Monday, May 26, 2014

Recognizing a Great Grandfather

A third picture of my great grandfather may have been identified!

Howard Lutter (1889-1959) was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey.  He relocated to California around 1950.  A talented pianist and musician, he created player piano rolls, from which I acquired my first picture of Howard.

The second discovered picture was from a digitized trade magazine for the player piano industry:  The Music Trade Review, 1923.

My aunt gave me a batch of family photographs to scan and organize.  My grandfather, Clifford Lutter, was a photographer in Newark.  A lot of photographs are not of our family, but rather people he photographed for various reasons.  Most are not labeled with the name of the subjects.  I created a separate page on this blog for people to view the photos and perhaps recognize someone.

One of the photographs struck me as a familiar face.  It was a man, dressed in a suit and tie, with glasses, sitting among various papers.  With no identification on the picture itself, I posted the picture with the rest on the page for Clifford Lutter's photographs.  I kept looking at the face, feeling that this man was not a random subject.  Then I showed the picture to my aunt and uncle and they agreed that this image could very well be Howard Lutter, maybe in the 1940s, when he was in his fifties.

This man is posed in the same direction as the known picture of Howard Lutter, so we can compare them side by side.

What do you think?  Is this the same man?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Photograph of Another Great Great Grandmother

This photo discovery is another great great grandmother- my paternal grandfather's maternal grandmother, Catherine Dunn.  The previous post was about photographs of his paternal grandmother, Clara Uhl.

Catherine Dunn was born around 1865 in Matawan, Monmouth County, New Jersey to Ezra A. Dunn (1820-1898) and Hermoine Dunlop (1827-1900).  In 1886 in Matawan, Catherine Dunn married William Walling Winterton, a son of John R Winterton and Sophia Walling.  I descend from William and Catherine's daughter, Laura Winterton, born in 1891 in Matawan.

The Winterton family was living in Holmdel, Monmouth County, New Jersey in the 1900 federal census.  William Winterton first appeared in the Newark, Essex County, New Jersey city directory in 1906.  In the 1910 federal census, the family lived in Newark.  Also in 1910, Laura Winterton married Howard Lutter of Newark.

The timeline of the family's residence from Monmouth County to Essex County is important for dating this picture because it was taken in Newark by H. J. Thein of 476 Broad Street.

On the back is written "Grandma Winterton."

An online check of Henry J Thein, photographer, provides us with the years he was operating in Newark at this address:  1881-1899, 1911.  Based on the availability of Catherine Dunn in Newark, I don't think this picture was taken before 1900.  If the picture was created in 1911 or even a few years earlier, Catherine would be about 40 to 45 years old.  I think the woman in the picture looks younger.  It is entirely possible that Catherine traveled to Newark to create this picture in the 1880s or 1890s.  The glitch is that I have a "Winterton Family Album" with photographs mostly by photographers in Matawan and Keyport.

A picture of Catherine later in her life was already discovered because it was labeled as such:  "Grandma Winterton (Catherine Dunn)" and with a stamped date:  May 16, 1937.  What luck.

I think that I have some more photographs of Catherine Dunn as an older woman.  They are not marked, but the resemblance is obvious to the labeled picture of the older Catherine.

Unlabeled picture.

Is this the final picture of Catherine Dunn, wife of William Winterton?  She died in 1944.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Photograph of Great Great Grandmother

I acquired some more family photos (thank you Aunt Marion!) and was overjoyed to find a labeled photograph of Clara Uhl, a great great grandmother.  "Grandma Lutter (Clara Uhl)" was written on the back, along with a signature in pencil, perhaps conveying that Clara confirmed that this was indeed her picture.  Clara was briefly married to Hermann Lutter.  You can read about their divorce here.

This is a cabinet card, made by Helmuth Schumacher of Newark, New Jersey.  It measures a little over six inches high by four inches wide and is fairly sturdy.  (Perhaps the clipped corners indicate that this photograph was kept in an album?  Where is the rest of the album?)

To date the image, I look at a few things.  Clara's age appears to be in her 20s, maybe 30s in the picture.  She was born in 1865 in Newark and died in 1955.  By her age guesstimate alone, this picture was made in the 1880s or 1890s.  Next I look to see when the photographer was in business.  Helmuth Schumacher used the West street address in Newark from 1892 onward.  By 1892, Clara had been married, separated, and had one child.
You can also date the photograph based on the style of dress and hair.  The little triangle that appears to be sticking out of the back of Clara's head is a hair comb to hold her hair in place.  The bodice of her dress is tightly cinched at her natural waste, producing an hourglass appearance.  The shoulders are pronounced, protruding above and beyond the natural shoulders.  I think that this dress dates from the 1890s.

In perusing the rest of the photographs, I came across a tintype measuring approximately 3 inches by 2 inches.

I'm thinking that this tintype could be Clara Uhl as a teenager, late 1870s or early 1880s.  The shoulders are natural and the sleeves sit above the wrists with ruffles.

By tilting the tintype, you can better see the resin coating reflecting in the light.

Is this the same person?

Next I compared Clara Uhl to a picture of her son, Howard Lutter.  I don't see much of a resemblance, especially with the eyes.  I do not have a picture of Howard's father to check for resemblance to him.  (Though I did find a picture of his second wife!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MyOrigins Ethnic Makeup by Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA has reworked its Population Finder into a new service called MyOrigins.  Some people test their DNA in order to find out their ethnic makeup, so this would be a feature of interest to such people.  Please note that you need to take an autosomal DNA test (called Family Finder at FamilyTreeDNA) in order to obtain such results.

As you view ethnic origins, remember that the DNA you inherit from your ancestors is passed down to you in an unequal ratio- you carry more DNA of some ancestors to the detriment of others.  Plus, MyOrigins and any of the other available tools (such as 23andMe's Ancestry Composition) that estimate your ethnic makeup are based on the program's unique formula and estimates.

 My father's results paint him as 100% European.

The European designation can be further broken down into areas.  The result is that his ancestry hails from all of Europe, with half from the Coastal Islands- Britain and Ireland.

My mother's results paint her as three quarters Coastal Islands and one quarter "Jewish Diaspora," centralized in Poland.

 I expected that my ethnic makeup would be an average of my parents.  Not so with MyOrigins.  My father's inheritance from all of Europe is not reflected in my MyOrigins analysis.  I inherited half of my mother's Jewish Diaspora and the rest of me is Coastal Islands.

Looks like some refinement is necessary to capture the missing heritage.

Ancestral Home pinpointed by DNA?

I noticed a link on Facebook via Family Tree Magazine's page:  "DNA sequences can trace your ancestors to within 30 miles."

Intrigued, I watched videos and read pages about Prosapia Genetics.  The DNA tool is called GPS:  Geographic Population Structure.  Some people have tried the service.

The site promised to pinpoint an ancestral hometown using data files from a DNA testing company.  I have already tested at 23andMe, so I uploaded my file to Prosapia for the result.  The cost was $29.99.  More expensive packages are available with a wider scope of possible populations.  I figured that I am mostly of European ancestry and these groups are fairly well-covered, so I opted for the lowest-priced package with fewer (200) possible groups.

There is no security certificate for this site, so that will dissuade some (and rightfully so).

Within minutes, my ancestral hometown was ready.  Well, the latitude and longitude coordinates were reported with a link to a labeled map on Google.

Prosapia Genetics

Google Maps
Hemmingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

According to Prosapia Genetics, my ancestral hometown is located on a farm in Hemmingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to the southwest of Schwieberdingen.

I have not come across this town in my family history research.  My research does not go back one thousand years on any ancestral line, so it is entirely possible that I do have ancestors from this particular area.

This leads to another problem/question:  which ancestral line was from this area?  Which part of my DNA determined my connection to this specific area of the world?

I think that this GPS tool is an amazing idea and demonstrates how far DNA testing for genealogy has come in just a few years, but also demonstrates that more information and techniques are needed to draw accurate conclusions.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Elusive Surname: Evenshirer

Mary Evenshirer was my 3x great grandmother.  She was born in New York City around 1842.  She died in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey in 1916.  Her surname and her father are a tail end in my family tree.

Mary's mother was Rene Brewer, a daughter of James Brewer and Mary Ann Lent from Westchester County, New York.  From the newspaper The New York Sun, we have the marriage announcement in 1842 in New York City of Miss Rene Brewer to John Evenshirer, "both of this city."

By 1848, John Evenshirer was dead or otherwise out of the picture when Rene had another daughter, Letty Jane, with George W Duryea.

The 1850 United States Federal Census as well as the 1855 New York State Census list Mary Evenshirer with the surname of Rene's husband, George W Duryea.

Note the servants in your households!!!
Mary Walpole married Jacob Duryea, a brother of George.

Mary married Stephen C Duryea, a brother of George W Duryea, so she retained the surname Duryea for future records.  The age difference must have been confusing to some.  In the 1880 census, Mary's mother, Rene, was residing with Mary and Stephen in Pound Ridge.  Stephen's age was 65, Mary was 38, and "mother" Rene was 64- no, make that 84 to try to make sense of this.

Mary's half-sister, Letty Jane Duryea, married Alfred Deciplet Eyre in 1868.  Letty died in 1889 from complications of a pregnancy.  (She was originally buried in Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey, but was relocated to Fairview Cemetery.)  Mary had been widowed in 1887.  Mary and Alfred married in 1890, combining their children into an Eyre/Duryea household.  They were not just step-siblings; they were related by blood.

When Mary died in 1916, the informant, "Mr Eyre (son)," knew of her surname at birth and attempted to include it on the death certificate.

Your author at Fairview Cemetery (Fairview, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States)
Picture by Rob Berner

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Family Heirloom: Book

After discovering cousin Father Charles Leo O'Donnell, a president of Notre Dame University, I procured his book of poems from a rare book seller on  The editor was Father Charles Michael Carey, a nephew of Father O'Donnell.

Charles' father, Cornelius O'Donnell, was a brother to my great great grandfather, Patrick Francis O'Donnell.  They immigrated from Ireland to the United States in the 1870s.

It is one of Charles' poems, A Road of Ireland, that provides me with a place of origin in Ireland for these two brothers: Ardara, Donegal.  The author as well as the family history contained in this book make it worthy of being called a Family Heirloom.

Poem by Charles Leo O'Donnell

Friday, May 9, 2014

AncestryDNA: Birth name confirmed

After two years, a close match has appeared at AncestryDNA for M.S., who is adopted.  This is simply wonderful!


I reached out to this person about a week ago and have not heard back yet.  If I had nothing else to go on, this would be devastating.  This situation is a bit different.

The predicted first to second cousin match has no family tree attached to his DNA results; however, his username is displayed.  From there, I obtained a short family tree he had already uploaded.  His mother's last name matches M.S.'s last name at birth!  We have the correct family, but I still need to confer with this match to figure out which person in his family may be the biological parent of M.S.- if this is possible to do.

If I have the correct birth mother identified, then M.S. and this DNA match are first cousins, once removed.  They may share DNA on their X Chromosome, which would help me further solidify this theory.  Unfortunately, AncestryDNA, unlike 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA, does not allow you to see where you share DNA with your cousins.

For background, M.S. was born and adopted in New Jersey before 1940.  This year is significant because this is when adoption records and corresponding birth certificates were sealed.  M.S. knew her original name and I viewed the adoption record at the Essex County Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey.  I requested the original birth certificate from the municipality and was told it could not be released.  I requested the original birth certificate from the state and was sent the amended birth certificate, which lists the adoptive parents as the biological parents.  (Only births through 1923 are available to the public at the Archives in Trenton.)

The problem in determining the birth mother and father is that only the "unmarried" mother was listed in the adoption papers with no age.  The surname belonged to a family in Newark of recent immigration from Germany.  This was not a small family.  Most members had multiple children and when a spouse died, the surviving spouse remarried and had more children.  I had no shortage of possible parents, either using the surname as a birth name or a married name.  It was (still is) possible that the birth mother was a visiting cousin from Germany, arrived in Newark in the 1930s, had a baby, and then went on her way- missed entirely in the 1930 and 1940 census.

Finding records on this family in Newark was not too difficult and actually dovetailed my research on my own Germany lines in Newark.  They lived and worked in the same neighborhoods and attended the same churches.  They probably knew one another and many generations later, their descendants also interact by happenstance.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Saint Peter's Catholic Cemetery, Jersey City

I visited Saint Peter's Catholic Cemetery in Jersey City (Hudson County, New Jersey, United States) now that the weather is improving.  (Thank you, R.B., for a lovely trip.)

The other Catholic cemetery in Jersey City is Holy Name, which is much larger.  The records for both cemeteries are available on microfilm through  Saint Peter's listing at FindAGrave includes over one thousand burials.  Given the rather small nature of this cemetery, check FindAGrave to see if a stone still exists.  I did not check every stone, but all the ones that I investigated were already on FindAGrave.  The actual burial records will contain many more names, of course, so you need to view them as well.  Holy Name Cemetery, in comparison, has almost 30,000 burials on FindAGrave.  (You can also look up burials for Catholic cemeteries under the Newark Archdiocese at  Holy Name Cemetery is listed; Saint Peter's is not.)

To park and access the gates, you turn onto Utica Avenue from US Routes 1 and 9 South (Tonnele Avenue).

Saint Peter's is well-maintained by neighboring Holy Name Cemetery.  The grounds are surrounded by railways, busy highways, and industrial plants, but the cemetery presents beautifully.

Geese grazing at Saint Peter's Catholic Cemetery in Jersey City

Duffy monument at Saint Peter's Catholic Cemetery in Jersey City

These engraved portions of these types of monuments are easily destroyed.

I put the camera inside the monument's missing side and found some pieces of lettering.

Autosomal DNA Testing at AncestryDNA: Kits Purchased

AncestryDNA also had a sale on their autosomal DNA testing kits last weekend:  $79 instead of the regular $99.  I purchased two- one for my father and one for me.

I have one person's atDNA tested at AncestryDNA so far.  M.S. was adopted at birth in New Jersey before 1940, before records were sealed.  (Under a new law, the records sealed as of 1940 will become accessible in 2017.)

Although I viewed M.S.'s adoption papers, I can't accurately determine her biological family for reasons that will be explained in an upcoming post.  Thus, I cannot attach her family tree to her results at AncestryDNA.  One of the great features of AncestryDNA is the (suggested) Most Recent Common Ancestor as identified in the family trees of the DNA matches.  (See this blog post for an illustration.)  I can't use this feature without a family tree, so my father's test and mine will enable me to participate in this feature.

The other reason for testing at a third company (FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe already done) is to locate more close relatives and solve (and create) more family mysteries.  You can upload results from these three companies for free to GedMatch to meet everyone, but most people don't do this.  The link you need to solve your family mystery may be quietly ensconced at one testing site, unaware that he or she is your missing link.

Testing kit.  Spit into vial.
Return in postage-paid package.

Y-DNA Testing at FamilyTreeDNA: Kit Purchased

Last weekend, FamilyTreeDNA offered their introductory Y-DNA test (37 markers) for 20% off the regular price of $169.  I purchased one for my father.  This test is for the direct male line only- no DNA information from any other ancestor.  (The University of Utah has a fantastic video about this type of inheritance.)

I recommend the Y-DNA test for a man who is adopted and looking for his biological family.  (Both men and women seeking their unknown biological families should submit an autosomal DNA test.)

The test kit requires two takings of a specimen via cheek swabbing.  (Of note is that the return envelope is not postage pre-paid.  This is the first DNA test where I have encountered this issue and is important to realize if you are mailing a kit directly from FamilyTreeDNA to the person providing the specimen.  The person will have to obtain postage before mailing, which may be a barrier for some.)

My father's Y-DNA was previously tested at  (The Y-DNA and mtDNA tests were the first tests offered by Ancestry.  Now you may also purchase an atDNA (autosomal) test from Ancestry for $99.)  Today's results at Ancestry provide a list of fourteen people who "match" my father on the paternal line.  The problem is that there are enough variations in the 46 markers to push the estimated Most Recent Common Ancestor back anywhere from 24 to 35 generations ago.  This is too long a time frame for my modest Lutter family tree.

I am hoping that the database at FamilyTreeDNA provides more people who match my father.  Such people may or may not exist, nevermind have their DNA tested at FamilyTreeDNA.  But it's worth a try.

I cannot go back very far on the direct paternal line.  I am stuck at Hermann Lutter, born around 1860 in "Germany;" immigrated in the 1880s to Newark, New Jersey, United States.  Hermann had a brother, Otto Lutter or Luther, who also appeared in New Jersey in the 1880s.  On their marriage records, both brothers listed Wilhelm Lutter (Luther) as their father, though the name of their mother varied.  Otto's line seems to have died out.

Stay tuned for the results and interpretation.