1882: Ferdinand Gustav Wrann’s Declaration Of Intention

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I had always thought my Great Great Grandfather’s name was simply Gustav Wrann. All of the records I found concerning him bore only that name.

One of the biggest mysteries concerning Gustav was his arrival in the United States. It had always been said he was from Germany but the family genealogists had never been able to narrow down an arrival time nor were we able to find an old ship’s passenger list in existing online databases with his name on it indicating a port of arrival, date, or country of origin.

Fortunately I was able to track down his Declaration Of Intention document. This is the earliest record I’ve found for him. A Declaration Of Intention was the first of three steps an immigrant was required to complete in order to become a U.S. citizen in the late 1800’s. It’s essentially their declaration that they wish to become a citizen and are renouncing citizenship of their country of origin. Many immigrants did this shortly after arriving in the U.S.

While their isn’t much in the way of detail this document is important because it tells us that Gustav Wrann’s full name was actually Ferdinand Gustav Wrann and that he was indeed from Germany.

Following are photographs of microfilm images from the courthouse ledger containing Gustav’s name in the index as well as the actual Declaration Of Intention containing his actual signature. It was quite something to be able to view his signature…especially considering the document was signed over 125 years ago.

The first image is the index at the front of the ledger created by the court clerk. It lists the names of the immigrants who submitted their Declaration Of Intention and the page number the signed document was on.  Click image to enlarge.

SOURCE: New York Court Of Common Pleas (New York County Courthouse, New York, NY). Declaration Of Intentions 1881-1882, Ferdinand Gustav Wrann (1882); FHL microfilm 953867.

The next image is a photograph of the microfilm image showing a portion of page 43 from the Declaration Of Intentions ledger. Ferdinand’s document was the last of three declarations on the page (each page contained three D.O.Is from three different immigrants).  Click image to enlarge.

SOURCE: New York Court Of Common Pleas (New York County Courthouse, New York, NY). Declaration Of Intentions 1881-1882, Ferdinand Gustav Wrann (1882); FHL microfilm 953867.

As I noted earlier, the Naturalization process of the time required three steps before citizenship would be granted; Step 1 was the Declaration Of Intention – also known as “First Papers”, Step 2 The Petition For Naturalization which could take place only after the immigrant had lived in the U.S. for at least five years, Step 3 was the Certificate Of Naturalization and The Oath Of Allegiance – also called “Final Papers”.

Of historical interest is the fact that the document specifies the “Emperor Of Germany”.  At the time this would have been William I, King Of Prussia whose reign ended in 1888.

Would my Great Great Grandfather eventually become a citizen of the United States?

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