Friday, January 23, 2015

Informative Missing Information

While at the New Jersey State Archives most recently, an interesting death certificate caught my eye.

Nicholas Bretzler, died February 28, 1919 in Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey.  Resided in Clifton.

Nicholas Bretzler died February 28, 1919 at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey.  He was a resident of Richfield, which is a neighborhood in Clifton.  The names of his parents were not included on this death certificate, which is not unusual.  The remarkable feature was the explanation by Mrs C Plog, employer and informant, for the absence of the parents' names:  "Endeavored to obtain this information but was unsuccessful, for he never would talk."  This explanation for the lack of information provides some insight into Nicholas Bretzler and his life.

Nicholas Bretzler was buried at East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clifton, New Jersey.  Last year I photographed a grave at this cemetery, replicating one taken by my grandfather almost eighty years earlier.  When the snow and ice disappear in the spring, I can return to cemetery photography.

The more common (and unfortunate) finding in the spots for names of parents on a death certificate.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding the Baby

Another component of a family story mentioned in a newspaper!

A few years back, I wrote of a family story:  Delia Joyce's mother's skirts were caught by a passing train; as she was dragged to her death, she threw the infant Delia safely to a man on the platform.

When I uncovered Delia's hometown as Pawling in Dutchess County, New York, I was able to locate the family in the census starting in 1860.  Delia's parents were Patrick Joyce and Margaret or Mary Campbell.  The train accident happened in 1870.  Delia was born around 1862, making her too old and big to have been the baby in her mother's arms when she died.  Delia's younger brothers, John and James, were more likely candidates.

I located one newspaper article about the accident, which happened in Katonah Station, Westchester County, New York.  The accounting took up all but four lines of the paper.  No mention of a baby.

Well, I found another newspaper article that mentioned the baby.  (Thank you again!)  The search terms I used included "cars," not "train" or "railroad," as this is more consistent with terminology in use at the time.  Margaret's first name is not in this article.  The mention of the baby is consistent with the family story.

"Her infant child, which she was carrying in her arms, she had previously passed off the car."

We cannot tell from this account if the train had already started to move, so she handed off the baby first and then tried to jump by herself.  Maybe the train was stopped when she got the baby off first, but then started to move, so she jumped so as to not be separated from the baby.

1870 United States Federal Census: Pawling, Dutchess County, New York
The newly widowed Patrick Joyce and his four children.  Mary Joyce appears on the Mortality Schedule.

In the 1870 census, James Joyce's age is listed as one year.  His entry at FindAGrave shows a gravestone with a date of birth May 20, 1870.  He qualifies as an infant for this train accident in June of 1870.  He may have been only a few weeks old.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Marriage Announcement from 1859

I finally found a marriage record for my 3x great grandparents, Stephen C Duryea (1814-1887) and Mary Ann Evanshirer (1842-1916)!  The record is in the form of a marriage announcement from a newspaper, New York Evening Express, which I found by doing a Google search of

The possible years of searching for this marriage were narrow.  Mary was born in 1842.  Her first child, Garrit Duryea, was born in February of 1860.  She would have married as late as the year 1859, and not much earlier.

Mary was about 16 years old when she married on February 2, 1859.  Her husband, Stephen C Duryea, was 44 years old- a 28 year difference.  By age 18, Mary had already given birth to a baby and seven months later, buried him.  Mary and Stephen had twelve children from 1860-1881.

A marriage announcement in the newspaper is also the only record I found so far for Mary's parents, John Evenshirer and Rene Brewer (1824-1904).  Note the spelling this surname:
1842- Evenshirer
1859- Evanshearer
John Evenshirer remains a tail in my family tree.  He must have died before 1847, when Rene Brewer remarried to George W Duryea (1823-1864).  Spelling variants are normal (look at Duryea and Duryee above), but I still cannot find any solid leads on this surname.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Genographic Project: Deep Ancestry

This is part two of my exploration of the Genographic Project's Geno 2.0 kit submitted by my paternal uncle.  (Prior post:  Regional Ancestry.)

In this post, I discuss Deep Ancestry, the term used by the Genographic Project to describe the information gleaned from haplogroups, which are determined by the Y chromosome ("Y-DNA") and the mitochondrial DNA ("mtDNA").

These types of DNA are useful for both anthropology and genealogy because they pass from generation to generation almost unchanged along prescribed paths of inheritance (father to son for Y-DNA and mother to children for mtDNA).  From an anthropological viewpoint, haplogroups based on Y-DNA and mtDNA reveal the migratory paths of humans across the globe from the beginning of civilization, hence the squiggly arrows on the world map below.  For us genealogists, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing can prove or disprove a genetic relation on a particular ancestral line.

My uncle's haplogroup designations through Geno 2.0 were R-Z36 for his paternal line (Y-DNA) and K1 for his maternal line (mtDNA).  These are common European haplogroups.

These haplogroup designations were interesting because they were already measured in some manner by prior DNA testing of the family.  We'll look at the paternal haplogroup first.

Paternal haplogroup of uncles (and maternal cousins) at 23andMe

Paternal haplogroup of Jody's father at 23andMe

23andMe offers autosomal DNA ("atDNA") testing, not Y-DNA; however, you will receive predictions about your haplogroups.  (Women do not have a Y chromosome, so they will not receive a paternal haplogroup prediction.  A woman's DNA matches at 23andMe are based on autosomal DNA, which comes from both of her parents.)  My father tested at 23andMe four years ago.  His siblings tested two years ago.  My father's predicted paternal haplogroup is R1b1b2a1a2d*.  His brothers tested as R1b1b2a1a2d.  The difference is with the *asterisk*.  All three brothers should have had the same exact result.  According to a customer care page at 23andMe, the *asterisk* indicates that the haplogroup does not fit into any further subgroups.  It is possible that a brother has a mutation and the other does not.  Another factor may be that the testing process slightly differed two years later, when the brothers submitted their samples.  (This is one of the reasons why I caution people to disregard haplogroups when analyzing their matches at 23andMe.)

Also of note:  two of my father's maternal cousins tested at 23andMe.  They received the same paternal group prediction as my father's brothers.  This is a coincidence, as they do not share the same paternal line.

The best way to determine a Y-DNA match for genealogy is through testing at FamilyTreeDNA.  On the webpage of the Genographic Project was a link to upload results from Geno 2.0 to FamilyTreeDNA- for free!  So I did.  My father and his maternal cousin have already tested their Y-DNA at FamilyTreeDNA.

Y-DNA haplogroup for my paternal uncle at FamilyTreeDNA based on results transferred from Geno 2.0

(Haplogroup designations at FamilyTreeDNA and the Genographic Project are abbreviated.)

Y-DNA haplogroup (R-M269) for my father at FamilyTreeDNA.  37 marker test.

FamilyTreeDNA shows a deeper subgroup for my father's brother than for my father.  I do not know the scope of the Y-DNA test of Geno 2.0.  The website reads, "The genetic technology we use for our testing is a custom-designed genotyping chip optimized for the study of ancestry, with far more Y-chromosome and mtDNA markers than are available with any other test."  I don't know, at this point, if the difference in haplogroups is because of testing variation or if one brother has a mutation that the other does not.

Y-DNA haplogroup (R-P312) for my father's maternal cousin at FamilyTreeDNA.  37 marker test.
To illustrate the contrast of the 23andMe haplogroup designation with FamilyTreeDNA, note that 23andMe placed my father's maternal cousins in the same haplogroup as my father's brothers.  Y-DNA testing of one of these cousins places him into a different subgroup from both my father and his brother.

Uploading to FamilyTreeDNA from Geno 2.0 did not allow for matching with others.  (My father's test allows for matching to others, but there are none.  To see men with a common ancestor on their direct paternal line, go to my post about my cousin's matches.)

Next is the mtDNA haplogroup.  Geno 2.0 assigned haplogroup K1 to my uncle.  23andMe assigned my uncle and all of his siblings to a subgroup, K1c2.

Reflecting back on earlier testing, in the year 2010, my paternal aunt tested simply as haplogroup K at  Ancestry no longer offers mtDNA and Y-DNA testing.

I have not tested anyone's mtDNA at FamilyTreeDNA because the results are likely not genealogically relevant.  Mitochondrial DNA mutates at a much slower rate than Y-DNA.  A "match" in mtDNA may go back thousands of years, before written records.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Genographic Project: Regional Ancestry

A paternal uncle gave me a nice surprise- he participated in the Geographic Project.  His DNA was analyzed from saliva submitted via the Geno 2.0 kit.  The purpose of the Geographic Project is anthropology, not genealogy, but there is some overlap in the two areas, especially with the introduction of DNA testing into the genealogy field.  Many of my close family members (and thousands of distant cousins) have tested their DNA at the three main DNA genealogy sites (23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA), so I was eager to see what Geno 2.0 revealed.

I'll discuss the findings in two parts:  Regional Ancestry and Deep Ancestry.

According to the website, Regional Ancestry "is based on the mutations across all your DNA and therefore shows the contribution from every one of your hundreds of ancestors."  Deep Ancestry is based on the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA and "shows only a single line of descent."

My uncle's neanderthal percentage was calculated as 1.9% by Geno 2.0, while 23andMe figured 2.7%.  Close enough.

What struck me was the population calculation:  42% northern European; 40% Mediterranean; 18% southwest Asian.  23andMe paints my uncle (and his siblings) as 100% European.  (You can play with various admixture tools at GedMatch and other sites, but little DNA other than European is detected.)  This may be why The Genographic Project describes its determination of Regional Ancestry as "unique."

The percentages of ancestry used to determine Regional Ancestry are compared against 43 Reference Populations.  My uncle is most similar to modern-day people of Denmark and Germany.  We have no known ancestry from Denmark, but the connection may pre-date records so far discovered.

You can view the ancestry percentages of the 43 reference populations.  My uncle is similar to other European populations besides Danish and German.