Of all the places that your ancestors could have lived I would wish for you that they lived in St Louis! I began my research there because St Louis was my family’s home for 4 generations. I now know just how fortunate that was! There are many reasons why St Louis is one of the most research friendly places on earth, but the first and foremost is the work of the St Louis Genealogical Society. Their members are among the leading genealogists in the nation. I was fortunate to be able to attend all three of the Research Institutes that have been held to date and each one added so much more to my St Louis research skills. Their website is www.stlgs.org and even without joining there is a wealth of information available. For those with St Louis ancestors, the $35 annual fee to join is well worth it. There are many databases that are accessible on the site and it is the first stop for those who want to know more about the home of their St Louis ancestors. I searched their Naturalization Records database for my great –grandfather, Valentine Pogorzelski and found the reference for the date and court where he became a citizen of his adopted country. With that information in hand I was able to search the correct film from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to find the actual document.
I might not have found it so easily had I not searched on this more localized site because his name was indexed as Poyorzelski, his first name was sometimes Valentine, sometimes Walenty and a few other spellings also. He renounced his allegiance to the “Emperor of Germany” on 13 October 1892, so using Polish or Poland in my search would have eliminated this entry. In fact when I first searched under Pogorzelski, even using the Soundex option, there was no entry for Valentine. There was however an entry for a Stephan Pogorzelski, which I looked at as you should always do, especially with unusual names. There I found Valentine Pogorzelski testifying that Stephan Pogorzelski had come to the United States as a minor and had been there 5 years and so was eligible for citizenship. Now, I had another person, who was quite likely a relative, born outside the US. Following Elizabeth Shown Mills’ FAN principle (Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors) I have learned that one of the best tactics for “jumping the pond” is to get as many people as possible that could have come from the same place. Even if your ancestor did not leave any records naming their birth village, maybe someone else did. Stay tuned for more articles about the many resources available for St Louis research.