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It’s the repository, stupid :)

June 17, 2008

Well, I’ve just gotten back from Pottsville. The Red Cross trip was quite a bust–closest item they had was some material from 1917-1918 about the Shenandoah chapter, nothing from that time about Shamokin. I did find some names in their scrapbook of more recent officers who may know something, but other than that, not much. Fortunately, however, I had a Plan B for the expedition. And, this Plan B was an excellent bet, so I thought. Besides, after I’d come all this way and found little at the Red Cross, when it came to the library, I certainly “didn’t want no trouble.” But…

Pottsville’s library is what they call a “repository”–it is one of assorted designated libraries throughout the country, and the one closest to Shamokin, which houses the Congressional record. This document would undoubtedly be of great help to me, as it contains detailed descriptions of the votes and debates of each session of the United States Congress, and M.H. Kulp was Representative from the 17th Pennsylvania district in 1895-99. The most recent volumes of the Congressional record are available online, but for anything older you have to find a “repository.” So, I decided that as long as I was in the area, I would visit the Pottsville library and see what was to be found.

Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to locate the building, as it wasn’t far from the Red Cross and I’d researched the directions thoroughly before the trip. It is a fine old brick building with lovely palladium windows, and after attending to the meter I headed inside and asked the librarian at the main desk about the record. She directed me to a different section of the library, where the reference desk was located. Here, there were pristine white ceilings, very tall with imposing columns, and a fine staircase which led to the third floor (second floor accessible from the other side of the building). I repeated my inquiry to a clerk at the reference desk, and he escorted me to corner furnished with a fireplace, desks, legal-looking chairs, and many shelves of reference material. He looked through some of the shelves for a few minutes, looked again, then said, well, that’s where he thought it was, but apparently not–will look elsewhere. So, I took a seat and he went off, but I was confident as the place is a repository, right? Everyone says so.

Well, I waited and watched as the clerk traversed various shelves across the room. Wait a little longer; he comes back and says he’s new, but will ask someone else, surely she will know.

More time. Now the clerk has someone else with him, and they are both going about, looking around. Up to the third floor…back down. Meanwhile, the mom has come with me on this trip, and she says she thinks they don’t have it. I told her, it’s a repository. Of course they have it.

And the minutes roll on. I’m not bothered, of course; I know it’s there and they will find it eventually. Mom patrols the reference shelves, commenting on an unusually large Greek-English lexicon; she is quite the bookworm. She continues to say that they just don’t have it, and the ultimate outcome will be: “I don’t know, and the person who does is not around.” So I keep telling her–“It’s a repository, Mom.” “Right,” she says, “and the Congressional record is reposing. It’s in deep repose.”

Eventually, the clerk comes back and says, can’t find it, but there’s a lady who works here, she might know–she comes back in an hour. I said, well, the Congressional record is here, right–this is a repository, isn’t it? He says: “Yep, that’s right. It’s a repository. It should be here.”

So, although we aren’t too happy about it, we’re patient and wait a while. Upstairs, in the second floor, I decide to phone the Charles Baber Cemetery. Their number is in my cell phone contacts, for my reference; Millard Nagle (see “Why This One Point in Time?”) is buried there, and I’m hoping to find out more about him. So, I call, can’t reach them the first time, no service on the phone; have to go near a window and call again. This time, I get an answering machine: “Hi, you’ve reached Nikki, Chloe, and Allison…” They don’t sound like cemetery keepers, but whatever.

After a while, we headed out to a restaurant and came back at noon. While waiting for the lady who was supposed to be there, I checked out some history/genealogy materials, looking for information on Millard Nagle. As I began browsing through a book on burials at the Charles Baber Cemetery, the clerk and other person came over and said, in effect, that they couldn’t find it, but they can arrange for another library to send the correct volumes to my local Shamokin library via ILL. I told them that would be excellent. It would save a lot of time, if it could just be loaned to Shamokin.

So, I figured I had made some progress. But by this time, I was pretty wrapped up in the genealogy section, which I believe is better than Shamokin’s, so I decided to stay and see what I could dredge up on the Nagle connection.

Not a heck of a lot, frankly. No specifics about his date of death; went through an index which is supposed to mention all the deaths (plus other vital info) reported in the Pottsville Republican during certain dates, but for some reason I couldn’t find a thing. However, I did locate a Biographical Cyclopedia published in 1893 (one of those thick county biography things, we researchers affectionately call them “mug books”); this book mentioned his father, Col. Daniel C. Nagle, who served in the Mexican and Civil Wars. Will work on transcribing that later this evening. In addition, I found portraits of Daniel Nagle and his brother James (also a military man), both of which I photocopied. If the scanner behaves itself, I’ll get them online ASAP.

To finish up the trip, I visited Charles Baber Cemetery, hoping to find the grave of Millard F. Nagle. The book of burials said it was section 7, row 4, but a cemetery keeper mowing the lawn once I got there said there is no section 7 anymore and he has no idea what happened to it. Said call the Trinity Episcopal Church in Pottsville; I did, no answer, just a long-winded answering machine message about hours for the Sunday School, etc.

Well, progress has been made. In a few weeks, the Congressional record should be arriving in Shamokin…and the Harrisburg papers, let’s not forget that! 🙂

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