I decided to try something different to find information on some of my dead ends. This is something that I had tried to do locally for a couple of individuals and came up completely empty. I discovered this on Terry Snyder’s web site, Desktop Genealogist Unplugged. Terry managed to get her information through the freedom of information act for, well, free. I, of course, have discovered this a day and multiple $20.00 late. I thought I would give the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services a try and see what I could get.
I decided to pick a few and see what files they may have on them. I chose, my paternal great grandfather, Peter Lewis Siffrinn as my first selection. He came to the states with his family as a young child. I am pretty sure that I know his father’s name but his dad died when he was young. It seems that his mother remarried his uncle from the facts I have found so far. With a little luck maybe I can clear this all up. From census records he supposedly became naturalized, but that I can’t be sure of either.
My second choice was my paternal great grand mother, Mary Clemence Defruytier Van Houtte. I keep gaining information in fits and starts for Mary. Last years trip home gained me many family photos of Defruytiers, but no way to connect them to Mary with any clarity. In the midst of digging I found that her father’s name was Bruno on her death certificate but no one seemed to know her mother’s name at the time of her death. I did hear from a supposed relative, who informed me that we were related and then didn’t send any further information and refuses to until he has completed his family tree. (Knowing how completion goes, one of us is going to be dead first). Someone in Belgium has checked files for me going by what my grandfather remembered as true and has found nothing so far. Maybe this way will give me a bit of luck.
My third choice was my paternal great grand father, Emil Victor Van Houtte, Mary Clemence’s husband. I know even less about Emil that I do about his wife. Anything at this point will be a big help.
My last choice was my maternal third great grandfather, Ulrich West. I did get a warning that because of his age, the files contained are minimal. I am hoping that with his naturalization, that I am pretty sure about, I will be able to find more information on him. I know from a write up on one of Ulrich’s sons, that his father was a blacksmith in Pennsylvania. I also know that the blacksmith was killed when kicked by a horse. His wife’s family would introduce photography to his son, my second great grandfather and his wife, and be their means of support for years.
And now I wait.