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I am trying to find information about my great grandfather. We have a Declaration of Intention for the United States of America, division of naturalization, which he signed. On the form it shows that his foreign residence was Dalmasz, Russia. I cannot find any information about Dalmasz. Does anyone know of it or have an idea of another way it should be spelled?

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    Welcome to G&FH SE! Is there any chance that you can include a picture of the writing that says "Dalmasz"? Knowing the year of that Declaration of Intention signature would undoubtedly be useful too. There is an edit button beneath your question that you can use for adding extra details like these. – PolyGeo Jul 28 '14 at 4:59
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    Please, also describe how your great-grandfather's birthplace was listed in other records - was he always born in "Russia," or of Russian ethnicity, or did some records say something else? Changing borders can add confusion but can also help pin-point a location. – bgwiehle Jul 28 '14 at 12:12
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    Google Translate says Dalmász is Hungarian. Without the accent (Dalmasz) it identifies it as Azerbaijani. – Jan Murphy Jul 28 '14 at 14:16
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    Dalmasz sounds like Polish, "sz" is a typical Polish sound with pronunciation close to "sh" in English. It's typical in Hungarian language as well (as "s"), but is less likely considering that most of Poland was under Russian rule in XIX - beginning of XX centuries and Hungary was not. – vladich Jul 28 '14 at 16:50
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    The naturalization papers should give information about his immigration into the US (likely on a ship), including the date and the ship name and the port of entry. Can you go look up the original immigration record based on that information, and see if it lists the "last residence", or "nearest relative back in former residence"? Perhaps the spelling of the town name is different there than what is given on the naturalization form years later. – Asparagirl Sep 3 '14 at 5:26
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My assumption is that immigration agent may have completed the paperwork for him and had him sign it if he was not fluent in English. The agents “assumption” that he was Russian if he spoke a Slavic sounding language at the time and if he just answered where he was from he may have said Dalmasz and that was the agents spelling of it.

I personally have encountered this in my own research as well for other spellings and how some last names got "Englishized" for example.

I believe it is The Dalmatia (Region Along the eastern coast of Adriatic Sea) -- for a map, see http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Balkans925.png

To clarify, this region has not ever been part of Russia nor directly boarder the Russian Empire but in Russian “ц” is pronounced like “zz” or “sz” as in the English Pizza. So in the time I have looked is likely your "Dalmasz".

See Wikipedia: Dalmatia:

  • Bulgarian & Russian: Далмация
  • Hungarian: Dalmácia
  • Latin: Dalmatia
  • Croatian: Dalmacija, [dǎlmaːt͡sija]
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    I've changed the formatting and added the quote box for the names in different languages. If I've changed your intent, feel free to fix it. – Jan Murphy Oct 31 '14 at 21:31
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    The question says naturalization papers are the source of the place name. These were filled out by or for the applicant, usually after several years residence in the U.S. Unfortunately, the original poster has not included any dates nor mentioned other records. While probable the placename is mis-spelled, the country or region named in the document should be valid for the individual - either ethnically or geographically. – bgwiehle Nov 1 '14 at 13:16
  • @bgwiehle I agree that the context is important, especially for place names since the way places are referred to changes so much over time. Knowing the date for this petition would be a huge help here. – Jan Murphy Nov 3 '14 at 20:50
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When trying to identify a placename given in a document, one should

  • look at the context - who wrote the entry and under what circumstances, especially the date and the languages used.
  • look for identifiers to help localize the place (region or country, ethnicity, neighbouring entries).
  • look carefully at the original entry: has it been mis-transcribed or could the writing (or even the typeface) be interpreted differently.
  • sound out the placename, and think about alternate spellings for the sounds (especially important for languages using other alphabets)
  • check gazetteers appropriate for the region and time-period. (Be aware of potential limitations due to spelling variations, population size, etc.)
  • look for corroborating evidence in other documents, not necessarily the place itself, but certainly regional information. Include FAN members (family, associates, neighbours).

Note: The following paragraph cannot be definitive because the original poster has not added any of the information requested in comments, and has not even returned to this site in months.

All we currently have to work with is "Dalmasz, Russia," which can't be found. An alternative interpretation could be "Talmaz", which generates 3 matches at JewishGen Gazetteer, 2 in Russia (north of Kazakhstan) and 1 in (today's) Moldova. (NB Moldova was part of Russia from 1812 to 1991).

There may be other variants, none of which can be evaluated properly without more information.

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