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Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 7 Aug 2013 12:49PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Smith, Schmidt, Sitkowecki
My ancestor Louis Smith was a Russian Jew from Bershad, Ukraine, whose original birth name was Leizer Schmidt.

But on the Certificate of Arrival provided with his naturalization record, his name is given as "Elie Sitkowecki," arrived August 13, 1906. There's no indication of a name change. And I know from many other family records that "Sitkowecki" was never the family's surname.

http://interactive.ancestry.com/2717/31311_137553-00011/8294...

Is it possible that my ancestor immigrated under a false identity? Or is it more likely that the mistake happened when the naturalization was being processed, with a clerk pulling the wrong record?

Here is the original manifest. Elie (line 25) has a similar birthdate and town name (Berszer), but his "uncle" in the U.S. is no one I've ever heard of, either.

http://interactive.ancestry.com/8769/PAT840_53-0291/541331

This mystery has had me stuck since I discovered it last year. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Adam Goodheart

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 8 Aug 2013 12:25AM GMT
Classification: Query
This post was deleted by the author on 8 Aug 2013 1:04AM GMT

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 8 Aug 2013 12:48AM GMT
Classification: Query
Yes, Elie is a male (like Elie Wiesel) — and the name is a variation of Leizer.

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 9 Aug 2013 11:23AM GMT
Classification: Query
Adam

What was the family name?

Do you have records from Russia that indicate "this was never the family name"?

Anything is possible, it was not uncommon for immigrants to "share" passports, as until c. 1920 passports did not contain photos. You can be certain the COA is for the person listed on the manifest as on July 11, 1924 a check was done to ensure that he had been in the US long enough to apply for Citizenship. Also the COA number 1600C-31994 was recorded

Robert Jerin
Croatian Heritage Museum
Cleveland Ohio

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 9 Aug 2013 1:35PM GMT
Classification: Query
Robert, thanks very much for your helpful response. Yes, the family name is in Russian records (from Podolia and Bessarabia) as Schmidt.

It's interesting that an immigrant could "share" a passport ... how did this work? Would someone else in "the old country" obtain a passport and sell it to an emigrant who couldn't get proper documentation himself? Is there any possibility that the fraud could have occurred at the time of naturalization in the 1920s — i.e., Louis Smith no longer had the information on his arrival, so he claimed a false identity?

Since you seem knowledgable about the process, another question: was the name of the "friend" to whom the immigrant was traveling part of the original passport, or did the immigrant just provide that information orally? I'm wondering if the "Dr. Eisig Fischer" listed on the manifest was really my ancestor's uncle, or rather the uncle of whoever might have sold/loaned him the passport.

Adam

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 10 Aug 2013 12:35AM GMT
Classification: Query
Adam

How did this work... I am not sure what you mean.. passports may have been shared for a variety of reasons, including cost.

The info about the person at the destination was given at the Port of Departure.

Robert

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 28 Aug 2013 1:41PM GMT
Classification: Query
Guess what? I've discovered that a year later, someone else (a cousin) emigrated apparently using the same Russian passport! And this time it was clearly the "real" Elie. The first user must have mailed the passport back home after it got him to the US.

It further occurs to me that the reason may be that both men were in their early 20s, hence eligible for military service. The Russian government was very strict about emigration for such men, perhaps especially in the immediate aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War.

Re: Immigration mystery (Certificate of Arrival doesn't match name)

Posted: 29 Aug 2013 11:04AM GMT
Classification: Query
Dear agoodheart

You may be interested in reading info found at the link below regarding Jews and military service in the Imperial Russian Army

http://www.roots-saknes.lv/Army/military_service_.htm#RulesJ...

Robert
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