Francois Vadnais and Tharsile Hus Lemoine Update

Last year I wrote a post about my 2nd great-grandparents Charles and Mathilde Domitille (Garceau) Peltier being recognized as Minnesota territorial pioneers.  In that post I commented that my hope was that my 2nd great-grandfather Francois Vadnais was also a Minnesota territorial pioneer.  At that time I was unsure that he qualified because I had yet to find the necessary valid documentation proving his status.  I now believe I have that documentation. 

Serendipity was at play when I stumbled on the name Francois Vadnais.  The entry for Francois was dated 1858.1  I had actually been looking for naturalization papers associated with one of my 3rd great-grandparents.

Francois Vadnais listed in the Naturalization Index of first papers

Luckily the referenced book entered in the index had also been digitized and it was there that I found my 2nd great-grandfather Francois’ “Declaration of Intention” for naturalization.2 I was elated, I had found an official document placing Francois in Minnesota previous to statehood!  Francois had declared his arrival date as October 15, 1855 and he had also signed the document (I love when I find an ancestor’s signature).  Until this document I only had a newspaper story that put his arrival around 1858.3

Declaration of Intention for Francois Vadnais

It reads: I Francois Vadnais do upon my oath, declare that I first arrived in the United States on or about the fifteenth day of October A. D. 1855 and that it is bona fide my intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity which I in anywise owe to any foreign Prince, Power, Potentate, or Sovereign whatsoever, and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity which I owe to Victoria, Queen of England of whom I have heretofore been a subject.  Sworn to and subscribed before me, this twenty eighth day of June 1858.

Was this the only document required in the naturalization process?  According to the National Archives, “In general, naturalization was a two-step process that took a minimum of five years. After residing in the United States for two years, an alien could file a “declaration of intention” (“first papers”) to become a citizen.  After three additional years, the alien could “petition for naturalization” (”second papers”).  After the petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the new citizen.”4

Based on the naturalization process information I also needed to search for Francois’ “petition for naturalization,” but I did so without expectation because frequently only the first step was taken.  As I suspected, I didn’t find a “petition for naturalization” for Francois and I tend to believe that he did not file one.  It made me wonder if a lot of people thought that the “declaration of intention” was the only step they needed to take to be naturalized as a U. S. citizen.

Next I turned my attention to Francois’ wife, Tharsile (Hus Lemoine).  Were there naturalization papers for her?  I went back to the index where I first found Francois and started to look through it.  It wasn’t long before I noticed that only men were listed.  Where were the women?  I had my suspicions, which were confirmed when I found an article stating that, “In 1855, a law was enacted establishing that women who weren’t ineligible for other reasons (like race) were automatically made citizens when their husbands were naturalized.  There was no extra paperwork or court costs.  Their husbands’ papers (in combination with their marriage records) served as proof of the women’s citizenship, even though before 1906, you will not usually find the women’s names even listed on their husbands’ applications.”5  I knew I would not find any naturalization papers for Tharsile.  I found it sad that women were essentially treated like chattel.  Although I am disappointed with women’s lack of inclusion in the naturalization process, overall I found the whole process enlightening.

I have filed the necessary paperwork with the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers.  Based on the provided documentation, a committee will decide if Francois and his wife Tharsile should be given Minnesota territorial pioneer status.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for visiting, come back soon,

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