Find Your Genealogical Mr. Right

By Diane Haddad

I blogged last year about my ancestor’s 1944 petition for naturalization, and how it refers to his 1918 filing of “first papers” (a declaration of intent to naturalize)—for which he apparently never filed second papers.

It even gave a document number for those first first papers. But the papers are mysteriously missing both from databases of digitized naturalization records and from microfilm of naturalization records from the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907-1946.

So I got all excited when I found a Fadlallah Haddad in a naturalization index from Chicago. Unusual name, right? It had to be him. But when I looked at the record, some of the details were slightly off. And why would he be in Chicago?

Next, I tried a tip from “Finding Mr. Right” by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack in the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine, and searched for Fadlallahs in other records. And there was one in Chicago in the 1930 census, with a household of unfamiliar names. In that census, my Fadlallah was living with three of his children in Cleveland.

So my momentary bubble burst, but at least I’m not chasing after the wrong ancestor.

The September 2010 “Finding Mr. Right” article has much more on how to tell the difference between two same-named people in the same place, even when their ages and other details are similar: how to create an ID table and a chronology of each person, for example, and researching the best records for distinguishing the individuals. Even handwriting and witnesses on documents can be clues to whether a particular person is or isn’t your man.

Other goodies in this issue:

… and lots more. The September 2010 Family Tree Magazine is available now on newsstands and as a digital download from Family Tree Shop.