Henry Fecht’s “1863 Immigration” on FamilySearch

Looking at the original is always advised because indexes are occasionally incorrect and (because they are finding aids not transcriptions) sometimes incomplete. That’s old news for most genealogists who have been researching for a while. It’s also something that’s clear in the record entry in “Illinois, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1998” at FamilySearch for a Henry Fecht who “immigrated” in 1863.

A look at the actual record indicates that is not correct. Henry did not immigrate in 1863. The record image (Fecht’s naturalization from Madison County, Illinois) indicates that he declared his intention to naturalize in September of 1860 in Madison County and completed his naturalization there in April of 1863. That’s the year of his naturalization, not his immigration.

Henry’s witness on his naturalization is a man named Joseph Gottlob. All we know about Gottlob from the record is that he was a United States citizen over the age of twenty-one. That was the legal requirement to vouch for someone completing their naturalization process. FamilySearch does not index names of witnesses on naturalizations–their index is not an every name index. It’s only an index to the individuals who naturalized.

FamilySearch now allows for the “editing” of name transcriptions. I wish they did that for other data from the record as well.

A quick search indicates that this Henry Fecht is not the only entry in this database where a naturalization year has been confused with an immigration year.


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