Sepia Saturday #318: Passport Puzzle

SepiaSaturday-1-318SepiaSaturday-2-318
This hand-colored card is from Aunt Sadie’s great-grandfather, Adam Karthaeuser. If you run your finger over the dog and the duck, you can feel the colored pencil marks. The paper is slightly wavy due to the drying of the watercolors also used. A close look at the inside cover lettering around the “A Happy” and “Great” reveals guide lines used to keep the lettering straight.

The inscription underneath the card in the scrapbook says, “Sent from Masonic Home in Tappan, N.Y.” The artist’s signature near the dog’s left front foot reads “•Deck•” which is most likely a fellow Masonic Home resident. I have a photo of John Adam Karthaeuser at the German Masonic Home from around 1937:

John Adam Karthaeuser 081

The majority of documents I have found show that Adam (as he was known) was born in Germany.

1900 US Census[1] shows Adam (43) was born in April 1857 in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887, had been in the country 13 years, and was naturalized. He had been married for 15 years which puts his marriage year circa 1885. His occupation was hotel keeper.

1900 US Census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1900 census

1910 US Census[2] shows Adam (53) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized. He had been married for 25 years which puts his marriage year circa 1885. His occupation was Boarding house keeper.

1910 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1910 census

1920 US Census[3] shows Adam (62) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized in 1892.

1920 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1920 census

1930 US Census[4] shows Adam (67) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized. He was married when he was 27 years old which puts the marriage year circa 1884.

1930 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1930 census

1940 US Census[5] shows Adam (82) was born in Germany and that he had been naturalized. By this time, he was widowed.

1940 US Census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1940 census

His marriage certificate[6] shows that Adam married Anna Merkenthaler on 25 February 1892 in New York City. It shows a very specific birthplace for Adam of Oggersheim, Rhinefalz, Germany.

mcert012

So, I was pretty certain that my 2nd great-grandfather was from Germany and was not a United States citizen until he was naturalized in 1892 as evidenced in the 1920 census.

But the marriage certificate highlights a discrepancy in his marriage information. Over all the census years, Adam and/or Anna was very consistent on how long they were married:

  • 1900 – 15 years married = 1885 (1900 less 15)
  • 1910 – 25 years married = 1885 (1910 less 25)
  • 1920 – no info
  • 1930 – married when 25 = 1884 (1857 plus 27)
  • 1940 – widowed

So, why the date of 25 February 1892 on the marriage certificate? Given that he was naturalized in 1892, I would speculate that Adam and Anna decided to get married in New York City where they were currently living. They may not have had their original German marriage certificate or they may just have done it to cement their status as newly-minted citizens of the United States of America. The marriage year around 1885 may have been when they actually considered themselves married and thus what they told the enumerators.

According to his daughter Anna, Adam’s exact birth date was 07 April 1857,[7] which corresponds to the information on the 1900 census. So imagine my surprise when I turned up this passport application.[8]

USM1372_632-0355

This application has the following information:

  • Form was for native citizens, No. 76282
  • Oath of Allegiance sworn on 14 July 1903
  • Passport issued on 15 July 1903
  • Birth Date 07 April 1857 (corresponds to family info)
  • Permanent residence is Rosebank, Staten Island, New York
  • Occupation was hotelier (corresponds to 1900 census info)
  • Applicant is 46 years old (1903 less 46 = 1857, corresponds to censuses)

However, Adam swears in this application that was he born in New York City. He swears his father is a naturalized citizen. All of the censuses contradict this information in that he gave his birthplace as Germany (as well as his parents) when the question was asked by the enumerators. The document has his signature:

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.39.59 PM

However, I can’t use the card above to compare signatures. I suspect the card maker also did the signature since there are guidelines (as with the other lettering) on the card signature. Adam wouldn’t have needed guidelines for his own signature.

This application happened before people were issued social security numbers so the notary public accepted Adam’s sworn allegiance and the certification of the witness at face value when he notarized the document. It would not have been the notary public’s job to prove the information.

I suspect this application is for my 2nd great-grandfather. I’m not sure why he felt the need to lie about his nativity. Perhaps, there was some event back in the homeland that he needed to attend to or needed to be there for. Perhaps, applications for native born citizens went through quicker. Perhaps, he used the wrong form by mistake. Whatever the reason, it’s now a mystery for us to ponder 100+ years later.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Dog

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 2.45.08 PM


[1] 1900 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 611, p. 12A (penned), dwelling 203, family 246, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1154.
[2] 1910 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 1322, p. 7B (penned), dwelling 122, family 143, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1073.
[3] 1920 U. S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ED 889, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 100, family 201, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1167.
[4] 1930 U. S. census, Hudson County, New Jersey, population schedule, Jersey City, ED 162, page 23A (penned), dwelling 210, family 467, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publicationT626, roll 1356.
[5] 1940 U. S. census, Rockland County, New York, population schedule, Orangetown, ED 44-35, sheet 12B, German Masonic Home, line 53; digital image, Ancestry (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 January 2015); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627.
[6] New York City, New York, marriage certificate no. 124-1892 (1892), Karthaeuser-Mergenthaler, certificate number is penned; Digital copy with Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[7] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 81; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[8] “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2015), entry for Adam Karthaueser, NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 632; Volume #: Roll 632 – 09 Jul 1903-18 Jul 1903.

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