Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Bingo! A letter from the Genealogy Program at USCIS! Part II

A few months ago I reported about a promising letter I received from USCIS in the post: Treasure Chest Thursday: Bingo! A letter from the Genealogy Program at USCIS! Part II. Finally, after what seemed like an eternal three months, the awaited naturalization papers for Minnie Crane (Menuche Kranowitz) finally arrived.

As you may remember, Minnie's naturalization papers have been difficult to find. I've been after them for more than five years. The hope in obtaining these papers was not so much to learn about Minnie, but more importantly to learn about her husband, William Bloomfield.

The Big Question: What was the Bloomfield's ancestral village?

For years, the Bloomfield cousins have been trying to answer a simple question. Where are the Bloomfields from? More specifically, what is the name of the village in Russia they came from? Moses and Frieda Bloomfield (known as Belous or Belo-oose in Russia) had seven grown sons (among them my great-grandfather, William Bloomfield). Where were they from? In order to be able to locate documents for the family in Europe, it is essential to identify where they were from.

Our joint efforts have lead to many many documents tracking the Bloomfields in the US including, ship manifests, draft registration and some naturalization papers (few) mostly named Russia or Grodno as the place of birth. Some family members papers named Pruzhany as their town of birth others named Vladimirets, Brest. Harry's birth certificate is from Slawatycze, and states that his father Moses was from Malech. In addition there is evidence that both Moses' brother (naturalization papers) and sister (ship manifest) were born in Malec.

The answer to this apparently simple question, maybe quite complex. Many Jewish family, moved frequently and it is very possible that different family members where born in different towns. Malech, a small shtetl in what is now Belarus, is in the Pruzhany district part of the Grodno Providence of what was then the Russian Empire. It seems to be where Moses' generation was from. Moses then moved his family and it is not clear where all the children were born.

As I mentioned in Part I of this series, because of the cost involved in obtaining these records, I've had to prioritize. I decided to begin with my own great-grandfather William Bloomfield. When the USCIS search failed for William, I proceeded with a search for Minnie's documents in the hope it would shed light onto William's naturalization papers.

Menuche Krainowitz Bloomfield
Petition For Naturalization
[Click to Enlarge]
Double Bingo! 

Sure enough, Minnie's naturalization papers did contain the clues I was after. According to the document, William was born in Prusinian, Poland. This could mean he was from the Pruzhany district or from the city of Pruzhany.

In addition, it's as if Minnie answered my question regarding how to locate William's naturalization papers directly:

"My husband was admitted to citizenship on November 4, 1925 in the United States District Court at Houston, Texas, and certicate of Naturalization no. 2180218 was issued to him."

Another interesting bit of information is how Minnie reported her legal name in 1928: Menuche Krainowitz Bloomfield. Though in most documents, she had been using Minnie Crane (including her marriage certificate from 1920), she used the name that she used in Europe when filing for naturalization.

The Next Step

Now it's time to write the USCIS again and provide them William's naturalization information. Hopefully, knowing he filed in Houston, having the dates and the number of his naturalization certificate, they will be able to locate his record. This record, may have a more specific town than just Pruzhany. In addition, it should contain William's arrival info into the US including the date and ship. Unfortunately, this will require a new Index search (3 months) and then at least another three months to request the records if the do find them. My next recourse, if they can not identifying in their archive is to contact the Texas courts directly. I promise to share the results on a future post, though we will all need a lot of patience!

In the comments on Part I of this series, some of you expressed interest in obtaining records from the USCIS for the first time. Have you had any luck? Please share your experience with us.

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