My father's citizenship was probably a problem--how may I find out about it?

+4 votes
Rudolf Berg, my father, arrived by steamer at Ellis Island when he was 4 years old, accompanied by his GGM ROSA---Rosa/Rosalin Baer, by then an elder (late 70s or early 80s). His mother had been in the USA for four years by then.

He never voted, and over the years I've begun to wonder if he thought he might be "in trouble" if he tried to vote. Both my parents listened avidly to the election news on the radio. So it wasn't from lack of interest.

I know he was "arrested" for truancy when he tried to run away from his strict German mother to Florida in his teens. He later piled in a car and traveled from New Haven CT to Los Angeles CA by car with "Russians" (presumably friends). She didn't come after him that time.

His birth record is in Frankfurt am Main, DE. His father was not listed on it because Jewish, I assume, and a Standistampt archivist could not find it.  I have not found my parents' marriage in CA either, but he lived long, and was dearly loved by me, his only child. is my next route of inquiry.-- What do you suggest?
WikiTree profile: Ralph Hilse
in Genealogy Help by Anonymous Burnett G2G6 Mach 2 (27.9k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith
If the father is not named, it more likely because his parents were not married.

The census records would indicate if he was naturalized, or an “alien.”
George, Do you speak of the rules and regs in Germany in 1907 or in the USA in 1907?
There are two separate things here.

1. Father not named in birth registration. This is an issue of legitimacy, that is, his parents were not married. I have seen other German civil records around this time period that indicated parents were Jewish. In fact, there have been some posted on WikiTree where people have asked for translation help. While anti-semitism did exist at this time, the really ugly aspects, ie, the Holocaust, came later.

2. US citizenship. In the census records, unless there is other information, a person in the census was considered a citizen, and this would be indicated by his/her stated place of birth (a US state or territory). If was person was an immigrant, the year of immigration would be given. If the person had become  a naturalized citizen, the record would be annotated “N” in the appropriate field, and in some censuses the year of naturalization. If the person had not yet become a citizen, the records would be annotated “A” for alien.
In looking at only 2 years of census records, it seems to me that the respondent gave the census taker incorrect information, such as that the son arrived in the same year as his mother.  But it was in one case erased.

I'm still looking at this problem.

2 Answers

+2 votes

There is a Jewish Roots project which might be a useful resource for you. 

Jewish Roots

A project focused on those with Jewish Ancestry.


Current Leader: Michael Maranda and Maggie N

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
You may want to contact a mentor at
Hi, Frank,

I started the Jewish Roots Project. A DNA test discovered them. That's why I had this crazy idea that others might use our discussions, and they have.

I think my father might not have recognized that he might have Jewish roots. He died long before the tests were available. His father (my unknown German GF) wasn't allowed to sign his birth register, according to the researcher, Daniela Testa, who helped me find information about him. Such was the state of Prejudice in 1907.
+2 votes
There are many with the Berg surname at WikiTree. If you go to Find at the top right of the page and menu down to Surnames, you can enter the Berg surname. There are about 2,400 individuals

You could also try the same thing with the Hilse surname. There are 36 individuals at WikiTree with the Hilse surname.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)

Frank, thanks, but Hilse is an adopted name of my father and not related to him genetically. I was born w/ the surname of Hilse. That surname is not related to me either. It was my father's adoptive surname. These facts are on the two men's profiles at Hilse-40 -- and, alas, I didn't state the ID in my problem above about this situation. Please forgive my error of omission.

So the facts mean to me that he had a loving Acting father with a Hilse surname because this man, after whom I'm named, married my father's mother Anna Berg. She arrived at 17 as a solo immigrant and sent for her son 4 years later.(Perhaps at 16 she was not ready to be a parent--actually, it's likely.) My father was fond of his adoptive father and not fond of his more stern mother. He moved across the country to dis-enable her to come and find him.

The Berg surname is one of the more well used names ever and everywhere. Something like Smith and Jones but not that "popular."

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