I mentioned before that I had requested my 2nd great grandfather's land records from NARA, and they arrived a couple of weeks ago. I finally got a chance to look through them this weekend. The records I received consist of 19 pages (though some documents are 2 pages long). My goal here is to transcribe and analyze each document to try to glean as much information as possible ... one document at a time.
I requested that the records be sent to me on a CD so that I could manipulate them to adjust for contrast, brightness, etc. from a readability standpoint.
Before I could even begin to go through the records, I had to put them in chronological order. To my surprise, one of the last pages on the CD was actually the first document to be created: Zenophile Lanctot's Declaration of Intent. I was a little puzzled to find this particular document as part of his land records, but after consulting the Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States (Schaefer, 1997), I discovered that under the Homestead Act of 1862, either citizenship or proof of filing the Declaration of Intent was required in order to be eligible to claim 160 acres of unoccupied land. The applicant also had to be 21 years or older, build a home on the land, cultivate the land, and reside on it for 5 years.
Here is the transcription of the document:
United States of America
Territory of Dakota - County of Charles Mix
Second Judicial District
Zenophile Lanctot personally appeared before the subscriber, the Clerk of the District Court, within and for the County of Charles Mix, in said Second Judicial District of the Territory of Dakota, being a Court of Record, and made oath that he was born in Canada about the year eighteen hundred and sixty-one. That he emigrated to the United States and landed at the port of Detroit Mich on or about the month of April in the year eighteen hundred and seventy-seven; that it is his bona fide intention to become a
Citizen of the United States,
and to renounce and abjure forever all allegiance and fidelity to all and any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to the Queen of Great Britain where he is a subject, and that he will support the Constitution and Government of the United States.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, this tenth (10) day of April A.D. 1883
[(W?N?) B. Reynolds] Clerk of District Court, Charles Mix Co., D.T.
Territory of Dakota, County of Charles Mix, ss:
I, R.B. Johnson Clerk of the District Court within and for the County of Charles Mix, and Territory of Dakota, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true copy of the original declaration of Zenophile Lanctot to become a citizen of the United States, remaining on record in my office.
In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said court, at my office in Wheeler, D.T. this 22nd day of November 1884.
[R.B. Johnson] Clerk District Court, Charles Mix Co., D.T.
Per M.T. Posy Dpy.
Now that I have this document, I know the date and the port where he entered the United States (Detroit, Michigan). This gives me a place to start looking for a passenger list or some other documentation. I also now know the date he began his citizenship paperwork, information I never had before, which will help me locate his final papers. These pieces of information will help fill in Zenophile's timeline quite nicely.