How Do You Know?

A distant relative indicated that a naturalizing ancestor was the apprentice of his father-in-law in the 1850s.

I was unaware of the apprentice relationship and asked her how she knew. She said that the father-in-law had been a witness on the naturalizing ancestor’s naturalization. The father-in-law was vouching for his age, character, etc. when he naturalized. My correspondent indicated that the witnessing meant there was an apprentice relationship between the two.

I gently asked where she had learned this. I never heard back.

The witness on a naturalization is testifying to what’s stated on the document: generally that the person needed to be naturalized, was of legal age (sound mind, etc.), and of good character. The witness needed to be a citizen themselves of legal age. That’s it.

It can be easy to get incorrect ideas in our heads: because we “read it somewhere at sometime,” think we “read it somewhere” (but actually read something else and got mixed up–which happens to all of us), read something entirely too fast and misunderstood it, was told it by someone online who we can’t remember and whose knowledge level we do not know, etc.

Don’t be afraid to try and confirm those “ideas you got in your head.” You may find out you are totally correct, partially correct, or completely wrong. But finding out and learning more is never a bad thing.

When in doubt, check it out!

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