Archive for July, 2008

1886: F. Gustav Wrann Becomes A U.S. Citizen

July 24, 2008

When tracing your U.S. family history to it’s origins overseas, one of the critical components to the puzzle can be naturalization documents. Naturalization was the process U.S. immigrants went through to become citizens. When Gustav Wrann came to this country circa 1881 there was a three step process. The first step was to file a Declaration Of Intention wherein the immigrant swore allegiance to the U.S. and renounced citizenship to their homeland. Gustav Wrann completed this step in 1882 – the documentation of which I wrote about here. The second step could only be completed after the immigrant had been a resident of this country for five years. This step was called the Petition For Naturalization and was the application to a local court for citizenship. The third and final step was the Certificate Of Naturalization with which the court designated the applicant a legal citizen of the United States.

Last year I stumbled upon a new website called Footnote that sold scans of a variety of old documents. One of the many series of documents available was an index to naturalization petitions for the New York County Superior Court. As most of my research into Wrann history has been difficult (to put it mildly) I wasn’t actually expecting to find anything. I typed in “Wrann” and up came:

The National Archives

M1674 Soundex Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906

“What’s this?”, I thought to myself. Who was Ferdinand Wrann? At this point all anyone knew was that our immigrant ancestor’s name was Gustav. I noted that his occupation was “Cigar Packer” which we knew from the City Directories we had found his name in. When I saw the address – the SAME address that appeared on Gertrude Wrann’s Birth Certificate in 1886, I knew this was the man who up to this point we had only known as Gustav.

Since the index card contained a bundle and record number I knew I could order his naturalization documents from the National Archives. I placed the order online through NARA’S website and for $10 I’d have copies of those records in a few short weeks.

The records arrived and I was disappointed to find that they contained nothing indicating where EXACTLY in Germany he was from or an exact date of arrival in the U.S. The following documents can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Declaration Of Intention (COPY)

The first document in the Naturalization packet is a handwritten copy of Gustav’s Declaration Of Intention which he had originally filed in 1882. Obviously since they didn’t have copy machines back then a “copy” was actually just the original document redone and signed by the court clerk verifying it’s authenticity. They even signed Gustav’s name on it!

Ferdinand Gustav Wrann's Declaration Of Intention (Copy)

Petition For Naturalization

The second document in the packet is the Petition For Naturalization dated October 8, 1886 (a little over a week prior to his daughter Gertrude’s birth). This is the document where Gustav renounces his allegiance to the Emperor Of Germany (at the time it was William I – King Of Prussia) and pledges he will support the U.S. Constitution.

This document is also signed by a Frederick Bohle who is confirming that Gustav has been in the U.S. for five years and has been a citizen of New York State for at least one year. He’s also vouching for Gustav’s moral character. Frederick is also a Cigar Packer so presumably they worked together.

The petition is signed by Gustav and what’s interesting is that it appears he attempted to sign it “F. Gustav Wrann”. The “F.” is crossed out and he’s then written out the name Ferdinand. This would indicate that he preferred going by Gustav instead of Ferdinand. Several months ago I posted my discovery to a German genealogical forum and someone responded with “Many Germans had a baptismal name and a ‘call’ name. In your case Ferdinand may have been the baptismal name but everyone used his middle or call name, Gustav. If he shared an entire name with his father he may have actually been called a third name which would not appear in any legal documents but may have been used in a ships manifest or census listing.” Food for thought…

Ferdinand Gustave Wrann's Petition For Naturalization 1887

Ferdinand Gustav Wrann's Petition For Naturalization 1886

Certificate Of Naturalization

The third and final document in the packet is the Certificate Of Naturalization. This document approves Gustav’s petition and declares him a citizen of the United States. The Certificate is dated the October 6, 1886, the same day he filed his petition. The naturalization bundle was filed with the NY Superior Court two days later on October 8, 1886.

Ferdinand Gustave Wrann\'s Naturalization Certificate - October 6, 1886

In 1906 naturalization forms required more information so if my great great grandfather had arrived in the U.S after that year these documents would probably indicate when and where he arrived and possibly the exact town he was born in. Unfortunately these documents, while interesting, don’t bring us any closer to finding out where he came from.


Brief Stop In Buffalo

July 8, 2008

We took our summer vacation two weeks ago and went to Cabery, IL where my wife has relatives, Mackinac Island, MI (where we were married in 2001) and finally, Niagara Falls in Canada (for the heck of it). On the drive back to CT from Canada I quickly stopped at the Buffalo, NY City Hall. I figured I’d have them take another look for my great grandfather Gustav Wrann’s birth certificate from 1884. Because his listing is in the Birth Index at the Buffalo Inactive Archives I believe his actual certificate MUST exist there… somewhere. I spoke to two city employees about it and they are going to look for it. I should hear back by mail in a few weeks. Fingers crossed.  Meanwhile I’m preparing a list of what to look for at the Municipal Archives and Public Library in NYC where I’m planning to spend a day within the next few weeks (strictly doing Wrann research).

1887: The Death Of Gertrude Wrann

July 8, 2008

My initial excitement at discovering a previously unknown sister of my Great Grandfather Gustav Wrann was dampened when I discovered her name in the NYC Death Index for the year after she was born. The index indicated her Death Certificate # was 599964 and that she had died just 6 months after her birth.

While at the Municipal Archives in NYC I looked up her certificate on microfilm and purchased a certified copy of it.

Following is Gertrude’s Death Certificate. Click on it to view an enlargement.

1. Full Name Of Deceased: Gertrude Wrann

2. Age years, 6 months, 12 days.

5. Birthplace: NY

7. Father’s Birthplace: Germany Father’s Name: Gustave Wrann

8. Mother’s Birthplace: “ “ Mother’s Name: Mary

9. Place Of Death: 441 E 81

10. If a Dwelling, by how many families, living separately, occupied, 4 Floor 1

11. I hereby certify that I attended deceased from: March 12, 1887 to April 28, 1887 and that I last saw her alive on the 26 day of “ “ 1887, that she died on the 28 day of March 1887, about 12 o’clock, A.M., and that to my best knowledge and belief the cause of her death was as here under written:

Chief and Determining: Enteritis (Diarrheal) Asthenia

Witness my hand this 28th day of April 1887.

Signature: Frank B. C… M.D.

Residence: 136 E. 18th

Place of Burial: Lutheran

Date of Burial: April 29, 1887

Name of Undertaker: Herman Lange 433 E 81st Street

A few notes/observations regarding this death certificate:

Gertrude was born at 435 E 81st St. Her death occurred at 441 E. 81st St. I’ve checked old maps and both places appear to be apartment buildings and not hospitals. Not sure if the Wrann’s lived at both places. The undertaker lived a few doors down as well. I’ve also noticed that St. Monica’s Roman Catholic Church is around the corner so I may contact them to see if they have baptismal records for Gertrude.

There is no new information on Gustave or Mary.

Her cause of death was Diarrheal Enteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal system) – my Aunt Pat helped me decipher Enteritis when I saw her in VT last year. I had originally thought the second cause of death listed was “Asthma” but it didn’t make sense to me…didn’t seem to fit in with Enteritis. I did some research into archaic medical terms and found the likely translation: Asthenia. Asthenia means weakness or lack of energy and strength and makes more sense than Asthma when associated with Enteritis. Click HERE for the full definition.

There are some inconsistencies in the dates the physician saw her. Looks like he wrote March once when he should have written April as it’s fairly clear she died on April 28 and not March 28. I believe he actually first saw her on March 12 and she was ill for six weeks before dieing on April 28.

The birth certificate indicated she was buried at the Lutheran Cemetery which would be the Lutheran All-Faiths Cemetery in Astoria, Queens. I contacted the cemetery and unfortunately they were not able to find a record of her burial or plot. I plan on inquiring again in the future – maybe I’ll get someone who has better luck searching.