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Military naturalizations

It’s a single volume in the records of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

mil.natVolume 122, it is, of the naturalization records of the court.1

On the left hand inside cover is a copy of a letter dated 28 July 1919. It is from the Office of the Chief Examiner, Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Labor, addressed to the Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It reads, in part:

Advice has just reached this office that the Act of Congress quoted hereunder was approved by the President on July 19, 1919:

“Any person of foreign birth who served in the military or naval forces of the United States during the present war, after final examination and acceptance by the said military or naval authorities and shall have been honorably discharged after such acceptance and service, shall have the benefits of the seventh subdivision of section 4, of the act of June 29, 1906, 34 Statutes at Large, part 1, page 596, as amended…”2

Right.

And what does that mean? Because if you turn to 34 Statutes at Large 596, and skip over to section 4, guess what? There’s isn’t any seventh subdivision.3

For that, you have to find the as amended part — because that seventh section wasn’t added until 1918 and — stripped of a great deal of boilerplate — what it says is this: if you served in the American Army or Navy or Philippine Constabulary during World War I and you were honorably discharged, you could be naturalized without first filing a declaration of intent to become a citizen and without proving that you’d lived in the United States for five years.4

It was, then, a way for military veterans to get to become citizens faster and with fewer prerequisites and less paperwork than anyone else.

So… did anybody actually take advantage of this law?

About 150 or so, in just this one district (and every district should have its own records of these), between the 23 July 1919 naturalization of Barbabeo Di Barnabei, an Italian national, who served in the Hospital Detachment, Medical Corps, at Hoboken, New Jersey, and got support for his naturalization from his sergeant and his colonel5 and the 26 March 1923 naturalization of Peter Thode Hipsman, a Danish national, who served in the U.S. Army and was discharged 11 June 1919.6

Each of the records, then, tells a double story: a story, first, of an immigrant, with the usual wonderful genealogical information about date and place of birth, arrival in the U.S. and the like; but a story as well of military service, often with specifics about the unit and the time frame — for soldiers whose records may have been lost in the 1973 fire at the Federal Records Center in St. Louis.7

It’s here that you can find that:

• Michael DeRoma, born in Italy, served in Company L of the 348th Infantry.8

• Simon Finkel, an English national, served as a baker in the 332 Quartermaster Corps.9

• Angelo Cocchiola of Italy served in Company G, 140th Regiment, U.S. Army.10

• James Thomas Kiernan, born in Ireland, served in Company M, 305th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army. 11

• Italian-born Mariano Leggio served in Company M, 60th Infantry, U.S. Army.12

• James Joseph Cicero, a native of Italy, served in Company D, 12th Machine Gun Battalion, U.S. Armty13

• Cardinal Wolseley Ingram, born in Barbados, West Indies, served in the 9th Regiment, New York Coast Defense Command, and then Battery A, First Battalion, Trench Artillery “and sailed for France on January 4th, 1918.”14

• Welshman Archibald Morewood Seymour served in Battery D, 12th Field Artillery, U.S. Army.15

• Arcangelo Nigro, a native of Italy, served in Company A, 501st Engineers, U.S. Army.16

• And Irish-born Margaret Elizabeth Bagley got her citizenship without the usual formalities because she served in the Army Nurse Corps.17

With this kind of detail on an ancestor’s service, we can get a unit history and perhaps fill in some of the gaps despite the fire.

Not to mention having the genealogical data that a naturalization document produces all by itself.

A double win, in a thin volume of court records.


SOURCES

  1. Volume 122, Naturalizations, Military Book; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; digital images, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 19 May 2015).
  2. Ibid., inside front cover, Letter, Chief Examiner, Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Labor, to the Clerk of the U.S. District Court, 28 July 1919.
  3. §4, “An Act To establish a Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, and to provide for a uniform rule for the naturalization of aliens throughout the United States,” 34 Stat. 596, 598 (28 June 1906).
  4. “An Act To amend the naturalization laws and to repeal certain sections of the Revised Statutes of the United States and other laws relating to naturalization, and for other purposes,” 40 Stat. 542 (9 May 1918).
  5. Volume 122, Naturalizations, Military Book; Petition for Naturalization, Barbabeo Di Barnabei, No. 30151, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; digital images, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 19 May 2015).
  6. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Peter Thode Hipsman, No. 30281, Southern District of New York.
  7. See “The 1973 Fire, National Personnel Records Center,” National Archives at St. Louis, archives.gov (http://www.archives.gov/ : accessed 19 May 2015).
  8. Volume 122, Naturalizations, Military Book; Petition for Naturalization, Michael DeRoma, No. 30169, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; digital images, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 19 May 2015).
  9. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Simon Finkrel, No. 30191, Southern District of New York.
  10. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Angelo Cocchiola, No. 30200, Southern District of New York.
  11. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, James Thomas Kiernan, No. 30208, Southern District of New York.
  12. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Mariano Leggio, No. 30214, Southern District of New York.
  13. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, James Joseph Cicero, No. 30229, Southern District of New York.
  14. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Cardinal Wolseley Ingram, No. 30243, Southern District of New York.
  15. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Archibald Morewood Seymour, No. 30251, Southern District of New York.
  16. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Arcangelo Nigro, No. 30261, Southern District of New York.
  17. Ibid., Petition for Naturalization, Margaret Elizabeth Bagley, No. 30234, Southern District of New York.
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