Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Revisiting Graves

My aunt gave me some pictures taken in a cemetery, probably in the late 1960s.  I recognized the setting as Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County, New York.  My grandmother, Beulah, was buried in this cemetery in 2003.  The Brewer lot (504 and 505) is the subject of the older pictures, particularly George W Duryea (1823-1864) and Rene Brewer (1824-1904).  Beulah descends from Rene's first marriage to John Evenshirer; and from George's brother, Stephen C Duryea.  George Duryea was a policeman killed in New York City.

Brewer lot (504 and 505) at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
The rails and chains connecting the posts are disappearing.
Years from now, visitors may not be able to see that all of these stones were once in the same lot.

I tried to capture the scenes in new pictures.  The sun cast deep shadows on the stones, making them even more unreadable.  Most of the trees and bushes have been removed.




The large stone on the left is for David Mann Lent (1811-1892) and Jennet Conklin (1814-1902).









My grandmother has several ancestors buried at Sleepy Hollow, making this a great stop for exploring this branch of my family's history.

Mother:  Rene Marion Duryea (1900-1943)

Maternal grandfather:  Abraham Brewer Duryea (1878-1944)

Great grandfather:  Stephen C Duryea (1814-1887)

Great great grandparents:  Ann S Cornell (1784-1871)
Rene Brewer (1824-1904)

Great great great grandparents:  James Brewer (1798-1849)
Mary Ann Lent (1796-1875)

4X great grandparents:  Solomon Brewer (1746-1824)
Rene Benton (1764-1841)
Abraham Lent (1772-1851)
Margaret Mann (1773-1844)


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Unfettered Record

After supplying copies of the death certificates of her parents, I received an unrestricted copy of my mother's application for a Social Security number (Form SS-5).  The first copy blacked out the names of her parents.  The enclosed letter explained that her parents could still be living, but I could appeal the decision with proof of their deaths.  I have not been able to find any official restrictions about blocking or revealing the full application.





Monday, August 10, 2015

Fifth Blogoversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of launching this blog.

In that time, I have expanded my family tree through collaboration with others, improved research skills, and online access to images of previously unattainable records.

In the past year, some of the more notable progress:

  • Discovered the town of origin in Germany for a great great grandfather, Hermann Lutter
  • Established contact with a descendant of the sister of the immigrating ODonnell ancestor
  • Found a picture of a great great grandfather, Abraham Brewer Duryea, whose face I had never seen
  • Obtained divorce records for a set of great grandparents, Howard Lutter and Ethel Laurel Winterton
  • Visited cemeteries in Monmouth County, New Jersey to further research on my Winterton, Walling, Dunlop, and Dunn ancestors
  • Found the death certificate to match the family story of my mother's uncle dropping dead while playing golf
  • Y-DNA tests done for DuryeaODonnell, and Winterton lines
  • Expanded an Irish branch by finding a cousin through DNA
  • Found a newspaper article confirming a family story that a great-great-great grandmother, Mary Campbell, was able to save the baby in her arms before she herself was killed by a train
  • Found a newspaper marriage notice for a set of great-great-great grandparents, Stephen C Duryea and Mary Ann Evenshirer, the only piece of evidence for this date
  • Contacted by my father's third cousin from the Uhl and Patschke branch, provided family heirlooms, and added him to the family DNA collaboration
  • Researched Irish records online for the first time when the town, Skull in County Cork, was provided via a DNA match
  • Acquired a picture of Duryea cousins circa 1905
  • Visited the New Jersey State Archives six times in the past year


I hope that the next year of research will further expand my family trees through research and DNA.



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Y-DNA Results for Winterton

A cousin has kindly tested his Y chromosome at FamilyTreeDNA for the family's Y-DNA study of the surname Winterton.  (Duryea, Lutter, and ODonnell have already tested.)

The last person named Winterton in my line was Laura Winterton (1891-1962), my great grandmother.  A direct male descendant of Laura's brother was the donor of this DNA.  To test the Y chromosome of ancestors in your tree, you need to find a living direct male descendant of the male ancestor of interest.  This living cousin has a Y chromosome identical or almost identical to Laura's father, William Winterton (1862-1932).

The most distant Winterton ancestor I have traced to date was William Winterton, whose will was probated in New York City in 1785.  Y-DNA testing can boost research back in time, beyond this William.

235 other people "match" my cousin at the 25 marker level.  None trace their ancestry back to someone named Winterton.  One person matches at the next and highest level we tested, 37 markers.  His ancestry traces back to Little Thurlow in Suffolk, England.  I suspect English roots for William Winterton, so this is a good place to start looking for him.

When working with DNA cousins, look for the same geographical location.  Surnames will vary and change.  You have an ancestor in common with a DNA match because your ancestral lines crossed at the same time in the same place, regardless of the surname subsequent generations were called.


Only match at the 37 marker level


Most similar matches at the 25 marker level.


Map of places of origin for the most distant paternal ancestor.
Heaviest concentrations in United Kingdom and northeastern United States.

Closest matches in Europe.  Heaviest concentration in United Kingdom and Ireland.


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.