Andrew Rininsland’s relatives found!

Hudson Reporter helps locate family of a man whose 100-year-old naturalization certificate had been abandoned

Carmela Rininsland holding the newly preserved 100-year-old certificate
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Carmela Rininsland holding the newly preserved 100-year-old certificate

Efforts to locate relatives of Andrew Rininsland by the Hudson Reporter have been successful.

Here’s what we reported on January 30: A nearly 100-year-old naturalization certificate belonging to a North Bergen resident turned up in North Carolina.

Hang-Ups Art and Framing is a picture frame shop at Palladium Shopping Center in Greensboro, N.C. Edward Coultress, owner of the shop, had been searching for any living relative of the man whose name is on the certificate.

The document, dated Nov. 9, 1920, will be 100 years old in the fall. Coultress reached out to the Hudson Reporter in hopes of reuniting the certificate with a living relative.

“Fifteen years ago, someone brought in the certificate to be framed,” Coultress said. “I was with another customer at the time, so the person who brought in the certificate left it at the shop and said that they would come back. But they never came back.”

Fast forward to mid-February, 2020. The curious case came to a conclusion when two history buffs put their detective skills to the test, unbeknownst to one another.

Nancy Boldt or Nancy Drew?

On Jan. 30, Weehawken resident Nancy Boldt contacted the Hudson Reporter regarding a lead in the certificate story. Earlier in the day, Boldt had seen the story on the front page of the Hudson Reporter at the Four Star Diner in Union City.

Boldt is a member of the Weehawken Historical Commission and the Hudson County Genealogical and Historical Society.

For more than two decades, Boldt had attempted to return old mementos found in her home to their rightful owners.

“I had incredible luck returning family photos and mementos which I found in the basement of my Weehawken home to the family, including negatives never developed,” she said.

Boldt said her interest in family history, local history, and genealogy stems from a fascination with the past and a desire to preserve what she can, including mementos, old buildings, and memories.

“Many people have helped me unravel my family history, so I’m more than happy to help others,” Boldt told the Hudson Reporter.

Boldt said she recognized the Rininsland name and went to work searching for a relative.

Boldt saw that a Facebook friend, Rebecca Ridgeway King, had a friend from college named Carmela Rininsland, so Boldt emailed Rebecca.

Come to find out …

Meanwhile, the town historian of West New York, Patrick Cullen, had also read our story, which piqued his interest enough to search for relatives in his free time.

On Feb. 1, he reached out to the Hudson Reporter with a new lead. “Based upon your reporting, Daniel, I was able to find Andrew’s grandson, Frederick Rininsland,” he said, noting that obituaries were key to his discovery of Rininsland’s grandson.

But before Frederick Rininsland could be contacted by the Hudson Reporter, Rebecca had made contact with with her friend Carmela.

The nearly 100-year-old naturalization certificate, belonging to a North Bergen resident, was found in North Carolina.

Carmela and Fred Rininsland

“Turns out she is a relative,” Boldt reported on Feb. 3. Carmela later confirmed that Andrew Rininsland is her great grandfather.

At the time of the certification, Rininsland was listed as living with his 39-year old wife Laura. The couple lived at 722 Fisher Ave. in North Bergen.

According to a 1941 Guide Book transcribed by Joel Weintraub, Fisher Avenue was renamed 51st Street. The approximate location of the former Rininsland residence is now a QuickChek.

The couple had two children at the time of Rininsland’s naturalization, a boy and a girl who had the same first names as their parents. Andrew was 12 at the time and Laura was 10.

Andrew Rininsland Jr. had three children, Marion, Elizabeth, and Frederick.

Frederick Rininsland is father to Carmela Rininsland, that friend of a friend identified by Boldt.

Cullen said that Andrew Rininsland was a carpenter and cabinetmaker. Frederick recalled that his grandfather, Andrew, was in fact a carpenter who would visit him and give him sheets of stamps. Frederick has preserved the sheets in a book as a memento.

Initially it was thought that Andrew’s last name may have changed to Rinensland. However, Carmela said that the name must have been misspelled during the census because her family spells the name with an “i” and not an “e.”

How it all happened

A conversation with Fred and Carmela filled in holes in the plot. It was Marion’s son, Timmy, who dropped off the certificate at the frame shop without leaving his name.

According to Frederick Rininsland, Timmy already knew the owner of the frame shop, Ed Coultress. Apparently Timmy might have left the certificate without a name thinking that Coultress would remember him.

Despite the miscommunication, the certificate, which was expertly preserved by Coultress to last for another century, is finally back in the hands of the family.

“Ed did a great job framing it with museum quality,” Frederick Rininsland said.

To confirm their heritage, the Rininslands sent Coultress a picture of Laura Rininsland’s headstone, Andrew’s daughter, and the family grave.

According to Carmela, her great grandfather Andrew is not buried in the family plot because he was divorced from Laura.

Laura, Andrew’s daughter, apparently died at a young age prior to the divorce.

Carmela said that this might be the reason why it might have been hard to locate relatives of her great grandfather, Andrew Rininsland.

“I never thought it would have been my family,” Frederick said, of the the abandoned certificate.

Said Coutlress, after sending Carmela and Fred Rininsland the certificate,“The document is 100 years old this year; its part of the family history, and now it has a place to go,”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.