I’ve never liked the name “Department of Homeland Security“. Sounds very menacing to me. One thing the department will do for you though, if you fill out the right pieces of paper, is send you stuff for free on your immigrant ancestors. Here’s what you have to do:
Go to this web site and get the form G-636. It should be at the bottom of the page. Fill out the form to the best of your ability. You do not need it to be notarized. It’s very helpful if you can attached a ‘proof of death’. It’s also very helpful if you have a bit of information on your ancestor like their birthdate or their Alien Registration Number. Put the papers in an envelop. Put a stamp or two on it. Wait. In about 14 days you’ll get a letter back telling you that they have received your request. There will ba a case number on it. You may want to save that. Wait some more. Wait – I dunno – two years. Then, when you least expect it.
Here’s what you can get (.PDF) :
Freedom Of Information Act _ William Wainer
My maternal Great-Grandfather was from New York but ended up living in Minnesota. One of the best free places on the web to find Minnesota genealogy is the Dalby Database .
Here’s a sample of what you can find. It was taken from the Owatonna People’s Press dated August 20, 1915:
W. R. Knickerbocker, one of the oldest and most highly respected pioneer residents of this county, died last Sunday morning at the home of a daughter in Bismarck, North Dakota, the cause being a bowel trouble. The remains were brought to Owatonna for interment, the funeral being held yesterday afternoon at the First Baptist church, Rev. J. G. Briggs, officiating. Mr. Knickerbocker was a native of New York State, born January 11th, 1830. He came to this county in 1868, locating on a farm in Somerset township where he made his home for many years, finally retiring from active work and moving to Owatonna which was his home for a number of years. Mr. Knickerbocker was twice married. His first wife was Miss Caroline Lyon, whom he married in 1858. The first Mrs. Knickerbocker died in 1862, survived by two sons, only one of whom, Charles L., of Dodgen, North Dakota, is now living. Mr. Knickerbocker later married Miss Helen Burgess, by whom, with their four children, he is survived. The children are Mrs. D. B. Shaw of Bismarck, North Dakota; Mrs. C. E. Preston of this state, Clarence Knickerbocker of Minneapolis, and Mrs. A. H. Blabaum of North McGregor, Iowa. The deceased ws an excellent citizen and his death is mourned by many old friends throughout the county.