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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Help Finding an Ancestor's Ships Passenger List

Question from Kansas:
I have been an avid reader of Olive Tree Genealogy for many months now and started reading Ask Olive Tree as soon as it debuted. I thought that Ask Olive Tree was a wonderful way to help "those" who may need a little guidance. I am now one of "those" people.

I am currently researching the surname, Truant. I am at this point stuck in how to find a ships manifest for their immigration to the United States. This is what I have found:

Innocent and Anna Truant were the parents of 10 children, 7 surviving childhood.
1. Anna: Jun 21, 1871 in Germany
2. Frank: May 29, 1873 in Germany
3. Augusta: Jul 31, 1875 in Germany
4. Richard: Apr 9, 1880 in Germany
5. Fred: Nov 13, 1882 in Pennsylvania
6. Elizabeth: Feb 6, 1884 in Pennsylvania
7. Emma: Nov 1888 in Missouri

I have verified the above information through census records, death certificates, and obituaries. It is consistant on all records. The stated year of immigration on most records is 1882. Truant is often mentioned as an italian surname, but all records I have located indicate that this family was born in Germany, some records vary for Innocent and Anna and state Austria. I have run different spellings of the first and last names through every index available at ancestry.com. I also went through the handwritten german indexes both direkt and indirekt for the periods of April 1880 through Feb 1884. (In case Fred's location of birth was wrong-I have confirmed the birthdate and location for Elizabeth with a church in Hazelton, Pa) I have come up empty in all avenues. Can you please shed some light on what I should be doing next to locate the family on a ship's manifest? I thank you for any assistance that you are able to offer.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Kansas, I would run, not walk, to find Naturalization Papers. I had a quick peek in the 1900 and 1910 census and Innocent states in both that he is a naturalized citizen. So you know that before 1900 he naturalized. Footnote.com has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA.
Ancestry.com also has Naturalization indexes and documents. I'd also check for naturalization records for any children born in Germany. Often if you can't find something about an ancestor, you can find the information you need by searching a sibling or a child.

If you can't find the Naturalization Papers online, then you should search offline for them. You can try the free website NaturalizationRecords.com to search for naturalization papers. There are links to online records, searchable records on the site, and instructions how to find naturalization records offline for each state.

You should also consider a few things - the variant spelling or mis spellings that might have been used (for example, T can be misread as F or even L), and the fact that your family may have arrived via Canada. It was cheaper to sail to Canada then the USA ports. Also consider that the names you have given seem rather anglized. Try to find out what the German equivalents would be, because that might be what you need to search under.

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