A Reluctant War Husband?
Major Herbert Taylor, Jr.
Major Herbert Taylor, Jr., sent and received many letters at Camp Sheridan, in Montgomery, Alabama. The earliest are to and from Roberta Dorsey, and they mention a potential marriage and their mothers’ objections to it. As of his next letter, though, Roberta is now addressed as Mrs. Herbert Taylor
It seems their decision to marry was definitely complicated by the war, which was either an impediment or an encouragement, depending on who you might have asked!
The following are excerpts from several letters dealing with the marriage question, between Herbert and Roberta, and between each of them and Roberta’s mother, Mrs. Dorsey:
Roberta Dorsey, Ohio, to Herbert Taylor, Alabama, October 15, 1917
… Dear, of course your mother objects to us getting married now, but that is only nature, my mother did too and I said well mother you might as well make up your mind to it if I go down to Alabama and we want to get married, we are going to that is all, so she said alright then, and don’t say any more about it now. Mother likes you fine dear, but thinks we ought to wait until you come home to stay, but I think like you dear what is the use of us waiting when we can get a lot of happiness out of knowing we belong to each other…
Herbert Taylor, Alabama, to Roberta Dorsey, Ohio, October 29, 1917
… Oh well! I expect I might as well give up the thot of marrying too. I just can’t explain to you why mother objects, shes so nice & kind to me & she’s my pal & for the life of me I will not do anything to cause her one bit of worrying. … Well dear I’ll not urge or coax you to marry me as you say you are losing interest in it. Well I’m not too surprised dear as everybody gets disgusted with me in time except my mother & God & to tell the truth I’m certainly disgusted with life itself. …
Roberta Dorsey Taylor, Alabama, to Mrs. Dorsey, Ohio, November 12, 1917
… one girl I met from Toledo was going to be married here sat. the same day I was married – as you see I am not the only one. Herb met me at the depot and we bro’t our luggage to the hotel and then met Clarke … and we three went to get our marriage license and we were married right there – Clarke and the girl in the office and another man were our witnesses they all congratulated us and of course kiddded us a lot and I am no longer Roberta Dorsey any more, and I so love my husband …
Herbert Taylor, Alabama, to Roberta Dorsey Taylor, Ohio, November 23, 1917
… we can get home … but not xmas week. I was talking to Grenier & he said I could work it all ok. So about in a week from now you see mother & arrange to send a telegram to me that she’s very low come at once. I’ll be there & can’t you wait to see me tho dearest dear? If we wait untill xmas week they’ll suspect something & then oh. my. …
Herbert Taylor, Alabama, to Mrs. Dorsey, Ohio, November 24, 1917
Dear Mrs. Dorsey: — Or shall I say Dear Mother-in-law? … I want to tell you what a dear daughter you have & how much I love her & also want to assure you that she’ll have no cause to regret her marriage to me. I’m in a deuce of a fix now, in the army, but as I’ve told Roberta, I don’t expect to be here forever, & we can settle down as soon as I get out & devote our lives to each others happiness.
After this personal conflict was settled, he continued to train with his unit, which traveled to the continent by boat in June 1918. His later correspondence with his wife comes from France (see the Finding Aid, series Correspondence – Outgoing – July-December, 1918). Herbert survived the war, returning to Roberta in the spring of 1919.
Herbert J. Taylor, Jr. Letters. W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama. Accessed July 15, 2014.