Somerset County, Pennsylvania
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Emigration, Immigration, Naturalization and CitizenshipBritish immigrants to Pennsylvania were already citizens because Pennsylvania was a British colony.
Others gave an oath of allegiance soon after they arrived. For early lists of oaths of allegiance,
see Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Strassburger and Hinke.
Emigration and Immigration
(See also the LDS Research Outline, United States Research Outline as well as Tracing Immigrant Origins research outline for important sources of information regarding immigrants.)
The first European settlers in Pennsylvania were the swedes who came in the 1630's and the Dutch who came in the 1650's. By 1670 the English, Irish and Welsh predominated in the area. The settled mostly in Philadelphia and in the eastern counties.
Germans began coming to Pennsylvania in large numbers towards the end of the 1600's. They settled first in the eastern counties and later migrated to western Pennsylvania. The Scotch-irish started coming in large numbers after 1718. They settled first in the Cumberland Valley and later moved west to Fayette and Westmoreland counties as well as Washington, Green and Allegheny.
Early settlers to Somerset county were English, Scottish and German. Swiss Mennonites who settled in Lancaster county as early as 1710, also came to this county. There are several Amish-Mennonite communities in the county today.
After the Civil War, Pennsylvania attracted large numbers of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. These included Slavs, Poles, Italians, Jews, Russians, and Greeks. In Somerset county, many of these immigrants settled in the northern counties of Paint and Shade Township.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many blacks from southern states migrated to Pennsylvania in large numbers. For an account of some of these groups, see John E. Bodnar's, The Ethnic Experience in Pennsylvania (Lewisberg, PA: Bucknell Univ. 1973 FHL call number 974.8 F2bo). [Book is not online]
Port of Entry
Philadelphia was a major port of entry for European immigrants since the 1600's.
The LDS FHL has microfilmed copies of passenger arrival records from the National Archives.
Indexes from 1800-1906, 1820-1874, 1883-1948, 1906-1911. Lists from 1800-1916 Naturalization Lists, 1740-1773, Pennsylvania Supreme Court. These records can be viewed as part of the Pennsylania Archives series 2, vol. 2, as well as through the LDS FHL (film 1032845 item 5-7).
Another Film for Naturalization Records: 7786497
Item 1: 1805-1855 ~ Item 2: 1855-1900 ~ Item 3: 1900-1903
item 4: 1900-1906 ~ Item 5: 1904-1906 ~ Item 6: 1904-1905
Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American and West Indian Colonies (Pursuant to statute 13 George 11, c.7), M. S. Giusepi, ed. FHL call number 973 W5g; film 908978 item 1.
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania required oaths of allegiance during and shortly after the Revolutionary War period.
See "Names of Persons who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania Between the years 1776 and 1794" found in the Pennsylvania Archives, series 2, v. 3, p. 1-86. FHL book call number 974.8 A39p ser 2 v3 or on film 823994 item 1.
Also, Names of Persons who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania Between the Years 1777 and 1789: With a History of "Test Laws" of Pennsylvania by Thompson Westcott (1965 Balt. MD). FHL call number 974.8 P4w or film 1033632 item 7. [Not Available]
After this period, immigrants filed for naturalization in county courts, though many filed in city, state or federal courts too.
The LDS FHL has microfilmed copies of some of these records. The court of common pleas and the court of quarter sessions has jurisdiction over the naturalization of aliens.
The Comprehensive Naturalization Law of 1906 provided for nationwide uniformity of processes and records. Jurisdication over naturalization was provided by the US District Courts. For records after 1906, see the NARA - Philadelphia Branch or the local office of Immigration and Naturalization. The LDS FHL has some microfilmed records of naturalization (for about 2/3 of PA counties).
Early Immigration - Statistics
More general information on Immigration, Passenger Lists, and Ships Lists follows.
There are several websites that specialize in Ship's List details. These are a few that were recommended by two of our Somerset County researchers, Pam Roper and Denny Shirer:
"The Fine Print"
Somerset County Coordinator:
PAGenWeb State Coordinator: Nancy Janyszeski
PAGenWeb Assistant State Coordinator (Eastern Counties): Mary Ann Lubinsky
PAGenWeb Assistant State Coordinator (Western Counties):
Site Updated: April 23, 2023
Online Continuously since 1997
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