The records of Probate Court in this database include most of the information available in the original records. The records are amazingly generic and contain very little information about the person. They generally included an anglicized name. Later records give a town of residence. The dates of birth were given as an age on the last birthday date. (Therefore the years of birth for our index have been calculated, and there may be errors.) The country of birth or allegiance and the sovereignty of past allegiance is usually given. The date of arrival in the US, the name of one witness, and the petitioner’s signature are always included, either on the forms or index card. There may be a few details occasionally that were not included in this project. If there is no date of certificate given in the table, the petition may have been denied for a variety of reasons. If the petition part of the application was never begun, our table states that it is “DOA only.”
Common Pleas Records
The records of Common Pleas Court have a huge amount of genealogically important data. They include full name and other aliases; birth date; age; place of birth including town; address; occupation; spouse; marriage date and place; children’s names, dates and places of birth and residence; date of entry to the US (very recent petitions include multiple entries); port of emigration; port of entry; name used at entry to US; ship or transportation name; sovereignty previously owed allegiance to; most recent residence prior to entry to US; alien registration (1940-1944); witness names, addresses and occupations; witness and petitioner’s signatures; date of court hearing; list of continuances, or reason for denial if applicable; certificate number and date of issuance of certificate. Although some petitions were denied for ignorance, poor moral character, death, or not meeting the residency requirement, the usual denial was for failure to appear for the court date, or witness difficulties such as not knowing the petitioner the full number of years required. Many of the more recent petitions lack the date of certificate and/or the certificate number, but it is likely they were issued.
The Common Pleas Declarations of Alien Intention (DOA) contain similar, although earlier, demographic and arrival information. In some cases the court copy also has a photo attached. Some of the most recent DOAs seem to be missing, perhaps because the original is on file.
A few other papers may be included in the Common Pleas packets. A Certificate of Arrival is usually included. If witnesses were out of town or unavailable for court, their several page affidavits are filed. In some cases letters were included. The government wrote regarding certain nationals during war times. The applicant occasionally wrote to change an address or transfer a DOA or a petition to or from another jurisdiction.