Elizabeth Little Walter was born 2 April 1894 at her parents' home at 316 South 6th Street in Oakland, Garrett, Maryland to Lewis and Ella (Little) Walter.1, 2 Her permanent residence remained in Oakland her entire life until her death on 8 Sep 1963 at the age of 69. Her friends and family called her “Libby” and the author of this biographical sketch began calling her “Nan” in about 1959. After reading a British historical novel, Beth asked her grandmother if she could call her “Nan” based on the grandmother in the book, feeling that “Grandma Turney” didn't capture the love, respect, and admiration she felt for her grandmother. Later in life, Beth's daughter, Molly, began calling Beth's mother, Betty, daughter of Libby, Nan as well; as did Betty's two other grandchildren, Julius and Albert, sons of Betty's son, Bill.
Not much is known about Libby's early years. She attended school and likely assisted her mother in the household chores (using a wringer-washer and clothes line!), cooking and baking in a blend of German and English styles with a wood-fired stove and oven to feed the large family, as well as helped with the small farm operations. The family would have been conscientious members of St. Mark's Lutheran Church (established 1850). We do know that during her teen years, she was a Suffragette, as this photo of her and her friends illustrates; and had a great sense of humor with the addition of mustaches to the ladies faces! Libby is in the center of the picture. The other girls aren't known.
She married William Newton Turney on 6 September 1923 likely in St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Oakland, Maryland. They had two daughters, Ellen Ann born 25 July 1924 and Elizabeth Jane “Betty” born 27 January 1926, both in Oakland.
Libby was interested in spiritualism. Her daughter, Betty recalled that as an infant her health was poor so her mother took her to "be measured" by the local "witch" (her words). After some investigation, the lady who healed Betty, was likely a distant cousin, Bessie Greer. 'Measuring' part of pow-wow medicine originating with the PA German also called braucherei or Speilwerk, was passed down through the Greer family. Some of Betty's Turney ancestors were Amish-Mennonite. Also a family story claims that Libby could lift the huge dining room table with her fingers!
As her life progressed, Libby left these beliefs behind and became a very devout Christian and a member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, where she became a charter member of the Pythian Sisters. Playing cards and games, liquor, tobacco products, and dancing were not allowed in her home as they were the “Devils' Work”. This could have been due to the untimely death of her husband in 1938. However, she mellowed on this viewpoint later in life finally allowing checkers, cards, and dominoes to be in her home, as well as allowing her brothers who lived with her to smoke pipes and an occasional cigar, and eventually people were allowed to drink alcohol indoors.
She had a lilting voice, especially singing hymns at church, and enjoyed music in her home. “How Great Tho Art” was one of her favorite pieces of music, which was played on the player piano located in the back parlor, along with many other songs.
Libby enjoyed traveling to visit her family.
Libby suffered from 'stomach problems' and could have purchased stock in TUMS with as many as she consumed. Finally she went in for gallbladder surgery only for the surgeon to discover wide-spread cancer. Although most of the cancer was removed, it continued to grow for several months with Libby convalescing at home. She died on 8 September 1963. Her death certificate lists the official cause of death as cancer of the liver.
“MRS. WILLIAM TURNEY [Oakland] Mrs. Elizabeth Turney, 69, of South Sixth Street, died yesterday at Garrett County Memorial Hospital where she was a patient over three months. Born in Oakland she was a daughter of the late Lewis and Ella (Little) Walter. Her husband, William Turney, preceded her in death. She was a member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church and a charter member of Garrett Temple 17, Pythian Sisters. Surviving are two daughters, Miss Ellen Turney, at home; Mrs. Betty Brown, Wilmington, Del.; three brothers, Albert, David and Phillip Walter, at home; two grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews. The body is at the Minnich Funeral Home where friends will be received today from 7 until 9 p.m. and tomorrow from 2 until 4 p.m. and 7 until 9 p.m. Pythian Sisters will conduct a memorial service there tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. A service will be conducted at the funeral home Wednesday at 2 p.m. by Rev. Luther Seibert of Red House Lutheran Church. Interment will be in Oakland Cemetery.”
Libby was buried in the Oakland Cemetery adjacent to her husband William Newton Turney.
Thank you to Beth Golden for creating WikiTree profile Walter-1222 through the import of for wiki 2.ged on Apr 17, 2013.
Click to the Changes page for the details of edits by Beth and others.
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