Maria Katherine Fuhrmann and the Presidential Proclamation of April 19, 1918

Early on in the United States’ involvement in WWI, non-naturalized citizens, or “enemy aliens”, were required to register with U.S. authorities in the interest of national security. A presidential proclamation on November 16, 1917 included all non-citizen males over the age of 14, and their wives, even those women born in the United States but married to non-citizens. The registration focused primarily on non-citizen German residents, but included Italians and other nationalities, as well. The information derived from this registration included immigration, birth and parentage, names of family members, address, occupation and employer; residents were also asked if they were sympathetic to the enemy and the names of any relatives serving in enemy forces. Registrations included a physical description, fingerprints and a photograph. An act of Congress on 16 April 1918 changed the definition of “alien enemy” to include women age 14 and older, and a presidential proclamation followed on April 19, 1918.

My 2nd great grandmother, Maria Katherine Michels, was born in Germany on April 13, 1842. She came to the United State in 1856 and, according to the 1920 US Census, became a naturalized citizen in 1869. On June 19, 1860, Maria married Anton Fuhrmann. He was also born in Germany and became a citizen – this according to the 1910 Census.

Once an “enemy alien” had registered, “After the date fixed by the Attorney General for such registration, an alien enemy shall not be found within the limits of the United States, its territories or possessions, without having his registration card on his person.” Penalties for not carrying the card could include imprisonment.

This is the “Registration Card of Alien Female” issued to Maria K. Fuhrmann on June 25, 1918. What is a little confusing to me is that, according to the census, both she and Anton were naturalized citizens. If this was the case, I don’t believe she was required to register. But, then again, the census could be wrong.

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Marie and Anton were farmers in Marshfield Township, Fond du lac Co., WI. After Anton died in 1912, Marie moved to the city of Fond du Lac to live with 3 of her children. She passed away in 1923 and is buried in Johnsburg, WI.