Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

A More Precise Irish Hometown?

I found a website detailing the history of a school in Meentinadea, County Donegal, Ireland.

I was directed to the page by searching for a priest in the family, Father Charles O'Donnell (1884-1934).

The site mentions that Father O'Donnell's father (Cornelius or Neil O'Donnell) was from Altnagapple, "two miles from the school," and his mother, Mary (Gallagher), was from Cullion, Killybegs.  Father O'Donnell "visited his ancestral home at Altnagapple" on a return trip from Rome in 1923, saying Mass while an uncle, Charlie Mhici O'Donnell, "and relatives were present."

This information expounds upon the little information I previously had, which was from Father O'Donnell's book.  In a poem in the book, Father O'Donnell wrote that his father was from Ardara and his mother from Killybegs.  They met on the road in Donegal.

Father O'Donnell's father, Neil O'Donnell, was a brother of my great great grandfather, Patrick Francis O'Donnell.  Neil and Patrick's parents were Peter O'Donnell and Margaret Gallagher.  I am hoping that Margaret Gallagher was also from this area of Donegal and is related to the Mary Gallagher who married her son Neil O'Donnell.  That should make finding records easier.

I did not know that Neil and Patrick had a brother, Charlie, who remained in Ireland.

Hopefully this additional information will enable me to locate some more generations in Ireland.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cousin Prediction

A promising DNA match has appeared at  She shares a good chunk of chromosome 4 with my father and his three siblings.  As with all matches, I also check for DNA shared with my father's close relations.  If a distant cousin matches my father and his close cousin on the same segment of DNA, then I look for the shared ancestor in the branch of the family tree shared by my father and that cousin.  That is the strategy behind DNA testing not just yourself, but your aunts, uncles, and cousins.

You need to be careful when a distant cousin matches two close family members on different segments.  This could be indicative of two different ancestral lines, meaning that the distant cousin is not related to both close cousins by the same ancestors.

Beautifully illustrating this point, the promising match shares DNA not only with my father, but his mother's cousins and his father's cousin- on different segments.  To date, my research has not revealed any shared ancestors between my paternal grandparents.  (Though one of my grandmother's cousins shares a segment of DNA with my grandfather's cousin.)  This newest match may be connected in three different ways to my family, or maybe just two.

Hopefully a few generations of her family tree will be forthcoming and I can figure out the ancestor responsible for the chunk of chromosome 4.  My prediction:  third to fourth cousin.  IF she is related by a common ancestor to one of the grandparent's cousins, she should not be closer than a third cousin because they are the prior generation and their shared segment is too small for a second cousin range.

Segment Mapper by Kitty Cooper

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Adding an Irish Leaf

An inquiry from Ireland has helped me expand a branch of my Joyce tree.

Someone contacted me, trying to discover what had become of a grandaunt, Helen Beston.  The information was that Helen was born in Tipperary in 1892 and married John Joyce in New York City in 1920.

I looked for men named John Joyce in my tree and found only one.  John Joyce was born around 1867 in Pawling, Dutchess County, New York, United States to Patrick Joyce and Margaret (or Mary) Campbell, both of Ireland.  John was a brother to my grandmother's grandmother, Delia Joyce, and he witnessed Delia's marriage in 1887 in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey, to Patrick Francis O'Donnell.  John and Delia's mother was killed in 1870 after being hit by a train at Katonah Station.

John Joyce married Mary Delaney and had two sons.  John worked as a police officer in White Plains [Westchester County, New York], eventually becoming Chief of Police.  The historian for the police department kindly located some pictures of John.

John died in 1934 and his wife in 1941, so he could not have been the John Joyce who married Helen Beston in 1920. offers an index of New York City marriages.  Helen Beston appears in the index as marrying James Joyce on July 4, 1920.  This date struck me because the New York State birth index has a John J Joyce born July 4, 1889 in Pawling.

The oldest son of John Joyce and Margaret Delaney used the name "James" or "James Lawrence" Joyce on all the records I found for him, though it appears that he may have been given the name "John" at birth.

In the 1910 census, James and his brother Edward were single and living with their parents in White Plains.

In the 1920 census, James was still living with his parents, but listed as "wd," the abbreviation for widowed.  Also in this household was James Joyce, Jr, age 7.

The 1915 New York State census allows us a glimpse at James Joyce's first marriage to Catherine.

James Joyce's first wife, Catherine, must have died in between the 1915 state census and the 1920 federal census.  On July 4, 1920, James Joyce remarried to Helen Beston.

The White Plains city directory from 1928 contains this branch of Joyces:  father and mother, John J Joyce, Chief of Police, and Mary.  Their sons, James and Edward, both with wives named Helen.  Edward Joyce was a police officer.  James was working in dairy at this time.

James Lawrence (or John) Joyce and Helen Beston had several children.  The 1930 census illustrates a household of children from both of James' marriages and the census taker's attempt to make the numbers fit so that all children were a product of the current marriage.

Notice the gap in the age of the oldest child (16) and the second oldest (8).  This is a clue that we could be dealing with two different wives.

Lillian was not Helen's daughter.  The census taker made Helen's age at marriage seventeen, so that James and Helen were married 21 years ago- in an attempt to show that Helen and James were married when Lillian was born 16 years ago.

Lillian would fit as a daughter from James' prior marriage.  However, Lillian was not living with her parents and brother in the 1915 state census, nor was she living with her father, brother, and paternal grandparents in the 1920 census.  Where was she?

If the descendants of James Lawrence John Joyce could come forward, that would be great!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Welcoming Irish Relatives

A Brady cousin has been found!  She came forward after discovering the match through DNA and then checking family trees.  H.M. and R.S. are third cousins.  The common ancestors are their second great grandparents, Patrick Brady and Eliza Duffy (1837-1918).

[R.S. is my father's third cousin, but through different ancestors, Calvin Cook (1826-1889) and Mary Neil (1830-1898).  R.S. is also my mother's cousin.  We do not know which ancestors they have in common.  Testing my mother's close cousins narrowed down the possibilities to the O'Donnell/Joyce branch in my mother's tree.  R.S.'s match with my mother will be in one of his Irish branches.  I was concentrating on Brady/Duffy.  We'll look at those DNA comparisons in future posts.]

Part One:  DNA
Although the DNA tests were done at different companies (23andMe and AncestryDNA), both were uploaded (for free) to, which is where the connection was discovered.  (You can do this too!)

These third cousins share two segments of DNA.  They share less DNA than R.S. shares with my father and his siblings, even though they all have the same degree of relation.  This is because the amount of DNA shared among close relatives skews beyond the initial parent-child relationship.  At the third cousin level, you begin to see no shared DNA.

Part Two:  Research
The common ancestors of R.S. and H.M. are their second great grandparents, Patrick Brady and Eliza Duffy (1837 Ireland -1918 Jersey City, New Jersey USA).  R.S. descends from their daughter, Mary.  H.M. descends from their son, Bernard.

I have no dates for Patrick Brady because I have no records for him.  Brady and Duffy are common Irish surnames and there is no shortage of people with these names in New York City and Jersey City, the target areas of my search.

Eliza used "Eliza" and "Elizabeth," but Eliza is more uncommon and therefore easier to work with.  I was able to locate her obituary from 1918 in the Jersey Journal, which lead me to her death certificate and burial (Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City).  Eliza's death certificate provided the names of her parents as Peter Duffy and Elizabeth Connors of "Ireland."  (Later in 1942, daughter Mary's death certificate provided the name of the county in Ireland- Meath.  Further research will find more precise locations.)

Jersey Journal
online at

Death Certificate for Eliza Duffy, wife of Patrick Brady, died in Jersey City in 1918.
Available on microfilm in Trenton, New Jersey

Online burial index for Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City, New Jersey (free genealogy search)
Good luck finding a grave

Burial site of Eliza Duffy, 1918
No stone.  In between Cherry and Pucciarelli.
F - K - 108.

Because this cemetery is so confusing, I also checked out K - F - 108.  Constantinople.
The grass was greener on this side, but I don't think this is where Duffy or Brady is buried.

My strategy for reconstructing this family was to gather all of the children and follow them.  This is not easy in Irish families because they gravitated towards the same Irish names.  I came up with seven children for Patrick Brady and Eliza Duffy, all born in Ireland approximately between 1850 and 1871:

--- Bernard (great grandfather of H.M.),
--- Catherine,
--- Peter,
--- Ann,
--- Mary (great grandmother of R.S.),
--- Patrick,
--- Joseph.

Figuring out the oldest child and youngest child is important for creating a timeline: when the couple married, when the father died, when the family immigrated to the United States.

Bernard appears to have been the oldest sibling.  His descendants provided details of his life.  Bernard married Mary Dineen.  In 1885, their first child, Lizzie, was born in New York City at 746 Greenwich Street.  Bernard later appears in the New York City directories at this address.  A marriage record for Bernard Brady and Mary Dineen has not yet been located.

Without an address, the correct Bernard Brady is indistinguishable from the other 21 men named Bernard Brady.

Searching for Bernard's father, Patrick Brady, in New York City is no easy task.  Look at how many men are named Patrick Brady.

At some point in the 1880s, the family lived in Jersey City.  Catherine Brady married David Francis Cleary in Jersey City in 1888.  Ann Brady married Samuel Lynn in Jersey City in 1890.  These marriage records are clearly the correct Brady family.  Where were they before 1888?

The 1885 New Jersey State census is indexed at FamilySearch.  I located a possible entry for this Brady family in Jersey City.

This entry is for Eliza and her seven children.  Barney, or Bernard, is out of birth order.

Never one to rely on an index, I found the microfilm at the Jersey City Public Library.

1885 New Jersey State Census
Jersey City, Hudson County.  District 4.  Precinct 6.  Page 207.
The numbers to locate this entry were accurate; this is page 207, family 1219, in District 4.  The only issue was that there are several precincts in the district.  This is Precinct 6.  Street addresses are not given.

Once I had the family in Jersey City in 1885, I turned to the city directories for earlier years.  (The New Jersey Room of the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library has a fairly complete set.  The Newark Public Library also has several years.)  The earliest that I can definitely identify this family in Jersey City is in the 1883-1884 directory.  Eliza is listed as Patrick's widow at 111 Cottage.

At this point, we can say that the family came to the United States sometime after the birth of the last child in Ireland, around 1871, and before 1883, when Eliza is listed as Patrick's widow in the city directory.

For further research:
--- Did Patrick Brady come to the United States with his wife and children, or did he die in Ireland?
--- Did the family live in New York City before settling in Jersey City in the early 1880s?  Were they in the United States for the 1880 federal census?  (I have not found a good match for them in 1880.)
--- Where was Bernard Brady's wife, Mary Dineen, living before the marriage?  Where is the marriage record?

Fast-forwarding to the 1895 New Jersey State Census, Eliza is living with only one child, Joseph Brady (died 1911).  Also living with them are two women with the surname Duffy:  Annie and Mamie.  These are potential relatives of Eliza who also need to be tracked down.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Death Knocked Twice

Some people's deaths were never reported to the State.  William Walling's death was reported twice.

William Walling was my 4x great grandfather.  He was born around 1803 in Keyport, Monmouth County, New Jersey to William Walling and Rebecca Dey.  He married Ellen Euphemia Imlay.  I descend from their daughter, Sophia T Walling.

William died in 1870 on July 31st.  A newspaper article four days before his death, described his physical labors constructing a building in Keyport.  I have been seeking documentation on his parents.

William Walling's death appears in the online index of New Jersey Deaths and Burials, 1720-1988 at (a free site).  But there seemed to be two entries: 1870 and 1871.  (Remember the past problem with this index:  the year can be off by one because New Jersey's records were not organized based on a calendar year.)

Volume AP is the death ledger for 1869-1870.
Volume AR is the death ledger for 1870-1871.

So I looked up both records.

Volume AP, New Jersey Deaths, Hunterdon-Warren Counties, 1869-1870

Volume AR, New Jersey Deaths, Hunterdon-Warren Counties, 1870-1871

Remember that individual death certificates were not issued until 1878.

Volume AP, page 118, covers deaths in Monmouth County, New Jersey from August 1, 1869 through July 31, 1870.  William Walling died on the last day covered by this ledger book.  Note that his parents are listed as Thomas and Rebecca.

Volume AR, page 111, covers deaths in Monmouth County from August 1, 1870 through September 30, 1871.  However, the first entry is a death on July 25, 1870 and the last is July 26, 1871.  William's parents are listed as William and Rebecca.

William died of stomach cancer in both entries.  Yet he was digging a well a few days before his death.

Also note that another Walling is on both pages.  Wallings are plentiful in the geographic area.

The research point is that a record may be missing completely, appear in duplicate, or appear in a place where it should not be.  So you need to cast a wide net of years and locations when looking for records.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More to Life than Golf?

A family story holds that my mother's uncle "dropped dead" while playing golf.  With the expansion of the collection of death certificates to the year 1955 at the New Jersey State Archives, I was able to locate this uncle's death certificate.

Death certificate for John E Haas, 1955
Son of Samuel Haas and Mary Zolder

John E Haas died June 18, 1955 from "sudden coronary thrombosis and occlusion," or a heart attack.  The location was the Knickerbocker Country Club in Bergenfield, Bergen County, New Jersey.  Whoever filled out this death certificate was very specific about the location.  John died at the "4th Hole."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Y-DNA Results for Duryea

The results of my cousin's Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA have arrived.  He is a first cousin of my paternal grandmother and is a direct male descendant of Joost Duryea, born about 1650.  Around 1675, Joost immigrated to the English Province of New York, formerly the Dutch Nieuw Nederland.  In 1727 Joost died in Bushwick.

The Y Chromosome is passed from father to son mostly unchanged.  Slight changes, or mutations, occur every few generations.  Joost's sons, their sons, and so on received a Y chromosome identical or almost identical to Joost, right down to today's living descendants.

No man is an exact match to my cousin.  The closest match is also a descendant of Joost Duryea.  The genetic distance of 3 tells us that mutations have occurred, but this is expected when the relation is so far back.

This match and my immediate cousin are 6th cousins, once removed.  We all descend from Joost Duryea's son, Charles (1690-1753).  Charles is seven generations removed from my immediate cousin and eight generations removed from this distant cousin.

None of the other matches list a Duryea as the origin of their patrilineal line.  This can be because the relation is further back than Joost Duryea, when surnames were not used or not handed down father to son.  Other reasons include a non-parental event, name change, or an error tracing family lines.

Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA
Most distant direct male ancestor provided by the other matches

I'm happy to finally have a Y-DNA test with results I can work with.  My father tested earlier this year for the surname Lutter.  He has no matches at any level at any distance.  His direct patrilineal line is the shortest line in his family tree.  I have been able to trace back only three generations to his great grandfather, Hermann Lutter (1860-1924).

P.S.:  FamilyTreeDNA has a sale this month.  Plus, coupon codes abound.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Page from the Book of Death

While perusing the death records on my most recent trip to the New Jersey State Archives, a found an entry for a murder-suicide.

In 1878, New Jersey started issuing individual death certificates.  Before then, deaths reported to the State were logged in ledger books.  No individual records were created.  Jersey City's deaths are separate from the rest of Hudson County.  Browsing the pages of death gives you a glimpse of the times.  This page from 1872-1873 records the death of eighteen children and six adults, mostly from infectious diseases that we rarely see today.  One set of siblings was wiped out from diptheria; another from scarlet fever.

What caught my eye was the entry for Mary Gehring, age 55, and Michael Gehring, age 45.  Both were born in Germany.  Their deaths were in September of 1872- no specific day.

I followed their lines to the cause of death.  Mary was murdered; Michael committed suicide.  This is not seen often.

The incident made the first page of the Jersey Journal for September 27, 1872.  According to the article, Mary and Michael Gehring immigrated about twenty years earlier.  They had a violent marriage with periods of not residing together.  On the night of September 26, 1872, Michael returned to the home after an absence.  Initially Michael and Mary were getting along, but soon began arguing.  In front of their 13 year old son, Michael fatally stabbed Mary at least three times and then slit his own throat.

Four children survived couple.  An 18 year old son, Frank, is mentioned; as was Christopher Diericks, a son-in-law.

If anyone has anything further on this family, please let us know.  Any descendants out there?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FindAGrave 11th Anniversary

Yesterday was 10 years, 11 months, and 30 days.
Today is 11 years, 1 day.
Eleven years contributing to FindAGrave!

1,800 memorials are my contribution, with over 2,000 pictures.

When I first started contributing, I did not have a digital camera.  I handwrote the information from the stones and created the memorial later on a computer.  Later I included pictures by using a digital camera: unloaded the pictures onto the computer, compressed their size, and then uploaded to the FindAGrave.

Just this year, in 2014, FindAGrave introduced its mobile app.  Now it is so easy to add a new memorial and include a picture and even the exact location using GPS coordinates via your phone.  You can also locate cemeteries in an area on a map by using the Search for a Cemetery function.

Many people have contacted me about graves I've posted in these eleven years.  Some are seeking family members; others are still gathering information to link lines.  People have posted graves of my family that I needed to see, but had not yet traveled to the location.

In 2013, acquired FindAGrave.  FindAGrave continues to be free of charge, which it should remain.  The 121 million records continue to grow from volunteer contributors.  Users can add content, or search and view the entire site, for free.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Look Alike, Transcribe Alike

Here's another one about finding the original record and not relying on an index.

The surnames DWYER and DURYEA look very similar in script.

Some years of New Jersey deaths, 1878-1892, are indexed online at the website of the State Archives.  (The web address keeps changing.  The current site for indexed records, which is free, is  (You can also find indexes for New Jersey's births, marriages, and deaths at for free.)

In the search box I entered "Durye" to bring up both spellings- Duryea and Duryee.  An entry for the death of Mary Duryer, age 50, appeared for Jersey City in Hudson County, one of my geographic target areas.

Deaths for July 31, 1889 through June 30, 1890 are on one microfilm.  47 is the place code for Jersey City.  Records for Jersey City are separate from the rest of Hudson County.  The certificate is D87; D for Duryea.

The death certificate was for Mary Dwyer, not Duryer or Duryea.

My family tree contains a Duryea-Dwyer marriage.  You can imagine the transcription errors.  So always seek the original record and do not stop with the index.

Birth certificate for Agnes Duryea, born July 4, 1907 in Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey.
This baby lived just a few months and died on October 29, 1907.
Daughter of John Duryea and Katharine Dwyer.
Number 11- but not the last child born to this couple.
Also note that the birth certificate for Agnes Duryea was created March 31, 1908--- five months after her death.  I wonder why.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Runaway Groom Returned

I stumbled upon an interesting little newspaper article from 1887 in the Jersey Journal (online at subscription required).  This paper, still being published, covers Jersey City and Hudson County.  The article was about a "missing bridegroom" named Philip Duryea.

Philip was the son of Abraham Wilson Duryee (1821-1898) and Caroline Couwenhoven (1824-1919).  Philip must have returned soon after the article appeared on November 19th.  He married Mary Amelia Brown on November 23, 1887 in the Town of Union, Hudson County, New Jersey.  Her parents were listed as James Nathan Brown and Charlotte Amelia Gardner.

Philip and Mary were still together for the 1900 federal census.  I am not sure how all the members of this household are related.  We have Philip Duryee and wife Mary; that is okay.
Then we have a daughter named Lulla, born October 1885- two years before Philip and Mary married.  Then we have another daughter named Mary Hazard, age 12 and single- born the same month that Philip and Mary married.  Why is her last name not Duryee?

Two boarders were in this household.
Anna Jacob, born December 1882 in New York.
Clifford Morton, born June 1875 in Pennsylvania.

Always note the "boarders" in the census because they could actually be relatives.

In the 1910 census, Lula Duryee is described as "adopted daughter."  Mary G Hassard is not listed as a daughter, but rather a cousin.

This branch will require more research to explain all of these records.