Walter C. Biller and Anne M. Lynskey
Walter Calvin Biller was born 1894 in Rockingham County, Va. but grew up and was raised in Shenandoah County by his father and an uncle, as his mother died when he was 6. He had two younger brothers. He attended local elementary schools, worked about 60 hours a week during the summers as a teenager, graduated from High School in Mount Jackson with a high A average, and played violin in a Methodist Church orchestra. The Billers were very early German settlers to the valley (pre Revolutionary War) but never very prominent. His paternal grandfather, Joseph Biller, served in the Confederate Army with some distinction. Walter finished HS in Mount Jackson, went to work in a Dupont factory as a clerk, and soon afterwards was drafted into the army. His WW1 Victory Medal has bars for Aisne, Marne, St. Michiel, Meuse-Argonne and other battles, which were the final battles of the war. His service was in the famous Rainbow division, the 42nd. After his discharge in May of 1919, he got a job at Mount Vernon working on the trees under the supervision of Robert Forman, who had a contract to restore the neglected trees on the estate. Upon completion of the contract in 1919, they became partners originating the Forman & Biller Tree Expert Co.
In 1923 he met Anne Marcello Lynskey at a dance in Harrisonburg and it was a case of unrequited love at first sight. He was smitten with the red head Irish Catholic and told his travel mate on the return to Alexandria, "Tonight, I met the woman I am going to marry." She, on the other hand, got a letter a week later asking for a date and wasn't sure which of the men she had met at the dance was Walter, until one of her friends said she thought he was the one that had saved them all from starvation that night by sending her a peck of fresh peaches on his way out of town. It seems, some of the girls from Holy Cross Academy had skipped dinner that night to go to the dance and were unable to get anything to eat back at the dormitory, and about that time a man delivered the peaches, all Walter was able to buy on his way out of town. She accepted the date more out of gratitude and curiosity than love.
Walter and Anne were married in 1924 at the Lynskey home in Wenonda, Va. Anne had completed her degree at Holy Cross Academy in Harrisonburg and signed a two year contract to teach school. She taught one year in Front Royal Va. and her second year transferred to Burke Va., closer to Arlington. Anne completed her teaching contract and by 1926 Walter and Anne had set up housekeeping in Arlington, Virginia and started raising a family.
One of her best friends at Holy Cross was the attractive brunette, Lucille Robinson. On several occasions, Anne had brought Lucille out to the Lynskey farm where she met Gaston, her older brother. About 1926, Gaston came up to Arlington to work for the tree firm and started his career as an arborist. (Then called Tree Surgeons) Gaston roomed with Walter and Anne for several years and drove a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Also about this time, Gaston started courting Lucille, made several trips to Lynchburg and eventually married and brought her up to Northern VA.
Just before the stock market crash of 1929, the firm of Forman & Biller had 5 men crews working at the U.S. Capitol and Mount Vernon. Gaston was in charge of the capitol crew. Both contracts ended about the same time and Walter had been lining up private tree work to keep them all employed when the bottom fell out of the economy and the Great Depression began. Many wealthy clients, affected by the stock market crash, canceled any work they could put off and times were hard for all. Gaston stayed on with Walter but tree work, being something of a luxury trade, was slow well into the late1930's. It was during this period that Walter added to his family and Gaston started courting Lucille and finally won her hand.
By the time, Gaston & Lucille had their first born, William [Charles] Lynskey. Walter's family consisted of 4 boys and 1 girl, namely in order, Charles, Rebie, James, John, and Thomas. Nancy and Bettie completed the family of 4 boys and 3 girls. Walter and Anne celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on September 24, 1974 with all their children present. Anne died in 1983 and Walter passed away in 1987. May they rest in peace.
Written by James E. Biller
Received by Charles Lynskey – August 27, 2000.
Chuck, I saw Shirley today at a wake for Hartwell Ragsdale, (Rags) but didn't get a chance to ask her where she got the info. that Martin Carroll Lynskey's mother was an O'Grady as well as his wife. In my mother's notes, she was a Burke.
Did you ever meet Rags, one of Gaston's old friends from Danville? He passed away this weekend at 96. Would have been 97 in Oct.
The For Sale signs went up on Lucille's house this weekend.