Tabs for Maternal Side

Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting and My Ancestors

As the 2016 Presidential election is coming to a close (Finally! Cheers all around the world are heard), I thought I'd take a look back at who was running when my ancestors could vote in the United States.

If you've been reading this blog, you would know my ancestors come from Europe - Almost all of Europe. On my maternal side, we have Denmark, Belgium/France, and Poland. On my paternal side, I have Poland/Russia and Germany.  That's quite a bit of Europe when you think of it! However, when were they allowed to vote for Federal voting? Who was running in those years? Let's see what I found...

Maternal side:

Gauquie - France/Belgium area - Started to vote about 1899 in the USA. This is from my great grandfather's (Jules or his correct name Joannes Julius) naturalization papers:

Excerpt from Jules' Naturalization Papers
He believed he could vote due to his father becoming a US Citizen on 28 March 1898. This is due to what was/is known as "derivative" citizenship. This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father." The question then remains, why didn't he get citizenship then as it was his father. Why he didn't obtain it this way was because he was over the age of 18. When he became 18, he was technically an adult and had to renounce his citizenship from Belgium. 

Excerpt from Jules' Naturalization Papers
I thought it was very interesting that he admitted to voting in elections and even holding an office from another section of his naturalization papers(below). 

 He says he had been voting since about 1899. The problem with this is there were NO elections in 1899, so I'm more inclined to believe it was the 1900 election he voted in.


Also, the statement of "and hold office in the Town of Blooming Grove, NY" is very interesting as I have looked online for documents/newspapers for this area for elections, but cannot find anything. This is an area I will have to research next time I go back to visit.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1900?
This is one of the things when I was in school and we went over different presidents, and I thought, why do I need to know this crap? So what? It happened and its over. Well, now as I'm researching this, many of that crap, as I termed it, has been coming back to me. Then add it to my family history and WOW. 
Taken from Wikipedia

 This was a surprising find as NY was in red - it was Republican state. Since I can ever remember, its always been referred to as a Democrat state, so it was a shock to me. The next shock was to find out who McKinley's running mate was - Teddy Roosevelt!

Taken from Wikipedia
 Yes, you are reading it correctly! Teddy Roosevelt was Governor of NY. I am thinking this is most likely who my great grandfather voted for - but I could be wrong. I haven't been able to find any voting lists.
Annie's naturalization certificate in 1924.

Larson - Denmark - My great grandmother, Annie/Anna, was naturalized in 1924. She arrived in the USA in 1892, but at this point women could not vote yet. She was married in 1896 to my great grandfather, Jules.

The 19th Amendment which gave ALL AMERICAN women the right to vote did not get ratified until 18 August 1920. After this point, they were allowed to vote if they were Americans. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens."

However, she found in 1923, my great grandfather, Jules, was NOT a US citizen, which in turn, made her NOT a US citizen. This put her in the same area as Jules, was she voting? If so, then she probably started about the same as Jules. If not, then when she became a US Citizen in 1924, she could then vote without a problem.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1924?

New York State was still Republican which still shocks me a bit because growing up it seemed like NY was a Democratic state forever. Apparently not.

Taken from Wikipedia
Now I'm curious, out of the people running for office, I wonder who Annie would have voted for? Was she like my mother, who told me years ago she voted for the other person in an election because she knew who my father voted for? Did she vote or did she choose the same person as she knew her husband wanted? Sadly, we'll never know, but its fun to speculate what she would have voted for.

Jagodzinski/Berry - Poland - Appolanus or Leo Barry/Berry is a very interesting person and very much a ghost. He was born, as far as I can tell as Appolanus Jagodzinski in Poland. Then in his late teens, he left Poland for the US and arriving in 1905. Over the years, he changed his name a few times as far as I can tell to Leo Berry/Barry (Leo was American for Appolanus and Berry/Barry was probably due to his family perhaps maybe being berry farmers in Poland). The Jagodzinski name has a few spelling changes as well. Appolanus did fill out an Alien Registration form in 1930 which is just before World War 2. He never naturalized to a US Citizen.

Now I have to ask - could he have voted? I had to go looking and found my way to Wikipedia that states "By 1900, nearly one-half of the states and territories had some experience with voting by aliens, and for some the experience lasted more than half a century.[12]" Later the explanation goes on to say "In 1931, political scientist Leon Aylsworth noted: "For the first time in over a hundred years, a national election was held in 1928 in which no alien in any state had the right to cast a vote for a candidate for any office – national, state, or local."[16]" I did find in 1776-1804 NY did allow everyone to vote - both legal and illegal.

When I read through Appolanus' Alien paperwork, he does admit to having an offense (being arrested) for a Robbery in PA.  What really makes me laugh is he can't remember too much about the offense. Hmm have something to hide?

A part of Appolanus' Alien paperwork
Again I ask - Could he have voted? I found the following out: "In 48 states (all but Maine and Vermont) and in the District of Columbia, citizens lose the right to vote upon conviction of a felony; in at least a handful of states, the right is also lost upon conviction of a misdemeanor. All 48 states (and the District of Columbia) also provide mechanisms by which these citizens may seek to regain their voting rights, though some processes are much more viable than others." from the American Civil Liberties Union.

In fact, when I went to vote, it says right on the top of the forms I have to fill in the following;
Excerpt from a form in the 2016 NY election - note (c) condition

So yes, you cannot vote if you've been convicted of a crime. Do I think this stopped Appolanus from voting? Somehow I think he still voted, but I cannot prove or disprove this.

Ostrcyki/Ostrzycki/Ustrzycki - Poland/Russia - My 2x great grandparents and great grandmother arrived in the US in 1903. My 2x great grandfather, Stanislaw, was naturalized in 1920. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens." This meant all by his oldest child, Charles, were automatically US citizens on the same day he was sworn in. Charles later on would go to fill out his own paperwork for citizenship.

1920 Excerpt from Stanislaw's naturalization papers
So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1920?
Taken from Wikipedia
These relatives lived in PA, but it is still a Republican state as you can tell by the map above. I'm not sure on who he would have voted for but it would have been interesting.

Remember his wife, Valerie or Walerja, could have voted as well! Why? The 19th Amendment which gave ALL AMERICAN women the right to vote did not get ratified until 18 August 1920. After this point, they were allowed to vote if they were Americans. However, if you remember "derivative" citizenship term from above.  This citizenship "was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens." As, Valerie or Walerja, was handed her American citizenship because of her husband's oath he took. Remember because of the same laws, all their children, but Charles, were US Citizens.

Again, she lived with her family in PA, but it is still a Republican state as you can tell by the map above. I'm not sure on who she would have voted for or if she would have voted at all. I know their one child, Lottie or Laura, was later to go on to push for Democrats in this area, so maybe her mother and/or father could have something to do with it? 

Paternal side: 

Wojtkowski - Poland/Russia - This was my great grandparents and grandmother on my father's side. My great grandfather arrived in the US in 1913. I believe he was too worried about making enough money to get his wife and child out of Poland and to the US before starting on becoming a US citizen. My grandmother and great grandmother arrived in New York in September 1920 - Just after the 19th Amendment became law. My great grandfather naturalized in 1925, my great grandmother in 1934 and then my grandmother followed in 1943.

What was so interesting about this, was even though my grandmother because a US citizen when her father took his oath through the "derivative" citizenship laws, my grandmother decided she wanted to take the oath and not just have it handed to her.

So who would have he had to choose from in the election of 1925/1928?
As he would have missed voting in the 1924 elections, my great grandfather, Adam's, next election he could vote in would be 1928. 
 
Taken from Wikipedia

As he was a small business owner by now, I believe he would have voted Republican in New Jersey, which is where they settled when the arrived in the US.

So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1934/1936? 
My great grandmother, Marianne or Mary, would have voted I believe. She would have loved and been proud to do it after growing up the way she had been in Poland/Russia.

Her citizenship would have fallen between elections. The first election she would have been able to vote in would be 1936.

Taken from Wikipedia
I have notice NJ and NY are both democratic at this time. This must be when NY has become a traditional democratic state.




So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1943/1944?

My grandmother would have to wait until 1944 to vote which was the next federal election.

Taken from Wikipedia
I still remember her telling me when I was growing up, to hold firm to the US citizenship and make sure you respect the right to vote. There are other people in the world that do not get this right and you MUST exercise it.

It wasn't just the words that were spoken which have stuck with me over the years. It was the fire and emotion she put behind them. Now, upon researching her background, I can understand why she cherished these rights and freedoms - because while in Poland/Russia, she never had them. This is what she was trying to tell me all those years ago.


Schmitz - Germany - My grandfather came to the US in 1926 and he was in his late teens. In 1926 he filed his Declaration of Intention for US Citizenship. However, he resubmitted another Declaration of Intention in 1930. He married my grandmother, Jean, in 1934 and had a son later in the same year. He was finally naturalized in 1939.

My grandfather's citizenship certificate

So who would have she had to choose from in the election of 1940?

He did not have to wait long before he could vote for the US President as you can see by the graphic below.

Taken from Wikipedia
However, I do not believe this was his motivator to become a citizen. World War 2 was already raging across the world and people who were of German origin, such as himself, would have been under increased scrutiny of the government. I believe this is his reasons around becoming a US citizen.

My Conclusion

Unfortunately, most people from Europe probably felt the same way as many as my ancestors - they never had the right to vote or a say in what was being done in their home country. What a great place to come to so you COULD have a say.

However, over the past many number of elections, US citizens, such as myself, are becoming much more disenchanted with what we are finding in our elected officials. The 2016 US Presidential race is one of the best examples of what NOT to do.

Everyone is complaining about who the nominees are (tomorrow is the election), what they are not, what Congress and The House of Reps are and are not doing. This includes myself. Not many people are very happy with what we are being served in the US for people to run the place.

I think its high time there has to be someone, with the knowledge, background, and COURAGE to stand up and fix the damned place. The truth would be good, but sometimes people are better off not knowing due to outside influences.

I hate to say it but NONE of the people who were put up as choices, fit this criteria. This is what the US has to fix - the nominees - before we can actually make a great choice. This election is just not it unfortunately. I can only imagine what my ancestors would do/say if they could see the state of the country today.