Friday, June 4, 2010

Henry Wessman and His Citizenship

A couple of days ago  I happened to glance at Henry Wessman's World War I Draft Registry Card (September 1918) and saw that he was listed as a "Alien—Declarant" with citizenship listed as "Sweden."
When did Henry come to the United States? Did he ever become a citizen?

After looking at many records, the answers to these two questions are "We don't know," and "Probably not."


Family Records

Here is what Henry's wife Jean said about her husband's immigration.
His mother Amanda Hall had become a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so other members of the family were also baptized into that church. The two older sisters Fanny and Bertha came to the United States when they were about 15 years of age with other members of the church as converts and went to work as maids in homes of church members when they reached Salt Lake City. When Henry was eight years of age [1893] he and his brother, [John] Herbert, came to Utah with other converts to the church. His sisters took care of him and Herbert until the mother arrived later [1893].

As they were all anxious about the husband and father who was in Sweden it was necessary for them to work to earn money to help him earn passage money. Life was hard for them as their younger brother Joseph was only five years of age when he came with his mother. Later the father came over...
Was Jean's account accurate? Let's look at the immigration records.


Immigration Records

Here is Amanda Wessman's Ellis Island immigration record. It shows Amanda and her son Joseph arriving in New York in 1893 on the ship Alaska.


Here is Johan Wessman's Ellis Island immigration record. He is listed on the next-to-the-last line as Johan Westman. He arrived in New York in 1896 on the ship Circassia.


I have not been able to find the immigration records for Fanny, Bertha, Henry, or Herbert under any possible combination of names. They do not show up in the Ellis Island records, on Ancestry, or in the Mormon Migration database.


Draft Registration

As shown above, Henry registered for the draft in 1918. He was listed as an alien with citizenship in Sweden.


Citizenship Records

I cannot find any naturalization (citizenship) records for Henry.


Census Records

1900

Lines 60-63 show Amanda, John Herbert, Henry, and Joseph Wessman. Johan had died in two years earlier.

Here's a close-up of the immigration information. The three columns show the year of immigration to the United States, number of years in the United States, and naturalization status. The census shows that John Herbert immigrated in 1890 and had been in the United States for ten years. It shows that the other three came in 1893 and had been in the United States for 6-1/2 7 years.


Fanny's census record shows that she had been in the United States since 1873, the year of her birth. This is not correct. Bertha's census record shows that she had been in the United States since 1891.


1910


No immigration or citizenship information is recorded in Henry or Amanda or Joseph's citizenship entries. Fanny's entry shows that she came in 1888 and was naturalized. Bertha's entry shows that she came in 1890. John Herbert's entry shows that he came in 1893 and was an alien.


1920

Amanda's entry shows that she came in 1894 and is an alien. Bertha's entry shows that she came in 1891 and was a naturalized citizen. John Herbert's entry shows that he came in 1893 and was an alien. Henry's entry records that he came in 1893 and had declared his intent to become a citizen. Joseph's entry shows that he came in 1895 and had declared his intent to become a citizen.

1930

The 1930 census shows Amanda living with her daughter Bertha Olsen.  Amanda is listed as an alien, coming in 1892. Bertha is listed as coming in 1890 and naturalized. John Herbert does not have any immigration information listed. Henry is listed as coming in 1893 and has declared his intent to become a citizen. Joseph is listed as coming in 1894 and is naturalized.


The Bottom Line

Amanda came in 1893. The census reports that she came in 1893, 1894, and 1892. She was never naturalized.

Fanny came in ?. The census reports that she came in 1873 or 1888.

Bertha came in ?. The census reports that she came in 1891, 1890, 1891, and 1890. According to the census, she became a citizen.

John Herbert came in ?. The census reports that he came in 1890, 1893, and 1893. He was not a citizen in 1920 and the information is not noted in 1930.

Henry came in ?. Three different censuses report that he came in 1893.

Joseph came in 1893. The census reports that he came in 1893, 1895, and 1894. He became a citizen.

Unless someone is able to find any additional information, we may never know exactly when and how Henry came to the United States and if he ever became a citizen.

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