Tried Everything and Hit a Wall Looking for Grandfather's Naturalization Petition and Ship Manifest Records #usa #ukraine #records


I have "hit the wall" and would appreciate any help you can provide in my search for the immigration record (ship manifest) and naturalization petition for my grandfather, Harry KRAMER.

Harry cited his birth date as April 9, 1896. He was born in Kiev into a family with the surname GOLANSKI, but he changed his surname in the US to Kramer, as his mother’s Kramer family was well established in the US. I do not know for certain what his Hebrew/Yiddish name was, but it was listed as Isaac on my mother's ketubah. To the best of my knowledge, he was always known as Harry Kramer in the US. I do not know what name he may have sailed under. Likely options for first names are Harry, Hirsch, Zvi, and Isaac, with spelling variants. Options for surnames are GOLANSKY, GALINSKY, KRAMER, and KRAMEROFSKY.


I have searched numerous databases in numerous ways (Ancestry, Steve Morse’s, Family Search, My Heritage) under all of these possible names, but have been unable to obtain his ship manifest record or naturalization petition. Harry's July 16, 1918 Declaration of Intention, filed in the Kings County Court, states that he sailed from Antwerp to New York on the Kroonland, arriving on December 20, 1911. Harry initially worked as a varnisher at his uncle’s furniture factory, but by 1918 reported that he was a butcher, his ultimate profession (See screenshots below of the Declaration).


I reviewed every page of the ship manifest of the Kroonland arriving on December 21, 1911, including names not even remotely similar to his, but none of the entries seem to show similar relations in the US or Russia. I also reviewed all records of ships sailing from Antwerp in 1911 and all sailings of the Kroonland in a several-year period but could not identify him. We believe he would likely have been going to one of his maternal Kramer uncles, Borice, Harry, or David Kramer, all in Brooklyn.


I suspect, but am not certain, that Harry may have naturalized while serving in WWI. He was inducted on August 5, 1918 (just 2 weeks after the date of his Declaration), then served at Camp Greenleaf until October 7, 1918 and Camp Joseph E Johnston until approximately November 12, 1918 before shipping out overseas. He served overseas from November 12, 1918 to August 26, 1919 and was discharged on September 3, 1919. I reviewed WWI military petitions available through FamilySearch and Ancestry, and paged through records of military naturalizations in the District Courts overseeing these bases during the dates he was stationed there, with no luck.


After the war, Harry lived in Boston from 1920-1923 before ultimately returning to Brooklyn, so I also looked for naturalization records there. I found records of another Harry Kramer naturalizing in Boston during that time frame, but it’s not my Harry.

Harry appears on the 1924 NYC Voter List, so it seems highly likely that he was naturalized by then.

Any advice you can provide on finding one or both of these records would be most appreciated!

Mark Kramer
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MODERATOR NOTE: Please reply privately with family information

The Brooklyn naturalization database shows that he submitted his Declaration to that court, but not his petition. See screenshot.


Is it possible that Mr. Kramer stated the wrong ship or sailing date?  If you have not searched for him without the ship name, I suggest doing so.  Also, did you search such names as Yitzchak and derivatives? I wish I had more suggestions.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

The Becker's Email

given that you have his declaration, contact the court.  Hopefully they s/b able to link to his petition.  Possibly the petition has a reference to where he was naturalized.  WWI military nats wee simplied; so not sure thee would be certificate of arrival that will give you actual info on the date of arrival and his name.  Check 1925 census for Brooklyn, assuming he was back in Brooklyn, to see what is recorded for the number of years in the US.  You can see if it matches w/ his dec.

Johanna Becker
Newport, RI

Lee Jaffe

There must be dozens if not hundreds of reasons you can't find a passenger record.  I've learned the hard way how tricky passenger records can be. 
My maternal great-grandmother Dora Zarov sailed with 2 children at the end of 1904. The handwritten entry for the family surname reads Barow. It was corrected in another hand with a Z overwriting the B. But modern transcribers recorded her name as Iora Barow, ensuring that no amount of clever searching, sound-like, etc., for either name would locate her record. I lucked out only because there was another Zarov family on the same ship and their entry is written and transcribed correctly, appearing just below Dora's. 
In a different twist, paternal great-grandfather Mendel Sztejnsapir traveled under a different name. His naturalization petition included the wrong date and name of the ship. A friend found the record by sifting through thousands of lines of manifest records looking for single  males in Mendel's age range. M. Sapier?  Bingo. 
I chalk up my many remaining brick walls, records I'm sure must be there but I haven't located, to similar glitches. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes it's a matter of dogged persistence.  Sometimes luck or persistence is not enough to overcome some brick walls.

Lee David Jaffe

Surnames / Towns:  Jaffe / Suchowola, Poland ; Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Bialystok and Rajgrod, Poland ; Joroff (Jaroff, Zarov) / Chernigov, Ukraine ; Schwartz (Schwarzman?, Schwarzstein?) / ? ;  Koshkin / Snovsk, Ukraine ; Rappoport / ? ; Braun / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland,  Ludwinowski / Wizajny, Suwalki, Poland



Johanna, thank you your response. I had not thought of contacting the court where the Declaration was filed to see if they have any reference to the petition. I will try that. I unfortunately cannot find him in the 1925 census, despite extensive searching including page by page reviews of the general area in Brooklyn where he was living to see in case his name was poorly indexed. He does appear in the 1930 census, but his immigration date is incorrectly stated as being the same as his parents and siblings, who arrived about 10 years later (they just listed the whole family with the same date). I will follow-up with the court. Thank you again. Mark

Mark Kramer


Barbara, thank you for your reply. It is certainly possible that he stated the wrong ship or sailing date, however all of the facts hang together (that ship did leave from the stated port and arrived on the stated date), which leads me to think there is a good chance it is correct, unless he completely forgot all the particulars and just copied them from another person (which certainly could be the case). I have extensively searched for him without the ship name. There are many Harry Kramers, but none of them appear to be the right person. I have also searched under Yitzchak and derivatives. Thank you for taking the time to help. I appreciate it. Mark

Mark Kramer

Michele Lock

Since you don't know what first name he traveled under, you could search with that field blank. As for the surnames, you could try G?l*nski and G?l*nsky, which should pick up most spelling variations. You'll get a lot of hits, but it's easy to scroll through pretty quickly. For variations on Kramer, you could try Kram*

I've stopped searching by exact date from naturalization documents for ship manifests - too many times the date is off, or the year is off, or even the ship name is off. I only search on the year of arrival, plus/minus two or three years. 

I spent months looking for my grandmother Zivia Kalon's ship manifest. She was mix-indexed as the male Zvi Kalon on Ancestry, and mis-indexed as Iwie Kalon on Familysearch. On her naturalization papers, she had the correct ship (as it turns out, the Kroonland), but the wrong month. If I had just searched for Kalon, no first name, and just 1913 +/- 2 years, I would have found her quickly. She is also the reason why I don't specify gender anymore.
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus

Emily Garber

It is difficult to help you with your search for Harry's naturalization because you have not shared information critical for narrowing the search. At what point on census records was he recorded as naturalized? Where did he live (addresses) at the time of each record? If he was in New York State, for example, for the 1925 State census, then you might see an indication of the date and court of record. The first thing to do is to try to estimate, based on records you have viewed, a date and place of naturalization.

If he naturalized as a result of military service, then he may have taken his oath in the last United States location in which he was stationed after he returned from overseas. It would not have been in the court in which he declared his intent. Military naturalizations after WWI did not require declarations or residency. So, even if you find the file, there will likely be no information about his arrival in the US or his passenger manifest.

I have a relative who naturalized after WWI service. He was from Detroit before he was drafted. I searched newspapers and did a Google search for information on his military unit and their return from overseas. Sometimes unit histories will be helpful in this regard. Via newspapers, I found that, upon return, he was stationed at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio. Rose County did not have the file. But the USCIS genealogy program had his C-file and I acquired his petition and a copy of his certificate of naturalization.

It is not clear how much research you have already completed in United States records. If you have exhausted those, then, great! If not, you will need to find his grave (where the stone may show his Hebrew and/or Yiddish name), his death certificate, marriage certificate (and also license if he married in NYC), and all census records (do the same for all his children). Look at not only at his parents names, but also at the names of witnesses. Were they relatives? If he changed his name in the USA, there could be relatives who did so, as well, or some who did not change their surnames. Look at all their records, too. If he was buried in a community association (landsmanshaft) plot, are there any other Kramers or Golanskys (or whatever)?

If your goal is Harry's passenger manifest, sometimes the best thing to do is look for the manifests of relatives. I could not locate my great grandfather's passenger manifest with his surname Matsevitskiy. Ultimately, I found his when I searched for and located his bother-in-law's passenger manifest. My great grandfather's name was immediately above on the same page. The indexer had absolutely massacred the surname. I never would have located my ggf if I'd not looked for his brother-in-law's record.

I apologize if I have misinterpreted the depth of the research you have completed.

Emily Garber
Phoenix, AZ


Emily Garber made some very good suggestions.  Even though I've been researching my family for over 30 years, I am still a novice, lol. I wanted to find the death date of a family friend but could not do so.  But a friend of mine found not only her death date, but also her immigration records, her obituary, her son's obituary, a notice about her son's Army promotion and various records of her parents and grandparents. 

She used only three resources:, Ancestry and Find-a Grave.  Amazing!  I not only learned the death date, but that the friend, who had no foreign accent, was born in South Africa. I also learned that she was born Jewish, though she did not practice the religion, so that I always thought she was Christian (and perhaps she had converted). Also both her husbands were Jewish. And so much more. I mention these facts only to show what a good researcher can do. 
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Feige Stern

I have a couple of suggestions to add to Emily Garber's excellent ones.

The first is to treat the date of your Grandfather's arrival as merely a 
"suggestion" of the time of year he arrived in NY.  I've found that many immigrants did not remember their actual date of arrival.  But I do think they generally remembered the name of the ship they arrived on.
Then look at the Morton Allan Directory to find other dates that ship arrived into NY.
The Kroonland was part of the Red Star Line and my directory showed dates of Oct, 10, 1911, Nov. 7, 1911, Dec. 20, 1911 (as recorded on his Declaration), Jan. 24, 1912, Feb. 28, 1912.  

My other suggestion, since you're unsure of the name he traveled under is to search for the town name (Kiev) that he was from.  That will narrow down significantly the number of people and you can then evaluate each one.

I was able to use this strategy to find my Grandfather's brother's passenger arrival.  Although he filed his Declaration, he could not remember the name he used when he arrived or the actual date of his arrival.  He was denied naturalization because of this.  He arrived using a completely different surname (Jablonsky instead of Kolovarsky), and a variant of his Yiddish given name (Nissin instead of Sam or Simche).  But he was from Shadova and that was listed on the manifest.  I would never have found him otherwise.

Best of luck,

Feige Kauvar Stern
Cleveland, OH