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 Mary F <I>Romberger</I> Albee

Mary F Romberger Albee

Death 4 Nov 1960 (aged 69)
Burial Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Providence 9
Memorial ID 59424507 · View Source
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Mary's tale keeps on spinning out, but I'm finally sure that this lady interred here is the lady I seek.

I had thought that this lady might well be Mary F Romberger Albee, daughter of George and Anna Laura Romberger. Today on July 23, 2012 I learned for certain it is she.

George Romberger was the big brother of my great grandpa Daniel. This search for Mary took on a life of its own- on a whim I checked the 1917 Harrisburg City Directory to see who lived at George Romberger's house after he died in 1916. Up came a Mary and Walter Albee, which made me check to be sure George had had a daughter of Mary's name, and indeed he did.

Mary F. Romberger married a travelling preacher, Walter E. Albee. The two appear in the 1917 city directory of Harrisburg at the address where Mary F. Romberger's parents and siblings lived. Walter is listed as a seller or dealer of fruit, but the Harrisburg Patriot has many entries about his work as a preacher at city missions. He seems to have come to the city from Ashley, Pennsylvania (near Wilke Barre) in 1916, and created a bit of a sensation; the newspapers call him The Boy Preacher. He began preaching on the street, but later worked at city missions. Anyway, that same year, 1917, they would lose their one year old son, George, named for Mary's father who died the year before.

Three years later, Mary and Walter appear on the 1920 census together in Virginia and with a son Walter Albee Jr.

By the 1930 census the family is in Philadelphia. They may have had their own reasons for going there, but Mary's mother and some siblings had moved there after Mary's father died. Mary and Walter's household is comprised of Walter (age 38), Mary (age 38), Walter (age 11), Laura (age 9), Paul (age 7), David (age 5) and Alma (age 3). One child who never showed up on a census and whom living family did not know of is one I found via a death certificate in 2016: stillborn Baby Albee, a boy, born and died in 1933. Perhaps his father Reverend Albee needed no encouragement, but he would leave the family less than four year later. This tragedy and his traveling career may have provided impetus.

I have found branches of the Albee family, and they agree that my Mary had five living children with the Reverend. As an itinerant preacher who traveled to do tent meetings, Rev. Albee was on the road a great deal. Historically, tent revival meetings gained popularity in the 1930's, stricken as those years were by the Depression. Over time Walter's absences got longer and longer, and finally he did not come home again to his wife and five children.

I am told he remarried in 1937, without obtaining a divorce, and that he was about 42 and his new bride was 16. The bride's youth aside, his age does not match up for this year, though his remarriage in 1937 is certain. I am told the good Reverend fudged his age so as not to alarm the family of his young bride.

In the meantime, over the years, my Mary was looking for him, and finally did so to obtain a divorce; reportedly even the FBI was involved. That divorce was finally obtained after Walter and Ruby had been married for six years and had one son, and another on the way. There are two sides to every story, but it can't be denied that Mary must have been rather saddened, left to provide for and raise five children on her own. By 1937, her children would have been ages 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10 - not toddlers, but not yet out of the house either.

But is this lady buried at West Laurel Hill my family's Mary? The cemetery was most helpful in providing information on the lady interred here, yet the info they gave raises more questions than answers. Their records show the lady's middle initial was indeed "F" like the lady I seek. However, their records state this lady was age 60, which would mean (if correct) that she was born 1900, and my Mary was born about 1891 meaning she'd have been almost 70 by 1960. Further, the lot owner is a George Lomas who signed the paperwork and was thereon identified as her son. I seem to have found this George Lomas, born 1920, died December 1973, and his last address of record being in the same zip code where Mary's last residence was - 19023, Collingdale, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. He is the right age to have been a son, but why the dissimilar last name?

The mystery ended today when a relative of the family told me that even though Mary never married after Reverend Albee left her, she did have a loving companion, and he was George Lomas, said to have been a writer.

The reason the sloppy cemetery records were confusing is that Mary had a brother George L., born August 10, 1888, and the 1930 census says he lived by then in Philadelphia, so perhaps he took charge of her arrangements and the paperwork misstated their relationship, and gave his middle name as his last name... but it seems his middle name was Lawrence, so did they mis-hear him? Relationship, middle as last name, spelled wrong... three errors seemed a stretch, so the Lomas explanation makes much more sense.

But one more mystery still unsolved... Mary is interred with a Fannie C. Jones, and I have no idea who this is either. According to cemetery records, Fannie died at age 63 in 1940, making her born about 1877, 14 years older than my Mary. My Mary had no sisters named Fannie or even close. There is a woman of Fannie's name, a black woman born in Virginia who was living in Dauphin County for the 1920 census, and Dauphin County if where my Mary was from. For that 1920 census, Fannie was a servant to the Frank and Nellie Payne family, he a president of a shoe factory - no known link to the Rombergers... although there is rumor of a Romberger child getting adopted by a family who had a shoe business, though the suspected family name was Lesher. See how information can raise more questions than it answers?

This Mary Albee buried in West Laurel Hill is in the same cemetery and the same section, Providence, that my Mary Romberger's mother and some siblings were interred. It gives peace to know now where another of my Rombergers rests, and I hope to pay respects when I am next in the area.

How did so much of this odd tale of a philandering husband come to light? Her husband rests here, buried in the South. I found him interred with someone named Ruby. Initially, due to a large age difference, I was unsure if Ruby were the Reverend's daughter or wife, but have since found one son who told me that Ruby was the Rev.'s wife, and his own mother. This son had heard Mary's first name but did not know what had become of her, and had never heard of their having had children... so the Reverend seems to have started his life anew, not referencing his past. After his passing, when his youngest child with Mary was close to age 90, both sides of his children finally had contact.

Mary died with cervical cancer; similarly, her sister Naomi Romberger Hamsher died of uterine cancer.





  • Maintained by: sr/ks
  • Originally Created by: Tony & Cindy Lloyd
  • Added: 30 Sep 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 59424507
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary F Romberger Albee (25 Sep 1891–4 Nov 1960), Find A Grave Memorial no. 59424507, citing West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by sr/ks (contributor 46847659) .