Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Declaration of Intent of Tjamme Wiegers VALK

Thanks to Brenda Wolfgram Moore who recently obtained this Declaration of Intent of my great-great-grandfather, Tjamme "James" Wiegers VALK!

There is some great information here, including a physical description of James, confirmation of his birthdate and birth place, address, and immigration information. Although none of this information is new to me, it is nice to have this document in hand and have another piece of evidence for these details. I do wish that Barbara's birthplace was listed, even if it listed Friesland or whichever province in which she was born. She is my brickwall, and I have been having difficulty confirming the birth date I have for her and finding a specific birth place. Until 1922, married women who immigrated to the United State did not have to apply for citizenship, so there will not be a Declaration of Intent for her.

I do find it very interesting that this declaration was made on 25 September 1918, since I mistakenly thought James stated on the 1920 Federal Census that he was naturalized in 1897. I took another look at the census and saw that his naturalization status is marked "Pa" meaning he had filed for his First Papers (which is this document, the Declaration of Intent). However, it does state he filed for them in 1897. One thing to consider is that this could be an error; after all, this same census document states he and Barbara immigrated in 1886, but both this Declaration and their passenger list prove they immigrated in 1882. Another thought is that originally James declared his intent in 1897, but didn't move forward to complete the naturalization process, a not uncommon occurrence in those days of laxer naturalization rules. When World War I broke out, many immigrants quickly rushed to complete this process so they would not be under suspicion. With a surname like VALK which could easily be misinterpreted as a German surname, the war might have spurred James on to reapply for citizenship.

This document does not give James citizenship status. Although he would have met the residency qualifications by this time, he still would have had to file a Petition for Naturalization, and once that was approved, sign an Oath of Allegiance, after which he would have been given a Certificate of Naturalization. I will have to investigate to see if I can find these documents for him. The latter document would be in family papers, if it still exists; the former two would be held with court records.


P.S. Tim Agazio of Genealogy Reviews Online recently highlighted his grandfather's Petition for Naturalization, and I noticed that it asked for specific birth information on the petitioner's wife. Since this petition is around the same time period that my ancestor would have petitioned for his naturalization, I am motivated to obtain James's Petition for Naturalization if only to confirm Barbara's birthday and to see if her birthplace is listed on it and is more specific than just "the Netherlands."
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