I attended the National Archives 2013 Virtual Genealogy Fair a couple weeks ago and it inspired me to do something that's long been on my to-do list.
I finally utilized the genealogy services of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
My great-great grandfather, Emile Bourgaux (1866-1948) and my great-great-great grandfather Michel Bourgaux (1840-?) were both naturalized citizens after immigrating from Belgium. Both went through the process in the 1890s.
I have index card records that say they were naturalized. I have birth dates. I have dates of naturalization. Those are important. What I don't have are file numbers.
Before I can request a file from this site, I have to request an index search to see if they're in the database and if they have file numbers. Those are $20 a pop, and there is no guarantee they'll find anything. That's where the genealogical gambling comes in.
I ordered an index search for both ancestors. I got an online warning for my third-great grandfather that it is very unusual for USCIS to find records for people born as far back as 1840. I soldiered on because I have a naturalization date for him and it falls within the website's parameters.
So now I'm out 40 bucks and in a holding pattern. If they find the naturalization file numbers--and that's a big IF--then they should deliver those to me via email. Only then can I shell out more dough and request their naturalization files.
I really help this goes through. I really want to know more about Michel Bourgaux.
Sometimes ordering genealogy records feels like throwing a bunch of money down a dark wishing well and hoping for the best. This is one of those times...