Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My First Rescue

I know which of the photo rescues was my first.  I was prowling the Elgin Antique Mall, as I am wont to do regularly, and was flipping through a bin of assorted paper ephemera when I flipped to an original Naturalization Certificate.  I was appalled to see it there.  I had the same reaction as if I had stumbled across someone's original Birth Certificate.  "This should not be for sale in an antique shop!  I must do something about this!"

So I bought it and brought it home and had some vague idea that maybe I could find a descendant of the man and who might want it returned to the family archives.  It was many years ago and the Internet resources for genealogical research were not as far along as they are now.  I was able to find a reference in the Social Security Death Index and that was all.

Today I made a new search and picked up a bit more information thanks to Family Search and Ancestry and Find a Grave.

The Naturalization Certificate that started it all was issued on March 22, 1956, to Mr. Ernests Kroms, then residing in Beeville, Texas.   It gives his date of birth as January 14, 1892, a former native of Latvia.  He is shown as married, light complexion, blue eyes, gray hair, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighing 135 pounds with no visible distinctive marks.  He was granted naturalization by the US Federal Court, Southern District, Corpus Christi, Texas.  Tucked into the folder is his original Social Security card.

With the addition of Texas Death record images on Family Search, I was able to pull Mr. Krom's death certificate.    This source provided the date of death on March 26, 1978, from a myocardial infarction, while living at the Trinity Lutheran Home in Round Rock, Texas.  He was 86 at the time of his death and married, so apparently his wife survived him.  His father's name is given as Jakob Kroms.  His birthplace is given as Russia.  He was buried in Palm Valley Lutheran Church Cemetery.

Ancestry now has images available for some Texas Naturalization Records, so I was able to locate Mr. Kroms' Petition for Naturalization, which has a good deal more information on it than the Certificate.    He was born in Riga, Latvia.  His occupation was Furniture Repairman.  He was married on November 11, 1922, to Natalye (no maiden name given) in Riga, Latvia.  She was born September 27, 1897, also in Riga.  They had two children:  Velta (female), born in Riga on August 31, 1923, and Martins (male), born in Riga on October 31, 1931.  Both children are shown currently living in Latvia.  Ernests arrived in the United States at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, on the ship General Taylor on October 16, 1950.  He did not request any name change.

A photograph of Mr. Kroms' tombstone can be found here on FindAGrave.  Mrs. Kroms is not listed in the cemetery, nor can I find a death certificate for her.  A search for an obit was unsuccessful.  One wonders if Mrs. Kroms returned to Latvia to her children or remarried after her husband's death.

This is the one I can blame for getting me started in the ancestor rescue business.  I may have to stop by Palm Valley Lutheran Church one of these days on my way home from work and visit his grave.


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