Family History Mystery: Discovering Alexander Balla’s Immigration Details

For a while now, a great deal of mystery has surrounded the immigration details of one of my 2nd great grandfathers, Alexander Balla Sr. (1886-1950). According to oral family history, Alexander left the village and country of his birth, Eszény, Hungary (now Eseny, Ukraine), for the United States when he was between 18 and 22 years old, working aboard the passenger ship in exchange for part or all of the passage fee. Oral family history about his immigration also adds that although one of the reasons Alexander immigrated to the United States was to be with family members that were already living there, another significant reason was the fact that his life had been threatened in Eszény by someone or a group possibly connected to the Black Hand. Despite these details from oral family history, I was never able to track down a shipping manifest for Alexander’s immigration.

Recently, Ancestry.com made Texas Immigration and Naturalization records available, which has helped clear up some of the mystery surrounding his immigration. According to both his Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization, which were filed in 1942, Alexander immigrated from Eszény to the United States on May 8, 1906 aboard the SS Pretoria, arriving in New York, New York. In addition to providing the date of his immigration, Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization provide an additional, and highly interesting, fact about his immigration to the United States. According to these records, Alexander did not arrive in the United States under the name “Alexander Balla,” “Alex Balla,” or even “Sándor Balla.” Instead, he states that his lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was done under a completely different name, that of “Joseph Domoks.” Seeing this was surprising, as there was no mention of his using an assumed name in oral family history or on any other historical record. Although there is a lot of mystery surrounding the threat made against his life, including who exactly did so, it is likely that this motivated him to change his name in order to conceal the fact that he was leaving the country, as well as concealing where he was immigrating to.

Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization

The information provided by Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization records, is, moreover, supported, with slight differences, by the SS Pretoria ship manifest for his arrival. According to this record, Alexander arrived on May 6, 1906, instead of May 8, 1906 as stated on his naturalization records. His name is enumerated on this ship manifest as “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”), which is slightly different than what is found on his naturalization record (“Joseph Domoks”). This immigration record also states that Alexander arrived in the United States to be with his brother, István Balla (Steven Balla Jr.), who he reported was living in Tompkins Cove, Rockland Co., New York.

Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).
Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).
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207 Years Ago Today (or Thereabouts)

It is claimed that on September 8, 1806, two-hundred and seven years ago today, Brooks Worthington (1806-1894), my 5th great grandfather, was born in North Carolina, most likely in Greensboro in Guilford County, the son of Joab Worthington (1779-1851) and Martha Jane Matthews (1785-1860). Despite this claim, I have not yet been able to find any proof that he was in fact born on this date. It does appear that he was born in 1806, but I have not found a record showing his specific birth date as of yet.

Worthington Crest

The following is an excerpt about Brooks Worthington’s life from the biography of Brooks’s son-in-law, Alson G. Bodenhamer, published in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis Counties, Missouri (1895):

He [Alson G. Bodenhamer] was married, November 15 1857, to Esther Worthington, who was born September 12 1836 in Davidson County, NC. She was the daughter of Brooks and Hannah (Green) Worthington, also natives of that state where they were farmers. Brooks Worthington was also an expert shoemaker, and after his removal to Indianapolis, Ind. worked at this business for one year. In 1840, however, he came to Missouri choosing Lafayette County as his future home. There the wife and mother died in 1855. Mr. Worthington was again married, the lady on this occasion being Lucy Lanear. He continued to make his home on that farm until the decease of his second companion, when he moved to California, where his daughter was living. On his return from the Golden State, he spent a few years on the old place, and then went to Carroll County, Ark. where he died December 24, 1894, at the age of eighty eight years.

By his first marriage Mr. Worthington became the father of nine children. Charles married Margaret Meadows, and is now living in California. Joab married Eliza Alkire, and is now deceased but his wife makes her home in Indian Territory. John never married, and died during the late war. Elizabeth is now Mrs. Johnson Mulky, and lives in California. Mrs Bodenhamer was the next born. Jacob chose for his wife Elmira Couch, and they make their home on a farm in Boone County, Ark. David is single, and is a resident of the Golden State. Ellen married James Fulkerson, and both are deceased; and Catherine died when six years old.

Source for Brooks Worthington’s reported birth date: “Worthington Family of England, Maryland, Virginia and Randolph Co NC Notes” (2011) by Donald Gradeless; and The Worthington Family History Society.

84 Years Ago Today

On September 7, 1929, eighty-four years ago today, Samuel L. Beeney (1857-1929), my 3rd great grandfather, died in Newark, Licking Co., Ohio. Following his death, Samuel was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark.

Headstone of Samuel L. Beeney
Headstone of Samuel L. Beeney

Samuel was born in 1857 the son of Charles B. Beeney (1815-1903) and Christiana Lyons (1824-1901). In 1880, Samuel married Eva Flora McLaughlin (1863-1899), with whom he had five children before their divorce: Charlotte, Bertha, Walter, Alice, and George (my 2nd great grandfather). Throughout his life, Samuel was an educator, eventually opening a Business College in Newark.

Samuel L. Beeney
Samuel L. Beeney

The following is Samuel’s biography from the History of Southeastern Ohio and the Muskingum Valley 1788-1928, by Thomas William Lewis (Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1928):

As an educator of high standing Samuel L. Beeney contributed materially toward Newark’s advancement, and his attention is now devoted to business affairs, in which he has been equally successful. He was born January 13, 1857, in Eden township, and in both the paternal and maternal lines represents old and highly respected families of Licking county. His father, Charles B. Beeney, was a native of England and in early life made the voyage to the United States in company with his parents, Jesse and Mary Beeney, who located in Licking county, Ohio, in 1828, hewing a farm out of the wilderness. Jesse Beeney was a member of the Church of Christ and an adherent of the democratic party. Charles B. Beeney was a cooper and later engaged in farming. Success attended his well directed labors, and his religious and political views coincided with those of his father.

In Licking county Charles B. Beeney married Miss Christiana Lyons, a native of Ireland, in which country her parents, John and Margaret E. (Carlisle) Lyons, were married. They left the Emerald isle in 1837 and cast in their lot with the pioneer farmers of Licking county, Ohio, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. Lyons was a Presbyterian and conscientiously followed the teachings of his church. Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Beeney resided for a number of years in Newark and both passed away in this city. Their family numbered five children, of whom Samuel L. was the second in order of birth. His brother, John W., was born April 1, 1855, and became a teacher. In later life he followed agricultural pursuits and on June 30, 1927, was called to his finale rest. By his marriage with Mattie Warthen, of St. Louisville, Ohio, he had three children : Robert and Howard Beeney ; and Mrs. Mamie Lewis, of Trauscona, Manitoba, Canada. John W. Beeney is survived by his second wife, Mrs. Lena (Metzner) Beeney, to whom he was married in Utica, Ohio, and Edward L., their only child, is living in Newark. Margaret, the next in order of birth, is deceased. Marie is now Mrs. Hugh W. Gorley and makes her home in Newark. Emma is the wife of Henry W. Hansberger, a prominent realtor of Newark.

Samuel L. Beeney received his early instruction in the rural schools of his native township and completed his studies in the Teachers Training School at Utica, Ohio. For eleven years he was a public school teacher and in 1885 opened the Newark Business College, of which he was sole owner. As principal he successfully conducted the college for twenty-nine years, developing an institution second to none in the character and thoroughness of its instruction, and since 1914 has been a solicitor for the Hooper Franklin Insurance Agency, making his headquarters in Newark. He specializes in fire insurance and has mastered the art of salesmanship. Endowed by nature with more than one talent, he is an able writer and a frequent contributor to various newspapers. Mr. Beeney established the Ohio Teachers’ Journal, which he edited and published for four years, when he transferred his interest to the National Educator published in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Beeney is a strong champion of those movements and projects which make for good citizenship and was active in the war savings campaign. In politics he is a democrat, and his religious views are indicated by his affiliation with the Church of Christ. Traveling affords him much enjoyment, and he has visited nine countries, including the Holy Land, thus broadening his outlook upon life. He is interested in those things which have cultural value, tending to raise the individual to a higher level, and his personal qualities are such as make for strong and enduring regard.

298 Years Ago Today

On August 10, 1715, two hundred and ninety-eight years ago today, John Stearns (ca. 1692-1765) and Deliverance Bigelow (1695-1762), my 7th great grandparents, were married in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

Marriage Record of John Stearns and Deliverance Bigelow
Marriage Record of John Stearns and Deliverance Bigelow

A transcription of the marriage record above reads as follows: “John Stearns and Deliverance Biglow Both of Watertown were joined in Marriag August of 10th 1715 by Mr. Sammuel Argier Minister in Watertown.”

Following their marriage, John and Deliverance remained in Watertown for a few years, where their first two children were born. By about 1720, they relocated to Worcester, Worcester Co., Massachusetts, where they had at least nine more children.

80 Years Ago Today

On July 18, 1933, eighty years ago today, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960) and Goldia “Goldie” Mae Worthington (1912-2006), my maternal great grandparents, were married in Boone Co., Arkansas.

Marriage Record of Harry C. Hamilton and Goldie M. Worthington
Marriage Record of Harry C. Hamilton and Goldie M. Worthington

An interesting item found on the record for their marriage (shown above) is the fact that Harry claimed he was 38 years old, which would have made his birth year 1895, when he was actually 42 years old, being born in 1891. Although the difference in his real and reported ages is not that significant, perhaps a 38 year old marrying a 21 year old sounded a little better to them (or just Harry) than a 42 year old marrying a 21 year old. It is also possible that Harry made the change in order to prevent people from his past tracking him down, something he wanted to avoid by all oral accounts.

Following their marriage Harry and Goldie lived in Harrison, Boone Co., Arkansas, where they had the first two of their seven children. In about 1941, Harry relocated his family to Oklahoma, where they had their remaining children.

Genealogy News: The Return of the U.S. TV Series “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Back in March 2012, NBC’s genealogy TV series called Who Do You Think You Are? ended its third season, after which the network decided not to renew it, shocking the millions of viewers that tuned in to watch well known celebrities research their ancestries. Recently, however, the series was picked up by TLC, with a new season beginning July 23 at 9/8c. According to the show’s website, the celebrities that the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? will feature include Kelly Clarkson, Christina Applegate, Chelsea Handler, Zooey Deschanel, Jim Parsons, Cindy Crawford, and Trisha Yearwood.

Click here to visit the new Who Do You Think You Are? website and view previews.

My Ancestral Connection to President George H.W. Bush

President George H.W. Bush

On June 12, 1924, eighty-nine years ago today, George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-), 41st President of the United States, was born in Milton, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts the second son of Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895-1972) and Dorothy Walker (1901-1992). George H.W. Bush served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993, following the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Prior to serving as President, George H.W. Bush served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989, Director of Central Intelligence from 1976 to 1977, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, and Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 7th District from 1967-1971. During World War II, George H.W. Bush served in the U.S. Navy, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation. In 1945, George H.W. Bush married Barbara Pierce (1925-), with whom he had six children, one of which, George W. Bush (1946-), went on to become the 43rd President of the United States.

While researching my family history, I discovered that I have an ancestral connection to this former President of the United States. When I began researching the ancestry of my paternal grandmother, Margaret Anne Lapham (1936-2004), I researched a family that married into my Lapham branch, the Arnold family. As I dug deeper into this branch, I found my ancestral connection to George H.W. Bush, which was by my 11th great grandparents, Nicholas Arnold (1550-1622) m. Alice Gully (1553-1596). According to research on President Bush’s genealogy, Nicholas and Alice Arnold were the 9th great grandparents of his paternal grandmother, Flora (Sheldon) Bush (1872-1920). While researching my grandmother’s ancestry, I found that my grandmother’s 5th great grandfather, Nicholas Lapham (1689-1758), was married to Mercy Arnold (1701-1756), who was the great-great granddaughter of Nicholas and Alice Arnold.

The following is a chart that shows the decent of both George H.W. Bush (1924-) and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), from Nicholas Arnold (1550-1622) and Alice Gully (1553-1596):

George H.W. Bush’s Line: My Grandmother’s Line:
1 Nicholas Arnold (1550-1622) m. Alice Gully (1553-1596) 1 Nicholas Arnold (1550-1622) m. Alice Gully (1553-1596)
2 William Arnold (1587-1676) m. Christian Peake (1583-1659) 2 Thomas Arnold (1599-1674) m. Phoebe Parkhurst (1612-1688)
3 Joanna Arnold (1616-1692) m. Zachariah Rhodes (1603-1668) 3 Richard Arnold (1642-1710) m. Mary Angell (1648-1690)
4 Mary Rhodes (1654-?) m. John Low (1651-1692) 4 John Arnold (1670-1756) m. Mary Mowry (1675-1742)
5 Mary Low (1671-1769) m. Ephraim Pierce Jr (1674-1772) 5 Mercy Arnold (1701-1756) m. Nicholas Lapham (1689-1758)
6 Mial Pierce (1692-1786) m. Judith Round (1687-1744) 6 Solomon Lapham (1730-1800) m. Sylvia Lapham (1737-1805)
7 Nathan Pierce (1716-1793) m. Lydia Martin (1718-1798) 7 Duty Lapham (1775-1846) m. Mary Colwell (1772-?)
8 Isaac Pierce (1763-1849) m. Anna Fitch (1763-1809) 8 Benjamin Lapham (1807-1860) m. Cemantha Broadway (ca. 1813-1846)
9 Levi Pierce (1797-1838) m. Betsey Slade Wheeler (1800-1881) 9 William B. Lapham (1838-1925) m. Emoline Pauline Reynolds (1844-1886)
10 Elizabeth Slade Pierce (1822-1901) m. Courtland Philip Livingston Butler (1813-1891) 10 Horace Irving Lapham (1869-1927) m. Annie Margaret Leishman
(1875-1951)
11 Mary Elizabeth Butler (1850-1897) m. Robert Emmet Sheldon (1845-1917) 11 Theodore A. Lapham (1910-1955) m. Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985)
12 Flora Sheldon (1872-1920) m. Samuel Prescott Bush (1863-1948) 12 Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004) m. William Kernan (LIVING)
13 Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895-1972) m. Dorothy Walker (1901-1992)
14 George H.W. Bush (1924-) m. Barbara Pierce (1925-)

Based on the generations of descent from Nicholas Arnold (1550-1622) and his wife Alice Gully (1553-1596) listed above, my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), and George H.W. Bush (1924-) are 9th cousins, 2x removed. This makes George H.W. Bush (1924-) my 11th cousin.

74 Years Ago Today

On June 12, 1939, seventy-four years ago today, Ernest Jacob “Jersey” Worthington (1885-1939), my 2nd great grandfather, died in Harrison, Boone Co., Arkansas. Following his death, he was buried in Grubb Springs Cemetery in Harrison, Boone Co., Arkansas.

Headstone of Ernest Jacob Worthington
Headstone of Ernest Jacob Worthington

Ernest was born in 1885 in Boone Co., Arkansas the son of Hannah Happy “Hattie” Worthington (1866-?). Throughout much his childhood he was raised by his maternal grandparents, Jacob Worthington (1839-1920) and Elmina Couch (1846-1921). In 1906, Ernest married Mae Josie Gifford (1885-?), with whom he had three children of which only one survived, Goldia “Goldie” Mae Worthington (1912-2006). At some point between 1912 and 1920, Ernest and Mae’s marriage ended. In 1921, he married Mattie Blankenship (1903-1944), with whom he had six more children. Throughout his adult life, Ernest was a laborer, working as a painter, a dray truck driver, and a mill worker. It was from his employment at the Jersey Mill that his friends called him “Jersey.”

210 Years Ago Today

On June 7, 1803, two hundred and ten years ago today, Lyman Stearns (1803-1879), my 4th great grandfather, was born in Claremont, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire the son of Samuel Stearns (1754-1840) and Thankful Raymond (1756-1817).

Source: Van Wagenen, Avis Stearns. Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns, and Their Descendants (1901)
Source: Van Wagenen, Avis Stearns. Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns, and Their Descendants (1901)

By 1838, Lyman had left New Hampshire and relocated to Howard Co., Missouri where he married Rebecca B. Hines (1816-1875) in that year. Together, Lyman and Rebecca had six children, one of which was Theodore Frelinghuysen Stearns (1844-1930), my 3rd great grandfather. By 1842, Lyman moved his family to Linn Co., Missouri where he ran a boarding house. By the 1850’s, the California Gold Rush was well under way; and by 1852, Lyman, his wife Rebecca, and their six children had left Linn Co., Missouri for Placer Co., California. It is unclear if Lyman made any attempt to become a gold miner. However, he did own and operate a Quartz Mine in Tuolumne Co., California, which he sold in 1860. By all accounts, it appears that Lyman may have suffered the familiar fate of most miners during the Gold Rush. After selling his mine, he became a farmer in Sonoma Co., California and then a Peddler (or merchant) in Oakland, Alameda Co., California. He died in Oakland in 1879 and was buried next to his wife in an unmarked grave.

102 Years Ago Today

On June 6, 1911, one hundred and two years ago today, Mary Melinda (Everett) Leishman (1845-1911), my 3rd great grandmother, died in Alliance, Box Butte Co., Nebraska. Following her death, Mary was buried in Alliance Cemetery in Alliance, Box Butte Co., Nebraska next to her husband who died eleven years earlier.

Robert & Mary Leishman Headstone
Robert & Mary Leishman Headstone

Mary was born in 1845 in Salineville, Columbiana Co., Ohio the daughter of Isaac Everett (1778-1856) and Margaret Stewart (1801-1866). In 1872, Mary married Robert Leishman (1847-1900), a Scottish émigré originally from New Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland. With Robert, Mary had four children: Anna Margaret (my 2nd great grandmother), Norman, Clarence, and Alvin. Mary and Robert left Ohio for Nebraska in the late 1870s, living first in Wheeler Co., Nebraska and then Box Butte Co., Nebraska after 1880.

Mary (Everett) Leishman with her Children (Back Row L-R: Anna Margaret and Mary; Front Row L-R: Norman, Clarence, and Alvin)
Mary (Everett) Leishman with her Children (Back Row L-R: Anna Margaret and Mary; Front Row L-R: Norman, Clarence, and Alvin)