This week Iâ€™m doing a little jig, and itâ€™s not just in honor of St. Pattyâ€™s Day! I finally got a copy of my great-grandfatherâ€™s naturalization record and found some pretty cool stuff. (Click on the image to see his declaration of intention.)
Last week I mentioned closing up some holes in my Szucs family timeline. The family had been bouncing back and forth between Cleveland and the southeastern Ohio counties of Jeffersonville and Belmont so I wasnâ€™t quite sure where to look for his naturalization record. I found the birth date and place of my grandfatherâ€™s sister in the Ohio Death Indexes at Ancestry and that spurred me into action. The death index gave Irene Szucsâ€™s birth in Belmont County in 1913–just one year before her father had been naturalized, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. It was time to focus the search for his naturalization on Belmont and nearby Jefferson counties.
Finding His Naturalization Record
So what were my options? According to They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins,
â€œFrom 1790 until very recently, any individual could be naturalized in a federal court, although most people went to local courts. After 1906, the vast majority of naturalizations took place in federal courts, although some local courts continued to naturalize long after that date.â€
Years ago, my mother had searched unsuccessfully for Johnâ€™s naturalization in federal court records for Cuyahoga County, Ohio that are held in the National Archives-Great Lakes Region in Chicago.
This time I would look at local courts. I checked the Family History Library Catalog for both Belmont and Jefferson counties and found that the library had films of naturalizations for both counties for that time period. Mom and I decided that with neither of us planning a trip to Utah for a while, we would hire a researcher to check those films for us. The researcher from ProGenealogists.com quickly found the record and soon I was looking at John Szucsâ€™s declaration of intention, petition, and naturalization record. Yeah!
Johnâ€™s Place of Birth
So what goodies did I find? One of the first things I noticed was that this record listed his place of birth as Ozoreny, Hungary. All of the family stories and his passenger arrival records from New York in 1902 had told me that he was from Horka.
A search for Ozoreny led me to several sites that explained that around 1910 some village names in the area in which my Szucs ancestors originated–Gomor Megye, which is now in Slovakia–reverted from Hungarian (Magyar) to their Slovak names.Â A tourism siteÂ gave a list of both the Slovak and Hungarian versions of town names. When I searched for Ozoreny on this site, that name was given as the Slovak version, and the Hungarian name was Gemerska Horka. It seemed likely that this was the same place, and that John had just given different ethnic names for the same location. I pulled up maps for that area and sure enough, that was the case. The 1880 map at Maproom.org for that countyÂ shows Horka, and a 1910 map on a Hungarian siteÂ gives the same town name as Ozoreny.
Another item that jumped out at me from the naturalization record was his arrival. As I mentioned, I had previously found his arrival record from 24 October 1902 at the Port of New York on board the Cassel. However, his naturalization record didnâ€™t match up. His 1914 petition for naturalization stated that he arrived on 11 July 1902 at the Port of Baltimore on board the Cassel. Was he mistaken? The ship name matched up, but I found it hard to believe he would have mistaken Baltimore for New York.
Thankfully this was easy to check out. Ancestry has Baltimore Passenger Arrivals, 1820-1948 online as part of its Immigration Collection.Â A search for Janos Szucs turned up several possibilities. Sure enough, I found him on 12 July arriving on the Cassel, again giving Horka as his last residence.
As with his October arrival, he was traveling with two other men from Horka, and I immediately recognized the name below his as his future brother-in-law. Another man with him gave his last residence as Pelsocz, which is very near Horka. All four of the men have similarities in their entries. They all gave their final destination as Dillonvale, Ohio–a small mining town. In addition, in the column that asks â€œWhether going to join a relative, and if so, what relative, their name and address,â€ they all list different names, but all have an address in Connorsville. Janos Szucsâ€™s marriage record to Teresia Szkokan in 1903 gives their residence as Connorsville.
I was having a hard time making out the â€œfamily memberâ€ name on Janos Szucsâ€™s entry. The name looked like â€œAmbrussâ€ and there was somewhat illegible writing after that entry. The Baltimore passenger arrival lists have a unique search feature that is not available on the New York lists–the ability to search by last residence. After searching for all of the people in the Baltimore arrivals that listed â€œHorkaâ€ as last residence, I believe I have found my answer. The first name listed is Lajos Ambruss, arriving in 1900. When I look at the manifest, his entry too gives his final destination as Dillonvale.
Why the Mass Migration?
When Janos returned in October through New York, he had also arrived with several other men from Horka, all destined for â€œConnellsvilleâ€ which was perhaps a distortion of Connorsville.
Whether the names listed for each individual are really relatives isnâ€™t apparent, but it appears to be a migration of men to work in the mines in that area. Coincidentally, on Monday as I was working on another project, I ran across a timeline that included a strike of the United Mine Workers in 1902. The mine operators may have been importing workers to take the place of the striking union workers. At any rate, Iâ€™ll be investigating the other gentlemen to see if there are any familial ties between them. Seems like this new find will be keeping me busy for a while!
~ Try searches for ethnic versions of given names, especially in immigration records.
~ Check out various ports of entry. Many immigrants made several trips before finally settling in the U.S., and you may find that, like Janos, your ancestor came in through different ports on different trips.
~ Browse or search lists by village name in databases that allow for it.
~ Familiarize yourself with geography, both back in the â€œold countryâ€ and in the U.S. Youâ€™ll find that sometimes inconsistencies like the ones I found arenâ€™t really inconsistent at all.
~ Read about the time period. Most people didnâ€™t pick up and leave their homes on a whim. Many times the reasons can be found by understanding history.
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry newsletters for more than nine years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e-mail at Juliana@Ancestry.com, but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.