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29 January 2013

Did They Bother to Naturalize?

Your immigrant ancestor might not have even bothered to become an American citizen--particularly before the naturalization reform of 1906. Voting was the main benefit that came from citizenship. Unnaturalized aliens could own property, bequeath property, etc. without becoming American citizens. If you are unable to locate a naturalization for your 19th century American immigrant and you have looked diligently for it, it may that your relative never bothered to naturalize.

6 comments:

  1. Were there benefits to faking a naturalization? I have the naturalization record for my great-great grandfather, John J. Daley. This indicates he was born in Galway in 1869 and came to the us in 1888. However, those who knew him say he had no accent. Also, the family lore is that he was born on the ship between Ireland and the US, though I can neither find a birth record or an early census record to support the lore. In addition, family tradition states that his parents, Michael and Mary, were from Dublin. Again, no records to support this. I guess my question is, if he did not have a birth record, but was raised in the US his entire life, would there be a benefit to faking a naturalization?

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    1. Citizenship is one of the main benefits to naturalization. I really doubt if he would have naturalized if he were born in the United States. Many people born in the US in that time period did not have any proof of birth. If his record states that the was born in Galway in 1869 and came here in 1888, those years could be off, but I'd say the essence of the record is correct unless you have valid information to the contrary.

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  2. At one time he would have to naturalize or his wife (had he married?) would have lost her citizenship; check the naturalization laws at the time of his marriage it is a big clue. I found this to be true of a Great Uncle and it was semi proof that our Great Grandfather had filed his intent had not finalized!

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  3. This law was passed in 1907, so if your ancestor's marriage pre-dates that year, it doesn't apply. I haven't found when this stipulation was repealed.

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  4. If my great-great grandfather came from Norway to Chicago in 1870 and was on the voter registration rolls in 1888, does this mean that he was naturalized, since voting was the main benefit???

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    1. If he's on the 1888 voter's list, he was naturalized by then. Those lists from Chicago should (on the right hand side) ask for some naturalization information.

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