Sunday, December 29, 2019

Identifying Location of Photographs

Thanks to an anonymous reader, additional photographs by my grandfather are identified as Keansburg, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Locating Waackaack Creek helped.

Modern day aerial image of Keansburg, New Jersey

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Double John Cook and Jane Peer

John Cook was my sixth great grandfather.

On December 15, 1745 Johannis was baptized at the Pompton Plains First Reformed Dutch Church in Morris County, New Jersey. His parents were listed as Hendrik VanderKoeck and Catrina. Witnesses were Pieter Post and Annaatje.

On October 4, 1772 John Cook and Jane Peer were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

On January 3, 1822 the will of John Cook was submitted for probate in Morris County. No wife was mentioned in the will. Jane was deceased when her father, Samuel Peer, wrote his will in 1818.
John Cook named four children in his will:
Catherine (married Easton)
Henry (my fifth great grandfather)

The son named John Cook (1790-1878) married a woman with the same name as his mother. Jane Peer (1794-1888) and John Cook were married by Reverend Barnabas King in 1812 in Rockaway, Morris County, New Jersey. They may have been first cousins. Jane's father was Jacob Peer, a brother to John's mother.

In the 1830s John and Jane relocated from Morris County, New Jersey to Onondaga County, New York.

John Cook Junior claimed a pension for service in the War of 1812 for substituting for Stephen H Cook (1797-1853). But Elizabeth claimed a widow’s pension through Stephen H Cook (denied because she could not prove the date of their marriage). Stephen was John's nephew (and my fourth great grandfather).


How are the two people named Jane Peer related to each other? Was the younger Jane Peer a first cousin of her husband, the younger John Cook?

When did the older Jane Peer die?

Why did both John Cook and Stephen Cook serve in the War of 1812 if John substituted for Stephen?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Will of John Cook 1822


In the name of God Amen.

I John Cook, of the township of Pequanack in the county of Morris and State of New Jersey- being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make and ordain this my testament and just will in manner following viz-

I give and bequeath unto my Grandson Isaac EASTON, the son of my daughter, Catherine, one hundred dollars.

I give and devise unto my two sons, Henry I COOK and David COOK, five dollars each and I add no more as I have heretofore provided for and given them their proportion out of my estate by deeds and otherways.

I give and devise unto my youngest son John COOK and unto his heirs and assigns forever all the rest and residue of my Estate, both real and personal, that may remain after the payment of my funeral charges, just debts, and the expenses attending the settlement of my estate and the legacies herein before bequeathed.

I do hereby constitute and appoint son, John Cook, and my trusty and esteemed friend, David PEER Esquire, executors of this my last will and testament, hereby rendering and disannulling all former wills and testaments by me made and declaring this and no other to be my testament and last will.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the first day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nineteen: John Cook.

Signed, sealed, published, pronounced, and declared to be the testament and last will of the said John Cook who signed the same in our presence, who signed our names as witnesses at the same time and at his request: Joseph JACKSONMahlon F DICKERSONJohn D JACKSON.

Will submitted January 3, 1822 in Morris County, New Jersey.
David Thompson, Surrogate.

Morris County Wills, Liber B, pages 527-528.

Note: Surrogate records for Morris County, New Jersey can be copied from microfiche at the County Courthouse in Morristown. The other twenty counties can be viewed at at no cost.

Note: The spelling of the name of the township has varied over the centuries. It is now spelled Pequannock and encompasses much less land than it did when John Cook wrote his will in 1819.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

More Lutter DNA

It happened last month and again this month.

Another Lutter has been found through DNA testing.

At, my paternal aunt shares one segment of DNA with someone who had ancestors of German origin living in Newark, New Jersey. This person also shares DNA with a Lutter cousin.

I started the research with Lydia Bischoff, the great grandmother of the DNA match. She was born about 1861 in Germany. In 1876 she married Albin Oeler in Newark. Only the names of the fathers were provided on this document filed with the State: Anton and Hugo. Albin died in Newark in 1891. Lydia remarried Oswald Schoener in 1892. Her mother's name on this record appears to be Henrietta. No surname given.

By 1900, Lydia had relocated to Brooklyn, New York.

Lydia Bischoff (listed as Lillian here) with second husband Oswald Schoener,
plus her children from both marriages,
at 289 Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn.

Passport photograph of Lydia Schoener 1922

Lydia had a brother, Edwin Anton Bischoff (1866-1923). (Coincidentally, I photographed Edwin's grave over fifteen years ago at Hollywood Cemetery in Union, New Jersey as I attempted to trace my Bishop line.)

Edwin's documents provided the link to Lutter.

In 1891, Edwin married Louise Bechmann (1869-1944) in Newark. His mother's name looks like Nanette Lutter.

On Edwin's death certificate from 1923, his mother's name is Henrietta Lutter.

I located Annetta Lutter and Hugo Bischoff in the 1880 census in Newark. Annetta's age was 45, making her year of birth around 1835. I last found them in the 1885 New Jersey state census. Hugo died 1893 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery. I do not know what became of Annetta. Her death certificate could list her parents.

My great great grandfather, Herman Lutter, was born in 1861. Annetta would have been too old to be a sibling. More records are needed to reveal the relationship.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

A House Eighty Years Later

Among the pictures taken by my grandfather, Clifford Lutter (1915-1980), is this house. My aunt said it was in Nutley where Clifford's sister, Beryl lived after she married, but nobody remembered the address.

I revisited this project and located the modern-day house and address.

Beryl Lutter (1918-1988) married Harry Nanejian (1901-1986) in 1937 in Suffern, Rockland County, New York. I do not know why they traveled there to marry.

In the 1938 city directory for Nutley, New Jersey (collection at, Harry and Beryl are living at 104 McKinley Street. This address, accessible via Google Street View, looks like the house in the photograph. The couple moved around in the years that followed, but those houses do not resemble the house in the photograph.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Another Lutter found through DNA Testing

Another DNA connection for Lutter.

My ancestral Lutter line is the shortest of my family tree. The will of my great great grandfather, Herman Lutter, (1860-1924) named two deceased siblings, Otto and Ottillia. DNA testing revealed connections to descendants of Alexander Lutter and Charles Lutter, possible additional siblings.

Herman probably had another close relative living near him in Newark, New Jersey: Emilie Lutter.

Emilie was a great great great grandmother of a DNA match to my uncle. I did not have to research the entire family tree because the match has only one great grandparent of German origin.

Emilie's first record so far discovered in the United States is the 1870 federal census for Newark. In this snapshot of her life, Emilie was 31 years old and born in Türingen- same place as my ancestor Herman. She was married to Franz Jäger/Yäger and had two children, Emilie J and Charle, both born in New Jersey.

The index is wrong for most of the German families I've sought.
Franz Jäger shifted the spelling from J to Y, but this is not a T in the 1870 census.
Compare the first letter of Franz's surname to his occupation, Taylor. Not a T.

I have not located a marriage record for Emilie and Franz.

In the 1880 census, the couple had two more children, Caroline and Frank.

Emilie died July 29, 1892 in Newark from heat stroke. She was buried at Woodland Cemetery. Her death certificate and obituary did not provide the names of her parents. The obituary mentioned that she had siblings, but did not name them.

"Unknown" are the most disappointing names of parents on the death certificate.

Franz Jager- husband.
Children: Emilie, Charles, Carrie, and Franz.
Otto Unglaub, son-in-law (husband of Emilie).
In addition to siblings and relatives.

In 1904, the plot at Woodland Cemetery was reopened to bury Emilie's granddaughter, Clara Yaeger.

The source of Emilie's name of Lutter is from the marriage records of three of her children in Newark:
Emilie Jäger married Otto Unglaub in 1886.
Caroline Jaeger married Frederick Teufel in 1894.
Frank Jäger married Anna Seyfarth in 1899. (They moved to Rhode Island, where most of their children were born and where daughter Clara died. They returned to Newark by 1910.)

Charles used the spelling Yaeger. He wife was Clara Augusta Seyfarth (1881-1943), but I have not found their marriage record yet.

This brings us up to the following siblings of Herman Lutter (1860-1924):
Otto Lutter, born about 1845 in Germany, died in 1909 in Harrison, New Jersey.
Ottillia Lutter, date of birth unknown, died before Herman died in 1924, maybe in Scheibe (renamed Neuhaus, Thuringia).

And relatives of Herman:
Emilie Lutter, born about 1838 in Thuringia, died 1892 in Newark, New Jersey.
Charles Lutter, born about 1863 in Germany, died in 1919 in Newark, New Jersey.
Alexander Lutter, born about 1864 in Germany, died in 1897 in Chicago, Illinois.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Death of a Limb

If someone loses a limb, a death certificate may be issued, abundant with the details we need, such as the names of parents.

This was the situation for John Joseph Coburn's right arm. While working on the trains in Clifton, New Jersey, John's arm was severed between two railroad cars.

Thanks, Pat!

The death certificate provides great information, such as address, names of wife and parents, birthdate and place, and cemetery. Because John was still alive when this document was created, it could be more accurate than the usual death certificate.

Articles appeared in the local papers.

The rest of John Coburn died December 14, 1978. Those death certificates are not available at the Archives. His obituary is below.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

1959 New Jersey Death Certificates are Available

New Jersey State Archives has acquired death certificates through 1959.

The indexes for 1901 through 2000 can be browsed at a site set up by Reclaim the Records. Some years are missing as of this writing. (The work-around for the missing indexes from 1904-1919 and 1930-1948 is to look at the certificates year by year. They were filed alphabetically.)

This is the death certificate for one of my great grandfathers, Frank ODonnell (1889-1959). He was born in Bayonne in 1888 to Patrick ODonnell and Delia Joyce. His first wife was Anna Preston. She died in 1921. He married his second wife, Gertrude Farman, in 1940.

Frank died in Bayonne on Halloween, October 31, 1959. He was buried at Holy Name Cemetery (Hudson County Catholic Cemetery).

"Severe epistaxis," or nosebleed, is listed among his medical diagnoses. My grandmother used to say that her side of the family had a bleeding disorder. This could be one of the reasons why she said this.

If you order a death certificate from 1959 via mail from the Archives, please let us know if the cause of death was blocked. This certificate was copied by me in person from microfilm, thus the area containing the cause of death is not restricted.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Raised by Relatives: Hazel Worth Penn

A marriage record clarified that Hazel Worth was the same person as Hazel Leonora Penn. This is an example of someone raised by relatives without a formal adoption.

In the 1910 federal census in Lacey, Ocean County, New Jersey, Hazel Worth, age 3, was residing in the household of her paternal grandparents, Isaac Worth and Maria Imley. Also in this household was Hazel's newly-widowed father, Ira Daniel Worth, age 30, and Hazel's older brothers, Edward Leon and Ira Melvin.

Hazel's maternal uncle, Sheridan Penn (1868-1942), was enumerated a few households later with his wife, Leonora Calverley (1872-1941), and their daughter, Frances, age 12. Hazel's maternal grandparents were also a few households away: Redin Penn (1838-1927) and Eliza Moore (1836-191x).

On March 10, 1907, May Worth [not Hazel] became the the third child born to Ira Worth and Mary Penn in Lacey.

Hazel's mother, Mary Penn, the wife of Ira Worth (1879-1963), died a few days before Hazel turned three.

Hazel Penn was in the 1920 and 1930 federal census enumerations in Dover, Ocean County, as a daughter of Sheridan Penn and Leonora (Calverley). In the 1910 census this couple did not have a three year old daughter.

A search for a birth record for Hazel Penn 1906-1908 produced no results. In 1897, Sheridan Penn and "Lena Calvery" had a daughter with no name given on the birth record. She used the name Frances, as seen in the census snapshots above, as well as Mary Frances.

Baby Girl Penn born June 17, 1897 in Lacey, Ocean County, New Jersey.
(Died as Mary Frances Wagner in 1991.)

The confusion of Hazel was solved upon finding a marriage record in 1933 for Alvin Mosely Hall (1905-1988) and Hazel Worth, "known as Hazel Leonora Penn." The bride's parents were given as Ira Worth and Mary Penn, thus clarifying that Hazel Worth, last seen at age 3 in the 1910 census, became Hazel Leonora Penn- the sudden daughter of Sheridan Penn and Leonora Calverley.

Hazel died in 1992. She and her husband are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey.

Why was she named May at birth but called Hazel in other records? This question is unanswered.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Postcard of Washington Irving's Family Plot

This postcard arrived with an old book I purchased on eBay.

It is a picture of the grave of the author, Washington Irving (1783-1859), in the Irving family plot at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York.

A plot of recent generations of my family lies just beyond the view of this scene. It would have been great to see the stones as they appeared decades ago.

The postcard was addressed to Ethel Hauptman at 2 Eastern Avenue in Ossining, New York. (Sing Sing was the former name for this village.)

In the 1920 census in Ossining, Ethel was twenty years old and living with her parents, Eddy and Addie, at the address on the postcard. All were born in New York.

Lack of a stamp or postmark on the card could indicate that it was never mailed.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ultimate Mystery Solved

My mother wondered during her adult life.

I searched my entire adult life- up to now.

My mother's biological father has been revealed through DNA testing.

My mother's biological tree is filling in. She only knew half of it. I will know all of it.

I use "biological" because my mother had a loving father who raised her as his own. She did not uncover this family secret until she saw her birth certificate for the first time in 1972, when she applied for a marriage license.

This discovery was only possible through DNA. Eight years ago I tested at 23andMe. Last month, my hopes were realized when a very close family member of the mystery man tested. Results of this person's test were fantastic news for me, but shocking on the other side. They did not know that my mother existed.

Up to then, I was getting close, thanks to match in the second to third cousin range who appeared in January. He shared a set of ancestors with a probable third cousin match. Patrick Somers and Julia Reilly, born about 1820 in County Longford, Ireland, were my first set of identified ancestors.

All I had to do was trace all of the descendants of all of their children. It was not too bad. They were Catholic and in Jersey City and Brooklyn. Newspapers are online. Church and vital records are transcribed online to a degree, but a trip to the New Jersey State Archives was needed. I was concentrated on the Jersey City lines.

As I plowed through these generations, the closest of matches appeared and the loose pieces of my puzzle fell into place.

There are more mysteries to be solved with this family, naturally.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Walling Descendants from Plymouth Colony

A Walling cousin kindly shared the results of his Y-DNA test.

He is my father's eighth cousin, once removed. Sometimes you have to travel far in the family tree to find a candidate for the Y-DNA test. Even though he is a distant cousin, his Y chromosome is perfect for tracing our shared Walling ancestry.

The last person in my line named Walling was a great great great grandmother, Sophia T Walling (1835-1906).

The Y-DNA test, offered at Family Tree DNA, traces the direct paternal line. This is the path of the Y chromosome, passed intact from father to son.

The original immigrant of our shared Walling line was Ralph Wallen. He and his wife, Joyce, were passengers on the ship Anne. They arrived in Plymouth Colony in 1623. Scant written records remain. Ralph's family of origin and creation are debated. A scoundrel named Thomas Wallen appears in records slightly later than Ralph and is generally held to be Ralph's son.

We are interested in this test to explore:
-Are the plentiful Wallings alive today all descended from a common ancestor?
-Who were Ralph Wallen's ancestors in England?
-Was Thomas Wallen (1627-1674) the son of Ralph?

The results were pleasantly surprising because all ten matches used a variation of Walling either as their current surname or as their paternal line. (This was not the situation with my other Y-DNA tests. See my one match for Lutter.)

I identified four testers as descendants of Thomas Wallen, the purported son of the Pilgrim immigrant Ralph Wallen.

Plymouth Colony Wallen descendants

The surname project for Walling organizes these testers in three different groups:
-Long Hunter
-Unrelated R1b
-English Walling/Wallen to Walden.

I found that three are descended from Elisha Walling (1708-1783), the "Long Hunter." All five are descended from Thomas Wallen.

The Walling, Wallen, and Walden lines of the six other testers will trace back to a common ancestor, probably Thomas and Ralph of Plymouth Colony.

At this point, we have not genetically shown that Thomas was the son of Ralph. To do so, we need to go a generation or more beyond Ralph and show Y-DNA matches to descendants of Ralph's cousins and/or brothers. But we do not know the parents of Ralph. We need testers who can trace back, on paper, to Wallens in England in the late 1500s and who have matching Y chromosomes to descendants of the Plymouth Wallens.

Records are scarce or non-existent, but with Y-DNA testing, we can possibly uncover the origins of Ralph Wallen of Plymouth.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Divorce of the Dickersons

Nellie Patience Cook (1875-1951) was a first cousin, four times removed of my father.

She lived in Morris County, New Jersey. In 1895 she was married to Nathaniel F Dickerson (1873-1938) by Reverend Clark of the Methodist Church of Rockaway.

Three or four children were born from this marriage:
(In her divorce complaint, Nellie states that three children died in infancy.)

Two children, Raymond and Elvin, died on July 31, 1900 in Denville from dysentery. They share a gravestone in the Denville Cemetery.

In the 1910 census, Nellie was living with her son, Vernon, in Rockaway, without Nathaniel.

Nellie filed for divorce from Nathaniel in 1909. The records are housed at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton.

Nellie's complaint stated that Nathaniel was having an affair with Sadie Virginia Dobbins, also known as Virginia Butler. Nathaniel left Nellie on December 13, 1903, two days after she gave birth to Vernon, claiming he was setting out to learn the plumbing trade.

A witness testified that Nathaniel and Virginia began boarding in her home in New York City on December 25, 1903. They presented themselves as married to each other.

The divorce was granted. Nellie was awarded $69 in fees.

In 1911, Nathaniel married Sarah Virginia Butler, widow of Dobbins.

Nathaniel did not pay the money to Nellie. She kept taking him to court as late as 1918.

As an aside, Nellie's name on her marriage certificate looks like "Netty," which can be confusing because Nellie had a sister named Nettie (1868-1945), who married Francis E Peer (1870-1932). In the divorce complaint, Nellie explained that a stray mark of ink makes the letter Ls in her name appear to be letter Ts and that her name is Nellie, not Nelly, Nettie, or Netty.