NORCAL-L ArchivesArchiver > NORCAL > 2008-04 > 1208563404
From: "A. Mason Design" <>
Subject: Re: [NORCAL] naturalization in the mid-1800's
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 17:03:24 -0700
If they were in California in 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
was signed on February 2, 1848, they automatically became citizens of
the U.S. under terms of the treaty. California residents could opt not
to become citizens by returning to territory still held by Mexico.
In Monterey County, there appears to have been no rigid requirements for
citizenship prior to 1900. Basically all one had to do was renounce
their allegiance to their previous country, swear an oath to the U.S.,
sign the paper work and they were citizens.
During periods leading up to major elections, particularly state and
federal, there were mass conversions. Check the date of the
naturalization against presidential and state election dates. If the
date coincides with the year of such an election, there is a good
likelihood an elections department representative came to the person's
residence and signed them up both as a citizen and as a legal voter.
I once transcribed into a database the voter registration records for
all men over the age of 21 in a particular remote valley in southern
Monterey County for a particular period in the mid-1870s. Once the
records were entered, I sorted the info based on date of registration.
Everyone in the valley had been registered within thee days of one another.
Many of the men were shepherds and the valley was a three days' ride
from the elections department office. There was no way everyone in that
valley rode up to the courthouse together to register. I asked election
department officials about it, and was told it was the other way round
-- the elections department went to the men.
Very simply, the elections dept. rep asked "Are you over 21?" If the
answer was yes, then the man was asked "Are you a U.S. citizen?" If the
answer was no, then he was asked "Would you like to be a citizen?" If
the answer was yes, and it usually was, then the naturalization
paperwork was filled in then and there. Once that paperwork was done,
then the voter registration paperwork was completed.
When the elections dept. rep returned to the county seat from his
travels, he filed all the naturalization papers at one time with the
Superior Court before dropping off the paperwork for registrations.
During the 1870s, Monterey County encouraged settlement. There were
regular announcements in the newspaper of how many new folks had chosen
to settle on government land. Both the county and the towns in the
Salinas Valley published glowing reports of the potential prosperity one
could achieve if they moved to the valley.
In the mid 1890s, sugar king Claus Spreckels deliberately advertised the
formation of a new town in the Salinas Valley specifically for German
immigrants from cities in Germany. Another small town got nicknamed
"Little Denmark" due to the influx of Danish farmers. Two other valley
towns were dominated by immigrants from Switzerland.
Before 1900 there were no restrictions on immigration, unless the person
was Asian, and there were no federal rules about citizenship. It was a
state and county thing.
Hope this helps,
Pat Hanson wrote:
> I know today that people who want to become citizens of the United States have to take a written test.
> I had two greats and two great great grandfathers became citizens of the United States between 1848 and 1878. I have copies of all four citizenship documents so know they had to renounce their allegiance to their previous country's monach, have some one say they were of good character and etc.
> I can find no information concerning when or if they had to taken a written test. Does any one know what other requirements they had to meet before becoming citizens?
> Your help will be appreciated. Pat
|Re: [NORCAL] naturalization in the mid-1800's by "A. Mason Design" <>|