Genealogists use documents to estimate dates on a regular basis. It is not unusual for a document to make a statement about a person and not specify a specific date on which that event took place. Such is the case with the 7 May 1885 affidavit made by Christian Troutfetter in his homestead application for property in Thomas County, Kansas.
Troutfetter stated on 7 May 1885 that he was “A citizen of the US and the head of A Family.” If I were using information from that document to reach a conclusion about his citizenship, I would indicate in my database that (based upon this affidavit) Troutfetter was a citizen by 7 May 1885. I would not state that 7 May 1885 was his naturalization date, I would indicate that Troutfetter was a citizen by that date.
However apparently Troutfetter was not a citizen on that date.
Troutfetter’s homestead application was delayed because he could not provide evidence of citizenship. According to a copy of his naturalization contained in his homestead application file, Troutfetter was naturalized in Thomas County, Kansas on 6 November 1891 at the “March Term”[sic] of the court. The copy of the naturalization has space for information about the court where Troutfetter’s declaration of intent was filed and that information has been crossed out.
This makes it seem as if Troutfetter did not have a declaration of intention to bring to the court.
The immediate lesson here is to read the entire file and never make a conclusion based on just one item in a record. The file contains a copy of Troutfetter’s naturalization which has his naturalization date. The copy does indicate that his November 1891 naturalization took place at the March 1891 term of the court–so something is off. The reverse side of the copy indicated that the naturalization was filed on page 88 of record book 1 and, if desired, an actual copy of that record could be obtained to determine if the term of court is correct or if more information is on the original document.
The bigger question is “what was the deal with Troutfetter’s naturalization status?”
Based upon the copy of his naturalization, he didn’t have a declaration of intention. I originally thought maybe he had confused intention papers with citizenship papers.
There’s possibly something else going on here and we’ll see what that may be in a future post.