Thursday, January 12, 2023

Grandpa Isaac's Face and Signature on Naturalization Petition


My genealogy journey began 25 years ago, when a cousin researching my mother's family tree asked me about my father's parents. 

Her inquiry sent me on a quest to learn when, where, and how my paternal grandfather Isaac Burk died. This was the good ole days of cranking microfilm readers and using snail mail to order vital records, so it took a good few years.

When I eventually received his death certificate, I learned he had a heart attack and died in 1943 in Washington, D.C. I didn't discover why Grandpa was in Washington and who the informant was on the death cert for a few more years. Spoiler alert: He and Grandma were visiting her favorite sister, whose husband was the informant. 

Still, I didn't know what Grandpa Isaac looked like. I recognized his wife, Henrietta Mahler Burk, in old family photos standing alongside my Dad. However, Grandpa Isaac wasn't in those particular photos.

Once digitized records became available online, I found Grandpa Isaac's face on his petition for naturalization from 1939, along with his signature. It wasn't a great photo (actually kind of faded and faint), but it showed the shape of his face and his features. Going back to older family photos, I could then pick him out, despite changes in weight and age over the years.

Not long ago, I used MyHeritage's photo enhancement/repair tools to fix Grandpa Isaac's photo. There it is at top of this post--my favorite photo because he is the reason I got bitten by the genealogy bug. 

"Favorite photo" is Amy Johnson Crow's prompt for week 2 of the #52Ancestors genealogy challenge.

1 comment:

  1. What a marvelous conclusion to a 25 year search! Finally seeing an ancestor’s face is a profound moment.