The family of Irish immigrant James Neill arrived in Lake County, Indiana, in the 1920s. By that time, the oldest children of James and Margaret Neill were already grown. All of the Neill children were born in Ireland before the Neills emigrated. It was hoped that some members of this family naturalized in the United States and that their records were more detailed than were the naturalization records of other Neill immigrants.
The two other Neill immigrants to the United States were James’ uncles: Samuel and Joseph. Those brothers naturalized in the 1870s when US naturalization records did not provide as much detail as records do in the 20th century.
James and Margaret Neill are living at 3982 Jefferson Street in Gary, Lake County, Indiana, in 1930. The younger half of their children are still living at home. The Irish Neills indicate that they arrived in the United States in 1923. Only the men have filed their “first intent papers” to be come citizens. The females (wife/mother Margaret and daughter Lillian) are listed as aliens.
For this region of Indiana, the place to start looking for a naturalization reference is in “Soundex index to naturalization petitions for U.S. District & Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950.” This Soundex index was microfilmed by the National Archives and Records service in M1285 (see pamphlet). The microfilm has been digitized and indexed on FamilySearch. It’s been indexed largely because a Soundex index is not a strictly alphabetical one.
There was a card reference to a James Neill in the digital version of M1285 available on FamilySearch. The address was slightly different than the 1930 census entry, but the age and other details were consistent. Looking at the actual naturalization would confirm that the correct person had been located.
The Soundex card indicated that James Neill Sr. was naturalized in the United States District Court for Lake County in Hammond County, Indiana, in 1938. My next step was to determine if those records were also available on FamilySearch.
The index card is not the end. It’s just a step.