I’ve been cleaning my office (ugh) but I am finding a bunch of helpful things. This post is one of them. One step that might be helpful to finding your ancestor’s hometown is to check to see if they were naturalized.  This was an article I found on the Baden-Wuerttemberg mail list.  Hope it helps!

Immigrants to the USA were unable to apply for citizenship immediately upon
arrival. The standard residency requirement for someone who wanted to
become an American citizen was five years within the USA from the date of
arrival. A person could normally file what was known as the Declaration of

Intention or “first papers after having continuously resided in the USA
for approximately 2 years. They then had to wait an additional 3 years before
filing the “final papers,” formally known as the Petition for Naturalization.

The degree of detailed information these forms contain will vary from one
person to the next; some specify an exact town of birth, others state only
the country (or German “state,” such as Baden, Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, etc.)
As a *general* rule, Declarations of Intention are often more detailed than
Petitions for Naturalization, and documents for naturalizations AFTER 1906
tend to be more informative than those prior to that time. (There was a
change in the naturalization laws in 1906 which brought this about.)

Before undertaking naturalization record research, it is vital to note that
until 1940, foreign-born *children* under the age of 21 became American
citizens when their foreign-born *father* did, and until 1922, MARRIED
foreign-born *women* became US citizens when their foreign-born *husbands*
did. (The laws changed again these respective years.) The children and the
man’s wife DID NOT file separate and individual citizenship papers for
themselves—normally, only the father/husband would have filed this
documentation. This often makes it difficult to research the pre-1922
naturalization of a married woman or the pre-1940 naturalization of a minor
child who received derivative citizenship, as there may be no documents
which recorded the process—if documented, it will be under the name of the
father or husband receiving the primary citizenship, not under the
children’s names or that of the wife.

Children over the age of 21 and/or children who were married (regardless of
age) did NOT qualify for derivative citizenship. They had to file separate
papers for this process themselves, and they had to fulfill the other
requirements for citizenship separately from their fathers

Remember that any person BORN IN the United States was a citizen of the USA
from the moment of their birth, *regardless of any alien status of their
parents.* Be certain you determine whether the child of an immigrant
ancestor was indeed *foreign-born* before searching for a naturalization

US Naturalization (citizenship) research can be complex and

time-consuming. For those with an interest in researching

United States naturalization, here are some excellent Web

sites which provide detailed practical assistance and background

information on US citizenship, its acquisition, and how to
research the naturalization process of your ancestors.

RootsWeb Lesson on Naturalization

National Archives Guide to Naturalization Research


Immigration Law (publication) article on Women & Naturalization Circa
1802-1940 Part 1