The first paper I found is Jacob's Declaration of his intent to become a citizen of the United States, dated 27 Sep 1875. You can see the complete document on the Madison County Archive site, as well as Jacob's final naturalization paper, but here is a clip of the important information I found in the Declaration.
- Jacob signed his surname with a 'C'; COLK
- Jacob states he is about 51 years old; that would give us his birth as 23 Sep 1823 to 23 Sep 1824.
- Jacob was born a subject of the Kingdom of Holland.
- Jacob immigrated to the United State in 1849, about May, and landed in New York City.
- Jacob has lived in Madison County, Illinois for the past twenty years, or since September 1855.
How does this compare with what I knew about Jacob before this?
- I already knew that I can sometimes find Jacob's surname spelled with a 'C'. I didn't realize until now that this was a choice and not a mistake. Until now I'd assumed that someone had misspelled it. I wonder when Jacob decided to drop the 'C' in favor of a 'K'?
- The 1900 census states Jacob was born Sep 1822. Both the 1870 (age 47) and 1880 (age 57) censuses give ages consistent with a birthdate between 1 Jun 1822 and 31 May 1823. There is a discrepancy of 1-2 years in the naturalization record. I don't know which is most likely to be correct, but the information on the Declaration presumably came directly from Jacob.
- Jacob's birthplace is listed as Holland on numerous sources including the 1870 and the 1880 census, which agrees with information passed down orally through the generations. (The 1900 census gives his birthplace as Illinois, probably a mistake by the informant or the census taker.)
- Family legend tells us that Jacob immigrated from Holland but does not tell us when he immigrated. As I've not been able to find Jacob in a US census prior to 1870, I'd assumed that he had not immigrated until the early 1860s. If Jacob gave correct information when he stated that he immigrated from Holland about May 1949, Jans Jacob Colk can not be my Jacob Kolk. (However, I've not yet ruled that out completely.)
- Obviously, if Jacob lived in Madison County for the twenty years prior to his Declaration in 1875, he immigrated before 1855.
Other things to consider.
- Jacob may not have been married when he immigrated. If Jacob was 51 when he filled out his Declaration in 1875, he was born in 1823-1824. This mean that when he came to the US in 1849, he would have been 25-26 years old. It would not be unusual for a man to be single at this age in the mid-1840s, meaning Jacob may not yet have been married to Mary Schmidt/Smith. This may explain why his oldest son was not born until 15 years later in 1864.
- Another possibility is that Jacob was married at the time of his immigration, but not to Mary. His marriage to Mary may have not have been his first marriage. This would also explain why his oldest son was not born until 15 years later in 1864.
- It is also possible that Jacob had older children, either with a first wife, or with Mary, who were not in the home at the time of the 1870 census. I know that Jacob had a grandson, George, who was the son of a deceased child of Jacob at the time of Jacob's death in 1900. I'd assumed this was his daughter Anna, who disappears after the 1870 census. The grandson used the surname 'Kolk', but I believe it was common for children to adopt the surname of families they lived with.
Things to do next.
- Look for a marriage record for Jacob and Mary, possible in Madison County, Illinois, but not necessarily.
- Look for census records for Jacob in 1850 and 1860; Jacob should appear in Madison County, Illinois in 1860. These may list Jacob's wife and older children.
- Continue to seek passenger records for Jacob Kolk. I've done some preliminary searching in both the Family Search New York Passenger Lists and the Castle Garden site, but I need to look for alternate spellings.
- Visit the library reference section to look through some of the books authored by Robert Swierenga, including Dutch households in U.S. population censuses, 1850, 1860, 1870 : an alphabetical listing by family heads, and Dutch immigrants in U.S. ship passenger manifests, 1820-1880 : an alphabetical listing by household heads and independent persons.
- Seek information on the parents of George Kolk, grandson of Jacob. I'll do a separate post on what I know about George Kolk at another time.
Meanwhile, if you have any information on Jacob, or any ideas on how to find Jacob in the 1850 and 1860 census, or the New York Passenger Lists of 1849, PLEASE HELP! You can leave a comment, or contact me!