Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Naturalization Research

Monday, I went to Winnebago County, Wisconsin in search of my great-great-grandfather’s naturalization paperwork. To say the least, I was very disappointed. First of all, the courts don’t have anything; it was the University System that had the paperwork.

I drove to Oshkosh, found the Polk Library and then had to find a parking spot. The parking lot stated that you needed a parking permit. I walked the ½ block to the library; ask the person at the information desk, where I would get a parking permit. I was told it was the next street over. I was given a map, drove to where the visitor parking was and found that it was totally dug up and under construction. There was no parking in the street and thus I gave up and drove back to the library. I found 2 hour parking on the street and took it. I walked the ½ block back to the library, informed the person at the information desk that the parking lot is under construction and said that I just parked in the street because I didn’t think it would take more than 2 hours to find the paperwork.
I walked the three flights up the stairs, (boy am I out of shape). The research area was just off the stairs and I stumbled in, out of breath and signed in and filled out a form that I was there. I told the gal behind the counter what I was looking for and she directed me to the computers. She told me that they have a free lookup online, but I could not find it when I looked online earlier. I did a name search, found four hits and wrote them down.

These hits took me to the microfilm drawers and I was reminded how to use the microfilm reader (it has been a while), pulled my first hit which was just another index. I am not sure what the index was telling me. I looked up the next hit and found declaration for a man named William Gadow who arrived May of 1872, is 55 years of age as of 1900, which makes his date of birth about 1845. I printed out the find since I was told printing was free. YEAH! The next hit showed me another declaration for a Wm Gadow who was born in Germany on or about the year 1844, and that he emigrated to the US in 1873 and was dated 1886.
The fourth hit was for a declaration in Winnebago County and I was unable to find it on the microfilm roll.

The second hit is the one that closes matches my ancestor, since I have based on his death certificate that he was born, Aug 1844. But to be honest, how can I tell which one is my relative? The birth years are only one year apart and the arrival years too are only one year apart. Both forms where signed and their signatures are very different and unique. Therefore, I might need to find something with my ancestor’s signature on for me to determine which one is mine.
Therefore, it is important not to overlook paperwork that has your ancestor’s signature. It might be a letter or postcard he wrote to a love one or friend. How about a bill of lading for something he bought. I will have to look through my files, when I get back home and see if either one looks familiar.

The declaration I that have for William Gadow who arrived May of 1872 has two witnesses signatures and the names seem to be associated with another William Gadow  ( I have done brief research on another William Gadow) who lived in another part of Dodge County, Wisconsin where my Wilhelm/William Gadow lived; another reason to think that the second declaration may be for my person.
I was hoping there would be more information on my ancestor that I would have found in this paperwork. Such as his spouse’s name, or perhaps any children he may have had, since they all would have been given citizenship at the same time (automatically), since this was the practice during this time period. Perhaps there was more paperwork, but those files were nowhere to be found.

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