Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What To Do with Conflicting Data? Part II

What To Do with Conflicting Data? the dilema I posed on Monday regarding Gus Kaufman's naturalization papers continues to be unresolved. I've been very impressed with the response and support from my fabulous readers. Genealogy work can be very lonely and so great to have such a supportive and talented community! As promised, I have more documents to share which will shed light on the matter while at the same time leave more unanswered questions.

On Monday, I presented the first part of the process I went through as I tried to make sense of Gus Kaufman's Declaration of Intention for Naturalization and two ship manifest. One manifest was from a New York Passager List corresponded to the vessel, Oscar II,  Gus mentioned in the petition. The second, a Galveston manifest, I had previously assumed belong to the Kaufman family. Fellow Genealogist +Jacqi Stevens, author of A Family Tapestry, astutely pointed out that the source for the Declaration was from Dutchess County NY while the declaration itself was filed in Beaumont, Texas. This same observation was exactly, the same one I made when I first began to question the information provided on the Declaration. It was reassuring to see that +Jacqi Stevens followed my train of thought! The first time through, I had been so caught up in cross referencing the Ship Manifest, that I forgot one of the most important steps I always take when I find an online document—scroll back and forth and see if there are additional pages attached.

Sure enough, There were several pages included in Gus's naturalization papers! Another of my fabulous followers,  +Jenny Lanctot, author of the blog Are My Roots Showing, imagined quite correctly that "he filed the Intent in Texas and was then naturalized in NY and got his certificate there." The several of the attached documents were indeed filed and indexed with the Dutchess County papers where Gus finally received his citizenship. As of yet, the State of Texas Naturalization Papers are not available online, but luckily for me, the Dutchess County papers, and Gus's from Texas and NY are all together. Dutchess County, New York, Naturalization Records,
1932-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
(Click to enlarge). 
The Petition for Citizenship above, dated Oct 22nd, 1935 was submitted at the court of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY four years after Gus declared his intention to become a citizen in Beaumont, Texas (May 29th, 1931). In fact, the petition states that he resided in New York since August 10th of 1931 (only two and a half months after he filed the declaration in Texas). Most interesting is the different immigration information reported in the later document. This time, Gus reports that he entered the United States at Galveston, Texas, under the name Gerschon Kaufman on May 26th, 1909 on the SS Wittekind! Sound familiar? Bingo! The Galveston ship manifest was correct after all! 

The question remains. Where did the initial information Gus reported—arrival in NY, under the name of Boruch Kaufman in 1904 on the Oscar II—come from? Clearly, he changed his mind. Maybe he consulted with his parent? He was only five years old in 1909 and unlikely to remember much of the trip coming over, let alone the name of the boat. Clearly, immigration official concurred with the mistake. As +Jenny Lanctot was able to decipher from the NY ship manifest, someone—most likely an immigration official—had matched the entry with Certificate # 13-1487 but then crossed it out. Maybe the same someone, correctly annotated the Galveston document with the same certificate number.
Closeup of NY Ship Manifest Boruch Kaufman with crossed out annotation of certificate # 13-1487, Click to enlarge).
(See full manifest: What To Do with Conflicting Data?)

Despite this discovery, I continue to remain uneasy about the initial Declaration of Intent. I understand, that Gus may not have remember exactly when he immigrated, but I question why he would sign a document stating that he arrived under the name Boruch rather than Gerschon. How could he have mistaken his own name? Even if no one had called him Gerschon for a long time, it's rare to forget your childhood name. I also wonder how he could have named a completely different boat, including the date, where a different Kaufman family arrived?

Deposition by Alex Kaufman father
of Gus Kaufman
Feb 28, 1936
Houston Texas
(Click to enlarge)
I certainly am not an expert on the immigration process back then. I find it difficult to imagine the possibility that when Gus could not recall his exact arrival information, an immigration officer found a Kaufman family which fit the description and attributed it to Gus's petition. It seems far fetched that an immigration official in Texas would have had access in 1931 ( to NY ship manifest. The process must have required correspondence between the two offices and probably took a long time. Some poor immigration officer would have had to manually search all ship manifest from the correct period, find all the Kaufman families and identify one that fits the description Gus provided. It seems much more likely that Gus provided the wrong information at first. Immigration crossed checked with the NY manifest and initially felt it was correct. At a later point, Gus must have recalled the correct information and withdrawn his initial statement. I base this theory, on other documents attached to Gus's naturalization papers, two depositions on behalf of Gus Kaufman to be admitted as a citizen. Attached is Gus's father's deposition containing the pertinent information. (There is a second deposition from Morris I Mann, Gus's brother-in-law which contains similar information but not included).

Note the following two questions:
Question #10: State the period he has resided in the United States. Answer: Since about May 1909.
Question #13: Since you first met him in the United States has he ever been absent from the United States? Answer: Never out of this country since we came here.

In these two responses Alex Kaufman confirms that his son arrived in America in 1909 and that he never left the country once he entered. These statements supports the theory that Gus's parents helped recall the arrival information. They also dispels the theory that maybe Gus arrived initially under the name Boruch, then returned to Russia and re-entered later under the name Gerschon.

It's remains unclear where the mistake originated, but it was a mistake. Alex's deposition, provided another clue I need to follow up on. It contains the Alex's own Certificate of Naturalization number: 2019736 from December 10th 1924. I promise to provide this information as it becomes available to me. In the meantime I look forward to hearing all the theories you may have regarding the immigration process and how would this kind of mistake appear on a naturalization application.


  1. Nice work, Smadar! One thing that occurred to me while I was reading this was that it would be interesting to determine the process for filing the declaration of intent. Here's why: if they completed the forms by hand before they took them to the immigration office to be typed, it's possible that Eidle helped him complete it and simply got confused because she and her husband brought two children over in 1904, returned to Russia and brought back DIFFERENT children (including Gus) in 1909. Thus, the mistaken identity. Either way, it's unlikely that Gus would have been able to recall the information on his own.

    Then, the clerks likely added the declaration number to the manifest, but were told later (before or at the time the petition was filed) that the information on the declaration was incorrect, at which time the clerk crossed through the information on the Oskar II manifest and wrote it in on the Wittekind manifest.

    Of course, there could be one of a thousand completely different scenarios too. She could have gone to the office with him to fill it out, gave the incorrect information, and then realized it later ... who knows. Anything is possible at this point.

    Something incredible happens here though - the deposition of Alex Kaufman confirms the parent-child relationship (and also gives you info on when and where Alex was naturalized) AND the numbers on the documents give you a chain of events - manifest, declaration, petition - confirming all are for the same person.

    I am most curious about whether Eidle returned to Russia and if that is indeed her on the Oskar II manifest, and her relationship to the children traveling with her. I can't remember off the top of my head whether women could be naturalized themselves (or if their citizenship was still attached to the husband) in 1924 when Alex was naturalized. I don't see any numbers next to either name on the manifests, so chances of finding any naturalization info are slim, I suppose. Maybe there is info about her in Alex's records.

    What's curious to me is that there is no certificate number written next to Alex's name on the manifest - if "Elie" is indeed Alex (which is pure speculation on my part, but the ages are consistent).

    I would be interested to know why they sailed to New York and how they ended up in Texas. Okay, I'm interested in a lot of things about this family - why is everyone else's family so much more interesting than my own? LOL

    1. I'm sure your family is equally as interesting Jenny!!! I agree that it would be very interesting to determine the process of filing for declaration of intent. I have often seen them handwritten, especially from earlier dates. I doubt that the petitioner themselves wrote them though in most cases. I certainly like scenario of Gus's mother helping him fill the form and recalling the information from an earlier trip. I still believe it's unlikely though, because I find it hard to imagine that she travelled with two older children and leaving a one year old behind, and expecting a fourth child that same year (1904). So I am inclined to think she is not the Eidle from the NY boat, though that remains to be proven. I agree that we'll learn a lot from Alex's naturalization paper and she may appear on his petition. I'm going to request it from the National Archives and promise to keep everyone posted! Thanks again for your amazing input!

  2. Smadar, it is interesting to see the rest of the picture here, with the additional documents. I think Jenny brought up a lot of viable points. About the mix-up in transportation details, I wonder if his parents quickly gave him the information for the declaration, based on his father's trip here, then realized the mistake and corrected it to the wife's subsequent trip. Have you pursued any further information on the father's arrival, now that you have some of his information linked to Gus's?

    1. I like this scenario as well Jacqi. Though if that was his father's trip, who was Eidle and the other two kids if not his wife. Sometimes, single women travelled with brothers or uncles under false pretenses. Maybe it was a sister of his who claimed to be his wife with their two children, but actually wasn't? I have not ordered Gus's fathers papers yet, but I agree it's the next step! Thanks for your input as always, it's very insightful!

  3. You are all such impressive researchers, and I am learning a lot just reading the blog and comments. As Jenny says, there are a thousand different scenarios for what seems surely to be a clerical error. The Boruch/Gerschon pairing does argue two different sets of circumstances, at least. Fascinating.

    1. I agree Marianne, it's really great to have such a rich discussion and such wonderful input from very impressive researchers! Thanks for being part of the conversation!


Thanks for sharing your comments!