24 August 2013

HOW CAN I FIND MY GREAT GRANDFATHER'S MEXICAN VILLAGE? : QUESTION FROM READER

Q: Great Grandpa walked across the border of Mexico and the United States from somewhere in Mexico and before 1920. He was alone. He was Mexican and we are now fifth generation Mexican-Americans. Eventually he worked for the same manufacturing company in Arizona for over 30 years, a company that no longer exists, so I don't think I can contact anyone there to ask about his employment or personnel records. No one seems to know what village in Mexico he left. Maybe he never said. I'm not sure he became a citizen but I think so, especially because of his work history. I found the family on the 1920 census and he was not a citizen. He was in his mid-twenties. Now I'm not sure of his birth date. Other than the census I haven't found anything on Ancestry, the geneology research database. Any Suggestions? Marie C.


A: The personnel records might very well have this birth date and place and other information that could be useful to your genealogy research generally and finding them is an interesting idea that I think you should pursue a bit. You might check around to see if that company's records were destroyed or held in an archive or historical society or library somewhere, since the company was a big employer, instrumental to the history of the area, and around a long time.

Start with the closest public library to where the company was and also ask the local historical society. There are some company records available here and there for industrial age "Company Towns." I've found some that relate to my own research including a photo of one ancestor which was in a file.

However, I think your best bet is to search for his WORLD WAR ONE DRAFT REGISTRATION as ALL MEN, even those who were not citizens, up until about the age of 40 had to REGISTER, and your GP seems to be in the right age category. The registration asks the birth date and place as well as an address and name of the closest relative, which may or may not be your great-grandmother, but could verify their marriage. They asked such details because of the notion that unmarried and childless men would be called to serve before the married with children.

There were 3 or 4 draft registrations for the World War over about 2 years time and up to about the age of 40. Registration is not the same as a draft or enlistment record or a military record, though they are stored under MILITARY RECORDS in the Ancestry and other genealogy databases.

I would also suggest that after you get that Mexican hometown you look for CHURCH RECORDS. I've found that church records sometimes contain interesting notes by the priest or minister in the margins besides the mostly usual names, occupations, and addresses. The Church records from Mexico may record GP's birth or baptism, and could include his marriage there or in the United States by notation. I've found that in small towns the church records have comments about who has gone to America or come back for a visit, and so on. C

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