• Genie Tip,  My Family Tree

    Building Context: Adding the Personal

    This post is the final post in a series on building context for the events in your ancestor’s lives.  Read the first installment here. In the last post, I discussed how phone directories, maps, and photos add geographic context to a 1918 Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article where George Neuman was required to obtain “zone privileges” to work as a butcher.

    Finally, personal context

    During the course of 1917-18, George Neuman changed residence and also changed employers all during a time when unnaturalized Germans were subjects of suspicion and outright surveillance. Remember, a fellow sausage maker, Max Graeske, who worked in the same area of town as George (also information we can ascertain through the City Directory) was interned as an alien enemy at Fort Douglas.

    We won’t ever know definitely if the permit requirements of 1918 influenced George’s decision to change employment and residence. There is, however, one final indicator of how this uncertain time influenced George.

    In March 1917, just a few days before the U.S. entered into WWI, George filed a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen. At the time, this was the first step of becoming a U.S. citizen. Of note, in his Declaration, George identifies his date of entry into the United States as October 20, 1896.

    However, George did not complete his naturalization in 1917 or in the years that followed. According to the Zone Privileges article no Germans were granted naturalization during WWI.

    However, George waited another nineteen years to pursue naturalization. In March 1936, in the lead up to another world war with Germany, George again filed a second Declaration of Intention.

    This time, George identifies his date of arrival as October 20, 1905 (Ship Manifests indicate he likely arrived on November 15, 1904). Perhaps not coincidentally, George’s first Declaration, which was filed at a high point of anti-German sentiment, indicated he entered the U.S. eight years earlier than when he actually entered the country.

    George eventually gained citizenship on June 27, 1941, just six months prior to the U.S. entry into WWII.

    Index to Naturalization records, 1851-1936; indexes, 1858-1980 (Salt Lake County, Utah)

    George died in 1947, just six years after becoming a U.S. citizen.

    Through the historical context, surrounding articles, geographic knowledge, and the personal events in George’s life we are able to gain much greater insight and understanding of how one event may have shaped George in 1918.

    For me, gaining a greater understanding of how singular events in an ancestor’s life fit into the larger context is one of the primary goals of family history. It is only by adding context that a richer picture of our ancestors’ lives can be achieved.

    Please follow and like us:
  • Genie Tip,  My Family Tree

    Building Context: Geography and the Phone Directory.

    This post is the fourth post in a series on building context for the events in your ancestor’s lives.  Read the first installment here. In the last post, I discussed how to build context by searching other newspaper articles to build context about a 1918 Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article where George Neuman was required to obtain “zone privileges” to work as a butcher. 

    Third, geographic context

    Because the Zone Privileges article mentions such a seemingly small area, just a half mile radius around two military facilities, it is important to get geographic context.

    This is where another great genealogical aid can help: The City Directory. If you’ve researched ancestors on Ancestry.com you’ve likely been given hints from city directories. Sure, directories are great at giving you an idea of where your ancestor lived in a given year, an address, sometimes an occupation, and perhaps a phone number.

    #GenieTip: City Directories offer a wealth of information about the city, occupation, businesses and culture of your ancestors' city and time. Plus, the ads are awesome. 

    But there is so much more info that City Directories can provide.

    In particular, by comparing the 1916 – 1918 Salt Lake City directories for George Neuman, I learned that George moved twice. The residence George moved to in 1918 was the home he would live in for the rest of his life.

    All three entries also tell us that George was a butcher. Beginning in 1919, George’s city directory identifies his employer as the Colorado Meat Market and his profession is “sgemaker”. Using the city directories, we can conclude that George was hired by the Colorado Meat Market sometime in 1918.

    Now, you may not have the foggiest idea of what “sgemkr” means. But guess what? We don’t have to guess. If you scan (or skip) to the beginning of the 1919 Salt Lake City Directory, you’ll find an “Abbreviations” page. And yes, “sgemkr” is a sausage maker.

    The fact that George was indeed a sausage maker for the Colorado Meat Market (for 30 years) is mentioned in George’s obituary in 1947.

    George Neuman Obituary, October 20, 1947, Salt Lake Telegraph

    As a side note, these four side-by-side directory entries for George Neuman also provide several other genealogical nuggets:

    • In the 1916 directory, no other Neumans are listed. So that lets us know this was not a widely popular surname and that it is unlikely that the George Neuman in the Zone Privileges article is a different person.
    • In 1917, an August Neuman (there is also an abbreviation chart for names. That’s how where we can learn that Geo=George and Aug=August) has moved to town. He’s a musician (“musn”).
    • In 1918, August Neuman has moved to Long Beach, California (a useful tidbit if you’re related to August). Martha A Neuman has moved into town and is working as a domestic (aka maid).
    • In 1919, Olga Neuman, a student is living at the same address as George. Wanna bet she’s related?

    And by looking under the entry for Colorado Meat Market, we learn that it was located at 594 W 2d So and the owner was Jacob Dorr.

    And if you were wondering how common butcher shops were in Salt Lake City in 1918, take a look at the “Classified Business Directory” which are generally found at the back of the directory. That’s almost a full page worth of meat markets to choose from!

    And if you want to know what the meat markets of 1918 looked like, online digital archives like the Shipler Commercial Photographers at the University of Utah online collections give us a great idea.

    Edwards Meat Market – 76 West 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah – Christmas Day 1916
    Hoerner’s Meat Market – 110 West 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah – December 23, 1916

    Before we leave the wonders of the City Directory, let’s take a look at where exactly the military installations were located. For this, look again at the index at the beginning of the Directory. There, on page 55 is a list of military installations with addresses.

    Again, digital photography collections can provide images to see what widely known buildings and streets looked like during this time period.

    Now, if you are not familiar with Salt Lake City and the oddly numbered street names, there is even a page for that in the Directory as well. At the beginning of the Street and Avenue Guide, there is this brief explanation of how Salt Lake City streets are configured as well as entries for each street so that you can learn where a specific street is situated and even if there have been any changes to the street names since the last directory.

    Unfortunately, the 1918 Salt Lake City Directory, or at least the version scanned onto Ancestry, does not include a map. The map below, published in 1920 gives an idea as to the location of Fort Douglas and it’s proximity to downtown Salt Lake. This map is not detailed enough to show the Headquarters and Armory on Pierpont Avenue. However, a Google Map search shows that the addresses of the Colorado Meat Market and the Armory are just under a mile apart.

    So, either the zone requirements were broader than the Salt Lake Tribune article indicates, or George was working at a meat market closer to the armory in January 1918. The fact that he’s listed as a “poultryman” and not a “sausage maker” in the Zone Privileges article is a good indication that George gained employment with the Colorado Meat Market as a sausage maker after January 1918.

    Salt Lake City – 1920

    Next Post in Series: Adding the Personal

    Please follow and like us:
  • Genie Tip,  My Family Tree

    Building Context: Historical Events.

    This post is the second in a series on building context for the events in your ancestor’s lives.  Read the first installment here. When we left off, George Neuman was listed as an “alien enemy” in a 1918 Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article and was required to obtain “zone privileges” to work as a butcher.  

    What was going on? First, historical context.

    Online sources can provide valuable historical context as to what led to German-born residents in Utah being required to register as alien enemies. With the wealth of information available, building basic historical context can begin with a simple Google search.

    The Utah History Encyclopedia explains that in the months/years prior to the U.S. entry into WWI:

    Most felt that the fight had little to do with United States interests, advocated a strict policy of neutrality, and insisted that the United States not become embroiled in a European conflict. There were exceptions, of course, primarily among the Utah immigrant groups including the South Slavs, Germans, Greeks, Italians whose homelands had been caught up in the Great War. Utah German-Americans openly demonstrated their sympathy for Germany, held rallies, collected money for the German Red Cross, complained of the virulent anti-German propaganda in most English-language newspapers, and, in some cases returned to Germany to fight.

    Powell, Allan Kent, World War I in Utah“, Utah History Encyclopedia

    Less than a year before the Zone Privileges article was published, on April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war against Germany. On August 5, 1917, the Utah National Guard was drafted into Federal Service. So, when the Zone Privileges article was published in January 1918, Utah’s involvement in WWI was in full swing.

    In addition, it is important to remember that the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, otherwise known as “naturalization”, and the requirements for entering the U.S. were not like they are now. Between 1900 and 1920 the nation admitted over 14.5 million immigrants with very few restrictions. The INS was not formed until 1906 and visa requirements did not begin until 1924. By 1918, several restrictions were enacted regarding immigration but the process to become a naturalized citizen was fairly straight forward: it required a Declaration of Intention (“first papers”) and a Petition (“second papers”) to be filed with a local court before a Certificate of Citizenship could be issued.

    Next Post in Series. Newspapers.

    Please follow and like us:
  • Uncategorized

    Building Context: Newspapers

    This post is the third in a series on building context for the events in your ancestor’s lives.  Read the first installment here. In the last post, I discussed historical events relevant to the 1918 Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article where George Neuman was required to obtain “zone privileges” to work as a butcher.  

    Second, article context.

    To glean an even more specific context for the Zone Privileges article, I rolled up my digital sleeves and perused the newspaper the day the article was published. Online newspapers are a favorite of mine: no noisy paper folding or black inky fingers.

    #GenieTip: Read articles and newspapers for the days before and after an event. Use either an article index or simply tab through the pages.

    Low and behold, I found some good ‘uns.

    The Zone Privileges article stated that “Three of the men whose name appear in the list have broken their promises to conduct themselves in an orderly manner while in the restricted zones.” What the first clipping did not show was this lovely mugshot line up that accompanied the full article as it was published.

    But wait, there’s more!

    Seven Utah Enemy Aliens Interned“, Salt Lake Tribune, January 5, 1918, pg. 16

    This is a rather lengthy article, the highlights of which are:

    • The seven men were “interned” in the war prison barracks at Fort Douglas.
    • After a “long period of surveillance,” one man was determined to be an agent of the German government engaged in recruiting Germans for the imperial army and shipping the recruits to Mexico.
    • Another man, a dynamiter, was found with a large quantity of dynamite and explosives and was known to have expressed anti-United States sentiments.
    • Another two men were interned based upon the statements that they hated the United States and expressed sympathy for Germany.
    • The men were to remain at the war prison barracks until the close of the war.

    The Enemy Alien article also outlines the U.S. Government plan to “register every enemy alien in the country”. The U.S. Marshal for Utah estimated that there were approximately “1500 person of German nativity, about 1100 of whom are naturalized citizens of the United States, leaving about 400 unnaturalized, who are classed as enemy aliens.” The majority of the unnaturalized Germans were residents of Salt Lake, as “in order to prove up on government lands or homesteads it is necessary for all of foreign birth to become naturalized citizens.” In other words, there were not many unnaturalized Germans living in rural areas because obtaining homesteads and governmental land grants required a person to be naturalized.

    The registration of Germans was carried out by the police and postmasters in each community and “the necessary registration affidavits, registration cards, and other forms” were to be retained by in the communities with one copy transmitted to the U.S. Marshal in each district, and a third set send to the Department of Justice in Washington D.C.

    I realize that to most people that last bit probably doesn’t mean much. As a genealogist, I would love to get my hands on the registration affidavits.

    My take away from the newspaper context is that some of the men who were interned were done so based on anti-American statements alone. There is no mention of trials or due process rights (the Geneva Convention was still years away). Within a rather small community of German-born residents, to have seven men interned as enemy aliens likely caused a stir and alarm. For George, it likely was alarming to be subjected to registration requirements and possibly surveillance. In short, it must have been a frightful and insecure existence to be a German-born resident of Salt Lake City in January 1918.

    Final note: For the sake of brevity, this post covers only one day of newspaper coverage on this issue. Certainly, a more in-depth search of historical newspapers, both in Utah and elsewhere, would provide even more context.

    Next Post in Series. Geography and the Phone Directory.

    Please follow and like us:
  • Genie Trips,  My Family Tree

    The Butcher and the Permit: How to Build Context.

    Once there was a butcher. George Neuman was his name.

    George was required in 1918, in Salt Lake City, Utah to register and obtain a special permit to work as a butcher. Not a special license because he was a butcher, but a special permit because he was German. A non-naturalized German working within a half a mile of a military facility.

    When I came across this newspaper article, I was taken aback.

    #GenieTip: Online Newspapers are a family history goldmine. Read more here on how to find and search historical newspapers.

    Official List of Germans Who Have Zone Privileges“, Salt Lake Tribune – January 5, 1918

    According to the article, “the list is practically complete of German residents of Salt Lake”. And there, in the list of names is George Neuman.

    Detail from “Official List of Germans Who Have Zone Privileges”

    In an effort to figure out the significance of the registration requirements and how it may have impacted George Neuman as a German-born resident of Salt Lake, we need context. In this series of posts, we will explore how to build historical context, article context, geographic context, and the personal context of events in George’s life that may provide insight as to how the registration requirement of 1918 may have impacted George.

    Next post in series: Building Context: Historical Events.

    Please follow and like us: