Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DNA of Preston Sheehy Descendants at 23andMe

Another Preston/Sheehy cousin tested his DNA at 23andMe.com. K.J. is the father of D.J., who tested four years ago. D.J. was the first relative I identified from my DNA pursuits.


Below is the family tree of the descendants of John Preston (1857-1928) and Bridget Sheehy (1857-1916) who tested at 23andMe.





Below is the chromosome browser view of the shared DNA between K.J. and his three second cousins. Note the wide variation in the amount shared from 195 centimorgans (cM) to 364.




Also important is that the amount of shared DNA drops when we shift from father to son. The amount was not halved; it was quartered. (This is why it is best to test members of the oldest living generation whenever possible.)



23andMe has an "In Common With" feature. This list shows DNA testers who match you and a target person. In the scenario below, I looked for relatives in common with my mother and K.J. Sharing the same DNA indicates that the DNA tester is likely from their shared Preston/Sheehy lines. One DNA tester, R.S., could be a viable lead.




R.S. shares a segment of DNA with the oldest generation of Preston/Sheehy descendants. The chromosome browser reveals that my mother shares the longest segment and this segment broke in the middle. My uncle received one piece while K.J. and my mother's first cousin received the other piece.


R.S. has no family tree offered through 23andMe. This is a common problem with matches at 23andMe- the lack of genealogical information and interest.


The other observation to garnish from this information is that the amount of shared DNA skews greatly beyond the parent - child relationship. In groups on FaceBook, I often see people trying to determine generations or half relationships based on the amount of shared DNA of people well beyond a sibling relationship. You simply cannot do this based on shared DNA alone.

Please see the latest Shared Centimorgan Project by Blaine Bettinger for the ranges of DNA shared by relatives up to a fourth cousin. The numbers found in my cousin comparisons fall within these expected amounts.





Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Baptism of Bridget Sheehy in 1857 in Limerick, Ireland

Someone from Ireland (possibly a cousin) wrote to me about my Sheehy and Frawley ancestors of County Limerick. He had seen my blog post about trying to connect my second great grandmother, Bridget Sheehey (1857-1916), to a Sheehy family living in Dutchess County, New York, USA.

He had located the baptism record of Bridget, daughter of Edmund Sheehy and Bridget Frawley, on the microfilm for Lurriga (also called Patrickswell), in Limerick. The date was January 4, 1857. According to the death certificate of my Bridget, her parents were Edmund (or Edward?) Sheehey and Bridget Frawley of Ireland.


Bridget, daughter of Edmund Sheehy and Bridget Frawley, baptized January 4, 1857.
Sponsors were Timothy Sheehy and Bridget Flannery (more possible relatives).

You can view these church records for free through the National Library of Ireland. The site is also an excellent resource for detailed maps of divisions within the counties.


Can I finally fit Bridget into this family?
Created in Family Tree Maker 2017

Bridget Sheehy does not show up in Ancestry.com's index for this microfilm. However, Margaret and Ellen, possible sisters of Bridget, do show up in the index. But Ancestry.com calls this place "Clarina," not Lurriga or Patrickswell.

So I continued forward on the roll (online) from Bridget in the year 1857 to the year 1864 and found the entry for Margaret. Same place, Lurriga, same name, Sheehy. Another clue that there is a connection.


Margaret Sheehy baptized November 13, 1864 in Lurriga, Limerick, Ireland.
Sponsors were John Galvey (?) and Margaret Cosgrove.



Clarina is not listed as an alternate name for Lurriga. It could be. (Researching old New Jersey place names is hard enough.) But I was looking for Bridget in Clarina and not finding either when Bridget was indeed baptized in the same location as her supposed sisters near the birth date I have for her.


Neighboring parishes may also have records on the family, if the records still exist (another roadblock in Irish research).



Note: "Sheehy" and "Sheehey" are used interchangeably here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Death Certificate Provides Range of Dates for Death

Andrew Newcomb met a sad death in the winter of 1928-1929. He became lost and froze to death. He was missing for over five weeks.

Andrew and my third grand aunt, Emma Newcomb (1855-1890) had at least four children before she died. They lived in Matawan, Monmouth County, New Jersey. After Emma's death, Andrew married Annie McKee in Brooklyn in 1892 and they resided in New York.

I previously wrote about Andrew when the lack of a specific date of death was brought to my attention via Find A Grave.

Ironically, Emma's date of death is also questionable.

Andrew's tombstone reads 1851-1929.

Green Grove Cemetery, Keyport, Monmouth County, New Jersey

Newspaper accounts explained that Andrew left home from Westbury on Long Island, New York in December. His body was found in January of 1929 in Laurence Harbor, Middlesex County, New Jersey. He may have been trying to visit family in nearby Keyport or Matawan, Monmouth County.



The next piece of evidence needed was Andrew's death certificate from the New Jersey State Archives.

Madison in Middlesex County is now called Old Bridge.
(Not to be confused with Madison in Morris County.)


The death certificate explains, "left home Dec 15, 1928 and found Jan 21, 1929."
"Left home Dec 15, 1928 found in the woods Jan 21, 1929. Died from exposure."




This is the (modern-day) map of Andrew Newcomb's starting and ending points. This is not an easy trip to make today because of traffic.




Andrew may have been traveling by train and got off at the wrong stop, Laurence Harbor, which is near his probable destination of Keyport or Matawan. He may have become disoriented. When he left home on December 15th, this time of year is the least amount of daylight. If he did not have a place to stay by early darkness, he was left to the elements.


I have two questions.

First, how would someone likely travel from Long Island to the coastline of the Raritan Bay in the late 1920s? Would Andrew have taken a train and then a boat? Was he dropped off at the wrong port? Or could he have taken a train through the shore points and exited at the wrong stop? (See this link for old maps of the area, including the train routes.)


Second, what date of death is to be used in a situation like this, when the person was missing for over five weeks? The date the body was found? He did not die that day- he was already frozen. The time frame overlaps two calendar years, so neither year is definitely the year of death.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hint: Surname as a Middle Name

Catherine B Dunn (1865-1944) and William Walling Winterton (1863-1932) were my great great grandparents. Catherine's paternal grandfather, Nathan or Nathaniel H Dunn, is a tail in my family tree.

From what I can ascertain, Nathaniel Dunn married Sarah Adams (1796-1882). In 1831, Nathaniel signed a receipt for the estate of Sarah's father, Ezra Adams (1768-1824), in Nottingham, then in Burlington County, New Jersey.



Nathaniel Dunn and Sarah Adams had at least four children:
-Ezra Adams Dunn, born about 1821 (the father of Catherine B Dunn), married Hermoine Dunlop.
-Lucy Ann Dunn, born about 1822, married George P Sweet, then John S Seal.
-Sarah B Dunn, born about 1833, married James Burroughs Keller.
-David T Dunn, born about 1836, married Lucy M Smith.

The first available census for New Jersey is 1830. In Nottingham, Burlington County, is Nathaniel Dunn. He is probably the male "age 30 and under 40," making him born between 1790-1800.  Ezra could be the male "age 5 and under 10," born in 1821. The other male under age 5 could be a son not found yet or someone the family cared for.

The female "age 30 and under 40" is probably the matriarch Sarah Adams, born around 1796. Then we have three females between the ages of 5 and ten. I know of Lucy, born about 1822, but the other two are a mystery (at this point).


Nottingham is probably in Mercer County today.


In the 1840 census, Nathan Dunn likely has moved. He is in Northampton, Burlington County. This is probably now called Mount Holly and is still in Burlington County. Again we try to account for the number of people living in the household.




1 male age 15 and under 20: David born 1836.
1 male age 20 and under 30: Ezra  born 1821.
1 male age 50 and under 60: Nathan born between 1780-1790.

1 female age 10 and under 15: Sarah born 1833.
3 females age 40 and under 50: one is Sarah born around 1796.

Who are the other two older females? We may never know.

Daughter Lucy, born 1822, was married in 1840 to George Sweet. So she may not be in this household.


When viewing the 1840 census, remember to check the second page, which lists number of slaves in the household and occupations. Entries were not numbered until the 1850 census, so you have to count down the page to get to your household of interest. Make sure that the total number of people adds up. Nathan Dunn owned no slaves in 1840. Nobody in his household was employed in any of the named professions.

That's all we have to go on for Nathaniel Dunn.



In 1850, Sarah Adams, the widow of Nathaniel Dunn, appears as head of her household in Trenton, Mercer County, with two of her children, Sarah and David. So Nathaniel Dunn probably died sometime between the 1840 census and the 1850 census. I cannot find a will, death record, or obituary.


In 1850, my third great grandfather, Ezra Dunn, had moved to Raritan (now called Hazlet) in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and started his family.


A cousin sent me family pictures and notes, including estate papers for John Dunlop Dunn (1870-1939), an unmarried brother of Catherine B Dunn. For the first time I saw the middle name of Catherine. BUTTERFOSS. What an unusual middle name. It had to be a family name. But I didn't see it in her ancestors. BUT if I looked for a Butterfoss already entered in my family tree, I would have saved myself time. Instead, we get a longer research story.

After failing to find a Butterfoss ancestor for Catherine B Dunn in my tree, I looked online for a New Jersey marriage between a Butterfoss and a Dunn and found one.




Family Search had an entry for a Catharine A Dunn (I like that name) and John X or M Butterfoss marrying in 1849 in Trenton. My Dunns were from the Trenton area. This could be a big clue. But what is this record? I cannot see it from home.



This "record" is a card index of the newspaper Trenton State Gazette, available at the New Jersey State Archives and digitized by Family Search, though not viewable at home. I viewed the image at a nearby Family History Center.




The Trenton State Gazette is online at Genealogy Bank (subscription required). A textual search for this marriage did not produce any results. Using the information from this card, I found the mention for this marriage. The date of marriage was November 21, 1849.


Unfortunately the marriage notice provided no details such as parentage.


In 1850, John H Butterfoss and Catharine A Dunn lived in Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey.

In 1860, John and Catherine lived in Lambertville, Hunterdon County.

From 1851 through 1864, they had at least five daughters who lived to adulthood:
-Mary, born about 1851, last seen in (a double enumeration in) the 1880 census.
-Sarah Elizabeth, born about 1853, died in 1923 in Washington, DC.
-Hannah, born about 1857, first married Winfield Broadhurst, then married Charles Dalrymple; had children by both husbands; died in 1924.
-Laura, born about 1859, died in 1917 in Washington, DC.
-Josephine, born about 1864, died in 1911; married Frank McMahon, one-time mayor of Rumson, New Jersey.


I retrieved the marriage records of Hannah to Charles Dalrymple and Josephine to Frank McMahon to make sure that I was indeed dealing with children of Catharine Dunn. That is what the records read, if you saw through the downward F loop of Butterfoss.





This is my line of descent from my earliest known Dunn ancestor. Is there a connection between my Dunns and the Catharine A Dunn, born about 1825, who married John H Butterfoss?


Catharine Dunn died after the birth of Josephine in 1864 and before the 1870 census, when John Butterfoss is remarried to Ann Lake. John created a successful tomato canning business in Lambertville, though neighbors despised the smell and waste products.



Ann Lake, the second wife of John Butterfoss, died in 1907. She was not called a step-mother in her obituary.




John H Butterfoss, his wives, and two daughters, Laura and Sarah, are entered at Find A Grave in Mount Hope Cemetery in Lambertville, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. There was confusion about the wives, but that was cleared up as per my suggestions. There are no pictures of the stones, if there are any.


Online family trees are not sure if John Butterfoss had one or two wives, nevermind who the parents were of Catharine Dunn. (But one has pictures of the family! John, all five children, and probably Ann- not Catharine, based on the age of the youngest child.)




I was going to leave this open for now as a mystery. But I stumbled upon a connection while reviewing the widow of Nathaniel Dunn, Sarah Adams. I was not going to bore you with her census entries of 1860, 1870, and 1880. I reviewed them myself.

You need to see 1880. I already had Mary A Butterfoss, born 1852, in my tree. She is enumerated twice.  Once with Sarah Dunn in Trenton and again with her parents in Lambertville. When entering members of a household from a census into the family tree, my practice is to enter everyone- lodgers, boarders, servants. They are usually family, or become family.

When I looked for a Butterfoss initially, I only looked to the sparse ancestors of my Catherine B Dunn (1865-1944). I should have looked for Butterfoss in my entire tree, not just in the ancestors of Catherine B Dunn.


This is the clue sitting in front of me for years. Darn it. This is the right Mary Butterfoss because "tinning store" is what her father's factory was called.

Mary was a niece of Sarah Keller. Sarah was born around 1833, and was the widow of James Burroughs Keller and the daughter of Nathaniel Dunn (the original tail end of the this story) and Sarah Adams (1796-1882). We know that Mary Butterfoss' mother was Catharine Dunn, born around 1825.

It is plausible that Sarah Dunn, born 1833, and Catharine Dunn, born 1825, were daughters of Nathaniel Dunn and Sarah Adams. Going back to the 1830 census, there is room for another little girl in Catharine's age range in the household, though not in the 1840 census.

I have to revise one of the paragraphs above to read:
Nathaniel Dunn and Sarah Adams had at least four five children:
-Ezra Adams Dunn, born about 1821 (the father of Catherine B Dunn), married Hermoin Dunlop.
-Lucy Ann Dunn, born about 1822, married George P Sweet, then John S Seal.
-Catharine A Dunn, born about 1825, married John H Butterfoss.
-Sarah B Dunn, born about 1833, married James Burroughs Keller.
-David T Dunn, born about 1836, married Lucy M Smith.


Sarah Butterfoss, a daughter of Catharine Dunn (born 1825), had a passport with a photo. She would have been a first cousin to my Catherine B Dunn if the above construct is correct. I think they resemble each other.



Sarah was still traveling the globe in 1922, one year before she died at age 70.


The tail end remains in place but another branch is squeezed in. Welcome to the family, Butterfoss/Dunn descendants.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Trend is to Release Records, Not Restrict

New York City is seeking to limit public availability of birth and death records to 125 and 75 years after the event, respectively, according to a news action email I received from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.



I sprang into action and so can you. I signed the petition to not further limit access.

I also wrote a letter. A form letter is already drafted.  I modified it to suit my needs, which swung much further than the NYG&B Society.

I requested:

- A free, online, public index of births, marriages, and deaths within one year of the event.

- Digitization of individual certificates of births, marriages, and deaths and digitization of the indexes and older ledger books AND free, online, public access with some restrictions on recent births and marriages.

I don't think this is shocking or unreasonable in today's digital age. People who do not do genealogy are horrified when I describe what I have to go through, in terms of traveling and paying, to obtain a vital record. You have to pay for a vital record in New York. At least in New Jersey I can browse rolls of microfilm (remember the 1960s? I don't because I wasn't born yet) for free, snap a picture with my phone, and then hurl the image six decades ahead into the year 2017. Too bad if you can't visit Trenton.

Navigation skills required to find marriage certificates in New Jersey microfilm


Back to New York City. The web address keeps changing for the Municipal Archives. Below is a screenshot of what records they will provide. The cost is $15 per record, plus $2 for each additional year or borough searched. The birth records have remained steady at "before 1910" instead of one hundred years. Reclaim the Records plans to file for the release of the birth certificates for the years 1910 through 1917.





Ironically, Ancestry.com recently released an index of births of New York City for the years 1910 through 1965. Some of the images are of very poor quality, so I recommend looking at the actual images of the index and not merely relying on Ancestry's index of the index.




If you think that this is shocking to release a "recent" index of births, it is not unusual.  Here is California's index of births, marriages, and deaths through 1980 at Ancestry.com. The images link to the index, not the actual certificates.



Pennsylvania released its actual death certificates through 1964. No need to travel to Pennsylvania and sit at a microfilm reader. No need to pay for a certificate, wait months, then find out it's the wrong person and try again. This is fantastic.



Am I really asking for the moon for New York City (and New York State and New Jersey) to digitize and release its birth, marriage, and death records? I think not. The information is creeping out there through many outlets. Genealogists need legitimate, reliable resources for our work in the form of official government documents. We have online obituaries with loads of information, such as decedent's date of birth, spouse, and the names of living children and grandchildren. Find A Grave is another growing resource whose only requirement for posting is that the person is dead (and not a duplicate memorial).

Maybe there is hope for my home state. Reclaim the Records has secured and released the New Jersey index to marriages from 1901 through 2016. Yes. Through last year.

https://archive.org/details/NJ_Marriage_Index_2016




Monday, October 9, 2017

Another Piece of the Puzzle in Chicago: A Lutter Marriage

The marriage record arrived for Charles Lutter, the possible brother of my great great grandfather, Herman Lutter.  This record is from the Cook County Clerk in Illinois. Charles was 25 years old when he married Theresa Doanow in 1887 in Chicago.




Like the marriage record of the other possible brother, Alexander Lutter, in 1890, marriage records from this time period do not contain the names of the parents.




Alexander Lutter died in 1897 in Chicago; his death record does not list his parents.

Charles Lutter died probably in Brooklyn, New York between 1915 to 1917; I cannot find the record.

So I do not know the parents of Alexander or Charles to tie them into my Lutter line.


But with Charles' marriage record we have a possible lead.  Unlike Alexander, Charles was married by a pastor from a church: Carl G Zipf of the First Evangelical Reformed Church, 181 Hastings Street.  A church record might list additional information, such as names of parents, witnesses, and towns of origin.  Maybe even the children were baptized there.

Discovering this church's transformation was a group effort (thank you everyone!).

In 1887, the church was at 181 Hastings according to the city directory.  Today, there is no such church or street.



The Newberry, a Chicago library, has an online directory of church records.  A possible listing for this church:



On the "Our History" page of The First United Church of Christ, the church states it was chartered in 1865 as the First German Reformed Church and was on Hastings Street.  This could be what I'm looking for.  No email address, so I will write to them and ask if they have records and would be willing to search for me.






Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birth Certificate Answers Some Questions

Following up on the expanding Lutter branch with the connection to Charles, I received the birth certificate for Otto Herman Luther.  He was born January 31, 1907 in Neillsville, Clark County, Wisconsin.

My great great grandfather was Herman Lutter and his brother was Otto.  Repetition of names is a clue that there is a relationship here.

This certificate was ordered online through WisconsinHistory.org for $15 and arrived via email within a few days.




I was hoping that a hometown in Germany was provided for the father, Charles, or Charlie.  No.  Saxony, Germany was the birthplace of Charlie Lutter.  The birthplace of the mother, Theresa Turnow, was provided: Kolmar, Posen [Prussia]; now in Poland.

My great great grandfather, Herman Lutter (1860-1924) was from Scheibe, now in Thuringen.  This area was south and east of Sachsen in the late 1800s.  What we know as Germany today was a collection of states that grew and shrank and were renamed often in the time that Herman Lutter left the area until his death.  It is possible that one member of the family referred to their area of origin as Thuringen and another as Sachsen.

States of Germany 1871-1918



And why is the reporting person Carl Luther?  Is this Charlie Luther, also known as Charles Luther?  Or do we have another relative living with them?