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Central Rappahannock
Heritage Center Newsletter
A place that loses its history loses it soul
Volume 6, Issue 9
September 2016
In This Issue

The Heritage Center gladly provides research services.  Please contact the center for rates.
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4:00 p.m., the first Saturday of each month, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or by appointment
900 Barton Street #111 Fredericksburg, VA  22401
(540) 373-3704
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Message From The Chairman

On Tuesday, September 20, at 6:30 PM, CRHC will hold its annual meeting in the community room at Shiloh (Olde Site) Baptist Church, located at 801 Sophia St. in downtown Fredericksburg.  There is ample parking at the church and the community room is handicap accessible.  At 7 PM, immediately following the meeting, will be a program by guest speaker Jane Beck, who will give a presentation on her book "Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga".  Members, please plan to attend, as we need a quorum to conduct business, then stay afterward for Ms. Beck's talk.  You won't be disappointed!
The invitations to this year's Repast at Braehead Manor have been mailed and ticket sales are brisk! Sales are limited to 150 people so please plan to purchase your tickets soon.  We are in the process of setting up a system that will allow the Center to accept credit cards for the first time and hope to have that capability in place by September 1.  For more information, please contact Meredith Beckett at, or call 540-371-9232.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the last Saturday in September, this year being September 24, is National Public Lands Day?  It is the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands and keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the "tree army" that worked from 1933-1942, to preserve and protect America's natural heritage.
Why am I mentioning this? Because the CRHC works every day to preserve our local heritage with our all volunteer staff and we have in our archives a good collection of Civilian Conservation Corps photos from one of their three camps that were located in our area.  One camp was built in what is now Spotsylvania Battlefield near the Bloody Angle on the old McCoull Farm house site.  A ledger from the farm is currently being restored by Kofile Technologies and should be returned to the Center within a few weeks.

Meredith Beckett
CRHC Chairman

Welcome New Members  

 Ms. Virginia Shelor 
 Mr. E. Lewis Hansen 

CRHC memberships support the important work done by the Center.  The Center fills a unique role in the region, the preservation of our people's history, which we make available for research.  We are a 100% all volunteer, non-profit organization.

Please join us as part of the Heritage Center's preservation team!  As a CRHC member, you will be helping to preserve our priceless local history.  Click here to become a member today! 

Thank you for your support,

The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center

The Fredericksburg Area At Work

An often told story is that Fredericksburg never really suffered during The Depression (1929 - 1939) because of the "Sylvania Plant," (Sylvania Industrial Corporation).  True?  For the most part, yes, but it was not the only reason this area didn't suffer.  The plant started hiring in 1930; initially 350 employees followed by 150 more a year later.  What did they do?  They manufactured cellophane, a thin, transparent material used to wrap food, cigarettes and a variety of other items.  Cellophane was made from wood, which was plentiful, and used water in the process.  There were nearby forests and the Rappahannock River.

At the foot of Frederick and Sophia Streets is the old "Pump House," now privately owned.  It provided the water for the plant.  Just the building of the plant and its ancillary structures provided employment.  The plant employed unskilled laborers, vehicle operators, machine operators, clerical staff and administrators.  There were also professionals like chemists, recruited from outside the area.  African Americans were hired leading to the development of the Mayfield neighborhood.

The Sylvania Plant went through several iterations.  It was called American Viscose and FMC before closing in March 1978.  Technology overtook the product.  Petroleum-based materials like polyvinyl chloride were cheaper.  By then, other employment at Dahlgren, Quantico and A.P. Hill was available.  A new General Motors facility created jobs.  Even now, every week obituaries mention people who worked at FMC or the Sylvania plant. It is hard to find a long-time resident who has not either worked at the plant or had had relatives who did.

Like today, people carpooled and commuted by rail. The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad provided passenger service.  This was particularly helpful for people living in Fredericksburg and working at the Marine Base Quantico.

Other places that "Depression-proofed" the area, in addition to the aforementioned military bases, were the National Park Service with the Civilian Conservation Camps, G&H Manufacturing (clothing) and the Virginia Shoe Company.

Beth Daly

Newly Acquired Collections
Acquired collections for the month include:
  •  New York Herald newspapers from 1862.  We found several articles concerning Fredericksburg and the Civil War.  Additionally, there were postcards and booklets.
  • Genealogical reference materials
  • Photo of Ulmans Clothing Store, 1939; James Monroe commencement      program, 1942; Selective Service document, 1945; miscellaneous documents
  • A book concerning the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Miscellaneous Currie Family information; newspaper articles.
  •  Pullen Family genealogy.
  •  Painting from 1847 of a Carolina Parakeet by Mary Ann Rowe.
  • Copies of various documents from the nineteenth century.
  • Photographs and newspaper articles.
  • Rappahannock Valley Garden Club minutes and notes from past years.
We are always pleased to receive new donations of photographs and other paper records that document the history and culture of the Central Rappahannock area.

John Reifenberg
CRHC Collections Manager

CRHC Volunteer Spotlight

Donna McCague, CRHC Volunteer Coordinator
Hometown:  Cincinnati, Ohio
What brought you to Fredericksburg and how long have you lived here?

After working 40+ years, my husband and I looked for retirement areas in several states and decided the Fredericksburg area had a lot to offer.   We wanted to be part of a community which offered history, cultural venues, and a beautiful place to live. The people we have met in the Fredericksburg area are wonderful! Warm, sincere, and genuine. I can't express it better.  
Why did you choose to volunteer at CRHC?

History and genealogy have always been hobbies for me. I retired but wanted to stay active and work in an environment which touched upon my interests. The Heritage Center was the perfect place. I have enjoyed working here and learning about local history and families. The volunteers are a special group of people who have accomplished many things in their diverse backgrounds. They all bring a unique set of skills to the Center and made it a very interesting place to devote my time.

What project are you currently working on? 
Currently, I am the Volunteer Coordinator and participate in the Collections Committee.   I also work on collections to be archived. It's like looking at a snapshot of the life of a person or historical place. You gain a real appreciation for the contributions people have made to Fredericksburg and the counties we serve.
How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy doing genealogy research for family and friends. I recently became a member of the Spotsylvania Chapter of the DAR. It was a very exciting! My mother's side of the family goes back to the 1600s in Virginia. I continue to learn more and more about my family roots. Genealogy is a real treasure hunt. I also enjoy creative writing and researching the origin of antiques and decorative arts.

Can you help identify these photos?

Unidentified photo from the Eley Collection. Possibly Embrey or Bloxton Family. Marked on the back with Lambert Photo Service, Quantico, VA. Undated.
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Please e-mail Diane Ballman at

Perry Collection

Sam Perry on the left and Woodrow Graves second from the left. Others are unidentified. 
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Please e-mail Diane Ballman at
The Circle Unbroken: Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg

On sale now at the Heritage Center 
$29.70 for members 
$33.00 for non-members 
You can also purchase the book online from the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation
   (click on image to order online)