This week’s post comes from Intern Kaitlyn. Like all of us, she was drawn to the pieces of history that we have found that tell the story of how people ended up in our little corner of the world.
At Home in Vanderburgh County
While inventorying the vast amounts of books in the warehouse we have come across an array of names of both people and places. Earlier this semester I came across a name of interest in one of those books, Herman Preetz. I had no idea who he was, but his Declaration of Intent record caught my attention and inspired me to research more about him to see what I could find through the archival record.
Through research I found that Herman Preetz was a German born U.S. citizen that lived in Evansville during the early 1900’s. Preetz emigrated from Bremen, Germany at 25 years of age. He travelled over to the United States on a vessel named The SS Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse and arrived at the port of New York on September 2, 1902. The next time his name appears on record was in 1913 when he signed the Evansville Declaration of Intent book on October 13. While there are few records of Herman Preetz in the period from 1902-1913, it is known that on January 25, 1906 he married his wife Barbara Preetz. There is documented proof that Preetz was accounted for in the 1930 and 1940 census. He passed away in 1946 and was buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery alongside his wife.
While I was at first unsure of how much information could be found about this single individual, the more I looked into the various aspects of his life, the more details I found about this man and the more excited I became. The beginning of this information about Preetz was discovered from a Declaration of Intent book found in the warehouse and the rest of the details were found through archival records from other institutions, including online archives. The thing which first caught my attention about Herman was through the Declaration of Intent book. This book was a record of immigrants coming into America and declaring their intent to be a U.S. citizen. This process included renouncing their past governmental leaders from their home countries and swearing to abide by the laws and rules of the United States.
If material can be gathered about the life of one man, imagine what the records could tell us about Evansville or Vanderburgh County as a whole! While the life of Herman Preetz can be found through the archives at the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office, he is but one name in one book amongst thousands that we hold in storage. Who or what can you find of interest from your next search through our archives?