Monday, July 23, 2012

Why Some People were granted US Citizenship Twice

It all started with two legal documents that seemed to attest to the same event. And this event was John Ulrich Kreis’ US naturalization.

 The first document was his Certificate of Naturalization, issued by the 2nd District Court of New Orleans, LA on 10 Oct 1878:

Send feedback
The New Orleans Public Library offers a clear and comprehensive guide to naturalization.

How I came to have this document in my possession is important to all who study genealogy. My good friend, Gary Kriss, the co-administrator of the Kriss/Krise/Kreis/Kries DNA Surname Project, found it on Ancestry.   This is an example of the reason for every genealogist to build a   community of fellow researchers.You will benefit when you share information with others, help others with their brick walls, and follow the thinking processes of those in your circle.

A few months after John’s 1878 Certificate of Naturalization from New Orleans came into my possession, I had another piece of luck. Once again a genie friend led me to a great discovery. We found John Ulrich Kreis’ granddaughter, J.D., by his second wife, Henrietta Hausmann Williams Kreis, living in Essex County, NJ. I discussed this wonderful experience in my post of March 16, 2012.

It is through J.D. that John Kreis’ second citizenship document came to me. J.D. sent me a document titled “Certificate of Citizenship” and issued by the United States Bureau of Naturalization (under the Department of Labor from 1913-1933), dated September 26, 1931,which bestowed US citizenship on John U. Kreis for a second time in 53 years. This was very puzzling.

I sought guidance from a wise friend in NJ on this puzzle. I was thinking of checking with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) but had been procrastinating. My friend suggested contacting Homeland Security. I had not even thought of that. But that is after all where naturalization is handled now. I went to the main Homeland Security website and at the bottom of the page found the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) link. At first glance didn’t find anything about naturalization history (if I had scrolled down to the bottom of the page, I would have seen “genealogy” listed in the topic area.) But when I clicked on “About US”, I saw “History” on the left column and clicked on that. And here is where I got lucky. In the right-hand column appeared: USCISHistorical Reference Library.

Now as we genealogists all know, libraries are wonderful resources.

I e-mailed the library asking why a person would seek US citizenship a second time after having been naturalized. This is the response I received:

“Your great-grandfather had an “Old Law” Naturalization Certificate. 

The Federal government did not start keeping copies on naturalization records until Sept. 27, 1906.  Before that date, only the naturalization court had copies of the naturalization record and the court gave the original naturalization certificate to the new citizen.  Many certificates were lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed, however, creating an issue for the naturalized citizens (and courts trying to confirm the proper holder of a certificate – There were no pictures in the records).

To correct these problems, the Registry Act of March 2, 1929 authorized INS to issue "Old Law" Naturalization Certificates to replace naturalization certificates which were lost, destroyed, or mutilated, where the original naturalization certificate was granted under the procedure in effect prior to the Act of June 29, 1906…”

I had my answer! And there on the USCIS on-line genealogy brochure  was the same newly re-issued “Old Law” Naturalization Certificate as John Ulrich Kreis had.

But the library staff did not stop with just this explanation of why two citizenship certificates were granted to the same person from different government agencies. I was given directions on how to locate John’s naturalization file:

“Before 1956, issuing of an Old Law Naturalization Certificate created a (Naturalization) Certificate File (“C-File”).  Although most C-Files are numbered “C-########,” your great-grandfather’s Certificate Number is “OL-1241” (for “Old Law”). 

Use this number to request the C-File from the USCIS Genealogy Program.  See  You can skip the “Index Search” Request (1st Step) because you have the number, and submit a “Record Copy Request.”  The records should cost Thirty-Five Dollars ($35.00).”

I sent away for the file and will share what I learn in a future post.

What I learned from this process (solving the puzzle of why a person would apply for citizenship once he had already been naturalized) is:
1.     how important it is to build and use a community of genealogy friends and mentors
2.     how key libraries are in supporting your genealogical research

Categories: US citizenship, US Agencies

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Preparing for a Research Trip to Chicago Part II: Using Social Media

People prepare for a trip in many ways. They read guidebooks, visit websites and ask friends who’ve visited their destination for tips. More and more tech savvy people are turning to social media as part of their trip preparation. Most of us are very familiar with Facebook and Linked-in as examples of social media. But blogs are also social media.
A recent NY Times story by Henry Alford told of how he used local city blogs in Sweden to prepare for a trip. There is a genealogy twist to this technique. Genealogists can adapt this technique to help them prepare for a research trip to a new city. And I am sure that some of you out there have already done so. We would love to hear from you. Unlike Mr. Alford, I stumbled upon this technique through the back door – that is other people reached out to me.

In the last week, I have received valuable assistance from both my blog and Facebook in planning my trip to Chicago. How did this happen? The first assistance came via this genealogy blog. In response to my blog post on preparing for my research trip to Chicago Part I, Jacqi Stevens, author of the blog “A Family Tapestry”, steered me to the Chicago Genealogy group on Facebook (to access this group or any Facebook group, you need to join Facebook.) 

I went to the Facebook page for Chicago Genealogy and requested admission to the group. After receiving a welcome message, I posted my first message:

“Thank you for welcoming me to the group. I'm planning a trip to Chicago for 5 days in Sept. My focus is my Carney/Kearney line from the 1870s-1880s. I will visit the Newberry Library and walk Calvary Cemetery. I'm also going to CPL (Chicago Public Library) to check out Chicago history (one of my Kreis ancestors was a teamster in early 1900s). I am also thinking of visiting the Circuit Court to look at some Dec (Declaration) of Intention for Holub & Flesouras. Any other suggestions would be most appreciated.”
(In a later paragraph I will explain about Declarations of Intention in the process of applying for US naturalization.)

Within a day, I had eight comments from the Chicago Facebook Group. I received an excellent suggestion in reaction to my plan to visit the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives to search for naturalization papers (see above.) Jennifer Holik wrote:

 “Have you checked the IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository System)  holdings to see if they have the records you want? You can write them and they'll search and send. Might save you a stop at the Circuit Court Archives.”
And no, I had not thought of IRAD. Thank you, Jennifer.

After looking at the IRAD homepage, I called their regional depository at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago  and yes, they will look up records for you – there is a limit of two name searches per call. I was told that after the search is completed, the archive staff would send me a letter with the results.

To educate yourself on the process of filing papers for US naturalization in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, I suggest Joe Beine’s  website, “Types of US Naturalization Records.” A Declaration of Intention (also called "First Papers") as Mr. Beine wrote, is “The record by which an applicant for US citizenship declared their intent to become a citizen and renounced their allegiance to a foreign government.”

The Circuit Court of Cook County provides a very helpful on-line database where you can search their holdings of Declarations of Intention from 1871 - 1929. I used this tool to find the Declarations of Intention for two of my Flesouras ancestors and two of my Holub forebears. Here is the Individual Declaration Index Report for my grandfather, Frank Holub:

My next step was to go to the Circuit Court of Cook County in person in September to see if there was any additional information for any of these people, such as naturalization petitions or certificates of arrival.  But Jennifer Holik’s suggestion on the Chicago Facebook Group site saved me from this extra trip.

So far we have seen how using social media in the form of blogs and Facebook groups can lead to valuable resources for planning a genealogy trip. If you have had success following this route, please share this with me and the followers of this blog by leaving a comment in the box below. Maybe you found a Facebook group or started your own group. Or you might have googled a city blog for your trip destination. Or you found a brand new way to use social media to further your research. Let us know.

Categories: US citizenship, genealogy tools