Fayette County Naturalization Records starting ca 1857

Probably the most underused records on FamilySearch are those that are not indexed and which seem to only be accessible via the Catalog (by the way, I always misspell this word as "catalogue." I guess that's the Brit in me shining through?). At RootsTech 2018 during the Town Hall Meeting, I learned that this is about 70% of the records that have been digitized, which is astonishing. Many of these records have an icon next to them which means they are only accessible in a Family History Center.this!

booo! I have to go to the FHC to view this!

But some of them are accessible from home. You do need a free account to view them.

That's more like it!

How do you even navigate to these records?

Go to the catalog!

You can search by place. Type in the place name and select from the dropdown menu the best applicable choice. Generally, the broader your place category, the more records you will have to choose from. There were more records created at the "United States, Texas, Fayette" level than the "United States, Texas, Fayette, Fayetteville" level. I have no idea why they choose to organize the listing from largest jurisdiction to smallest, which is directly opposite to how it's done everywhere else. Also, note that US counties are not labeled with the word "county." Czech jurisdictions - forget about it.

Search by place!

Then narrow down by what kind of record. For example, I picked "Naturalization and citizenship."

You might be fooled into sadness and dejection because there are only one or two records per record type. But be aware, that's just a super broad category, definitely worth clicking on.

Only two measly records? Do not be deceived!

Lots and lots of records, and the list goes on and on. Only three available for viewing at home though.

When I finally found the record of interest (earliest Naturalization records for Fayette County), notice that it is available for home viewing! If only the index were, too.

Don't forget! This is ITEM THREE! If I had ordered this record on a microfilm, I would have to wind the reel forward. Instead I just have to scroll with my finger.


I have to scroll to item three.

...which is 600 pages away. Is your finger tired? 😉

Sure enough, this is the first record for item 3. It is dated 1858. But notice that it is for a person who arrived in 1848. Remember that naturalization records were created at least 3 years (usually 5 years) after the arrival of the immigrant!

I was really excited to find that the earliest Naturalization records for Fayette County are actually pretty useful!

For example, this record for Vincent Ripl shows his age (probably at the time of the creation of the record in 1869), and the day of his arrival. It also says he is a "native of Bohemia." Other records mention the village name, so it's worth looking at these!

And it led me to discover that there were Czech immigrants before the infamous 1856 group. In fact, there were several: one in 1851, one ca ~1853. Could Vincent Ripl have traveled in that second group of Texas Czechs? Certainly he was one of the first Texas Czech pioneers.

It is really cool that these records exist. It might be possible to reconstruct some of the missing passenger lists from a careful analysis of these records. I hope they get put on the to-index list soon.

I attached some half a dozen of these naturalization records to people on FamilySearch, even though they were not my family. Because why not!? This way, somebody else can more easily find the important records of their ancestors.

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