Making a list, checking it twice

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On the road with my genealogy can always be interesting. So far I have learned to take a map, my laptop and for the first time this time a list. All prepared with my list of who, when, what information and from what source, I have the impression I am going to conquer and succeed!


My first stop was the courthouse at the county seat. This should be a gold mine. After telling my dad about his grandfather’s history it hit me that if he was naturalized in 1884 at the age of 4 then it was because his father had been naturalized. If the head of the family was naturalized then the rest of the family became citizens too. I grabbed my laptop and off we headed to the courthouse to figure out exactly who this man was.


We got to the office and told them what we needed and they walked me back past years of hand written books, large labels written on the spines with dates older than dirt. I am always amazed how they can find anything in that confusion. She pulled out an old fashion card catalog file box and flipped to the “s” section looking for Siffrinn. She sorted through it twice and didn’t find one. She grabbed 2 big volumes of entries for naturalization, smiled at me and said, “We can search these by hand, and you take this one.” I was starting to feel a bit defeated after my initial brilliant idea and my perfectly organized to-do list.


I scanned name after name and could not find them anywhere. If you were a Swanson you moved into the area and ALL of your family followed. I noticed other last names of ancestors of people that I had gone to school with and wondered if they had ever been over to see this book. Seeing as the naturalization idea wasn’t panning out I stopped in the next office to see about a marriage license, Caroline had married twice and maybe this idea would be fruitful. This turned up another zero. The next day we would head to the Landmark Society and see if I had any luck there with the city directories for a different member of the family.


List on laptop in hand I entered the Landmark Society and greeted my new friends. They pointed me at the directories and I started searching, tapping in the information on a word document. I was looking to see when Jacob West had moved out of the family home. My guess was that it happened soon after their youngest son died in 1896 and about the time Jacob decided to become an oil producer. My guess on that one was correct, in the 1897 directory Jacob could be found living in a rooming house. Mary moved her business around the corner onto Congress Street and off of Main. While I was at it I looked up my Davis line and found William had moved into town as an oil producer in 1881 before becoming a butcher.


As long as I was there I asked about the Siffrinns and their naturalization information. They told me that even then people had to live in the states 7 years before becoming naturalized. They agreed with the people at the courthouse that it was very possible that the naturalization occurred in Elk County, it would have been an easy trip to Ridgeway from Kane on the train during that period. They also told me that the document I wanted wasn’t the naturalization paper itself but the petition for naturalization, which has the ship they came over on, parent’s names, places of birth, a real gold mine.


I have added to my to-do list an entry for contacting the Elk County courthouse, or maybe next trip up I’ll have to swing by to get the info in person.


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