Another Oceanic Crossing for Focke Goldenstein

Immigrants occasionally return to their homeland for a visit. Unfortunately for my research, ancestral visits home were not all that common. Of my twenty-seven 19th century immigrant ancestors, only one went back for a short visit. It turns out that he returned twice.

Focke Goldenstein was born 12 January 1857 in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Adams County, Illinois, where he died. According to his granddaughter Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes (1924-2008), Focke immigrated as a young man and returned  “a couple” times to visit relatives in Germany.

Years ago, I located him on this manifest from 1873. The age and name matched and he was travelling with a few other Ostfriesians. The name of Focke Goldenstein is not common so this seemed to be him and I still think it is.

Year: 1873; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm Roll: 384; Line: 33; digital image at

I stumbled upon this entry for another Focke Goldenstein (indexed as Tocke Goldenstein).

Entry number 628 is a Focke Goldenstein, showing as a 21 year old United States Citizen on board the Oder which arrived in New York City on 18 October 1879.

Year: 1879; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm Roll: 420; digital image at

I was not certain if this 1879 entry was mine or not. Again, the name combination is very unusual (although Focke does have nephews with the exact same name as him who also immigrated). What is interesting about this manifest entry is that 1879 Focke indicates he is a citizen upon his 18 October 1879 arrival.

My Focke naturalized and upon checking the date, I determined that the 1879 immigrant could have been mine. Focke J. Goldenstein naturalized in Knox County, Illinois, on 31 March 1879.

Naturalization of Focke J. Goldenstein from his homestead claim: Land Entry Records for Nebraska, compiled 1857 – 1908 State: Nebraska Land Office: North Platte Township: 11 North Range: 25 West Section: 12; digital image on

These three individuals could very easily have been the same person. In having researched Focke for years, I have never come across another person of his approximate age with the same name. That does not mean anything in and of itself, but it does make it unlikely that there is another Focke Goldenstein who was an American citizen in 1879. And the ages are all consistent enough to have been the same person. Focke’s naturalization in early 1879 could have been a means of preparing for his visit to his homeland–to ensure he was not conscripted into the military.

Focke made a return trip to Germany to visit in the early 1900s. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t repeat that information here. Those manifests are more detailed and contain additional clues making it obvious it was the same guy (residential information combined with his travelling companions).

I just wish the earlier records had those details. 


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