cook branch of his family tree.

DNA matches that fall on the red areas of David's chromosomes come from the Cummings/Duryea branch.

In the fan charts above, the females are indicated in pink and the males in blue.  The chart extends to David's great great great grandparents.  Please note the white boxes, indicating an unknown ancestral line.  It is entirely possible that the most recent common ancestor of David and a distant genetic match lies beyond this unknown area.

The Chromosome Mapper allows for a lot more ancestors and colors, so I plugged in my own matches using my mother's and father's matches.  (I omitted my paternal third cousin, once removed.  I share no DNA with him from our known common ancestors, Mary Neil and Calvin Cook.  Instead, we share a small segment that I inherited from my mother.  At this time, we do not know the common ancestors of my father's third cousin and my mother, but by testing my mother's cousins, we know that the match will be in her Joyce/ODonnell branch.)

Several chromosomes show two colors in the same area because they are showing both the maternal and the paternal sides of the chromosome.  I think that this is so neat to be able to visualize which areas of my DNA came from which ancestors- people I can never meet because they are long gone.

Both of my parents have tested their DNA, so most of my matches can be quickly assigned to either the paternal side or the maternal side.  A few people match me but neither parent, while several people match both my parents!  My grandparents are all deceased, so dividing my parent's matches into their paternal and maternal sides becomes challenging.  Testing cousins from different branches of the family tree narrows down the possible areas in which to look for a common ancestor to a distant genetic match.

While studying my Chromosome Map versus my father's Map, I realized that I will have overlapping or common areas of match on my maternal line.  This is because all of my mother's relatives who tested descend from the same set of ancestors, Delia Joyce and Patrick ODonnell.  23andMe provides a mapping function, limited to three comparisons.  Here is my map of my maternal matches (one person in each category).

Areas of Jody's DNA in common with descendants of specified ancestors.

And here is the same mapping from Kitty's Chromosome Mapper:
Chromosome Mapper/
I specified "paternal" in my spreadsheet to achieve similar coloring to the 23andMe map.
Also, Chromosome Mapper allows input from several cousins to form a more complete map.
The dark blue on this map represents DNA from one cousin (compare to two below).

With the goal of narrowing down which branch of the family holds the Most Recent Common Ancestor, I would prefer to see the areas where I match the most distant generation (a set of great great grandparents/dark blue) dominate.  The longest segment appears instead of the shorter segment, regardless of generation.  Any DNA from these great grandparents (green) was passed down to me through their daughter (light blue), so those two colors actually represent the same branch.  The useful function is to further differentiate the DNA from these great grandparents (Delia Joyce and Patrick ODonnell) into my great grandfather (Frank ODonnell).  I can manipulate which information I put into the Chromosome Mapper.  By adding the areas of match for two cousins of my grandmother's generation, the DNA that they both share with me combines into extended dark blue areas, representing some of the DNA I inherited from my maternal great grandfather, Frank ODonnell.

Chromosome Mapper by Kitty Munson
Jody compared to two descendants of equal relation to this ancestral couple (cousins of Jody's grandmother).
This DNA tool visualizes all of their DNA into one cohesive color and segment.

Great work, Kitty.