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The Family History of Harold Franklin Hayes Revealed through a Naturalization Record

Blog post by Randi Richardson


Original copies of many naturalization records from Indiana are archived at the Indiana Archives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Harold Franklin Hayes was born in Marion County, Indiana, on February 6, 1925, to John Michael and Daisy “Fern” (Baugh) Hayes.  He had an older sister named Rosemary at the time of his birth and would eventually have a younger sister, Hannah. Harold’s paternal grandfather, John Joseph Hayes, was a native of Ireland who, according to various census records, was naturalized about 1893.

Harold, in all probability, knew his grandfather as both families lived in the same community and John didn’t die until Harold was about 17.  On the other hand, Harold came from a broken home.   Sometime between 1930 and 1932, when Harold would have been between 5 and 7, his father disappeared and his mother, Fern, moved in with Earl Webb. The newly joined couple settled in Monroe County where Fern gave birth to three more children with Earl:  Katherine/Kathleen, Robert Earl and Donald Keith.  So it’s quite possible that Fern severed the ties with her first husband’s family when the children he fathered were quite young.

Melissa, a native and resident of Monroe County, is one of Harold’s grandchildren.  After developing a curiosity about her ancestors, she began researching the Hayes family.  When she discovered that her great great grandfather was from Ireland, she added a visit to the country of his birth to her bucket list.  However, she was stymied because Ireland is about the size of Indiana.  If she could only narrow down the location, her visit would be infinitely more meaningful.

Given that a review of census records and vital records did not reveal the birthplace of John Joseph Hayes, Melissa searched for his naturalization record.  The Indiana Archives at Indianapolis has many of the original naturalization records from around the state.  They have been indexed, abstracted and made available online through the Archives.  A naturalization record for John Joseph was located among Marion County Records.

What Melissa discovered is that John Joseph was not naturalized in 1893 as was indicated in census records.  He came to American in 1893 but didn’t declare his intention to become a U. S. citizen until 1917.  The declaration, which was good for seven years, could be used to apply for the Petition of Naturalization and ultimately, upon approval, a Certificate of Naturalization would be issued with the original given to the new citizen and a copy going to the court to prove it was issued.

In 1923, a year before John Joseph’s declaration was due to expire, he filed his Petition for Naturalization in the Marion County, Indiana, Superior Court.  The document provides a lot of information, some not noted in the Declaration document, including the names and dates of birth of his six children.  This additional information made it possible to verify that the John Joseph Hayes who completed the document was one and the same John Joseph Hayes the ancestor of Melissa.

Others, like Melissa, who have an ancestor that immigrated to America and became naturalized or began the naturalization process but did not necessarily complete it, would be wise to seek out any documents related to the process.  Those documents may well include valuable information not available elsewhere.  Look for the documents in places where the immigrant resided.

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