WITB? Naturalization Papers

This is another posting in the series answering the question “What’s in the box?” and describing a piece of family history found in a metal box in our basement.

In an envelope labelled “Re: Andrew Ludwig Eliason” were his naturalization papers. This was my husband Bill’s maternal grandfather, who’d immigrated from Sweden in 1887. His Declaration of Intention and Clerk’s Certificate (also known as “First Papers”) were filed with the District Court in Carlton County, Minnesota, on 12 March 1888.

Lucky for me I hadn’t spent too much time looking for Andrew’s naturalization papers. I wouldn’t likely have found it with the spelling of his name on the declaration: Anders Elarson. The original patronymic was Eliasson, later Americanized to Ellison. In my research, I routinely tried many variations of the name but never Elarson.

A new fact was disclosed in the declaration: Andrew states he landed at the port of Boston in February, 1887. My research indicated he’d left Sweden in September, 1887. Something to double-check.

According to his Naturalization Second Papers, also filed in the Carlton County District Court, Andrew was declared a citizen of the United States of America on 29 July 1898. His name on this document: Andrew Elisson.

Andrew’s naturalization papers reinforce lessons learned in other genealogical research:

1) Spelling of names on documents can be far from what we consider “correct”;

2) Not all statements made are absolute facts.

People make mistakes. The chance of error is magnified when the individuals involved speak different languages, particularly if one has limited education.

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