Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looking For My German Ancestors, Part 8

In my previous post, I promised I would continue writing about my Kees ancestors' connection to Cleveland, Ohio; however, I discovered a naturalization record during my time off in December that I want to discuss in this post.

While I was at the Archives of Michigan doing research for my thesis, I happened to spot the naturalization index for Saginaw County, and I thought I would check and see if my ancestor, Fred Klippel, had applied to become a naturalized citizen in Saginaw County, Michigan. What led me to believe that my ancestor might have applied for citizenship?

Well, a few months prior to my visit, I discovered that had digitized federal naturalization records for the Eastern district of Ohio, which includes Cleveland, and found the naturalization record of Fred's son, Adolph. In Adolph's application for naturalization, he mentioned that he was told by a family friend (I think?) that his father had become a citizen in 1874, and thus, Adolph believed he could legally vote. The only problem was that Adolph did not know where his father's naturalization certificate went, and thus, had his voting privileges challenged in 1916. Interestingly, Adolph did not apply for naturalization until 1919, and I wonder if he waited until World War One was over before he tried to apply.

Obviously, the information in Adolph's naturalization records intrigued me. I had wondered if Fred had applied for naturalization during his lifetime, but after viewing the Naturalization Indexes for Cuyahoga County put online by the Cuyahoga County GenWeb, I concluded that he hadn't applied for naturalization in Cuyahoga. (Of course, I was making the assumption that those indexes online were complete, and that may or may not have been the case.) Adolph's naturalization record was the first clue I had that Fred did apply. The only problem was that in 1874, Fred was still living in Cleveland, and I hadn't found a naturalization record for him as I stated before. Of course, Adolph could have got the year wrong, but at the time, I couldn't do any follow up on the lead as I was busy with school work.

By the time I visited the Archives of Michigan for other research, I had pretty much forgotten about the naturalization records. I just happened to spot the index for the Saginaw County Naturalization Records while I was looking for one of the volumes of the Michigan Pioneer Collection, and I just decided on the spur of the moment to look and see if I could find my ancestor. I found his name listed, and with the archivist's help, I discovered the record was for Fred Klippel's Declaration of Intent. The record was dated September 22, 1884, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to look and see if there were any more papers because the Archives was starting to shut down at that point. I had noticed that there was additional mention of a Fred with a last name spelled similar to Klippel, but I didn't have a chance to follow that lead. It may be my ancestor with his surname misspelled, but I'll have to wait until my next visit to the archives.

So, why is this naturalization record important? Well, for one, it narrows down my time frame of when Fred died. As you may or may not remember, the date of Fred's death has been a mystery for me since his death does not show up in Saginaw County's death records. (I haven't been able to find a possible match, through searching FamilySearch's Michigan vital records, in other Michigan counties either. I've only been able to find Amelia's death record.) The only information that I had been able to uncover as to a possible time of death were from two Saginaw directories. In the 1882 directory, Fred is listed as a baker, and thus, was still alive at the time of the book's publishing. The next available directory, though, wasn't published until 1887, and in that directory only Fred's wife, Amelia, is listed. Since Fred wasn't listed under the baker's occupation as he was for the 1882 directory, I concluded that he had died by 1887. My time frame for time of death was now between 1882 and 1887. I hadn't been able to narrow down the time frame any further as Saginaw County's records in the Michigan State Census of 1884 appears to not have survived. Thus, this naturalization record that gives an application date of September 1884 indicates that my ancestor was still alive by that date. (I should note also that my ancestor, Fred Klippel, is the only Fred Klippel living in Saginaw during this time period that I am aware of.) So, now I have a time frame for death between September 23, 1884 and 1887. I haven't had a chance to check for any deaths mentioned in Saginaw's newspapers yet, so I might be able to come up with a death date, but at least I have a much narrower time frame to search for a record of his death. If he did survive to become a naturalized citizen, then I will have an even narrower time frame of death. Of course, I still need to do further research to determine his exact date of death.

In my next article, I will continue writing about Amelia's family in Cleveland, if I do not uncover any additional information on Fred's naturalization records between now and my next post. So until then, stay tuned and enjoy!


Claudia said...

That is a lot of detective work. I have been thru Footnote's records and I found my great grandfather name (Thomas Dowd) listed as a sponsor on his brother in laws (Thomas Mulroy) application but can not find Thomas Dowd record for citizenship.

I also have the document (1894) of my other great grandfather, Patrick O'Rourke citizen declaration, also in Western Pa but not his record either.

I am thinking that there are a lot of records, either not copied or lost not in the data bases we use.

PalmsRV said...

Hi Jessica,

Have you used the Cleveland Library's Necrology database? It's one I check when looking for anyone in northeast Ohio.


Jessica's thoughts said...

Hi Cathy,

Yes, I've used Cleveland's necrology database, but I didn't find Fred's death listed. I did find the obits for his sons and one of his daughters, though. Also, I've found obits for his wife's side of the family as well.

Thanks for asking, though,