WALKERS have been in White County since Arkansas became a state in 1836. White County was carved out a few months before that from Pulaski, Independence and Jackson counties. Most county historians are familiar with Capt. James Walker, who was part of the early wagon train to this egion and who is buried in Stamps Cemetery along with his wife Mary Mariah, son Crawford and daughter Nancy Bond. Capt. James Walker is also well-known for contributing land, along with John Howerton and John Cook, for a courthouse to be built in Searcy. He is credited with establishing the Royal Colony, a few miles south of Floyd. He is listed in the 1837, 1838 and 1839 Arkansas State Census as living in White County.
In 1957, historian Cloie Presley wrote an article entitled “And They Came” that stated James Walker and others came in early 1836. Her information was based on an interview with a grandson of Juliet Howerton, a cousin of James Walker’s. The Arkansas Gazette reported Capt. Walker’s death in 1852. By that date, my ancestor James Gilmore Walker (1811-1875) had also settled in White County. He appears in the 1850 census for Union Township with children Angeline age 9, Sarah age 7, and George age 2. The census indicates all of the children were born in Arkansas. James Gilmore’s wife apparently died at the birth of George or shortly after. Her first name is unknown, but her last name was probably GWIN. A John Gwin died in 1852 and is listed in White County Wills. His wife Elizabeth was made executrix. Perhaps they were parents of James Gilmore Walker’s wife. In the 1880 census, William Gwin has a niece, Angeline Walker, living with him as a caretaker. His wife had died. A great-aunt, Ida Golden, told me that Angeline never married. This is the only concrete link with Gwins I have been able to establish.
I have been unsuccessful in documenting kinship between Capt. James Walker and James Gilmore Walker; however, there is one curiosity: In the 1850 census of Royal Township, Capt. James Walker at age 59 had a child listed as John N. Walker, age 16, who was born in Arkansas. In the 1860 census of Union Township, eight years after Capt. Walker’s death, a 28-year-old child named John was living with James Gilmore Walker. The census stated that he was born in Arkansas – same as John N. Walker. Could these two listings be the same John N. Walker, establishing a kinship between the two James Walkers? As an added curiosity, my grandfather John N. Walker was a grandchild of James Gilmore Walker.
After the death of his first wife, James Gilmore Walker married Margaret Ann (last name unknown). They had two children, James Franklin Walker born in 1854 and Margaret Ann in 1856. James Franklin (1854-1937) married Nancy Lee Anderson, daughter of John Anderson and Wealthy Warren, in 1879. Their children were Edward, Johnnie Nelson, Icie, Dee W., Ida L., Mae, Hardy (Habbie), Bessie and Myrtle. Margaret Ann married Sam Price. There are land transactions between James Gilmore Walker and Margaret Ann.
Johnnie Nelson Walker (1882-1953) was my grandfather. He was born and raised in Beebe. He married Margaret Ann (Maggie) Hendrix (1884-1967), daughter of Lewis C. and Martha Elizabeth Hendrix. The children of Johnnie and Maggie Walker were Jessie, Euel,Dewell, Thyla Cassidy, Jackie Naomi Noble (who still lives in Beebe at age 96), Pauline Matthews, Faye Cathright, Lewis C., Helen Brady, Billie Jean, Betty Jane Gibbons, and Johnnie Mae Minton. Lewis C. Walker (1917-1989) was my father.
The above-mentioned Johnnie Nelson and Maggie Walker are buried in Stoney Point Cemetery, a few miles from Beebe. Lewis C. and Martha E. Hendrix, my gr-grandparents are also buried there, as well as Eliza Wallace, wife of Evan Wallace (Martha E. Hendrix’s parents and my gr-gr-grandparents). James Franklin Walker and his wife Nannie are buried in Grizzard Cemetery with other Walker relatives. Kin from a later period are buried in Beebe Cemetery.
Those Walkers at Walker Corner have not been mentioned. They come from Rutherford County, Tennessee. Another James G. Walker married Martha Black and seems to be connected to this group. Burwell Walker moved from Cannon and Rutherford counties in Tennessee to White County in the mid to late 1850s. He is buried in the Stoney Point Cemetery where so many of my Walkers are buried.
(The writer is a member of the White County Historical Society who lives in Pensacola, Florida.)
-Photo courtesy of Linda Archer
The Walkers of Beebe gather in 1905. They are (left to right): Back row – Bessie Walker (b.1898), Mae Walker (b. 1892), Glennie Shelton (husband of Icie), Elizabeth Shelton, Icie Walker Shelton (b. 1884), Ida Lee Walker (b. 1892), Dee Walker (b. 1886); middle row – Eddie Walker (b. 1879), Glenna Walker (b. 1881), James Franklin Walker (b. 1854), Nancy Lee Anderson Walker (b. 1856), Johnnie Nelson Walker (b. 1882), Maggie Hendrix Walker (b. 1884); front row – Willie “Buddy” Walker, Wilma Walker, Ocie Shelton, Jessie Walker (b. 1904), Myrtle Walker (b. 1903), Dewell Walker (b. 1905), Euel Walker (b. 1905).