Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicago Trip Preparation Part III – Organizing my Itinerary and Reviewing my Research



It is six weeks before my research trip to Chicago – time to assemble my trip binder. I have been collecting notes (operating times, addresses, ckecklists, maps) on various research sites that I plan to visit and putting them into a manila folder. My next step is to organize the notes by day of visit.

First I get a 3-ring binder and some dividers. Then I take my trip calendar, see my post from June 24, 2012, where I have made a rough outline of my destinations by day of the week. I make a divider for each day and place them in the binder. Now I’m ready to tackle my bulging folder. I separate the notes and rearrange them according to the sites I will be visiting. Then I punch holes in the sheets and place them in the binder. It’s a quick way to bring order to my chaos.

While I am in this trip preparation mode, I decide to take a look at a webinar by Marian Pierre-Louis, “Ten Brick Wall Tips for Beginners” that I bought on a CD from Legacy Family Tree.com. One of my main goals for this trip is to try to gain more information on one of my brick walls. I haven’t been able to find much information on my great grandmother’s parents – John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney. Maybe some of Ms. Pierre-Louis’ tips could help me.

In fact, the webinar is full of helpful ideas. And it was the very first tip that helped me push my research forward, and put me in a better position to learn more from my trip to Chicago. Ms. Pierre-Louis cautioned her audience to review their research. She said that she knows people will say “Oh, I do that.” But she encouraged everyone to regularly review all their findings on their brick wall challenge.
 I believe the key here is “regularly.” As we find new information, it is important to re-look at our accumulated notes. Sometimes the new facts may give us a different perspective or idea. And, Ms. Pierre-Louis says this review can help us reorganize our information that may provide us a new research route. Well, I was inspired!

I started reviewing my documents on the Kearney/Carney family. A challenge I had been working on was to find where this family lived in Chicago. I knew that their daughter, Mary Carney/Kearney Kries Lauer, lived in West/North Chicago after her marriage in 1895. But before that date, I had no idea where she had lived with her parents. I have been unable to find a birth record for Mary where I might find a residence for her parents listed.



I looked again at the baptismal record for Patrick William Kearney – the infant son of John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney who was born 8 Dec 1877 and died in 1879. We know that documents can have many clues besides the obvious. I saw the sponsors’ names on the baptismal record – James Devine and Julia Cosgrove. I had noticed these names before. In fact, I had done a long search on the Cosgrove family, trying to link the Kearneys and the Cosgroves. But something new struck me. What were their addresses? If they were friends of the Kearney family, they must have lived close by.
On Patrick William Kearney’s death record, his parents’ residence is given as “Halsted at Hastings,” a South Chicago address. This is a big clue, but I wanted more evidence. If James Devine and Julia Cosgrove also lived in South Chicago, I could be pretty sure that I had placed my great, great grandparents in 1875. This is where the online Chicago City Directories might offer me some answers.
An important thing to remember when using the directories to search for addresses is that in 1909 the streets in Chicago were renumbered. If you want to plot pre-1909 addresses on maps.google.com or mapquest.com, you have to use a conversion tool to update the old addresses. 

In the 1875 directory, I found James Devine living at 80 (549 – post 1909) Barber St, also a South Chicago address near Halsted at Hastings.  Julia Cosgrove lived with her husband, Matthew, at 308 (703 – post 1909) S. Desplaines, also a South Chicago address but at some distance from the Kearney home.

Now that I had two addresses suggesting the South Chicago status of John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney, I wondered if there were any other friends of the family that might give me more confirmation. I remembered researching Catherine Sweeney Brookins Dinan, a friend of Mary Duffy Kearney and later a friend of her daughter, Mary Kearney Kries Lauer. Catherine had been a baptismal sponsor of Mary Kearney Kries Lauer’s first child, Henrietta Kries. I searched the 1875 City Directory for George Brookins, the first husband of Catherine, and saw that the couple also lived in South Chicago at 716 W. 18th St., near the Kearney/Duffy home.

By this point, I had strong evidence that John Kearney and Mary Duffy were South Chicagoans. This knowledge would save me time in my research in Chicago. And I would never have come to this conclusion if I hadn’t followed Marian Pierre-Louis’ Brick Wall Tip # 1 – look over your accumulated research on your brick wall(s) regularly and you will increase your chances of solving the case(s).

Categories: genealogy education, genealogy tools, research terms

Friday, August 3, 2012

Get Familiar with USCIS: home of US Naturalization Records after 1906



Usually when I want to request a naturalization record, I think of the
 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or the state court if that is where the naturalization occurred. But as I mentioned in my last post, (July 23, 2012) since 1906 the federal government has had jurisdiction over naturalization. Even with this move to centralize the process under the federal umbrella, state and US courts

were both able to process naturalizations. Familysearch.org has a very informative wiki on this subject.

I had located my maternal grandfather’s Declaration of Intention on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court NaturalizationDeclaration of Intention database:
Before I knew about Homeland Security’s naturalization files, I contacted the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) atNortheastern University in Chicago to request a copy of Frank’s naturalization card. I talked about IRAD in my post of July 4, 2012. You can call or write to make your request. Be sure to include any pertinent information that you already have about the target person, including birth date. In just a few days, I received Frank Holub’s naturalization certificate issued by the US District Court in Chicago in 1935:



But I wondered if a file existed for Frank Holub that might have more information than just the certificate. Could there be first papers (Declaration of Intention) or final papers? This event occurred after 1906, so I knew that the Homeland Security naturalization branch, the UnitedStates Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), might have Frank’s naturalization file.


But I needed to have a C-number to request the file, as I had learned from the USCIS Historical Reference Library, when I had made a previous request (see my post of July 23,2012.) I saw the H-410 number stamped on the upper left corner of the card. But where was the C-xxx? I decided to send another e-mail message to the USCIS Historical Reference Library, asking for help once more. And as you will see in the response below, the library came through again.

Before the written message, the library attached Frank Holub’s naturalization certificate with the three numbers circled and color-coded:







“The C-number for this file is “C-3903371.”  This is the number to submit to the USCIS Genealogy Program in your “Record Copy Request” when requesting Frank Holub’s Certificate File (“C-File”).

Naturalization records have a variety of associated numbers and one must be careful to use the correct number in a given context:

1.       The Certificate number (circled in red and identified as “cn” or certificate of naturalization) is the USCIS Certificate File (C-File) number used to request the file from the USCIS Genealogy Program.  (Put a “C-“ in front of the number on the card  C-3903371).

2.       The Petition number (circled in blue) is the Petition for Naturalization number and refers to the COURT document (state, local, or federal court).

3.       The “H-410” number (circled in green below) is the Soundex code for the last name and so is associated with the index itself, not any of the records.”


After I read the message, the numbering system on the naturalization looked easy. But before the library’s explanation, it had not been simple to decipher.

To recap, check your naturalization documents. If you have ancestors who were naturalized after 1906, you may wish to request copies of their files from USCIS, no matter if they were naturalized in state or federal courts. Also, a very helpful part of USCIS is the Historical Reference Library.


Categories: US citizenship, US Agencies