My great grandfather was a coal miner when he declared his intent to become a citizen. It’s amazing what information this paper includes. If I hadn’t already found the ship manifest showing his immigration this would point me to the ship and date.
It gives his description, birthday and so much information. He applied in 1917 – just a short time before he died. He was one of the casualties of the flu of 1918.
Finding paperwork like this becomes more and more difficult as papers age. A guide to Naturalization records can be found at: http://www.germanroots.com/naturalizationrecords.html and a guide to types of naturalization records is available at http://www.genealogybranches.com/naturalization.html I was lucky to get to scan copies of these for my great grandmother and great grandfather, but in many cases these are lost over time. Some also didn’t file. My great grandmother intended to apply using my great grandfather (rules were 5 year wait for him so she would have been eligible when he would have received citizenship in 1922 if he had survived). My great grandmother instead waited until many years later to apply. Even after having 7 kids in the United States my great grandmother was still nervous that she would be sent back. Though my mother says that when asked she would just say she didn’t want to go home because it’s too long a trip.
My great grandfather worked in the mines in Clinton IN originally then moved to Westville Illinois. He had immigrated to the US before my great grandmother came to join him. – Most likely to work and earn enough to send for her. My great grandmother came to the US with three children, and given the times one wonders how scary it must have been to make such a long journey from home with three little girls, knowing no one on the way. What if one of the kids got sick on the way? Would they be turned away? My great grandmother came through Ellis Island and at that time if any illness was suspected immigrants were not allowed to enter the US. (They also turned away anyone that was suspected of not being able to support themselves)
Family has since gotten a plaque at Ellis Island. I’ve been lucky enough to visit and have pictures in my collection. My grandmother and great grandmother were both pretty amazing women.
Not much is known about my great grandfather, but he was hard working and supported his family doing dangerous dirty work (in the coal mines). My grandmother was not yet 2 when he passed away and didn’t have any stories to share. My other aunts that I spoke to most were all under 6 so they also didn’t have stories.
I have seen a picture at my grandmother’s house of my great grandmother and great grandfather. It’s an old black and white photo and hints at how hard a life my great grandmother and great grandfather had.