Other family members
Perhaps no additional information is more important
than additional family members. Knowing the names of brothers, sisters,
cousins, or even the immigrant's mother, can help not only in identifying
them in the old country, but also in learning where they came from.
If you are forced to search records in the old country, such as a census,
knowing who the other relatives were helps to identify family members.
Recently we were looking for an Enoch Powell who arrived
in New York in the 1890s. At first we knew little about him but his
month and year of birth in Yorkshire, England. The 1881 census of England
included a young man who could be the ancestor, but we needed more identification.
With more searches in Troy, New York, we located a woman who seemed
to be his mother, as well as a possible brother, but Enoch was never
connected to them in American records. Finding the apparent mother in
the 1900 U.S. census, we noted the brother, as well as the mother's
grandchild (with a different surname) living with her. These same three
persons, with the right names, relationships, and ages, all appeared
in the 1881 census in England with Enoch! Clearly these other family
members had been the key to proper identification of the immigrant.
Not only can additional family members substitute for
a missing father's name, but they also serve as a cross-check that you
have found the right family in the old country. In the Croatian example
mentioned on the previous page, it was the mother's maiden name (on
the immigrant's U.S. documentation) that pointed to, and helped confirm,
the correct town of origin.