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.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Newark, New Jersey Photograph: Bergen Street School 1917

Someone gave me a framed photograph of students at Bergen Street School in Newark, New Jersey- Class of June 1917.

Photographer was Ginsberg Studio in Newark, New Jersey.

On the back of the photograph are signatures transcribed below.

Mabel Lange
Cecelia Stecher
Alice Plant
Rae Galker
Mildred Gerlein
Florence Schmitt
Gussie J Koen?er
Gertrude Hagen
Gertrude Otto
Amelia T Kraemer
Clare Poerner
Alice Leonard
Ramona Bertrand
Dorothy Lack

Edw J Egan
Wm T Ohnsman (dutch)
Richard Throm
Nathan J Klein
Wilbert Greenfield
C Bleier
S Knaster
Elmer DeVine
Harold Lange
P Rittersbacher
Robert Dollinger
I Goldfinger
Aaron Galker
Wallace Wirtz
Arthur Hirschhorn
Morris Klein
Joe Menkes