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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

July 19, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Handling Jr. and Sr.

Q: Several of my family members have been named after their fathers resulting in Jr. and Sr. (i.e. Damacio Sifuentes Sr. and Damacio Sifuentes Jr. or eventually Damacio the third) How do you deal with the name in writing. If Jr is put last it is listed as a last name. Please help. Also, How would you type in "the third"? -- Lucy

A: Many researchers find that they eventually have this type of a situation. In the past, when all we did was write the names on family group sheets, there was no issue. Computers, though, have forced us to think a little differently when it comes to titles and items such as Jr.

The best thing to do is to read the online help in your specific genealogy program. Different programs require you to enter this information differently. Some programs want you to surround the word with brackets or some other character, so that it looks like John Smith {Jr.}. Others have been programmed to recognize that a word after a comma is not to be considered the surname. Still others want you to identify the surname by surrounding it with some character.

It is because there are some many options that I suggest you read your online help files. Do a search on "titles" and "entering names" to see what your specific genealogy program requires.

When it comes to "the third" most individuals record this and all additional numbers using roman numerals. So Damacio Sifuentes the third would be recorded as Damacio Sifuentes III. Again, what you have to do with this name to identify Sifuentes as the surname will be up to the specific genealogy program.

Passenger List Problem

Q: I have spent many hours on the Ellis Island web site searching for my father's passenger list. He made application for citizenship and became a citizen in 1920 and on that paper for citizenship his name was Kosta Ristoff, and his ship, Kaiser Wilhelm, was listed on that paper as arriving from Bremen in New York on or about 2 Sept 1908. Yet when getting on the Ellis Island web site I cannot bring up his name even with all the positive information I have. Is there any way or anywhere I can bring up the passenger list for the Kaiser Wilhelm arriving in NY at that time? If so, I could spot the name even with incorrect spelling. I believe his three brothers - Zivan, Karste and Athanas came with him aboard that ship. -- George

A: The North German Lloyd line has two ships with Kaiser Wilhelm in the name. They have the Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. Both ships were crossing the Atlantic and landing in New York during the year 1908.

The first problem is that neither of these ships arrived in New York on the date of 2 September 1908. The closest arrival to that date would be the Kaiser Wilhelm II on 8 September 1908.

As you have mentioned it is possible that the entry was not properly transcribed, so that searching for it in the database available at the Ellis Island web site you might not find the passenger list. However, you can always get the passenger lists for 8 September 1908 on microfilm. You can get this microfilm through your local Family History Center, where you can then view that film.

It is always possible while your ancestor did arrive on the Kaiser Wilhelm on 2 September 1908, that he did not arrive through Ellis Island. Many of us assume that our ancestors had to come through Ellis Island, but there were other ports along the eastern seaboard that were active during this same time. Boston, Massachusetts; Baltimore, Maryland; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are three such ports. It is possible you may need to expand your search to include these ports.

Naturalizations in the 1700s

Q: I have the naturalization dates on two immigrants — 1730 and 1756 and I am trying to ascertain the "latest" year they could have physically arrived in America in order to be officially naturalized these years. In other words, I'm trying to find out what legal requirements (length of residency, minimum age, etc.) one had to fulfill before becoming eligible to submit relevant paperwork. I live in Northern VA and have been to the National Archives and no one seems to be able to point me to a document or book where this would be discussed. -- Rosalyn

A: Before the American Revolution, the original thirteen colonies fell under British law. After all, the colonies were England's American colonies. Also, before the American Revolution, there was no "nation" just individual states, each with its own unique laws, money, and so forth.

The rules of naturalization mirrored those of England at this time. If a person came over from England, he was already considered a citizen. He was a citizen of the colony in which he resided, as well as the other colonies if he decided to move. Someone coming from another country, say Germany, did not get this same opportunity.

If you were not English and you immigrated to the American colonies, you followed the naturalization process in the colony in which you settled. Once you received naturalization, you could not necessarily move to another colony and expect to be accepted as a citizen.

While citizenship records prior to 1790 are few, those that do exist have been published. You may want to consult Kory M. Meyerink's Printed Sources to see if the colony you are researching has had anything published.

Some of the most well-known naturalization records of this time are the oaths of allegiance. These were signed as passengers disembarked in the American colonies upon their arrival. The most famous collection of these is Ralph B. Stassburger and William John Hinke's Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 in three volumes.

Ohio Lands

Q: I have looked and looked for the location of the Carol Bell Lands which were given out in Jefferson County, Steubenville, Ohio, ca. 1800 to 1810. Can you tell me where I might find information of their location, legal description and the recipients. -- Lois

A: It sounds like what you are actually looking for is Carol Willsey Bell's Ohio-Lands: Steubenville Land Office 1800-1820 (Youngstown, Ohio: Carol Willsey Bell, 1985). This book indexed those who acquired land through the Steubenville Land Office during that twenty year period.

The Steubenville Land Office was the first federal land office opened in Ohio. It opened in July 1800 and was a result of the Act of May 10, 1800 that established four land offices in Ohio. In addition to the office in Steubenville, offices would also open in Cincinnati, Chillicothe, and Marietta. The Steubenville Land Office was located in the section of Ohio known as the First Seven Ranges.

The Act of May 10, 1800 permitted land to be purchased on credit. Public auction was the prime method of sale and each person had to purchase a minimum of 320 acres. Ms. Bell's book is all the more important in that the credit sales of this time have not as yet been included in the Bureau of Land Management records that have been computerized and made available online. Their records do not begin until 1820.

While this book is out of print, you can find it at many libraries and other genealogical repositories. You may also want to investigate Family Tree Maker's Land and Tax Records: Ohio, 1787-1840. This CD-ROM includes the following books, originally published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc.

  • Early Ohio Settlers: Southeastern Ohio, 1800-1840 - Volume one includes records of the Marietta, Ohio Land Office
  • Early Ohio Settlers: Southeastern Ohio, 1800-1840 - Volume two includes records of the Cincinnati, Ohio Land Office
  • Early Ohio Settlers: Eastern, Ohio, 1800-1840 - Volume three includes records of the State Auditor's Office - Steubenville Series No. 428 and Zanesville Series Nos. 259 and 2686

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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