History of Virginia - Thomas F. Walker

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Thomas F. Walker

THOMAS F. WALKER,. A lawyer by profession, Thomas F. Walker is an active practitioner at the bar of Wytheville. He was born at Greeneville, Tennessee, April 7, 1888, a son of Rev. John Randolph Walker, of Virginia, whose family line is traced back to Benjamin Walker (married Elizabeth Taylor, it is said, presumably of Orange County, who died in Monroe County at the home of her son, Thomas Walker, at the age of 70 years, six months and three days), the great-great-great-grandfather of Thomas F. Walker and a resident of both Orange and Rockingham counties and also for a time, it is thought, of North Carolina, and prominently connected in "Tuckahoe." He also left a large family of his own, among them: Sanders, John, Alexander, William, Benjamin, Samuel, Joseph, Thomas and possibly a James, Robert and Jerremiah, and one daughter, tradition not being clear as to this and family records having been burned in the ancestral home. His son, Thomas Walker, was born in Orange County, Virginia, December 18, 1764, and died at his home in Monroe County, Virginia (now West Virginia), in December of 1853, a large property owner, disposing of some ten or twelve thousand acres of land and many slaves by his will and deeds to his children prior to his death. He was a member of the Virginia Militia during the Revolution, having enlisted in December, 1780, in Rockingham County, four days before, or after, he was sixteen years old, and entered service in January, 1781, for a period of three months-captain, Michael Coger; colonel, William Nalle; and reenlisted in July, 1781, for three months more-captain, Richard Ragan; colonel, record dark; General Muhlenberg's army. He was discharged for disability-he was sick-at Yorktown three days before the surrender of General Cornwallis. He was at the battle of Great Bridge. The war record of his brothers, who settled in Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, and other Southern and Middle West States, is not known to the subject of this sketch.

Thomas Walker married Eleanor Stuart, about the year 1800. She was the daughter of Maj. Alexander Stuart, of Augusta, Monroe and Rockbridge counties, by his first wife, Mary Patterson, of Augusta, and a granddaughter of Maj. Archibald Stuart, the immigrant of the Stuart family, 1726-7, to this country, and a descendant of the House of Stuart (spelled Stewart until Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, married the Dauphin of France and the French spelled it Stuart, having no W sound in the language), and his wife, Janet Brown, sister of the Rev. John Brown, ancestor of the Rockbridge Browns. Maj. Alexander Stuart, of Revolutionary fame, was also one of the two largest endowers of Liberty Hall Academy, now Washington and Lee University. Eleanor was his youngest daughter by his first marriage, and married Thomas Walker while Major Stuart lived on New River, in Monroe, owning large boundaries of land in several contiguous counties. She died in Monroe, about ninety years of age, prior to the Civil war.

Thomas and Eleanor Stuart Walker had three sons and two daughters: William Alexander, died or disappeared when about six years old; Thomas Stuart; Benjamin Alexander Stuart, who married a Byrnsides and left two children-Benjamin Alexander Stuart Walker, who married Rhoda J. Peters, and Louisa, who married a Kendall; and Elizabeth, who married James Pomeroy, and Polly, who never married.

Thomas Stuart Walker, son of Thomas and Eleanor, and great-grandfather of Thomas F. Walker, was born near Lurich, Peterstown and Neponset, in Monroe, March 13 or 19, 1802, and died on Clear Fork, Bland County, Virginia, in 1879. Ile became exceptionally well educated, lie and his brothers and sisters having for seven years the private preceptorship of a tutor, named McDaniel, from Oxford University. He was a teacher, farmer and surveyor. Almost, if not entirely, at his own expense he built Nebo Methodist Church on the Clear Fork, and for many years was its Sunday school superintendent. Like his parents, he was a, man of large stature and fine character and mind. He married Christina (called Kitty) Waggoner, born, it is thought, in Tazewell (now Bland) County, daughter of Daniel Waggoner and his wife, Lucy Ann Day, to whom he was married before the year 1798, as evidenced by Deed Book No. 2, Wythe County Circuit Court clerk's office; Deed-Book No. 1 and the prior Grant Books showing the Waggoners and Days settling on Clear Fork about 1790; previous records being at Christiansburg and Staunton. Daniel Waggoner was remembered on the Clear Fork as a pioneer and Indian scout. Thomas Stuart Walker and Kitty (Waggoner) Walker had a large family, Maj. Daniel Alexander Walker, born April 8, 1824, being the oldest child; the others being Benjamin Stuart Walker, William Pierce Walker, Gerard, James, Robert, and Eleanor all four of whom died young of diphtheria; Thomas Fowler Walker and Mary E. Walker (married John Lambert). Daniel, Benjamin, William and Thomas all served in the war between the states; Thomas, first as lieutenant and later as captain of Company G, 36th Virginia Infantry. He died of fever when about forty years old and flowering into a, career of prominence.

Daniel Alexander Walker, the father of Rev. John Randolph Walker, was a successful farmer and practical physician in his community. He was a major of militia, commissioned by Governor Letcher, in Tazewell County, before the war between the states, and held his "musters" regularly. Disability prevented his entering service in 1861. As a member of the Home Guards he fought in the battle of Saltville. During the closing year of the war he served under the command of General Witcher in the cavalry. He was a man of fine character and intellect. He married Harriett Williams Neel, his first cousin, whose mother was Rebecca Waggoner, wife of Robert Neel, son of Thomas Neel and Ellen (McFarlane) Neel, who moved from Augusta County to the Wolf Creek, it is said, in 1757, and were the parents of six sons-Robert, Alexander, William, Duncan, Zachariah and James, and four daughters Kate, Jennie, Tillie and Betsy. One son was killed in the War of 1872. William Neel, a man of prominence and wealth in Tazewell County in the early part of the Nineteenth Century, lawyer, surveyor and land agent, was probably the son of Thomas and Ellen Neel, but this is not stated as a fact. It was in the home of Robert Neel that the wonderful William Elbert Muncy was converted; and it has been said that the only school he ever attended was a three-months' term to Thomas Sturt Walker. Benjamin Stuart Walker, Thomas Fowler Walker, William Pierce Walker and Mary Walker Lambert till left families.

Rev. John Randolph Walker, born May 12, 1850, in Tazewell County (now Bland), and died at the home of his son in Charlottesville, Virginia, January 23, 1917, was the oldest child of Maj. Daniel Alexander Walker and Harriett (Noel) Walker, whose other children were: Charles Elgan Walker, of Clear Fork, deceased; Dorothy Alice Walker Elswick, deceased; Laura Ellen Walker, died unmarried; Sally Ann Walker, died in infancy; and James Robert McDaniel Walker, a Methodist minister and a member of the Holston Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who, like his brother, Rev. John Randolph Walker, the father of Thomas F. Walker, has served many churches in Virginia and Tennessee. Charles, Robert and Alice Walker have descendants. Ile was reared on the Clear Fork on the original Walker and Stuart tracts owned by Thomas Walker and Eleanor Stuart Walker, of Monroe. He attended school at Bland Court House, then called Seddon, taught several terms, and became a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, belonging to the Holston Conference, and becoming pastor of seventeen different charges in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, to which lie ministered for forty years, during that time, with the help of an untiring and loyal wife, rearing and educating a family of nine children, all of whom are still living. He was a man of good judgment and much native ability, convictions, sincerity, earnestness and courage, and was recognized as one of the ablest preachers of his conference. He was a man of fairly large stature, with finely-chiseled features, athletic ability and a distinguishing touch of genius. With his retirement from the ministry in 1916 he located in Wytheville, which he made his home until he died, and where his widow now resides. He was a democrat, and belonged to the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. On December 1, 1875, be married Mary Jane Brown, who was teaching school on the Clear Fork, and who was the oldest child of John Wesley and Nancy (Gregory) Brown, a granddaughter of Robert and Sarah Johnson (Sanderson) Brown, of Tazewell and Cumberland counties, and a great-granddaughter of Robert Clement Brown (who married Julia Anne Turner), a soldier in the War of 1812, a son of Robert Brown, son of William Brown, son of Samuel Brown, as recalled, and a descendant of a Buckingham Brown. The Browns settled in Cumberland County in the Seventeenth Century.

Rev. John Randolph Walker and Mary (Brown) Walker had the following children: Alexander Philip, graduate of Emory and Henry College and of Richmond College Law School (now Richmond University), and is one of the practicing attorneys at the Charlottesville bar and well known throughout the state; Rev. John K. Walker, who attended Emory and Henry College, is a clergyman of the same faith as his father, has filled charges in the Virginia Conference and is now located in the Upper South Carolina Conference, married and has one daughter; Marvin N., a graduate of Emory and Henry College and a resident of Wytheville, a teacher by profession, having been principal of several high schools and filled chairs in academies and colleges, unmarried; Harriett R., now Mrs. McNeil; Robert Charles, who attended Emery and Henry College and graduated at the Richmond University Law School, winning distinctions, is a practicing attorney in Charlottesville, a partner of his brother, A. P. Walker, the two forming the partnership of Walker & Walker, both for some years previously having been employed by the Michie Law Publishing Company as law writers and editors, and he is married and has three children: Eleanor Stuart, Margaret Tyler and Robert Charles; Louise L. A., now Mrs. Keller; Thomas F., the subject of this sketch and the seventh child; Mabelle Stuart, who resides at Wytheville, a graduate of Martha Washington College, Abingdon, Virginia, is a teacher and at present in the city schools of Petersburg, Virginia; and Eleanor, known as "Nelle," also a graduate of Martha Washington College, being an honor graduate and the youngest member of her class, is a teacher and at present in the city schools of Richmond, Virginia.

Thomas F. Walker graduated at the Abingdon, Virginia, High School in 1900. In the fall of 1907 he entered the University of Virginia, his two brothers having located in Charlottesville, and graduated from that institution in 1910 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. During his three years' residence he contributed to the college magazine and played ml the baseball squad. For a year thereafter he was principal of the Norwood, Virginia, High School; and in the fall of 1911 entered Washington and Lee University Law School, from which lie graduated ill 7 913. He was a member of tile Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and was one of the most frequent contributors to the college magazine. He took the bar examination in June and was admitted to practice in September, 191.3. The following session lie was principal of the Lake Landing, North Carolina, High School. With the entry of this country into the World war Mr. Walker went to Camp Lee, but was rejected for disability; several previous futile attempts to enlist inducing the local board to send him to Camp Lee by request as a member of Company H, Three Hundred and Seventeenth Virginia Infantry, Eightieth Division, but he was once more rejected after a few days for history of tuberculosis (contracted in North Carolina) from which he had entirely recovered. Leaving Camp Lee in September, 1917, he went immediately to Richmond and went to work for the Times-Dispatch, almost at once becoming capitol reporter and political writer, "covering" the Senate session of 1918. He maintained this connection until January, 1919, when his position was returned to Mr. Southhall, who resigned it to enter service and who on enlisting was promised it back on his return. During this period Mr. Walker made further efforts to get into service. The following session he was principal of the Alberta, Virginia, High School in Brunswick County, and during 1920-21 he taught mathematics in the Lymchburg, Virginia, High School, and coached the baseball team. Returning to Wytheville in July, 1927, to begin the practice of his profession, he found his distinguished townsman, E. Lee Trinkle, engaged in a great political campaign for the governorship, first in a primary with the Hon. Harry St. George Tucker and later at the general election against him. Henry W. Anderson, republican, of Richmond. He qualified at the July court, presided over by the Hon. A. A. Campbell, judge, and about tile last of August entered the offices of Governor Trinkle, who had won the democratic, nomination over the distinguished St. George Tucker, of Lexington, and was facing a contest with Mr. Anderson, whom he overwhelmed in November. Mr. Walker, who was been actively engaged it practice but two years, is judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for Wythe County. He is a democrat; member of the Virginia Club, Chamber of Commerce, and associated with his community in various ways, and occasionally contributes to the columns of the press and periodicals.