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?
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]
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.