Saturday, October 31, 2015

DNA from Morris County, New Jersey: Family Tree DNA

At FamilyTreeDNA, my uncles share a segment on chromosome 1 with two individuals.

We need to know if these two DNA cousins match each other in the same spot.  FamilyTreeDNA does not allow you to make this comparison.  One of the cousins checked on his end, and sure enough, he matches this other cousin on the same segment.

Common ancestors of all of us were Richard/Dirk Vanderhoof (b 1745) and Catrina Young/Jong (b 1753).  My line descends from Dirk and Catrina's son, Jacob Vanderhoof (1774-1847) and then granddaughter, Elizabeth Vanderhoof (1799-1878).  The cousin in blue in the first graph is also descended from Jacob Vanderhoof, but through Jacob's son, Peter Vanderhoof (1797-1847).

The cousin in orange descends from Dirk and Catrina's daughter, Elizabeth Vanderhoof (b1775).  She married John Taylor.

But that's not all.

The cousin in orange also descends from Frederick DeMouth and Charlotte Muller/Miller.  For my line, they were the maternal grandparents of Ann Hopler (1772-1841) - wife of Jacob Vanderhoof (1774-1847).  If the other distant cousin on this segment (the "blue cousin") is not descended from DeMouth and Miller, then we can say that the DNA came from Vanderhoof and Young.  With the close geography and intermingling of these lines, we may not be able to sort out exactly whose DNA this is- just that it is from the Morris County lines.

Friday, October 30, 2015

DNA from Morris County, New Jersey: AncestryDNA/GedMatch

The next DNA cousins from Morris County, New Jersey appeared among my matches at AncestryDNA.  By comparing our attached family trees, Ancestry suggested that we share a set of ancestors, Jacob Vanderhoof (1772-1847) and Ann Hopler (1772-1841).  These cousins, like the ones in prior posts, are also descended from Jacob and Ann's son, Peter Vanderhoof (1797-1847), by his marriage to Rachel Peer (1800-1850).

The actual relationship, based on descent from Jacob Vanderhoof and Ann Hopler, is fourth cousins, once removed.

We can't see the shared segments at AncestryDNA, but these cousins fortunately uploaded to GedMatch.

My father shares five segments with one of the cousins, which is a great lead.

The amount and location of shared DNA among the other relatives varies.

We can triangulate the relation using the DNA of my father's brothers and their third cousin.  All three match this AncestryDNA cousin on chromosome 12.  (This segment immediately follows the segment shared by the DNA cousins from yesterday's post.)  The branch of my father's tree common to him and his third cousin holds Jacob Vanderhoof and Ann Hopler, the predicted Most Recent Common Ancestors.

We are presented with the same issue here as with the other cousins who are descendants of the couple Peter Vanderhoof and Rachel Peer:  Are we also related through the Peer line?  More research will hopefully produce the ancestry of Rachel Peer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DNA from Morris County, New Jersey: 23andMe

From my Morris County, New Jersey ancestors, some cousins appear in the DNA databases.

My father's third cousin from this branch has tested his DNA.  We can see the shared segments of autosomal DNA shared with my father, his siblings, and this third cousin.  The common ancestors were Calvin Cook (1827 - 1889) and Mary Neal (1829 - 1898) of Morris County.

By viewing where the DNA is shared, we can find other, more distant cousins who also share DNA in these same spots.

For this discussion, we focus on the shared segments on chromosome 12 at 23andMe.  Two of my father's siblings share DNA on chromosome 12 with the third cousin.

A few people ("DNA cousins") also share these same segments with the relatives on my end- my uncle and our third cousin.  One of them has a family tree and responded to my inquiry.  She shares an identical segment of DNA with two of my uncles and third cousin.

We need to triangulate the match.  Two full siblings count as one point of the triangle, as their ancestors are identical.  We do not have to search our entire family tree to find the Most Recent Common Ancestor.  We look instead at the set of ancestors common to the third cousins:  Calvin Cook and Mary Neal.

Mary Neal is a tail end in my family tree.  Her ancestry is unknown to me at this time.  Only Calvin Cook's tree is available.  If the segment came from Mary Neal, we could possibly break through that brick wall.

One of two branches that may hold the Most Recent Common Ancestor
of the DNA cousin.

When asked for ancestors that were in northern New Jersey in the 1800s, the DNA cousin provided the couple Peter Vanderhoof (1797-1847) and Rachel Peer (1800-1850).  After time, research, and correspondence, the Most Recent Common Ancestors were identified as Jacob Vanderhoof (1772-1847) and Ann Hopler (1772-1841).  They were the parents of Peter Vanderhoof, the direct ancestor of the DNA match, and they were the parents of Elizabeth Vanderhoof (1799-1878), the mother of Calvin Cook, in my direct line.

This makes this DNA cousin a Fifth Cousin to my father, his siblings, and their third cousin.

Peter Vanderhoof and his wife, Rachel Peer, are buried in the DeMouth Family Burial Ground (front yard of a house) in Denville, along with Peter and Elizabeth's parents, Jacob Vanderhoof and Ann Hopler.  (Ann Hopler's mother was Elizabeth DeMouth.)

But there could be other ancestors in common.

Jane Peer was the 5th great grandmother of my father.  She married John Cook (1745-1821).  She was probably born around 1750 and died before her father, Samuel Peer, died in 1818.

Rachel Peer (1800-1850) was the 3rd great grandmother of the DNA cousin.  Rachel's place in the Peer family of Morris County has not been determined.  Rachel Peer and Jane Peer, like the other Morris County lines, were probably related.  The shared DNA could be from Peer and not Vanderhoof and Hopler.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Who were the Parents of Susan Long (1818-1882)?

Who were the parents of Susan Long (1818-1882)?

She was my fourth great grandmother and married Eliakim Marsh (1816-1881) in 1839.  Their marriage was recorded in Essex County in the early New Jersey marriages collection at FamilySearch.  Eliakim was from NY City [New York City, New York] and Susan was from E Town [now Elizabeth in Union County, New Jersey].  No parents were listed, which was standard for these marriage records.

Eliakim and Susan are in New Jersey in the census from 1850-1880.
1850:  Elizabeth Township, Essex County
1860:  Newark, Essex County
1870:  New Brunswick, Middlesex County
1880:  Elizabeth, Union County

Susan died in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey on December 28, 1882.  She is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, Union County.

Her death certificate lists her parents as Jonas Long and Elizabeth.

There are a few references online for a marriage of Jonas Long and Elizabeth Merrell/Merrill.  No further information for Jonas Long.  A few times in the 1820s in newspapers, Jonas Long is on the list of people who have letters at the post office.

Elizabeth appears often as the daughter of Richard Merrell (1775-1864) and Ann/Nancy Cole (1776-1861), born in 1797 in Staten Island, New York.  Richard and Ann are buried at the Piscatawaytown Burial Ground in Edison, Middlesex County.  If I have the correct family, Elizabeth Merrell was the 3x great granddaughter of Richard Merrell and Sarah Wells, who arrived on Staten Island, New York around 1675.  (And my 10x great grandparents.)

What confuses me is why Richard Merrell (1817-1861) is listed as the child of Jonas Long and Elizabeth Merrell.  At least the creator of the above tree from RootsWeb noted that Richard Merrell used his mother's surname and not his father's.  No mention of my Susan, who ended up using the surname of her husband, Marsh.  But she used the surname "Long" on her marriage record, and the informant for her death certificate knew her father's name was Long.

The Richard Merrell born in New Jersey in 1817, the possible brother of Susan Long, moved to Virginia, married Elizabeth Culpepper (1824-1892), and had issue.

I'm not sure that Richard Merrell (1817-1861) is properly placed as a child of Elizabeth Merrell and Jonas Long.  Other online family trees repeat this relation, still without another child named Susan, but list Elizabeth as the father and Jonas as the mother.  Entering the information this way into a tree program would trigger children to carry Elizabeth's surname, Merrell.

I have found a trace of Merrell to Susan Long.  In the 1870 federal census, an older woman named Phebe Merton is living with Susan and her family.  In the 1880 census, Phebe Merton is living with her brother, Abraham Merrell.  Phebe and Abraham may have been siblings of Susan's mother, Elizabeth.

When Susan's maternal grandfather, Richard Merrell, died in 1864, Samuel R Marsh was named as an administrator.  I do not know how this Marsh fits into the Marsh family that Susan married into, but demonstrates a connection to the family.

If anyone is studying these lines, or has any additional insight, please reach out to me.  Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Original Records Trump Indexes

We've discussed this issue for four years, ever since the New Jersey indexes to births, marriages, and deaths appeared, but I keep seeing this problem on message boards.

This is the death certificate for Catherine Meeker (1795-1884), daughter of David Dean and Phoebe Beach.  She died March 14, 1884, but the online index at Ancestry and FamilySearch has the year 1883 because the volume of deaths was July 1, 1883 - June 30, 1884.  So 1883 was chosen as the year for all deaths in the index.

Most unfortunately in New Jersey, you cannot access original certificates of birth, marriage, and death online.  You can access indexes online at New Jersey State Archives, Ancestry, and FamilySearch.  Any index is only as good as its creator and does not replace the need for the original record.

For New Jersey certificates, you need to write to the Archives or visit in person (or have someone do it for you).  The records are on rolls of microfilm and are searched by hand.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

1850 Census

In trying to sort out my Merrell and Long lines of New Jersey, this helpful census entry popped up from 1850.  (At this point I don't know what connection, if any, this family has to do with my lines.)

(Springfield is now in Union County, but was in Essex County in 1850, so we use the place name description accurate for that period of time.  Union County was not created until 1857.  Parts of Springfield Township remained in Essex County and became Millburn, which is where this family is found in the 1860 census.)

Beginning in 1850, the federal census listed all members of a household- not just the head of the household.  This is great, except that the relationship of each member to the head is omitted.  This feature was not added until 1880.

This census taker went above and beyond, recording little tidbits of information along with the names.  In the above entry, the older ladies of the household, Catherine Meeker and Elizabeth Long, are listed as "wid" or widowed.  (As a word of caution:  a woman enumerated without a husband was not always a widow, even if indicated in her social condition from 1880 forward.)

Harriet Meeker (born Long), age 22, is listed as "his W," indicating that she is the spouse of John Meeker, and not a daughter of Catherine Meeker.  When viewing a census from 1850, 1860, or 1870, it is very easy to mistake the wife of a son as a daughter of the head of household, as the daughter-in-law may be intermingled with the other children of the same age.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

23andMe Price Increase

After years of decreasing prices for DNA testing for genealogy, I am sad to write that the price has increased.

23andMe is reviving its DNA-based health related testing, doubling the price for a kit from $99 (US Dollars) to $199.

The autosomal DNA test from the two other major genetic genealogy testing companies, FamilyTreeDNA and AncestryDNA, remains $99.

The frustration in using 23andMe for genealogy is that a lot of consumers tested their DNA for health purposes, not genealogy.  You choose which part you wish to participate in- genealogy or health or both- but family researchers are plagued with DNA cousins with no interest in communicating who posited themselves in the genealogy pool.

The effect of this price increase may drive genealogy DNA customers away from 23andMe to one of the other companies.  If you are serious about finding relatives, your DNA needs to be at all three companies anyway.  But frustration will increase as more people test for health and not genealogy, artificially increasing the genealogy pool available at 23andMe.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: The Porcelain Thief

I enjoyed reading The Porcelain Thief by Huan Hsu.  Huan recounts his genealogical escapade in China, though he did not realize that he was researching his family's history until he neared the end of his journey.

Huan was born in the United States and is of Chinese heritage.  He knows little about his family's history.  He becomes fascinated with the family story of burying porcelain in the backyard before fleeing for their lives.  Huan decides to track down this old homestead and the porcelain.

Uncovering his family's history in China is extremely difficult.  He is fortunate to have living family members in China, one of whom employs Huan at his company, providing him with legal permission to stay in China.   Huan must learn the Chinese language and learn how to navigate the political and social customs of this culture so foreign to him.

As researchers of our family's history, we can identify with Huan when he tracks down elderly family members and tries to extract relevant information from them.  He learns that photographs and records were destroyed; people, places, and memories lost over the years; graves vandalized, moved, or reburied under new construction.

Huan's family's struggles reflect the struggles of China as a whole.  The family was torn apart by war, invasions, political movements, and major cultural shifts- in every generation.  His family's history is mostly oral, and as Huan discovers, will remain so without the availability of records.

While interviewing his grandmother's aged sister, Huan realizes:
"She wasn't making up her memories, but they had unmoored from their original context and drifted into a mosaic with no beginning, end, or order.  It wasn't all that different from my own uncertain understanding of how the fragments of our family history fit together, or what was real and what was imagined, and with fewer and fewer people to ask for the truth."

The homestead where the porcelain was supposedly buried was "forfeited" by the family when they fled.  Huan and his family likely have little legal recourse to reclaim the property, and digging for the buried porcelain is prohibited as it could indicate that the family may have a claim against the current corporate industrial owners.  The entire neighborhood was razed, as was most of their family's discoverable family history.

Some family pictures survived.

One of my favorite quotes from the book,
referring to China's attempt to "catch up"
with technology and industry by copying.
United States patent and copyright laws mean little.
If someone could re-do this with more artistic flair,
that would be great.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  If you have an online presence and interest in reviewing books, give this program a try.

Sunday, October 18, 2015 Initial Results

A new website, DNA.LAND, launched to advance DNA studies.  You can upload your raw autosomal DNA file from one of the three major genetic genealogy testing sites (23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and AncestryDNA).  At this introductory stage, your file will be processed to reveal ancestry composition and fifty relatives who share some identical DNA with you.

You can only upload one file per email address, so those of us who manage multiple kits will either not upload everyone or acquire several more email addresses.

According to the website, "DNA Land is a place where you can learn more about your genome while enabling scientists to make new genetic discoveries for the benefit of humanity."

A week ago, I uploaded three raw DNA files:  my parents and me.  At the time, the upload count on the home page was about 3,700 files.  Today, the count is over 6,000.

The ancestry results for my father and me were processed by the next day.  My mother's results are still in limbo.

My father's ancestry seems consistent with results from 23andMe and GedMatch.  About one quarter of his tree immigrated from German areas in the mid 1800s.  The rest is Colonial American with English and Dutch origins.

One relative turns up for him:  me.  The relationship prediction is correct.  More relatives should appear as more people upload their files.

My ancestry should be an average of my parents.  My mother's results at are not available yet for this comparison.  One of the discrepancies is that paints me as 6% Ashkenazi, while other programs find about 1/8, or 12%.  My mother is about one quarter Ashkenazi and three quarters Irish.

My relative matches were my father and a distant cousin.  This person should be related through my mother, as my father shows no relatives besides me.  This person's name does not appear in any of our matches at the testing companies, nor at GedMatch.  So she is either anonymous or using a different name, or is not calculated as a match at any other site.

This DNA cousin of unknown relation shares many segments of DNA with me; however, most are quite tiny. characterizes these tiny segments as "ancient."  They are not relevant in a genealogical timeframe but rather indicate shared ancestry from a common population.  The largest segment is deemed "recent" and could place our relationship anywhere from a third cousin to more distant.  We would have to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Jersey State Census 1905

Among the finds from my weekend trip to the Denville Historical Society and Musuem (New Jersey) were blank census pages for the New Jersey State census, year 1905.  I have never physically seen a census page from any year, federal or state.  This page seems too large and awkward to handle well.  Perhaps this is one reason for the illegible handwriting that beleaguers census images.

Below is a picture with my hand so you can have a reference for the enormity of the page.

The 1905 New Jersey State census is indexed at  The actual images are not online anywhere that I know of.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Marriage record from book, 1861

This certifies
that Mr Edward C Peer and
Miss Sarah L Miller were by me
united in marriage, according to the law of God and of the State
of New Jersey at Orange,
Essex Co, N J
Augt 4, [18]61
Rev Wm D Hedden

Original at Denville Historical Society and Museum, October 3, 2015

Sarah L Miller (18??-1919)  (Gravestone has year of birth 1854.  Must be earlier if marriage date is correct.)