Tag Archives: 1925

Virginia Accepts the Lord

This was in Washington. We went to Washington DC then, where Daddy had a job. He was an auditor, an accountant with the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. He was considered a top-notch accountant. He was a CPA in the state of Pennsylvania and in the state of New York and in the state of . . . ah . . .

[Barbara]: Go ahead. In the state of? In where?

In Philadelphia, New York, and in Washington. He had a CPA. He was a very smart man.

[Barbara]: You’re doing all the talking on this tape. I’m wondering how long your voice is going to hold out almost single-handedly in this conversation. You’re doing all the talking with a few interruptions.

I was married in June. June? July? July I guess [July 25/26, 1925]. I became pregnant about six months later than that. We went up to Connecticut to my mother’s house. That’s where I had the baby. Lee was born in Connecticut [b. October 26, 1927].

[Barbara]: At home?

No. I went to the hospital. That was the only baby I had in the hospital.

[Barbara]: Is that right? OK.

All the rest, I had them at home.

[Barbara]: Isn’t that funny.

I went to the hospital. I didn’t have much trouble. I was 26 years old, you know, so I guess I was young enough and strong enough that I. . . . ‘Course it was not easy. No birth is easy. I don’t have to tell you that.

[Barbara]: So you named her?

I named her Virginia Lee. Well, her father named her. He liked, he loved Lee. He loved General Lee, so he wanted to name her Lee after General Lee.

[Barbara]: Well that’s a very interesting bit of information. I just found out on your last trip here. Because we have a Barbie Lee [b. May 30, 1976; daughter of Wally]. And of course, let’s see, the new baby in Bob’s family is Jessica Lee [b. July 2, 1987; granddaughter of Bob]. And I’m sure there are other Lees. But I never realized that the derivative of that was. . . .

You did name her after my Virginia Lee?

[Barbara]: Yeah, we did. We thought it was a nice-sounding name, but primarily it was because we had an Aunt Lee that we really loved. But it’s interesting that where it really came from was General Lee and I never knew that.

General Lee.

Then we went back to Philadelphia to live and we lived in what is known as Chester Avenue in Philadelphia. Out, you know, out . . . in Philadelphia. After that we moved to Menoa in Philadelphia. And from Menoa, we . . . then the war came along again. See this was the next World War. Daddy went back into the service. . . .

[Barbara]: Well wait a minute, back to Philadelphia because I know Wally was born in Haverford.


[Barbara]: So it was in that time that you were in Philadelphia that you went from Connecticut with Lee and then to Philadelphia.

I went back and forth. We went back and forth. We moved two or three times.

[Barbara]: But now Wally was born how many months later? Eighteen months later, I think you told me.

Well, first Lee was born, you know. She’s the oldest. Then Wally [b. May 9, 1929]. They were all born in Menoa.

[Barbara]: Oh, Menoa! At home this time, though.

At home, yeah. And then Betty was born in Menoa. Then we went to Drexel Hill.

325 Riverview Ave, Drexel Hill, PA, n.d.  courtesy of Colin Duncan[Barbara]: What was the address there? [325 Riverview Cove, Drexel Hill, PA].

I can’t remember.

[Barbara]: You can’t remember. We tried the other day to figure that out.

I could take you to it, but I do not remember what that. . . . I think Wally asked me that the other day.

[Barbara]: Yeah, we had met that gentleman.

I cannot remember. I know that it was in Drexel Hill.

In the meantime, you know, I had met Mrs. Caley of the Caleys. Wendell and all of that Caley family and Wally were very friendly.

[Barbara]: Of course.

She was the one that introduced me to the Aldan Union Church [7 East Providence Road, Aldan, PA 19018]. Wayland Baptist Church, 11603 South Wayland Road, Meadville, PA 16335We didn’t go to that Wayland Baptist Church [11603 South Wayland Road, Meadville, PA 16335] very long because we moved away, see? So then I went to the Aldan Union Church and that is where we really found the Lord, you know. I can’t remember exactly, but I do think that that’s where I was saved. It was in the Aldan Union Church.

[Barbara]: That’s a story, yeah. Mrs. Caley worked on you for a time, didn’t she?

Oh, yeah, she worked. Every time I’d come out the door, it seemed like she was standing there waiting for me because she kept wanting me to go over to that church. Before that, you know, my husband was a Baptist and he wanted me to go to the Baptist church. Well, I went to the Baptist church but it was so uninteresting to me. It was so cold in that church as far as people were concerned.

[Barbara]: Now by this time, you had a growing family. You had what, three children? Four children?

Four children, yeah?

[Barbara]: You had four children.

Aldan Union Church, 7 East Providence Road, Aldan, PA 19018Anyway, we all went over to the U and I never was sorry. That was the most glorious church. That’s really where I found the lord in all his glory. I tell you I almost lived in that church. It was because my husband was away, you know.

[Barbara]: Tell me how you met the Lord. You probably want to put that down. That’s probably one of the best stories you have.

How I met the Lord?

[Barbara]: Yeah.

Well, he gave the invitation. We went into the Sunday; no, it was the daily vacation Bible school. We were all assembled together in this outer room. He said, “Is there anybody would like to give their heart to the Lord?” or something. I don’t know how he put it. Anyway, I was so thrilled. I can never tell you the way the Lord spoke to me about becoming his child. Here I thought I’d been saved many times before. In Washington and so on, I went to the church. Many times I thought I was accepting him, but this was a real acceptance under Mr. Dean. His name was Mr. William Allan Dean.

He gave this invitation: “Wouldn’t you like to accept the Lord as your savior?” I raised my hand and almost in a trance, I walked forward. I just took more courage than you have any idea. Here I was an old Episcopalian. They don’t do it that way, you know. When you got to be twelve years old, you got confirmed and that’s when you really was supposed to accept the Lord.

Anyway, that was the beginning of my interest. I always say I have to thank Mrs. Nell Caley for my salvation. She never left me alone. She was bound I was going to go over to that church. The funny part of it was they didn’t stay in that church very long themselves. They left me there, not having her to talk to me or anything. I just considered that the Lord called me and I accepted him wholeheartedly at that time. So that was the beginning of my interest in things Christian.

[Barbara]: Now the Caleys were still in Philadelphia. They didn’t move away, did they?

They lived in Philadelphia, but they were the kind of people that were always having some kind of an altercation with somebody, you know. If you knew Mrs. Caley, . . . did you ever meet her?

[Barbara]: No.

She’s a redhead. I love her to death because she really was the one that introduced me to the Lord. But she is not easy to get along with.

[Barbara]: Oh, so they stayed in the neighborhood, but they just left the church.

Yeah. That’s right.

[Barbara]: Because I know Wally has a lot of nice stories about growing up with them.

Yeah. That is a good family, beautiful family. Not the father.

partial transcription of Virginia’s life story as told to Barbara Duncan (Wally’s wife) in the summer of 1987, courtesy of Barbara Duncan

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

•   Who else bears the “Lee” in their names? Virginia? Anyone else? What do you recall of being given that name?
•   Virginia says that she was pregnant with Lee six months after their marriage, but that would have Lee born in October of 1926, not 1927. Also, I have two different days for Virginia’s marriage, though I believe 7/26 to be accurate. Can someone confirm Taylor and Virginia’s marriage date and someone confirm Lee’s birthdate, just so I can be sure? Thanks.
•   Did you ever meet Mrs. Caley? Dad? Betty? Lee? What do you recall of her demeanor?
•   Do you recall the circumstances of the Caley’s leaving Alden Union Church?
•   Virginia ends on an ominous note about Mr. Caley. What do you recall of him?

The Courtship of Taylor and Virginia, Including the Story of Elsa Wood

That [the Navy] is where I met my husband, Taylor.

[Barbara]: We’re all interested. Tell me how it happened.

Well, he said to me. Well, first I went down there and he was working down there [96th Street and the North River or the Hudson River]. And so he said, “You know the war’s about over. We think that it’ll be over in a day or two.” He said, “I’ll be working here a little while. Then,” he said, “I’m going to go to Philadelphia. If you feel like you want to leave this job and go to Philadelphia, I’ll see if I can get you a job down there.”

[Barbara]: Now were you dating? Was it romance?

Taylor Albert Duncan in Uniform, courtesy of Virginia GormanOh, yes. He liked me right away. He asked me if I would go out with him and, you know, he was an attractive man and in uniform he was superb! [Sighs.]

[Barbara]: I’m sure.

So, when he. . . .

[Barbara]: He wasn’t a captain? When he died he was. At that point. . . .

No, he was just second lieutenant. Then first lieutenant. That’s the way it is in the Navy. He was first lieutenant at that time. So then he still stayed in the service for a while. He should never have left. If he’d have never left, I’d have a good pension. But he couldn’t wait to get out.

[Barbara]: Now he was still in the Navy in Philadelphia.

Oh, yeah.

Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, courtesy of Google Maps[Barbara]: And you did go. You told me before that you decided to go and find, to take the job in Philly.

Bob's birthplace, 5101 Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, courtesy of Colin DuncanIn Philly, yeah. Well, I mean, all these were interwoven. I went from New York to Philadelphia and when I got down there, you know he asked me. . . . He lived in 5101 Springfield Avenue. That’s the house we eventually bought, but I lived in 5103 Springfield Avenue, the house right next door. See? And he still stayed in that boarding house. That’s what that was in those days. And I used to come to the boarding house to get my meals, but I would go home to 5103 at night, see?

Birdie Wyler, Taylor's first wife, (m. 1906), she remarried in 1943, courtesy of Virginia GormanThen, we got. . . . Well, we went around, we went together for nearly four years before we were married. Yeah. So I mention the fact he had married before [Birdie Elizabeth Weyler, 1906; she remarried in 1943], you know, after Kathryn and Paul. Well, he divorced that wife. Then he was unmarried for a while. Then he married my girlfriend [ca. 1919]. Elsa Wood was her name. They only were married, I think it was a year and a half. She had died in childbirth [ca. 1921]. I know that my family don’t know anything about this.

[Barbara] Well, Wally told me that. He knew that.

Well, anyway, she died in childbirth. And then we got engaged in a spell of time. I mean it wasn’t right on top of it.

[Barbara] You knew, did you know, you knew him married to your friend Elsa?

Yeah. I knew, yeah, but I didn’t have anything to do with it.

[Barbara] Yeah, I know.

Taylor Albert Duncan and Elsa Wood, 2d wife, ca. 1919-1921, courtesy of Virginia Gorman

See, I went to see. I got this notice she was going with him. And then I got this notice that they were married and that they had this baby. I sent her a pair of little baby shoes as a gift. I always loved to give shoes to new babies. And so the shoes arrived the day she died, if you can imagine that. And the baby died, too. She was buried with the baby in her arms.

That was from Philadelphia, but this was before I lived there. I didn’t go there until he kept coming to see me, you know. It was a space of time, of course. Nothing was happening right then. He was very lonesome. He would write to me. The writing was thick and fast. He used to write long, long letters. In later years, you couldn’t get him to write a letter to save his soul. You know, when we got married, he just didn’t want to write. But at any rate, we got along very well together.

People in the boarding house never knew Elsa at all. That was her name: Elsa Wood. She was a lovely girl. When I did get married to my husband, why he always, he had nothing but the highest praise to say for her. Well I knew her because I worked with her when I was in the Navy. It was only when I got notice that the baby had died and that she had died and that the shoes arrived and I never knew what he did with them, but he must have given them to someone.

[Barbara]: Let’s get closer to wedding time and dates, so that, just so our kids will know.

In 19. . . . We were married in 19. . . .

[Barbara]: Well, ‘25.

1925, I guess it was. July 26, 1925.

[Barbara]: Well, I know that because this week we celebrated that, didn’t we?

Yeah, that’s right.

[Barbara]: That was two days after Dad’s birthday or before?

That’s right.

[Barbara]: And your sister’s birthday was the same time.

Yeah, my sister’s [Ella] was the 27th and my husband’s was the 23d. They all came in there together.

Virginia Mary White Duncan and Katheryn Duncan Ramey, 1920, courtesy of Virginia GormanWell, when the time came, as I went with Daddy for four years, and we had a lot of fun together after so long, after the mourning period was over. The lady of the house, Mrs. Armor, her name was, she was very congenial, very understanding, the lady of the boarding house. After so long a time, we got married. We considered it was sufficient time after she died, four years.

[Barbara]: Now where did you get married?

We got married in Weymouth Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

[Barbara]: Oh. OK. Well, Dad was a Southern Baptist.

He was a Southern Baptist and I was an Episcopalian. You know, he wanted to be married by the Baptist church. Well, that was better that it happened that way.

[Barbara]: What did you wear?

I wore a white dress and a white veil.

[Barbara]: You don’t have pictures?

No. He would not let me get pictures. He did not believe in white, I guess because of his background.

[Barbara]: Maybe.

At any rate, we were very happy. When we were married, we went to Downingtown [PA], a little resort that was used by young people. Oh, what would you say? I can’t think of what you would call it. Well, anyway it was a young people’s camp, like. We spent two weeks there. That was where we went on our wedding trip with a whole lot of other young people. We were old enough that they didn’t realize that we were just bride and groom. We had a very nice time.

partial transcription of Virginia’s life story as told to Barbara Duncan (Wally’s wife) in the summer of 1987, courtesy of Barbara Duncan

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Do you recall other stories of Grandma’s time in the Navy?
  • Do you recall stories of Grandpa’s first wife? What was her full name/maiden name? Can you tell the story of their circumstances and what led to the divorce?
  • Did Grandma ever meet her?
  • Where were Kathryn and Paul during this time? Did Grandma know them? What did they think of Elsa?
  • I cannot locate a Weymouth Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Does anyone have more information on it? A marriage license?
  • Can you confirm the dates that I’ve placed in brackets in this transcription? Can you add month and day? Where does your information come from?
  • I know there’s a photo of Grandpa in his uniform somewhere. I’ve seen it, but I’d appreciate some direction from, perhaps, Virginia or Colin, as to where I might find it. Thanks.