Posted by: downtothesea | July 4, 2011

Independence Day and genealogy

It has been a disgracefully long time since I posted here. The usual excuses: life, life, life. I have made huge strides in genealogy since I last posted, and I’m eager to share!

Let’s get started on this Independence Day with my great-great-great grandfather Michael Gavin Sr.’s own ‘declaration of independence:’ his filed intent to become a naturalized citizen of the United States in May 1860.


There is so much to love about this document. It moves me to the point of tears to think of the implications of Michael’s decision to become American. He could never have even imagined me, but surely in the back of his mind was the idea that if he became a citizen of the United States, all of his progeny would also be citizens. I am an American today because of him. I am eternally grateful for his choice.

Also, this document bears a truly precious treasure: Michael’s careful signature. I hold out hope that I will some day find a photograph of him, but until then, this signature is the closest I have come to “seeing” my great-great-great grandfather. And it makes me smile to see how much Michael’s penmanship is echoed in his great-great grandson’s–my father’s–own hand.

Thank you for your courage, Michael Gavin.

I could not have found this precious document without the kind help of Mr. Craig Bacon from the Niagara County Historian’s Department.



  1. It’s great to see you back! I’ve been wondering if you were okay.

    Congratulations on this precious find. I think many of us in America can identify with your feelings of gratitude for choices made several generations ago. I will have to look at my own great-grandfather’s naturalization papers again which are from about the same time period to see if he signed the record on the ledger.

    • Thank you for your concern! It’s been a wild year, and we’ve had some big losses, but our family is good and strong and we carry on!

  2. I’m so thrilled to see you posting again! And especially with such good news on the research front. Can’t wait to see what else you have dug up!

    • Thanks Greta! It feels good to be back!

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