Sunday, October 10, 2010

Passenger Lists and Naturalizations- I found him! I found him...maybe

Ok, in the last post I mentioned that I had just started working on the NGS HSC Lessons 12 and 13, Passenger Lists and Naturalization Records. While they are two separate assignments, and could be done for two different people, for me they kindof meshed into one lucky, and potentially big, find.

So I started out with the passenger list lesson and wanted to take the opportunity to poke around and try to find something new, rather than going with an earlier find I discovered a few years ago. Out of half a dozen 19th century immigrant lines that I know of right now, I only have one potential passenger list for one family group. So this is an area that I definitely needed some improvement and basically, more time to investigate and this lesson absolutely fit the bill. I started trying various name searches on ancestry for the surnames I was looking for in their immigration collection- Dellibac, Kleinert, and Bolda from my side and Norwodworski and a few others from my husband's side- and found some promising hits for Julius Bolda, my paternal grandma's grandfather. He first appears in the 1900 census enumeration living in Chicago, on Ward St, with his wife and family and giving an arrival date of 1892. Great, right? This should be no problem. Well, except there is no Julius Bolda who arrived from Germany in 1892. There is one who arrived in Baltimore in 1887 with a large family, including an older couple presumed to be his parents, and his age is compatible with Julius' estimated birth in 1869. However, the older couple and several of their children were found to have settled in Detroit, MI, not Chicago. It's close, true, but there is nothing in this passenger list to tell me that it's the same Julius. So I decided to search a little deeper.

In 1900 Julius is an alien; he is not naturalized. In 1910 however, he claims to have been naturalized. So, in theory, since he was living in Chicago between 1900 and 1910 and claimed to have been naturalized between those census years, there is a great chance that his naturalization papers went through the Cook County, IL court system. The federal government did not take over naturalizations until 1906 so there are a couple more years on the side of a local court. Fortunately, ancestry has recently updated their naturalization holdings and the place and period needed for a search for Julius are now available and here is what I found:

Julius Bolda, arrived in Baltimore in APRIL in 1892 and lived on WARD St. in Chicago. I put the important stuff in caps because I wanted to make sure I explained them. As for the month, this is one of the important points I read about in the lesson material for the course. When immigrants were asked later on when they arrived, they often got the years mistaken but the months correct, or at least the seasons, because while they may not have kept track of the passing of the years they would have been aware of the seasons, especially those with a farming background whose year would have revolved around the planting and harvesting of crops, which occurred seasonally. So here we see Julius says he arrived in April on his naturalization card and the passenger list we found, showing the Julius Bolda who arrived in Baltimore with the large family, also arrived in April, though 5 years earlier than claimed on the Soundex card. The other key point here is the address. The subject Julius lived on Ward St in Chicago in the 1900 and 1910 census enumerations that we had already confirmed as being the correct person. We also know that the subject Julius was naturalized between 1900 and 1910 so we have a good case.

The address pretty much tells us that the Julius on the naturalization card is the correct Julius. If that's the case, then we can then say that the Julius on the card is probably also the same Julius from the Baltimore passenger list who arrived in APRIL 1887. If this turns out to be true, then we now have the names of several of Julius' siblings as well as his potential parents, Franz and Veronica as seen here:

One way we can try to confirm whether Franz and Veronica were his parents is to order his death certificate. He died in Cook County, IL in 1915 and the form should ask who his parents were. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the informant, whoever that person was, may not have known who his parents were. However, even if the informant didn't know, all is not lost. Considering the size of his family, there is the slight possibility that the informant on his death record could be a sibling who could then be identifiable from the passenger list or census enumerations for Franz and Veronica in MI. I have to say though, I have a sneaking suspicion that the informant for Julius was probably his wife, Marie (Ptak) Bolda, who lived until the 1940s. There's no telling if she knew the names of Julius' parents so it's going to be a gamble. If she didn't, I do have one other option but it's not going to be a fun one. Julius was Catholic so there may be a baptismal record for him somewhere but I would need to order his naturalization papers and hope that he gave his hometown, or at the very least the area from which he came. As far as I can tell so far, his ship, the Donau, left Germany from Bremen which doesn't tell me a thing about where he came from. Getting confirmation of his parentage this way is not going to be easy at all so I'm just going to have to keep my fingers crossed that Marie knew the names of her in-laws. That or that one of Julius' siblings came into town for the funeral and helped out with the informant information.


  1. You could investigate the possible parents Probate records to see if he is listed as an heir if the death certificate comes back with uncertain or no data.

  2. You're right, I didn't mention it because I haven't had a chance to check out what the story is with Michigan records. I also need to do more digging on Franz and the fam in Detroit before I can hope to find and get records from there for them. I just stumbled on all this at the end of last week and haven't spent too much time with them yet, but I'm working on it. It would make things a lot easier if Marie was fairly well informed though. She didn't even have to know both names, just one would be enough for that confirmation I think. But we'll see what happens after I get the death cert. for Julius

  3. It is so nice to be able to find naturaliztion even to start with at the census. then one can gage where to write for a copy of the two or three papers. Then I agonize over every name on there, look them up, see if any of the signers is connected at all to this immigrant.

    When I was in Iowa I noticed on the front desk was a recipe card box with cards of naturalized local citizens for some reason it was not full. How convenient, huh?

    And of course when immigrants from Germany, I have almost none other, I follow up by going to AIDA to see if there is more informtion. Then I get lost in all the other names. [grin]

    You did really good, because there was so much of a chance people in Michigan could have come through Canada. Though the Border crossing lists are really good. ifind those from Liverpool who say maybe they went through north of new york, the hard ones. Especially if you don't know they arrived.
    I just wish those in Mo. who came up the Missippi from La. or those who went through panama to Oregon and California were easier to find.

    Did they say in class that the record is entirely about boarding and traveling in the boat. What if they bought a ticket however they do, what if they changed their mind and left. I wonder if they would still be recorded as passenger. Though earlier Hamburg lists look like logs.

    Now for extra curicular points go page by page through Hamburg list for a person. [grin]

    I like reading your progress, keep it coming.

  4. I've actually done the page by page thing through the Hamburg embarkation lists and all I can say about that is YIKES! Those lists are in German and unindexed but I was looking for a family group that I still haven't found yet. I finally got frustrated and put it off for another time. That is one task for another time I think. I'm just not feeling very ambitious with that challenge right now :)