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Re: Frank Spehar
Posted by: Ron Bestrom (ID *****2263) Date: February 23, 2008 at 19:30:24
In Reply to: Frank Spehar by Mary Cowdrey of 97


First, a bit of a history lesson. His name "Could" be Croatian or Slovenian, Serbian, Slovakian. When he was born, he would have been born within the country of Austria-Hungary. This country grew out of the Austrian empire, but then disolved after World War I. World War I actually was "sparked" by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary Throne, killed by a Bosnian Serb within Austria-Hungary. Then A-H retalitated against Serbia, which sparked alliance against alliance, king cousin against king cousin (most of the monarchies were related in some manner or another. You can do searches on this history if you are interested.

So, why the connection to Frank? A lot of the immigrants from these nationalities claimed to be Austrian, rather than their own. "Chances" are good that he was a Franz prior to his name becoming "Americanized". I don't know and won't say if his surname was Americanized, based upon a possible connection to that area of Eastern Europe. But, I'm "guessing" his name may have been different when born.

Now, to your question over his naturalization, the other person, "Shotgun", as normal, took a shot, but missed the target.

>In WA state the naturalization papers are filed in the Court House
> where it occurred.

When you do genealogy, you can't just do census searches on, you MUST, HAVE TO, understand the processes of where people came from, when, and how history in their original country, history in the new country, and how things worked at the TIME they arrived and after.

The Naturalization process is not just a filing of papers, then being naturalized. The process first depended on WHEN the immigrant arrived, if male or female, from which country, etc. I think common sense about this process is understood.

Here is some additional background on the Naturalization Process:
2. From:
Naturalizations -
When people first came to the United States they had to go through a formal
process to become a citizen. This was known as the naturalization process.
Local, state, and federal courts were authorized to administer the process.
Essentially there were three steps. The first step was to file a declaration
of intention (first papers) to become a citizen (view samples below). Then
there would be a waiting (residency) period, ranging usually from two to
seven years. Third, the person would petition the court for citizenship
(second papers). If the petition was accepted, then the person was admitted
as a citizen. In most cases the River Falls center has the paperwork
documenting only the declaration and petition phases, though there are
sometimes naturalization certificates and ancillary documents. The records
are arranged by county, each of which is accompanied by an index. These
indexes usually point to the petitions (second papers). Working backward is
the most efficient method because if an individual is found in the index,
their petition should indicate where and when they filed for declaration
(first papers). Sometimes the declaration is even attached to their
petition. If the individual is not listed in an index, then consult an index
to the declarations or the individual declaration books themselves. This is
an important step because people would often file the first papers then not
complete the process (the declaration was all that was required to be a
voting citizen in Wisconsin until 1908).
A pivotal year to the naturalization process was in 1906 when the Basic
Naturalization Act was passed. This provided for federal supervision of the
naturalization process through the Immigration and Naturalization Services
(INS). Forms became much more detailed and standardized. Until then each
county did things a little differently.

a.. Note: As a general rule, women and children were considered the
property of the man that they came to the country with and did not file
papers on their own until the 1920's. They were automatically naturalized
with the men. Sometimes young males would file their own papers when they
reached adulthood.

b.. Tips: If the naturalization date is unknown, consult the 1900, 1910,
and 1920 census records. There are categories on these censuses regarding
year of immigration to the U.S. and status of naturalization process (the
abbreviation "Al" stood for alien, meaning no papers had been filed yet; the
abbreviation "Pa" stood for papers, meaning a declaration of intention had
been filed; and the abbreviation "Na" stood for naturalization, meaning the
person had supposedly finished the process). Remember, the data from the
censuses may not be always totally accurate, but it may provide some good
clues. Another point to remember is that an individual may have filed his
naturalization with a federal district court. If this is the case for
someone from this area, then the person would have to contact the National
Archives Great Lakes Region office in Chicago. The great majority of people
who lived in this part of the state filed their naturalization papers
through a county court, which means the River Falls center would have the

For Frank, "Shotgun" said,
> In 1920 Frank and family were living in Yankton, Columiba Co., OR.
> Frank, b. Austria, 54, immigrated 1886, pending naturalization application,

On the actual census page, for citizenship, the enumerator wrote, "PA". That does NOT mean Pending Application. It means "Papers", which means the immigrant had filed initial papers for naturalization. If "AL", then the person would have been an Alien. If "Na", then the person was naturalized.

So, if he "Did" file papers, his papers would have been somewhere between Columbia County and Lewis County, WA. The documents would have been filed in the Superior Court for the county (What Shotgun calls the "court house", most "court houses, have all the county departments). In the case of Columbia County, it is the "Circuit Court".

Here is information on their holdings for Naturalization:
--This list shoes a Frank Setniker, from Polhov Gradio, Austria.

But, they could have also filed in a US Federal Court. These filings are on microfilm and can be researched a a National Archives location. I'm not sure where you are located. The filings for Oregon would be found at the Seattle Archives. But, they might have a loan program. But, don't worry about that until you have research local county courts.

You could contact the Superior Court for Columbia County:
County Clerk
Columbia County Courthouse
230 Strand Street, St. Helens, OR 97051
Betty Huser, County Clerk and Recorder
Most larger counties have a Court Clerk, but since this is a smaller population, Betty might also be the court clerk.
You can ask if the court has naturalization filings for emigrants. If yes, ask if the records are indexed by name. If yes, ask how you could obtain copies of forms. If no, ask how you could obtain information. You might have to know the year filed. If you don't have the exact it appears you don't, someone would have to review the microfilm/microfiche records.

If you need a volunteer, try the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, there is one researcher for that county. Jan Robinson:
You might email her with your problem, she might also have other insights.

I'll let you digest this a bit.

Ron Bestrom

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