I've heard that some naturalizations could have occurred in county or state court 100+ years ago. Since U.S. Immigration turned up no record, this morning I emailed Armstrong county in Pennsylvania (where my great-grandfather lived and worked right after immigrating), Erie county (where he lived in Buffalo), and New York State, to see what the process would be to search for a record.
Erie County Clerk Responds:
Many of the naturalization records in our office are original records of the Supreme Court granting naturalization and as such are unique and not available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Department of Homeland Security (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)) informs us that INS did not collect or maintain records of naturalization prior to September 26, 1906. Therefore, the court records of naturalization in this office prior to that date are the only existing original records. We usually certify copies of those records PRIOR TO September 26, 1906 when requested and may certify later records.
After September 26, 1906, some duplicate records may be found at the National Archives and Records Administration. If the record is not available at the Department of Immigration’s record keeping entity ( NARA), the County Clerk has the only official file. If the requestor provides proof in writing that the specific record is not available at NARA, the Clerk will certify copies of the Supreme or Superior Court records of naturalization.
For clarification, if the file in the Erie County Clerk's Office is a court record, it is certified upon request.
You may make your request to the Erie County Clerk's Office. The request will engender a search charge. Please make your request in writing to the Erie County Clerk – Basement Record Room, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202 and be sure to enclose an SASE and your daytime telephone number. You may simply copy this email and mail with your check. As a suggestion, since we will not know the actual cost until the search is completed, you may send in a check with the amount blank and a note that the check is not to exceed a certain amount. We will return a receipt.
The cost for a search is $5 for every two years per name, per document.
The cost for copies is $1 per page and certification is an additional $5. Based upon the year and the issuing entity, we may or may not be able to certify the documents. Erie County Clerk
92 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202