The Varney Family has contributed much to the history of The Salvation Army’s history in the USA Southern Territory — but none of that would be possible without the love of adoptive parents.

Adoption addition: ‘We have a very rich heritage’

By: Major Frank Duracher

Adoption has become a loving solution for prospective parents and children desperately needing a nurturing home. But no one could have predicted the positive outcome for one Salvation Army family a long time ago.

“The Salvation Army in Huntington, West Virginia operated a clinic for mothers and babies on the second and third floors of the old corps building,” explains Major David Varney. “There was an expectant mother dying of tuberculosis, who needed someone to take her baby.”

In an apparent effort to sensationalize the news, a local reporter wrote a story in the paper about how The Salvation Army was giving away a baby! This, even though the State of West Virginia was overseeing the “transaction,” and everything was completely legal and transparent.

“Several women applied for the proposed adoption—our grandmother, Della Morrow, was among them,” Major Jackie (Varney) Duncan says. The handful of women circled the pregnant lady’s deathbed, and from that group the lady chose Della.

“That baby became our Aunt Milly.”

The adoption into the Morrow Family was completed, adding a sister for Virginia, who would later become mother to David and Jackie. The connection to the Huntington Corps grew from an invitation to the girls to attend Sunday School.

In fact, the entire family was won to the Army — a trophy that lasts to this day.

“Our mother, Virginia, and Aunt Milly became totally involved in all the youth programs throughout their childhood and teen years,” Jackie explains. “Mother went to the Training College and was commissioned as a Salvation Army Officer in the Trailblazers Session (1930).”

Another member of that session was Cadet Amos Varney, whom Virginia would later marry and serve as corps officers until their retirement in the early 1970s with the rank of Brigadier — one of the last of that rank when it was eliminated from The Salvation Army’s ranking system.

From the Morrow/Varney union came a total of ten Salvation Army Officers and Soldiers. This in addition to the many candidates Brigadiers Amos & Virginia Varney sent to Training from the 1930s to the 1970s.

“From their first appointment in Martinsburg, West Virginia to their final appointment in Gadsden, Alabama, Mom and Dad sent cadets to Training in every one of their assignments,” David says. In fact, there were so many, the family lost count.

“We have a very rich heritage,” Jackie adds.

None of this family’s contribution to The Salvation Army’s USA Southern Territory would have been possible, however, without the unique agreement between a dying mother and a couple agreeing to add to their family through adoption.