Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our Day at the National Archives

We boarded the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) train to Union Station at 7:51 a.m. at Leeland Station, just north of Fredericksburg. We planned to catch this train, not realizing that the VRE was on their “S” schedule (S meaning “Snow” and/or Holiday schedule), and neither did a number of regular commuters waiting there to catch an earlier train into work. A lot of sighs … But we did learn about the green dot meaning a train is headed our way.

After arriving at Union Station in DC, we quickly trotted (it was cold and windy) a number of blocks to the NARA building, arriving there just before 10:00 a.m., their stated opening time – or so we thought.

The doors were open and we learned they actually open at 9:30 giving researchers time to fill out their paperwork for the 10:00 a.m. records pull.

Since we were newbies, we had to watch a PowerPoint presentation on NARA procedures, and then waited in line to get a photo ID card made. We filled out our forms and got them in the designated wooden box for the 11:00 a.m. pull.   The NARA website used to have a very informative video on what to expect when arriving at the archives. Difficult to locate on their site before, now impossible, and I suspect it has been taken off and replaced by the PowerPoint.

We found the lockers where we stashed our coats, and in walking back to the main section, one of the archive staff approached me and said my ancestor’s records were now on Fold3. We went to one of the computers and she immediately brought up the Widow’s Pension record for Amos L. Tucker. I reviewed the pages while hubby went through the (agonizing) process of getting money on his card so that we could print the documents I needed.

The small café in the basement of NARA is delightful. Hubby had a cheeseburger, and I had a delicious ham wrap, and much needed water!

We arrived in research room 203 just moments before hubby’s documents arrived at noon. Those files provided us limited success.

The elusive John Pye that hubby has been searching for a friend remains elusive. The poor guy was shot in the face and had half his face torn off. He must have been in terrible shape and much pain. The end of pension paperwork that should be there is presumable “lost,” according to NARA personnel. The last paperwork in the file was dated 1873. We did get the name of the attorney who was receiving the pension checks on Mr. Pye’s behalf – George C. Carter of Utica, New York. And we found out that Mr. Pye was living in Adams, Jefferson County, NY.  These are some clues our friend can follow up on to try for date/place of death.

Hubby needed parents’ names for the other two folks he was researching – neither file included those, but for one, a wife and son are named. That was helpful. 

The NARA staff were all delightful and ever so helpful, and for that we are so appreciative.

To top off our day, we had the most delicious milkshakes from the Sugar Factory at Union Station while we waited for our 3:25 p.m. train back to Fredericksburg.

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