Monday, August 18, 2014

Personalized Maps

Inspired by a genealogical blog post, I crafted some ancestor maps of my own.  Using the ancestors of my father, I created two maps:  1- Place of Birth and 2- Place of Death.

2 parents
4 grandparents
8 great grandparents
16 great great grandparents
Total:  30 ancestors

The outlier in the birthplaces is my grandfather, Clifford Lutter.  He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1915.  All of his other events are in New Jersey.  A family story explains that Clifford was born in Philadelphia because his father was performing there at the time.

These maps show where to find the bulk of my recent family records.  The three unknown places of death are likely New Jersey and Germany.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Finding a German Hometown


This is the town of origin for Herman Lutter, one of my great great grandfathers.  Thank you TP for figuring this out!

The above image is from the 1888 certificate of marriage for Herman Lutter and Clara Uhl in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, United States.  All of Herman's other records that I have located do not provide a town; instead, his birthplace is given as Thuringia or Germany.

My other clue for locating family in Germany is from Herman's 1924 will, where he names a sister, Ottillia Michel "of Neuhaus, Thuringen, Germany."

During Herman's lifetime, Germany was unified and World War I was fought.  After he died, World War II was fought, Germany was divided, then unified again.  Place names, political control, and borders changed.

The next trick:  Where are Scheibe and Neuhaus today and what are they called?

Scheibe-Alsbach is municipality in the German State of Thuringia, Sonneberg District.  Neuhaus am Rennweg is nearby.  There are a few places in Germany using the name Neuhaus, though.

I found a map of Thuringia dated 1905.  Two towns named Scheibe and Neuhaus are next to each other.  This looks promising.

Neuhaus and Scheibe are in Rudolstadt.  Just south, in Sonneberg, is another town called Neuhaus.

The 1905 map of Thuringia has latitude and longitude grids.  When plugged into a modern-day map, the location of Neuhaus and Scheibe in Rudolstadt is now Neuhaus am Rennweg in the Sonneberg District of Thuringia.  This is where I need to look for records.  The area is in a forested mountain region, which impeded travel.  The Czech Republic is fifty miles to the east.  I hope to discover how this geography shaped the family history.

Archives for Thuringia has a website!  But in German, naturally.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Second Cousin Found at 23andMe

Another cousin has been located through 23andMe!

We will call him "PK."  He is from my maternal grandmother's branch.  He is a second cousin of my grandmother.  They share a pair of great grandparents:  Peter ODONNELL and Margaret GALLAGHER, say born around 1820, in Ireland.  They had four children (so far discovered):  Katherine, Rose, Patrick, and Cornelius, all born in Ireland, but came to the United States.  PK is a grandson of Rose ODonnell, while everyone else in these DNA comparisons are descendants of Patrick ODonnell.

At 23andMe, PK supplied the names of his four grandparents and their locations.  I knew which of his lines to pursue when I saw the surname ODonnell and the location of Bayonne, New Jersey, United States.

My grandmother is long gone, but her first cousins have kindly supplied their DNA to help our family history research.  They are sisters and second cousins of PK.

PK matches one of his second cousins 192 cM over 9 segments and the other 264 cM over 14 segments.  This is within the expected range for second cousins.

When 23andMe expanded the comparison function from 3 people to 5 people,
the corresponding chromosome chart also expanded and does not copy well.

To see how the DNA passed from one generation to the next, we can compare PK to the children of one of these second cousins.  Notice that one of these children shares a tiny segment on chromosome 5 that is not shared by his mother.  This can be because of a misread in the DNA or can indicate that this child is also related to his mother's cousin on his father's side.

PK has five people from my branch who are second cousins, once removed.  You can see the variation in the amount of shared DNA.  Different branches inherit different pieces of DNA in smaller amounts.  This is why third cousins and more distant will share little to no DNA.  That is the design.

Below is the comparison of PK to my mother and to my sister and me.  Genetically, a second cousin twice removed is the equivalent of a third cousin.  Note that my sister shares only a very tiny segment with PK.  This is very important, as a lot of people (myself included), might disregard such a small match as "too distant" to realistically identify in a family tree that only extends to the 1800s.  Yet uncovering PK's relation was not difficult at all.

Now that we have a cousin from the ODonnell/Gallagher branch in the genetic pool, we can compare him to our plentiful DNA cousins to narrow down where we must look for a common ancestor.

Shared Ancestor Hints for AncestryDNA

One of the alluring features of Ancestry's DNA testing is the Shared Ancestor Hints derived from family tree comparisons.  (The other feature is finding missing close relatives.)  My test produced over 15,000 matches.  (Can that be?  306 pages of 50 matches per page.)

With my test attached to my mother's tree, only one DNA cousin produced a shared ancestor hint.  This is my mother's second cousin in the Preston/Sheehey branch.  We had already made contact before the tests results were in.

Attaching my father's tree to my test profile produced five people with shared ancestor hints.  (When my father's results are ready, these five people should also match him.  If not, then the shared DNA likely is from my mother and these family tree hints are misleading.)  One of the DNA cousins has a private tree, so I could not review the hint.

Of the remaining four shared ancestor hints, two were for the same set of 5th great grandparents:  Jacob vander Hoof (1772-1847) and Ann Hopler (1772-1841) of Morris County, New Jersey.  These folks are buried in the deMouth Family Burial Ground in Boonton.  I have also met other descendants in my DNA travels.  Based on our family trees, one DNA match is a fourth cousin, twice removed and the other is a sixth cousin.

The other two matches are from the New York Hyser branch of my tree.

Common ancestors are Simon Rockefeller and Anna Bahr, based on our family trees.
We also share some identical DNA.  Is it from these shared ancestors?  We do not know.

Note that this Shared Ancestry Hint only reported Elizabeth Burke as the common ancestor.
In both of our trees, we have John as the husband.
Perhaps the alternate spelling of Lehman/Layman threw off the calculation.

Although on paper I am a cousin to these matches, the shared DNA could easily come from another ancestral line that is not documented in at least one of our family trees.  That is how I have over 15,000 matches but only 6 matching family trees.  Someone has not documented back far enough, or someone has a non-parental event.  I could have easily found any of these DNA matches by comparing trees- no DNA testing required.

When my father's results are available, I expect him to have far fewer matches.  I am trying to use the AncestryDNA Chrome Extension to reveal which segments of DNA are shared by the matches in order to triangulate.  AncestryDNA provides no chromosome browser function to do this directly, unlike 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.  The high number of my matches is causing the Chrome Extension to freeze.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Photograph of a Great Great Grandfather

I have my first picture of a great great grandfather, Abraham Brewer Duryea.  Abraham was born in 1878 in Pound Ridge, Westchester County, New York to Stephen C Duryea and Mary Evenshirer.  He was named for his maternal grandmother's brother.  In 1898, Abraham married Nellie Cummings, the daughter of William Cummings [still a tail end in my tree] and Anna Hyser.

The negative and cover, with a hand-written note, was among pictures given to me by my aunt.  Love you Aunt Marion!  I learned quickly in my pursuit of old photographs that most photo developing places cannot develop the old negatives.  The place I usually use in Verona has closed down.  I finally located a local business that could develop the negative in Montclair, the Montclair Center Camera Exchange.

Standing, left to right:  Harold Duryea, Alvina Wrage (Harold's wife), Nellie Cummings, Abraham Duryea.
Children of Harold and Alvina.  Kneeling man:  a neighbor.

Off I went to my grandmother's Duryea cousin, who was most pleased to see this photograph.  This photograph was probably made around 1940 at Christmas.  We laughed when he identified the kneeling man as a neighbor- I was trying to fit him into the family tree.

I have a picture of Nellie in her later years, having tea.

The eBay photograph of Garrett S Duryea that I acquired a while back, if correctly marked, would be Abraham's father's brother.  See a similarity?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Photographs of Ancestors

Photographs were added to my decorative family tree on the wall.  Acquiring the photographs and identifying the subjects has taken years. 

Living or Dead, Preserved Images

I stumbled across some post-mortem, or momento mori, photographs online from the mid to late 1800s.  These were photographs made after the person had died, or when they were deathly ill, in order to have a preserved image of the person- perhaps the only photograph ever taken of the person.

So naturally I went through my photo collection with a new goal:  finding post-mortem photos.  At first, I thought that any of the pictures could have been of dead people because nobody smiled for pictures in the 1800s.  Most of the facial expressions are depressed at best.

In the Bishop album, I found a tintype of two boys that might be a post-mortem.  The bases of stands are visible behind both boys.  These stands held up dead people for the picture.  The boy on the right is not posing his hands.  His expression is vacant.  The hat is straight, but his head is crooked, as if he was propped up and then someone stuck the hat on his head.  Is the boy on the left also dead?  Maybe he alive and holding up the other boy, or he is dead and his hands are fastened.

Notice the bases of the stands behind the boys.

I have no idea who these people are.  What would be useful would be finding out who these boys are and when they died.  That information could tell us if this is indeed a post-mortem picture.

Anyone have any opinions?