Most of my ancestors were poorer than dirt . . .and few made it past elementary school.
My sister, who shares my interest in genealogy, and I are trying to find another Revolutionary Patriot. We are obviously in D.A.R. We’ve been researching Margaret Brinkerhoff. She was the daughter of Hendrick Brinkerhoff and Annetje Vreeland. Margaret was born in New Jersey in approximately 1787. She somehow met and ran off with William Wallace and they were married in Trinity Church, an Episcopalian Parish, in 1801. Her family were all members of the Dutch Reformed Church and this may have caused a family rift. If you have visited the site of the World Trade Center Towers or visited the Wall Street area, that is the church they were married in.
This old postcard is not of the original church. The original church was destroyed in a fire, which started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern and destroyed nearly 500 buildings and houses and left thousands of New Yorkers homeless. Six days later, most of the city’s volunteer firemen followed General Washington north.
But back to my relatives. When you hit a brick wall in genealogy, you go back and try researching lesser players, i.e., children of the people you are researching and their relatives. I was searching obituaries today on genealogybank.com to see if I could find out more about Margaret Brinkerhoff and William Wallace.
One of their daughters, Mary Wallace, married Isaac Lewis. Mary Wallace was born in 1810 in New York City and Isaac Lewis was born in 1807 in Stratford, Connecticut. Mary died on 17 Nov 1891. Isaac Lewis died on 2 Feb 1892.
But, wow! When I started reading his obituary and finding newspaper articles about him, I saw that he was an extremely wealthy man. OK. . .OK, I confess, he isn’t exactly a relative, but he was the husband of my third great aunt on the Wallace side. So I actually still have struck out on having any wealthy ancestors and only have inebriates, coal miners and the slightly deranged. Sigh.
Below is what can be found now at 107 East 13th Street, NY, NY. This address was printed in his obituary.
After I found the obituary for Isaac, I found a notice of the sale of his real estate. “The following private sale is reported: Ascher Weinstein has bought nos. 105 and 107 East Fifteenth St. between Union Square and Irving Place. . . .This is part of the estate of Isaac Lewis”
This area is now part of New York University (NYU), and 107 East 15th Street is where the The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute is located. And all of this is near my very favorite book store in the entire world — The Strand, which is located at 828 East 12th Street, NYC. No visit to NYC is complete without a trip to The Strand.
But it gets better. Isaac Lewis was a big investor in the “L”. It isn’t the “L” subway line that we know now, but a road to Brooklyn. My daughter and her husband bought their condo in Brooklyn precisely to be close to the “L” subway. The L subway is a straight shot into Manhattan. It is so much faster and easier than a car or a cab. And, voila!, you can get off right in Union Square (where Isaac Lewis lived) and visit The Strand. And, even better, by living in Brooklyn, they get a tiny bit of outdoor space. Which is a rare commodity in NYC and Brooklyn.
It kind of makes you wonder about DNA and retained genetic knowledge. I have loved The Strand since I first set foot in it. And my daughter loves the L so much that she moved close to a station in Brooklyn. Strange!
I am going to attach three parts of different articles detailing Isaac Lewis’ interest in the L and the bridges to Brooklyn. Please note that another gentleman named was Senator McCarren. He has a park named for him close to where my daughter and her family lives.
A Very Fun Holiday Gift for Anyone — DNA Testing for Genealogy & Family Origins. Come on, you know you are curious!
I’ve tested my DNA at both http://www.familytreedna.com and at http://www.23andme.com Because I am adopted, I used the Family Finder test at familytreedna to verify my paper trail. I waited until I knew who my biological father was and even until I had talked to his son on the phone. In fact, I never had to bring up the subject. His son told me that a DNA test would prove my theory and said that he would be willing to take one. I ordered the test for him and it proved correctly that we are 1/2 siblings.
But DNA testing can show so much more. It seems like everyone I talk to believes that they have some Native American blood. I thought I did also as I have dark hair and eyes. And my complexion is “olive” or “ruddy”. I had to look up the definition of ruddy to make sure I was using it correctly & I am. But I found that my ancestry composition is 99.9% European and .1% East Asian & Native American.
(of a person’s face) Having a healthy red color.
At 23andme, it is about finding your relatives, but also about your health & how your genes determine your chances for disease. Under “My Health”, 23andme has the following categories — disease risk, carrier status and drug response.
One of the most interesting things I discovered is that 3.1% of my DNA is from Neanderthals. That puts me in the upper 98% percentile. Average Northern Europeans on their site have an average of 2.6% Neanderthal. Being in the upper 2% is like being in an exclusive group like Mensa, only with much more hair. I always wondered why my toes made my feet look like they belonged to a Hobbit. 23andme also sells t-shirts that correspond with the correct Neanderthal percentage.
23andme recently acquired new financing that allows them to permanently lower their test from $290.00 to $99.00. This is an incredible bargain. Their goal is to attract one million new customers this year. That will make matching with relatives so much easier.
I’ve copied the following from 23andme’s Press Release of Dec. 11, 2012.
23andMe Raises More Than $50 Million in New Financing
Company Sets Growth Goal Of One Million Customers, Reduces Price to $99 from $299
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – December 11, 2012 – 23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today announced it has raised more than $50 million in a Series D financing. Participants in the financing include Yuri Milner, a new investor, as well as existing investors Sergey Brin, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures and MPM Capital. This investment will help the company achieve its growth goal of one million customers.
The Power of One Million People
Expanding the company’s ability to reach and serve one million individuals supports 23andMe’s goal to revolutionize health and wellness. It also will accelerate 23andMe’s ability to create a powerful platform that enables researchers around the globe to make meaningful discoveries significantly faster than is currently possible. With this expansion, 23andMe, which currently has more than 180,000 customers, will aim to:
- Enable groundbreaking research by creating an exponentially larger collective of actively engaged, genotyped individuals;
- Help accelerate development of new treatments;
- Improve understanding of wellness and disease prevention; and
- Broaden access for people seeking to manage their health and well-being through direct access and greater understanding of their own genetic data.
“A community of one million actively engaged individuals will be transformational for research. A community of this magnitude will improve researchers’ ability to quickly answer questions about genetic function and the role of environmental factors. In addition, it will enable researchers to understand medication efficacy and side effects, in both medications that exist today and medications are that are in development,” Wojcicki added.
Broadening Access: Lowering Price to $99
The Series D investment, combined with rapidly decreasing costs associated with genetic testing technologies, enables 23andMe to reduce the price of its Personal Genome Service to $99, effective immediately. The company will continue to evaluate optimal pricing strategies.
The investment also enables 23andMe to expand the necessary infrastructure to support growth in its research and operational capabilities, including product development, genetic research, software development, recruitment and marketing.
copied from the Wall Street Journal online —
THE GOOD LIFE
Finding a Few Hundred Cousins
Tools that can trace your roots are becoming more advanced—and less expensive
By ANNE TERGESEN
Searching for your roots? Tools that help compare your genetic makeup with others’ are getting more sophisticated and more affordable.
In recent decades, DNA tests were mainly used to prove paternity. But since 2000, a handful of companies have commercialized tests that connect a wider array of relatives, sometimes going back centuries to find common ancestors.
As recently as 2007, such tests cost as much as $1,000. Today, they generally run between $100 and $300 and offer users more information. In May, Ancestry.com Inc., a publisher of genealogical records and a site where people can track their family trees, started selling a DNA test that identifies relatives up to and including fifth cousins.
The tests are easy to take: Swab the inside of your cheek or spit into a tube and mail the results to a lab. Two to six weeks later, you can log into an online account for the results. You will generally see your ancestors’ regional ties; the migration paths of your ancient ancestors; and people in the company’s database (usually identified by a user name) who share some of your DNA. At that point, you typically have the option of contacting those individuals who have agreed to share their results.
Three main types of DNA tests are on the market. Until recently, most focused on DNA in the Y chromosome that’s handed down virtually unchanged from father to son. (Because only males have a Y chromosome, women must ask male relatives to take this test for them.)
Kelly Wheaton, 58, recently relied on a so-called Y-DNA test to resolve a genealogical mystery that had frustrated her for years. “I traced my husband’s family’s history back to 1750, but couldn’t get any further,” says the Napa Valley, Calif., resident. While Ms. Wheaton had a hunch her husband, Michael, 65, was descended from a Robert Wheaton who came to Salem, Mass., in 1636, it wasn’t until Michael took a Y-DNA test in 2011 that she obtained proof.
“His Y-DNA matched people with a perfect paper trail back to Robert Wheaton,” she says.
CeCe Moore, 43, used another test, of the mitochondrial DNA that mothers transmit virtually unchanged to children, to explore her great-grandmother’s Finnish ancestry. “My great-grandmother never told my grandmother anything about her family,” says Ms. Moore, of San Clemente, Calif., who writes a blog about genetics and genealogy. After the database linked Ms. Moore to cousins in Finland, she learned why her great-grandmother had cut off ties to her country of origin: She was pregnant out-of-wedlock when she came to the U.S.
Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA can connect people whose common ancestors lived recently or hundreds of years ago. But to find out how closely you are related—and to locate relatives besides those on your direct maternal or paternal lines—you will need an autosomal DNA test.
This relatively new test deciphers the amount of DNA shared between those whose common ancestors lived within the last half-dozen or so generations, says Megan Smolenyak, author of “Hey America, Your Roots Are Showing,” which includes information about DNA testing.
In general, the more DNA two people share, the closer their connection.
Among the companies that sell DNA tests for genealogy purposes, FamilyTreeDNA, a division of Gene by Gene Ltd. of Houston, maintains the largest Y-DNA database, populated by 250,000 people. A Mountain View, Calif., company, 23andMe Inc., has the largest autosomal DNA database, with more than 180,000 people. Clients of 23andMe also can get information about their genetic predispositions to more than 200 health conditions.
Ancestry.com of Provo, Utah—in addition to a push into autosomal DNA testing—offers genealogical records and tools to help long-lost relatives link family trees.
And this fall, the nonprofit National Geographic Genographic Project, with more than 500,000 participants, unveiled a technology that maps users’ genetic ties to specific regions.
Ms. Tergesen is a Wall Street Journal staff reporter in New York. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A version of this article appeared December 10, 2012, on page R7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Finding a Few Hundred Cousins.
Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Both of my biological parents are dead. I wish I had met one of them to hear the story of how they met, why Grace Britt took the train to Kansas City to give birth to me and much more. The one thing that I know they had in common was drinking. Unfortunately, it was also the cause of both of their deaths.
My bio. father, Bill Engle, was born on April 1, 1919 in Montana and died on December 27, 1966 in Bay Head, NJ. I’ve talked to my 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister on the Engle side and, although they didn’t know that I existed, they weren’t terribly surprised. Their (& my) father was an avid horseman and polo player. He could even ride a horse standing on its’ back. Bill was a pilot, was in the Masonic Lodge and a character. His son volunteered to have his autosomal DNA tested. I had already had my DNA tested at http://www.familytreedna.com and the test proved our 1/2 sibling relationship.
When Grace met Bill, he was married and had a family. Whether she knew about his family or learned about it later, I’ll never know. Bill’s wife has also passed away. If she was alive, I’d never write this in a post. But it certainly explains Grace’s going to Kansas City on the train. Men aren’t always honest and, as the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”.
Bill Engle was a military man and served in both WWII and the Korean War. During Korea, he was in the armored tank division and was hit by a tank tread. After coming back to New Jersey, he started a successful real estate agency called “Town & Country”.
I wish I knew more about him as he was a character. It was his wish to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Below is a photo of Bill Engle taken from a Graceland College yearbook.
I’ve been a lot more researching than just looking for records online. I’ve also sent my DNA to be analyzed at http://www.familytreedna.com and http://www.23andme.com. Both of these sites will match your particular DNA with others & predict how closely you are related.
Familytreedna calls their test “Family Finder” and 23andme calls their test “Relative Finder”.
They both use autosomal DNA (inherited from both the mother and father, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.) to provide you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 5 generations.
And, if you wish to share your DNA ancestry with people who haven’t tested with either of these companies, you can go to http://www.gedmatch.com and upload your autosomal DNA data in order to compare it with a broader audience.
All of that said — I got a message one day from Wendy saying something to the effect, “Hi, we are related as Distant Cousins.” At that time I didn’t know as much as I do know about my biological family, so I replied that I was adopted at birth and didn’t have a lot to share.
Wendy replied that she was adopted also — and expressed how ironic it was that two adopted people with no knowledge of family background would match! Wendy has a powerful blog — it is about her search for her biological background, adoption and all that she has done to try to uncover her past. The text copied below is from Wendy’s blog
I began looking for my birth mother on the day that I turned 18 in Columbus Ohio. When I entered the court I had thought that I would leave with my adoption records in hand. After the clerk laughed at my request she informed me that Ohio is a closed records state, and that I would be leaving with no such file.
It was 14 and a half years later, with the help of Reunite of Ohio Inc. that I was given my first mothers name.
The following day I found out that she had died in a car accident in 1973, and I was also given the name of my sister.