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Mary Alice (Fawcett) 
Turnley Walls


Mary Alice

Mary Alice "Allie" (Fawcett) Turnley Walls was born on March 23, 1865, just a few weeks before the end of the Civil War, in Kingwood, Preston County, WV, the daughter of William M. and Naomi (Fortney) Fawcett

Her first husband was Robert "Lee" Turnley (1862-1890), the son of James Madison and Matilda B. (Thorn) Turnley of Newburg, Preston County.

The newlyweds resided in Independence, Preston County, and produced two children -- Frank Clifford Turnley and Bertha McClung.

They were members of the Independence Baptist Church. Lee was "employed by the B. & O. R.R. Company at Newburg," said the 1913 book, A History of Preston County, by H.S. Whetsell. 


Mary Alice with great-grandchildren Richard Sherman and Linda Gipe

Tragically, while in Newburg, Robert "contracted a deep cold early in January, 1890, which developed into typhoid," said the Preston County history. He died on Fri., Jan. 24, 1890, at the age of 30. In a short obituary, the Preston County Journal said that "he leaves a wife and two children."

He was laid to rest in what is now the Damon Cemetery in Newburg. The obituary in the Journal noted that Allie's brothers, Charles W. Fawcett and Daniel F. Fawcett of Kingwood "did not receive word of the death, owing to delay in the mail, till Monday."

Shattered by the loss, Mary had to begin rebuilding her life. She later married David Jerome Walls (1859-1934). He was the son of John M. and Rachel (Orr) Walls of Gladesville, Preston County. 

Jerome is believed to have been a notary public circa February 1900, when he witnessed a legal document signed by his mother in law.

The Wallses moved to Keyser, Mineral County, WV, where they made their home at 163 Argyle Street. Jerome worked in Keyser as a foreman with a manufacturing company. He retired from the position.

During the 1910s, a cancerous growth began to form on Mary's left cheek. She endured the illness for approximately four decades, until her eventual passing.


Obituary, 1890

Mary's brother Daniel F. Fawcett, a Civil War veteran who was receiving a pension for his wartime disabilities, died in Pennsylvania in 1920. At that time, Mary, who was living in Morgantown, Monongalia County, WV, signed an affidavit so that Daniel's widow would begin receiving the pension payments. The original signed document is on file today at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

In 1933, Jerome began to suffer with cancer, and did not live long. 

On Feb. 3, 1934, at the age of 74, he passed away from the illness. He was buried at the Knights of Pythias Cemetery (Damon Cemetery) in Newburg, Preston County.


Early bird's eye panorama view of Keyser



Obituary, 1951

Compounding the heartache, married daughter Bertha McClung died at some point while Mary Alice was still alive. The details are not known.

Circa 1942, after nine years as a second-time widow, Mary moved into the home of her son Frank in Grafton, Taylor County, WV. 

She died from the effects of her facial cancer at the age of 86 on the Fourth of July 1951. She was buried at the Damon Cemetery in Newburg, beside her second husband.

Lee Turnley, whose relationship to the Wallses is unknown, was the informant for both of their certificates of death.

At the time of her passing, she was survived by two granddaughters, Ruth Sherman and Mary Gipe, who resided in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD. She also had four great grandchildren. 


~ Son Frank Clifford Turnley ~

Son Frank Clifford Turnley (1886-1957) was born on Sept. 7, 1886 in Newburg. As a young man, he was tall and slender, with brown eyes and black hair.

Frank followed in his father's career path as a railroader. He joined the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on March 18, 1904, and remained there for a remarkable 44 years, in posts in West Virginia and Maryland. 

During World War I, Frank was required to register for the military draft, and did so in June 1917. Later he joined the U.S. Army. On his draft registration card, he listed his age as 30, his occupation as locomotive engineer and his place of employment as Hardman, WV. Upon his discharge, he returned home and lived in Independence, near Newburg.

At the age of 33, on June 4, 1919, he married 27-year-old Gertrude Amelia Frazier (1892-1981), daughter of George M. and Anna E. Frazier. The ceremony was held in Gertrude's hometown of Clarksburg, Harrison County, WV. Rev. W. Ray Hashinger, of the Lutheran Church, performed the nuptials.


B&O Railroad machine shops in Grafton


The Turnleys produced two daughters, Ruth Eleanor Sherman and Mary Margaret Gipe.


Frank's obituary in the Mountain Statesman

In addition to Newburg, the family also lived in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD and for 15 years in Grafton, from 1942 to 1957. Their home in Grafton circa 1957 was at 661 Maple Avenue.

Said the Grafton Mountain Statesman: "He had held the following positions: fireman, engineer, fuel economy instructor, air brake instructor, assistant road foreman of engines, assistant trainmaster and road foreman of engines at Cumberland." He made headlines in the Cumberland News in June 1943 when he was overcome by heat at work and taken to a local hospital where he fainted twice.

Frank retired in 1948 as supervisor of locomotive operation.

Active in the social life of his community, Frank was a member of the Aurora Lodge of the Masons and St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Grafton. He also was a member of the American Legion, Yusef-Khan Grotto of Akron, OH and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen.

Frank passed away at the age of 70, on Feb. 23, 1957, at Grafton City Hospital. The cause was an acute cerebral hemorrhage from a 10-year battle with hyper-tension and hardening of the arteries. He was laid to rest in the Woodsdale Memorial Park near Grafton, following a funeral led by Rev. Harold L. Hann of Fairmont, Marion County, WV. A lengthy obituary was published in the Mountain Statesman.

Gertrude lived for another 24 years as a widow. Death swept her away in 1981. 

Daughter Ruth Eleanor Turnley (1920-2002) was born on July 12, 1920 in Grafton. She graduated in 1939 from Allegany High School and then from Catherman's Business School .At the age of 21, on July 25, 1941, she was joined in matrimony with classmate Lester Llewellyn Sherman (April 15, 1920-2002), a native of Moorefield, WV and the son of A.J. and Emma Sherman of Cresap Park, MD. Their nuptials were held in the parsonage of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Cumberland, by the hand of Rev. Dr. Hixon T. Bowersox. In a related story, the Cumberland Evening Times reported that the bride "wore a redingoat dress of blue silk with corsage of pink rosebuds." Lester was a fellow Allegany alumnus and at the time of marriage worked as a teller for Commercial Savings Bank, Cumberland. He stood 5 feet, 9½ inches tall and weighed 150 lbs. The family resided in Cumberland and included two children -- Richard Abraham Sherman and Gail Sherman. He joined the U.S. Army during World War II and trained in 1944 at Fort Jackson, SC and Camp Atterbury, IN. Later in 1944, he was deployed to the European Theatre, holding the rank of corporal and serving as assistant chaplain of an infantry unit. During his absence, Ruth went to live in Grafton. Lester went missing in Germany on Dec. 16, 1944 and was captured as a prisoner of war. He wrote to Ruth in March 1945 to simply say he was alive and in the hands of the Germans. The war ended in Europe a month later. Lester returned home and resumed his banking career. In 1948, he held the post of treaurer with the Cresaptown Civic Improvement Association and was involved with issues such as expanding waterline service to meet families' needs. He rose through the ranks of estate planning and trusts and circa 1967 was employed by Liberty Trust Company of Maryland as a trust officer. He is known to have given presentations on planned savings and property distribution topics in the community, and to have attended the National Trust School for two weeks in August 1963, held at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He was pictured in the Evening Times in March 1961 when appointed treasurer of the year's Mental Health Campaign in Allegany County. Ruth was active socially and hosted luncheons of the Cresap Homemakers Club. She also belonged to the Order of Eastern Star, and Lester to the local lodge of the Masons. He retired in 1982 as vice president and senior trust officer. Later in life, they moved to Boonsboro, MD and resided in the Fahrney-Keedy Memorial Home Apartments. Sadly, the couple died less than two months apart. Lester passed first, in Boonsboro, MD on June 3, 2002. In an obituary in the Herald-Mail, the family asked that any memorial donations be made to the American Cancer Society. Then on July 30, 2002, Ruth was gathered away by the angel of death. Both of their funeral services were led by Rev. Louis L. Emerick, a distant cousin of Ruth's of the family of John J. and Elizabeth (Albright) Emerick. They sleep for the ages together in the Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery in Flintstone, MD.

  • Grandson Richard Abraham Sherman (1944- ? ) was born in 1944 in Grafton. News of his birth was announced on the pages of the Cumberland (MD) News. In adulthood he relocated to Danville, VA.
  • Granddaughter Gail Sherman (1947- ? ) was born in 1947 in Allegany Hospital, Cumberland, MD. Her birth was announced in the Cumberland Evening News. She entered into marriage with (?) Dennis ( ? - ? ). Circa 2002, she was in Keedysville, MD.
Celanese Corporation in Cumberland, one of Paul Gipe's workplaces

Daughter Mary Margaret Turnley (1922-2011) was born on Feb. 4, 1922 in Keyser, Mineral County, WV. She was a 1940 alumna of Allegany High School and graduated in 1944 from Western Maryland College in Westminster. She was joined in wedlock with Major Paul Bertis Gipe (Sept. 25,1919-2014), originally from Chambersburg, PA, and the son of Ambrose Bertis and Loretta Rebecca (Mellinger) Gipe. The couple's union endured the ups and downs of 67 years. Their children were Linda Gipe and Gordon Gipe. Paul was a 1937 graduate of Chambersburg High School and was in the 1942 class of Gettysburg College. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army's Edgewood Arsenal in the specialty of chemical warfare. Later, he was employed by Celanese Fibers Corporation of America in Cumberland and eventually in the fields of insurance and mutual fund sales. Mary Margaret earned a living for years as a substitute teacher in the Allegany County Public School System. Eventually she was hired by the Allegany County Department of Social Services. In this role, said the Cumberland Times-News. "she brought joy to many area families through the process of adoption." They were active in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, with both serving on the vestry council, he as treasurer for a quarter of a century, and she singing in the choir. She also held memberships in the Order of Eastern Star, Maplehurst Country Club (where they loved to play golf), Junior Women's Civic Club and Reader Advisory Board of the Times-News. He belonged to the Masons and Ali Ghan Shrine Men's Golf Club. Their final years were spent as a resident of Golden Living Center, Cumberland. Sadly, Mary Margaret surrendered to the spirit of death at age 89 on Aug. 7, 2011. Paul lived for another two-and-a-half years. He died in Cumberland at age 94 on Jan. 13, 2014. Pastor Marsha Garrett led both of their funeral services at the family church, with interment in Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery in Flintstone, MD.

  • Granddaughter Linda Gipe ( ? - ? ) wed Lynn Zeller. They lived in Cumberland and were the parents of Stacey L. Zeller and Stephen P. Zeller.

    Great-granddaughter Stacey L. Zeller dwelled in Dillsburg, PA circa 2011.

    Great-grandson Stephen P. Zeller studied in 2011 at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. 

  • Grandson Gordon Gipe was in Gaithersburg MD in 2011.

~ Daughter Bertha May (Turnley) McClung ~

Daughter Bertha May Turnley (1889-1914) was born on May 18, 1889 in Newburg, Preston County.

She married (?) McClung ( ? - ? ). 

Circa 1913, the McClungs resided in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA. Did they go there seeking a medical cure for Bertha?

Sadly, Bertha died at in Los Angeles at the age of 25 on May 22, 1914. The remains were shipped to West Virginia for interment in Newburg's Damon Cemetery.  


B&O photo courtesy the Library of Congress.

Copyright 2006, 2008-2009, 2011-2012, 2021-2022 Mark A. Miner