Monday, July 27, 2015

Figuring out another DNA Cousin

 I finally figured out the relationship for one of my cousin's closest DNA matches at 23andMe.

This person falls neatly into line among my father and his siblings, who are third cousins of R.S.  Their common ancestors were Calvin Cook (1826-1889) and Mary Neil (1830-1898) of Morris County, New Jersey.  So this person is around a third cousin to R.S., based on the amount of shared DNA.  I figured that this person was not from the Cook/Neil line because she did not match my father or his siblings.

(The person at the top of the DNA Relatives is a male cousin from the Cook/Neil branch.  I know this, even though this person has not responded to my inquiries, because he also appears in the DNA Relatives of my father and his siblings.)

R.S. and this female cousin share four segments of identical DNA.  (There may be smaller segments, but 23andMe does not report them.)

I reached out to this person and a year later, she gave me some information, thank goodness, because this is what her tree looks like.  (Family trees can be moved from 23andMe to MyHeritage, but I don't like MyHeritage, so my trees stayed at 23andMe.)  She provided me with the surnames of her parents and the location of Bayonne, New Jersey.  No grandparents.  Nope, not adopted.  The only unusual thing here is that she responded.  Most matches never answer.

What I had to work with.

Based on the amount of shared DNA, I did not need to go back far in either cousin's tree to find ancestors in common.  Her parent's surnames do not match any known ancestors for R.S., so all I had to go on was a location.  Bayonne is in Hudson County, New Jersey, which is a great place to be to look for a match.  Surnames can and will change without rhyme or reason, so look for the same place.

To find commonality in a DNA cousin's tree, look for the same geographic area.

I started with one of the offered surnames, Lezinski, and looked in Jersey City, which is next to Bayonne, and where R.S's ancestors lived two and three generations ago.  Jersey City's newspapers are online at Genealogy Bank (fee-based site).

And here is a connection:  Martha Lezinski mentioned in the 1961 obituary of her sister, Julia Ottenberg- the maternal grandmother of R.S.  Martha and Julia were Catholic, so I found more records online at FamilySearch and the burial search for the Archdiocese of Newark (both free resources).

After some more searching, I discovered that Martha Ottenberg married Vincent Lezinski.  They were the great grandparents of this DNA cousin of R.S., making R.S. her second cousin, once removed.

Martha and Julia were daughters of Simon Ottenberg and Johanna Wolowski.  Julia was born around 1887 and Martha in 1892 in Germany.  I first found Julia in the United States in the 1910 census in Jersey City, when she was already married to Joseph Michalski.  Finding Julia's obituary confirmed other family members.

I hope this narrative provides guidance and inspiration for tackling your DNA matches.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Ancestry Database: Social Security Applications and Claims Index

Ancestry added a new database, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.  For decades, the United States Social Security Death Index has greatly aided researchers tracing people born in the late 1800s forward.  Copies of the actual applications can be ordered directly from the Social Security Administration for a fee.  This new database goes beyond the Death Index.  I played around with it and noticed that many people listed in the Claims Index, but not in the Death Index.  Plus, the Claims Index can include names of parents- and parents are a search field!

The Claims Index is an excellent tool for figuring out what happened to someone when other trails run cold.  I'll use Grace Catherine Joyce to illustrate how to use the Claims Index to trace someone.

Grace Catherine Joyce was born January 9, 1917 in California to James William Joyce and Margaret Catherine Mason.  Grace was a second cousin to my maternal grandmother, Jeannette ODonnell (1920-1993).  Their common ancestors were their great grandparents, Peter ODonnell and Margaret Gallagher, who were probably born around 1820 in County Donegal, Ireland.  Jeannette descended from their son, Patrick Francis ODonnell (1856-1931).  Grace descended from their daughter, Kathryn.  I did not know about Kathryn until I read about her in Patrick's obituary in the Bayonne Times newspaper.

This obituary was printed in 1931, so I looked in the 1930 federal census for Kathryn Mason Kennedy in Stockton, California.

In 1930, Katherine Kennedy was residing in Stockton, California with her daughter, Margaret C; son-in-law, James W Joyce; and granddaughter, Grace.

Katherine was not easy to trace.  She moved a lot.  In the 1900 census, she was living in Brooklyn, New York, as the widowed Katie Mason.  Her children, Margarite and John, used the last name Mason.

I did not find Katherine in 1910.  In 1920, she was living in Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut, with her son, John Mason.  Between the 1920 and 1930 census, Katherine married a man by the name of Kennedy, was widowed, and moved to California to live with her daughter.

In the 1940 census, Katherine is not living with her daughter, Margaret; perhaps she has passed.  This is the end of the trail for Katherine's granddaughter, Grace C Joyce.  What became of her?

I tried the Claims Index for Grace Joyce.  I searched for someone whose father was James Joyce and mother was Margaret Mason.  Found her.

Grace Joyce married Robert Duggan and changed her last name, making it more difficult for me to find her.  But I did.  She died December 23, 2003 in California.

Grace had children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  I don't see Grace in any family trees, but I've added her to mine.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

One in a Million

In DNA news, AncestryDNA announced that it has tested one million customers.  Last month, 23andMe announced that it had achieved one million customers.  As AncestryDNA began autosomal DNA testing services after 23andMe, I would say that AncestryDNA is gathering customers faster than 23andMe.  A percentage of these customers tested at both companies, as I did.  (And FamilyTreeDNA.  And uploaded to GedMatch.)

The drawback to AncestryDNA is that you cannot see how much DNA you share with a match, where the identical segments are located, and if your match shares this segment with anyone else.  Maybe if I keep writing this, AncestryDNA will implement this service?

The other part of AncestryDNA's announcement is that it will be offering health information based on DNA, called AncestryHealth.  I immediately thought of 23andMe's difficulties in offering health analysis based on DNA.  Today into my inbox popped an email from 23andMe, asking me for additional saliva samples "to help us affirm our laboratory processes" in a "validation study."  The email stated, "23andMe is working closely with the FDA to provide the next generation of health reports.  An important step toward re-introducing health content is by validating the accuracy and reproducibility of our testing processes for a wide range of customers."

None of the other 23andMe accounts that I manage received this email.  I don't know if I was selected at random or because I am active on the site.  Everyone can't submit new saliva samples- one of the people I tested, my mother, has since passed.

The lure of testing DNA at Ancestry was that most of the customer base should test for genealogy, whereas 23andMe's customers tested for health, genealogy, or both.  I tested at 23andMe for genealogy purposes, but I reviewed the health results out of curiosity.  23andMe detected that some family members and I carried a hereditary gene mutation that corresponded with clinical symptoms we were experiencing, causing us to seek specific medical testing that confirmed a diagnosis.

My frustration at 23andMe is that people who tested for health reasons elect to place themselves in the genealogy database as well.  My DNA cousins are mostly anonymous and do not respond.  Sometimes someone will answer me, explaining that they are not interested in finding relatives.  "You can remove yourself from the database," I explain, to no avail.

DNA testing can reveal ancient migratory patterns across the planet, find close relatives to help an adoption search, and aid health-based treatments.  The problems arise when a company mixes customers seeking health information with customers seeking genealogical connections.  I hope that Ancestry's new health DNA services do not mix customers seeking genealogy services.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Irish Catholic Records: ODonnell and Gallagher in Donegal

If you have not heard, you can now access digital images of Catholic records on the website of the National Library of Ireland.

A lot of these images are not (currently) indexed.  Some parish pages have links to potential indexes.  You need to know where in Ireland you want to search.  The map is great.

For my maternal grandmother's Irish lines, I only know the origins of her paternal grandfather, Patrick Francis ODonnell:  County Donegal.

I clicked on Donegal and the parishes appeared.  I had to make a further selection.

I chose Ardara based on a poem written by a cousin.  In the poem, Father Charles Leo ODonnell (1884-1934) wrote that his father (Cornelius ODonnell, a brother of Patrick Francis) was from Ardara and his mother (Mary Gallagher) was from Killybegs.  I hoped that Margaret Gallagher, the mother of Cornelius and Patrick ODonnell, was from the same area.

Before you jump into a batch of records without an index, you should map out what it is you are looking for.

Over the years and through many research efforts, this is the little family cluster so far discovered.

Parents:  Peter ODonnell and Margaret Gallagher.  Born suppose about 1820.  (No direct records of them.)

Five Children born in Ireland from around 1840 through 1860:
*Cornelius "Neal" ODonnell, married Mary Gallagher; lived in Indiana.
*Kathryn ODonnell, married Charles Mason and Mr Kennedy; lived in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and California.
*Patrick Francis ODonnell, married Delia Joyce; lived in Bayonne, New Jersey.
*Rose ODonnell, married James Kenny; lived in Bayonne.
*Charles Mhici ODonnell; was living in Altnagapple, Ardara, County Donegal in 1923.

All of the children, except Charles, were probably in the United States by 1880.  I do not know if Peter and Margaret left Ireland.

The records for review for Ardara were:  Marriages 1867-1875 and Baptisms 1869-1880.  These were not years conducive to my little group, but I looked through all the images anyway.  Nothing jumped out at me.  There were lots of entries for ODonnells and Gallaghers, but little information beyond names of the parties and sponsors.

Neighboring Killybegs was my next choice.  These records were for Baptisms 1850-1881.  I was more excited for this collection because these years would contain the five children of Peter and Margaret.  Yet I found no children baptized with parents named Peter ODonnell and Margaret Gallagher.  Again, plenty of people with these surnames.

I found two baptism entries for the year 1855, listing Peter ODonnell as a sponsor.  Margaret ODonnell was also a sponsor for one; Margaret Byam for the other.  "Peter" is not a common name in this collection.

March 23, 1855:  James, son of Patrick Mc[?] and May [?Boyle?];
sponsors Peter ODonnell and Margaret ODonnell.

September 9, 1855:  Mary, son of Denis ODonnell and Mary Byam[?];
sponsors Peter ODonnell and Marg Byam.

From this information, we don't know if we have the correct Peter ODonnell and Margaret Gallagher.  These records may place the couple in the area.  Perhaps their marriage record and their children's baptismal records are in a neighboring parish, if those years are available.

Of note is that these records from Donegal did not contain any entries for some of the other Irish surnames in my lines:  Preston, Joyce, Sheehey, reflecting Ireland's areas of surname concentrations.

Friday, July 10, 2015

First Close Relative for Haas and Zolder lines

A close match appeared at Family Tree DNA among my maternal uncle's matches.  This is the first close match from his father's side of the family.  The common ancestors are Samuel Haas (1867-1945) and Mary Zolder (1870-1948).

Use of a full name is encouraged at Family Tree DNA.
Unlike 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA testers do not have to "consent to share genomes" to view the matching DNA segments,
while AncestryDNA does not show shared segments.

The only information about this match is his name, email address, and the amount and location of identical DNA.  This was enough to figure out how he is related to my uncle:  they are first cousins, once removed.  This cousin is the generation after my uncle, though my uncle is younger than this cousin.
Family Finder Chromosome Browser

Here is a graph that Family Tree DNA can create for a physical representation of the identical segments shared by relatives, called a Chromosome Browser.  (23andMe also creates such graphs.  AncestryDNA does not.)

The orange lines are the segments shared by my uncle and his first cousin on his mother's side of the family- ODonnell and Preston.  The blue lines are the segments my uncle shares with the first cousin, once removed, from his father's side- Haas and Zolder.

Note that in some areas, such as chromosome 11, that both cousins appear in the same areas.  This is because every person has two pairs of chromosomes numbers 1 through 22.  One came from the mother; the other from the father.  Current DNA analysis does distinguish which side the segment is on.

For distant DNA cousins, usually only one or two segments are shared.  Other people will often share the same spot on a chromosome.  If they do not match each other, this means that one is from the mother's side and the other from the father's side.  (Unless the segments are too small to report, or there is an error in reading the DNA in that spot.)

Samuel Haas and Zolder were from what is now Slovakia.  They spoke German.  There do not seem to be many of their relations in the DNA matches of my uncle.  Family Tree DNA provides and "in common with" tool.  Out of the 400+ matches to my uncle, only three also match his new close paternal cousin.  In comparison, seventy matches are shared by my uncle and his maternal first cousin on their common Irish lines.  Certain populations are more numerous than others in the DNA databases.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cousins in Common

The prior article concerned DNA cousins in common.  Finding DNA cousins who match you and some of your other DNA cousins is not uncommon.  You must be careful in drawing inferences in these situations.

Finding cousins in common is a tool at FamilyTreeDNA and GedMatch.  You can manually compare cousins at 23andMe to ascertain if someone matches your cousin- as long as everyone is sharing genomes.  The glitch arises when two of your cousins match each other, but not on the same segments of DNA where you match each of them.

The query:  If three people share different segments of DNA with one another, are they related through a common ancestral line?

Answer:  Maybe, maybe not.

Unless the match is very close, I don't pursue cousins in common.  Early on in my genetic genealogy pursuits, I was overwhelmed with my mother's DNA matches.  They matched her and her other DNA cousins, though not on the same segments.  To this day, I have no direction in this undocumented branch of her family tree.  These cousins either live in or have recently immigrated from Eastern Europe.

Two years ago, my maternal third cousin appeared among the matches at 23andMe.  We share a pair of great great grandparents, John Preston (1857-1928) and Bridget Sheehey (1857-1916).  John was born in Dutchess County, New York to Irish parents.  Bridget was born in Ireland.  (I have no idea where in Ireland they lived.)

Here is the graph of his shared DNA with my mother- three segments:

With this new close cousin's DNA, I compared him to my mother's distant DNA cousins to round up some people that we could place in the Preston/Sheehey branch.

Comparison of my mother's distant DNA cousins from Eastern Europe revealed that this Irish Preston/Sheehey cousin matched a lot of them on multiple segments.  Lots of cousins in common, but from different branches of their respective trees.  To date, no DNA cousin from Eastern Europe matches my mother and this Irish Preston/Sheehey cousin on the same segments.

The point is to be cautious when looking at cousins in common who do not share the same DNA segments.

Cousins of Cousins

A DNA cousin at 23andMe shares identical DNA with my father and three of his close cousins- each from a different branch of the tree.  This is why you need to see the segment(s) shared between DNA cousins and you need to test your own close cousins to narrow down which branch of your tree may hold the common ancestor.

The match to my father will be in his Duryea and Cummings branch because the segment of DNA is shared with the cousin from descended from Abraham Brewer Duryea (1878-1944) and Nellie Cummings (1879-1965).

The segment shared between the DNA cousin and the cousin from the Uhl and Patschke branch could match anywhere in the cousin's entire family tree.

Same for my cousin from the Cook and Neal branch- the common ancestors could be anywhere in his tree (but not too far- they may be about fourth cousins).  Matching my father does not narrow down the possibilities because my father's shared segment with this DNA cousin can be attributed to another branch.

I cringe when people write to me about DNA cousins in common when they don't match on the same segment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Family Tree Repair

John R Winterton was born around 1831 to Samuel Winterton and Sally Ann Johnson in New York City and died February 18, 1890 in Keyport, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Here are the possible matches at Ancestry through Family Tree Maker:
Entries with a green arrow are dates of death consistent with the death certificate.

These are all derivative sources.

With the prior date of death from Find A Grave, 13 February 1896, I searched for a death certificate at the New Jersey State Archives and found none.

The memorial page for John R Winterton shows a side view of a stone that is not easy to read.  This is why you should transcribe a stone while physically accessible, and not later by looking at a picture of the stone.  The font shapes all of the numbers the same and differentiates them with a small piece missing.  It is very easy to mistake one number for another.

I visited Green Grove Cemetery in Keyport and took frontal pictures of the stone.  The date of death is etched as Feb. 18, 1890.  The lettering is not easy to read in the best of the pictures.

This date led me to a death certificate an an obituary in the Red Bank Register.

The death certificate is not easy to read.  The "body was found" on February 18, 1890.  This must have been an unwitnessed death, likely a heart attack.  He was 58 years old.  It may be possible that John died the previous day, did not come home, so a search party was sent out at daybreak on February 18th.  None of this is stated on the death certificate or newspaper obituary, so we'll go with a date of death on February 18th- when the body was found.

John R Winterton, a farmer living near Matawan, was found dead beside the railroad track near that place on Tuesday of last week.  He had fallen dead from heart disease.

I contacted the person managing John R Winterton's memorial page at Find A Grave.  The date of death was corrected.  I contacted the owners of the family trees who used the erroneous date.  So far, only one changed the date.  The other two continue to use the incorrect date of death.

The collection at Family Search -  New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971 - has the correct month and day, but the year is off by one.  This is an ongoing issue with this particular index and serves as a reminder that indexes are not primary sources.

An index for deaths is being created at the Archives.  Their index has the correct date of John R Winterton's death.

You need to be very cautious when straying from primary sources.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Written in Stone

Find A Grave is a wonderful and free site of burials.  You can look up a person of interest and you can create and contribute death and burial information and pictures to a person's memorial page.  Contributing information and pictures on the go is easy with the Find A Grave app for the phone introduced last year.

I have been creating memorials for over eleven years.  Most memorials I create are not for my family; instead, they are random selections from a cemetery I was in, with the hope that someone could use the information.

A few times each week, I am contacted by someone regarding a memorial I created.  The correspondence centers around a few themes:
  • The inquirer is unable to visit the grave of a loved one in person.  By creating an online memorial, especially with a picture of the grave, the inquirer is able to virtually visit the grave.
  • The memorial provided the missing link in someone's family history research.
  • The inquirer requests that the memorial be amended with different and/or additional information.
I take issue with requests to amend information in the memorial.  I'm a stickler for proof and crediting the correct source.  Find A Grave serves a dual purpose:  providing an online memorial for deceased loved ones AND recording gravestones.

If you personally knew someone, you have knowledge of many facts that will not appear on the gravestone but can appear on the memorial page.  For example, the memorial for my grandmother, Beulah Cook Lutter (1921-2003), created by my aunt, contains many details that are personally known to her, but will not appear on the gravestone.  She doesn't even have a gravestone yet.

An online memorial page of someone's life serves a beautiful purpose and will naturally include sentiments and goes beyond a simple recording of the stone.

This is different from the other purpose of Find A Grave:  recording information found on gravestones.  If you are documenting a cemetery, you don't personally know the people for whom you are creating memorial pages.  You are limited to the information contained on the stone.

If you research the person who has a memorial on Find A Grave, differentiate between the information that is and isn't on the stone.  The stone itself is a tertiary source.  Think of the gravestone as a stepping stone to help you locate additional records, such as full dates of birth and death, locations, other names used.  This information may contradict or enhance the information on the stone.

A gravestone is the only source I have for the death of Mary Neal (1830-1898), widow of Calvin Cook.  I have not found a death certificate, obituary, or will for her.  She appeared in the 1895 New Jersey census, but not in the 1900 federal census.  Finding the gravestone was great, but we need to question its reliability when we don't find supporting documentation.

When viewing a memorial page, you need to compare the information entered by the contributor to the information on the stone.  Additional or different information must have arisen from a source other than the gravestone.  The contributor should be able to tell you, either in a note on the memorial page or in correspondence, the source of the information not on the stone.

Sourcing is why I handle requests to edit in three ways:
  • I check the stone and any notes I may have to ascertain if I made a transcription error and then edit if indicated.
  • I offer to transfer the memorial to the inquirer and they may add whatever they wish because their name will appear as the person managing the page.  But don't edit the page and then transfer it back to me.  We will have a problem with the source of your additional information that I cannot explain to future inquirers.
  • I add a note to the page with the additional information and the source, like a disclaimer.

Find A Grave allows you to link parents and spouses, if you are the manager of the page.  The links enable people to easily visit the pages of multiple family members and are great for researchers- if the links are accurate.

Someone attached an incorrect spouse to a page I created for a marker at Woodland Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.  The stone is indecipherable except for a first name- Elizabeth.  I became aware of this problem when someone questioned why I did not provide a surname for Elizabeth when her spouse and child were known.

The asterisks next to the linked spouse and child indicate that the connection was not made through this memorial page.

I requested a search of records at Woodland Cemetery to determine whose stone this is.  The stone is likely for Elizabeth Guenther, widow of Charles Vill.  She died in 1894 at the age of 24.

Let's hope the contributor who linked the wrong spouse and child to Elizabeth heeds my request to unlink them.

When you use Find A Grave, be mindful of what information is on the stone and what information appeared from nowhere.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Views on MyHeritage

MyHeritage partnered with 23andMe to provide family tree making services and records to consumers of DNA tests.  A profile page at 23andMe can display a direct link to a tree at MyHeritage.

23andMe provided an inefficient family tree making tool.  You could not upload a gedcom file; instead, you had to manually enter every person.  Trees often crashed.  A better system was necessary.  By aligning with MyHeritage, DNA customers new to genealogy were introduced to a genealogy service, to try for free or to buy.

Good plan.  Except that the family tree service at MyHeritage is not so good.

A Pedigree View is what I need to get an overall view of someone's ancestors.  Here is an example at Ancestry:

At MyHeritage, you cannot view the tree as Pedigree.  You need to click on an individual to see back a generation, which drops the generations below while expanding to include siblings, spouses, and their descendants.  You become lost quickly.

I emailed MyHeritage, asking if it was possible to view a tree on their site in Pedigree.  No answer.

Message boards at MyHeritage also carry this request, to no avail.

Another unfortunate outcome at 23andMe is that you cannot attach your profile to a parent in a tree at MyHeritage and sort your DNA matches by parent.

My family trees for review by DNA cousins are at Ancestry and Rootsweb.  I post web addresses on profile pages that I manage.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Which DNA test to buy for genealogy?

People ask me often:  Which kind of DNA test to buy?

I tell people they should do an autosomal DNA test.  This is the only test sold by AncestryDNA and 23andMe.  Family Tree DNA also offers this test, called Family Finder.  The price has dropped to around $100 at all three companies.

An autosomal DNA test matches you with other people whose DNA is identical to yours in a few spots, as most will be distant cousins.  These identical areas were passed down from an ancestor common to you and your match.

Diagram of Autosomal DNA inheritance

The goal is to figure out which of your ancestors you have in common.  This is not easy.  The DNA test will not produce a family tree for you.  You still must research your ancestors in records to find the leaves of your family tree.  You may find a close cousin who has done a lot of research and this cousin may provide you with his/her research.  You may find others who help you work past a tail end in your tree suspected of holding the ancestor in common.  If you were adopted, you may find close relatives who can help you identify your biological parents.

If you are serious about finding relatives, you need to test your DNA at all three companies.  You may have a close relative at one site who is not going to test multiple times to find other relatives.  You have to find them by testing at all three sites.

Confusion arises with the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests.  These tests are offered by FamilyTreeDNA and vary in price based on number of tested markers.

One ancestral line only:  Y-DNA testing and mtDNA testing

The Y-DNA test is for males.  Testers are matched to other men who share an almost identical Y chromosome.  The value of this test is that you don't have to figure out which ancestral line holds the common ancestor.  The common ancestor will always be on the direct paternal line, father to son, because this is how the Y chromosome is inherited.  Fewer differences with a match indicate that the common ancestor is within fewer generations.  This test is useful in surname studies, if your direct paternal line comes from a community that perpetuates last names from father to children.

The mtDNA test (mitochondrial, not maternal) is similar to the Y-DNA test in that the common ancestor will be in one ancestral line, mother to daughter.  MtDNA is passed on from mother to children, both sons and daughters.  Men and women may take this test.  A man will not pass his mtDNA on to his children, so that is why the test-taker can be male, but the common ancestor will be found in his mother's direct maternal line.  Unlike the Y-DNA test, the most recent common ancestor could be thousands of years ago, as mtDNA does not vary generation to generation as much as Y-DNA.

These Y-DNA and mtDNA tests provide your haplogroups, which is useful in tracing ancient migratory paths of humans across the globe.  23andMe provides predicted haplogroups with their autosomal test.  This is not the same as taking a Y-DNA or mtDNA test.

Anyone who has been researching their family tree should try the autosomal DNA test.  Your tree will grow.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

DNA Link for Newark and Chicago Branches

Someone with a Lutter ancestor has appeared in my DNA matches (autosomal) from AncestryDNA.  This has never happened before.  (Even the Y-DNA test produced no matches.)

Possible relative in AncestryDNA matches for Jody
(Name and picture blocked by Jody)

The family tree for this DNA cousin had one Lutter ancestor, Emma Lutter, from Illinois.
Emma Lutter (1892-1948) in the family tree of Jody's DNA cousin

I know this Emma Lutter.  She lived in Chicago and married Frank Scaar.  I have Emma's bank book from the year 1907.
Emma Lutter's bank book.  Gustav Schwabe was her guardian.

The bank book for Emma and her siblings, Adolph and Gertrude, were not handed down to me as family heirlooms.  They were purchased on eBay.

The bank books caught my attention because I researched a man named Alex Lutter from Chicago.  Emma, Adolph, and Gertrude were his children.  I was looking for Alex Lutter because he witnessed the marriage in 1888 in Newark, New Jersey, of my great great grandparents, Hermann Lutter (1860-1924) and Clara R Uhl (1864-1955).  

Signature of witness Alex Lutter

Aside from this marriage record and the newspaper announcement of the nuptials, I found no traces of Alex Lutter in Newark, New Jersey.  Instead, I found a man named Alexander Lutter in Chicago.  In 1890 he naturalized, registered to vote, and married Ottilie Dahlke.
(fee-based site)

Alexander Lutter died in Chicago on December 23, 1897, age 33.  (Born about 1864.)  His wife died May 23, 1904, leaving the three children orphaned.

Alexander Adolph Lutter (1895-1969), the son of Alex and Ottilie, married Anna Kabitzke.  Anna's family contacted me.  The couple had no known children.  (Her relative was the first to write a guest blog post.)

Alexander the son filed for a passport.  Below is his photo from the application.  Alexander wrote that his father came to the United States from Germany in 1885 and resided in Chicago, Illinois for "12 years, uninterruptedly," from 1885-1897.
Alexander Adolph Lutter (1895-1969)
Is there a family resemblance?

If the father Alexander lived in Chicago from his arrival in 1885 until his death in 1897, this contradicts the voter registration from the year 1890, where Alexander is stated to have lived in Illinois for only one year.  Then I considered the source and decided that this information was not too reliable:  the informant was not even born until 1895 and was two years old when his father passed, so he likely has no personal knowledge of his father and no older relative to ask.

So how is Alexander Lutter (1864-1897) of Chicago related to my Lutter line of Newark?  We don't know- yet.  Let's hope that the submitter of the DNA contacts me and provides more clues.

With a birth date in 1864, Alexander Lutter could be the brother of my great great grandfather, Hermann Lutter, who was born about 1860.  In his will in 1924, Hermann mentioned two siblings, both deceased:  his brother Otto (1845-1909), formerly of Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey; and his sister, Ottillia, formerly of Neuhaus, Thueringen, Germany.  If Alexander is another sibling, why was there no mention of Alexander or his children, three of whom were alive in 1924?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Surviving Genes of Walling and Dey

I have figured out the most recent common ancestors of a DNA cousin.

A new Shared Ancestor Hint appeared for me at AncestryDNA.  This system compares the family trees of my DNA cousins, looking for the same ancestors from my family tree.

The shared ancestor suggestion was William Walling (1770-1824) of Monmouth County, New Jersey.  He is one of my 5X great grandfathers.  (His transcribed will can be found here.)  I don't know why his wife, Rebecca Dey (born about 1770), my 5X great grandmother, did not appear also.

Based on our family trees, this DNA cousin is a fifth cousin of my father.  AncestryDNA reports that I share some DNA with this fifth cousin.

Here is the step where a lot of people stumble:  this scenario does not prove that William Walling and Rebecca Dey are our biological ancestors; nor does it prove that the DNA we share is from William Walling and Rebecca Dey.

We need to see how much DNA and which segments of DNA are shared with this DNA cousin so that we can triangulate the match.  You cannot triangulate with AncestryDNA.

To triangulate, we need to look at other DNA cousins who match on these same shared segments of DNA and determine if they too trace ancestry back to William Walling and Rebecca Dey, or one of the ancestors of either of William Walling or Rebecca Dey.  With AncestryDNA, you have no information about where any of your other DNA cousins match you, so you cannot know if they match on the same segments as any other DNA cousins.

I remembered the name of this DNA cousin from 23andMe, where we had corresponded two years earlier.  We had discussed the idea that the common ancestors were not too far back in time and were likely in Monmouth County, New Jersey because this DNA cousin matched my father, his siblings, and their father's cousin from the Winterton/Dunn line in Monmouth County.  If this segment can be further identified as a Walling/Dey segment, then we know that the segment came to my father via William Winterton's mother, Sophia Walling.

We can see the shared DNA at 23andMe.

Note that one of the matches, a sibling of my father, shares a very tiny segment of only 5 cM.  Most people would disregard such a small amount, but as you can see in the graph, this small segment is in line with the larger segments shared by other close relations.

Prior exchanges with this DNA cousin at 23andMe did not lead to William Walling and Rebecca Dey because his family tree had not yet grown that many generations back.  Two years later, his family tree at Ancestry was more robust and prompted the discovery.

The next step is to look at the other DNA cousins who share this segment.  I maintain Excel spreadsheets for my closest relatives.

This snippet is from the spreadsheet of my first cousin, twice removed.  I list his DNA cousins by chromosome of where they share identical DNA.  The Walling/Dey cousin shares an identical segment on chromosome 7, starting around 91,000,000 and ending around 127,000,000.

I checked all of these smaller matches against the Walling/Dey cousin to see if they match him as well as my first cousin.  All of them do.  If this shared DNA is from the Walling/Dey couple, then all of these DNA cousins will also descend from Walling/Dey or from one of the ancestors of either William Walling or Rebecca Dey.

This is where you need to depend on others for information.  Some of these DNA cousins offer family tree information; most do not.  I reviewed their surname and location lists and family trees, if they had any, and saw nothing in common with Walling/Dey.  I sent them all a note, describing what we need to look for.

So far, nobody has replied.  Without finding a connection to Walling/Dey in these other matches, we cannot triangulate to declare that this segment of DNA is from Walling/Dey.