This sketch is based on evidence found and analyzed to this point, with sources documented elsewhere. New evidence is often found, and some types of evidence from the era of Edward and Mahala (Tussey) Walker are scarce and may never be found. Much of the language below is couched in words indicating doubt to reflect that the matter is not fully proven; in some cases, the matter may never be, but this sketch is an attempt to summarize all known evidence and to make best guesses when necessary. Last updated 21 April 2006.
-- Phillip Andrew Walker, Jensen Beach, Florida, email@example.com
Edward Walker Jr., commonly called Ned or Neddie, was born on a late summer Monday during George Washington’s second term as president, on 7 September 1795. He was probably born in Sullivan County, Tennessee, either on Horse Creek not far from Garrett’s Branch of the South Fork of the Holston River or on Reedy Creek, which is on the riverfront of what is now downtown Kingsport. Evidence is scarce, however, as to his parents’ exact whereabouts during these times, and alternately, but less likely, he may have been born in southwest Virginia somewhere in or around Russell County. Some of the key landmarks are shown in the map at left, although these do not represent the exact locations of the homes.
At the time Ned was born, Tennessee was not yet a state, although it became one less than a year later on 1 June 1796. When his father first settled the area, Virginia had given up most of its claims, and the area was considered part of North Carolina, at least by North Carolina; the State of Franklin was created by a group of settlers in Tennessee, but Congress never recognized it. By the time Ned was born, the State of Franklin had collapsed, and Congress had renamed the area to be the Territory South of the Ohio River, a designation to prepare Tennessee for statehood.
His father, Edward B. Walker, had been born in North Carolina in 1756; Edward Sr. served several three-month stints as a private during the Revolutionary War, starting in the spring of 1777 and probably fighting mostly in spring through the early 1780s. Sometime later in the 1780s, he moved to Tennessee, and around 1 May 1790, he married Jane Horn at a church on Horse Creek in Sullivan County, possibly the Double Springs Baptist Church. Family origins prior to Edward B. Walker are completely unknown, although DNA results suggest a possibility that the original Walkers may have lived in the north of England near the Scottish border in the distant past.
Ned’s mother, Jane Horn, was born around 1772. Suspicions, more than evidence, suggest that her birth may have been in southwest Virginia, and Tennessee itself is a possibility, although less likely. She was a daughter of Frederick Horn, who appears to have lived around Jonesborough, in southwestern Virginia, and in Hawkins County but remains mostly a mystery. Family origins for the Horns are completely unknown. Horn generally is considered an English name, although, of course, without knowing the immigrant, the origin of the family cannot be known.
Ned was the third of what would be twelve children; he may have had a middle name as did some of his siblings, but no evidence has been found to show that he did. Although his father’s middle initial was “B.”, there is no particular evidence to suggest that Ned had the same middle name. Unlike today, children named for their parents often had different middle names.
Little is known of Ned’s early childhood. He probably was not educated, or at least not educated very well as he was unable to sign his name in later life; his older siblings likewise could not write. Quite simply, when the older Walkers were of common school age, there were no schools whatsoever in Tennessee and few if any tutors anywhere in the area. Many of his younger siblings were educated, which probably reflects the growing availability of education in the new state.
Haley’s Birth and Early Years
Mahala Tussey was born in the 1790s; if before 1794, she was probably born in Botetourt County, Virginia; if born afterwards, she would have been born what became Sullivan County, Tennessee. She grew up on Garrett’s Branch of the Holston River in Sullivan County, and she and Ned probably knew each other practically from birth. Ned’s oldest brother Joseph married Mahala’s sister Mary; the sisters were daughters of Jacob and Jane (Shuff) Tussey.
Her father, Jacob Tussey was probably born about 1753 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in an area now part of Lancaster County. Now the heart of Amish country, even then the area was mostly settled by German pioneers. Although uncertainty does still exist, Jacob most likely was descended through a line to Olof Thorrson, a Swedish immigrant to New Sweden in Delaware in 1641, but Jacob’s grandfather moved to Pennsylvania sometime in the early 1700s. Quite possibly, Jacob spoke German instead of Swedish or English because of his family’s long history in a German-speaking area; he may also have been bilingual or even trilingual. Jacob served in the Revolution but apparently deserted from a Pennsylvania regiment and later joined a Maryland regiment.
The origins of Mahala’s mother, the former Jane Shuff, are not currently known. She was born in the 1760s, but beyond that, very little has been proven. The limited evidence available suggests, be it only a guess, that she may have been born overseas and emigrated to Washington County, Maryland, as a child. There is a known Shuff family in that area at the time that was probably German, but Jane cannot be tied to it definitively. Jacob Tussey married Jane Shuff probably in Washington County, Maryland, about 1789 and moved to Botetourt County, Virginia, about 1790 and then into Sullivan County, Tennessee, in 1794. Not all of the children of the couple are known.
As a young man, Ned was called to serve in the War of 1812. Ned grew up just as the United States started to grow up, and international events were developing that would draw the country into another war with Great Britain. Ned was eight when Thomas Jefferson’s administration made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from Napoleon Bonaparte, who by then was emperor of France. Shortly thereafter, Napoleon provoked a war with Great Britain.
Initially, the United States stayed neutral, especially as it enjoyed the benefits of being the largest neutral shipping country. But in 1805, Britain regained unchallenged control of the seas after the Battle of Trafalgar, and it declared, starting in 1806 with Orders in Council, that all ports under French control were to be closed to all foreign shipping unless the ships first stopped at British ports to pay fees and obtain any necessary papers to continue to their final destinations. Napoleon responded by ordering the seizure of all ships entering British ports.
American shipping interests and exporters were extremely concerned about the situation, but of additional concern to all Americans was that the British government allowed the practice of impressment – the kidnapping of sailors and forced enlistment into the British Navy. While the official rules mandated that the impressed men be British subjects, thus excepting Americans by policy, impressment officials seldom worried about the nationality of the sailors they kidnapped. In fact, they often had stretchers to carry the men that they would knock unconscious with clubs before taking them to a ship. All told, about 6,000 American sailors were forced into service by Britain between 1808 and 1811, and many were killed or wounded. The American public was quite outraged at the practice.
These and other incidents on the high seas led Jefferson to ask Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited the export of all goods from the United States to any foreign country. This act affected northern interests far more than our southern ancestors who did not ship their goods overseas, but public outcry was so loud that Jefferson was actually worried that his government would not survive. The Embargo Act was repealed in early 1809 and replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act, which allowed the United States to trade with all countries except Britain and France. With that act set to expire in 1810, Congress passed Macon’s Bill No. 2, which stipulated that if either Britain or France ended their shipping restrictions, the embargo would be reinstated against the country that continued its restrictions.
These sorts of issues, although sounding perhaps a bit dry to modern ears, were huge news at the time and likely were discussed among the older generations and Ned himself. The war in Europe and its impact on America constituted the main foreign news of the day, much like the World Wars would have done before the United States entered the wars officially.
In November 1810, Napoleon claimed that his decrees had been repealed, so an American embargo was once again placed on shipping with Great Britain. Ironically, the embargo affected Britain so greatly that the British government repealed its Orders in Council two days before the United States declared war on it; Congress would not have had time to know, nor would the repeal likely have mattered given the atmosphere in Congress.
The country was divided among those who wanted war with Britain, those who wanted war with France, and those who wanted no war. More Americans were of British heritage than French, and Napoleon was a dangerous aggressor in Europe, but many people still felt the sting of the Revolution and also had a special fondness for France because of France’s help in the Revolution. A new Congress took power in 1811, and the cries for war grew louder. In a divided vote, Congress declared war on Great Britain on 18 June 1812; Tennessee's three congressmen in the House of Representatives all voted for war; the people in the West, which included Tennessee at the time, generally supported the war more than the merchants of New England, who had more to lose economically.
Two months after the British Army burned Washington in August 1814 and a month after Frances Scott Key wrote what would become the national anthem, Ned was probably living on Bays Mountain when he was drafted to serve in the war. Although Tennessee gained its nickname as The Volunteer State during this war because of a large number of volunteers when war was declared, the vast majority of the men who served from Tennessee were drafted. Ned had recently turned 19, so he had already been required to serve in the local militia, and he was called up to serve from 13 November 1814 to 2 June 1815 under Captain John Slatten, Colonel Edwin Booth, in the Fifth Regiment of the East Tennessee militia. The Fifth Regiment was a division of the troops commanded by Major General William Carroll. The very same day, his brother Joseph was drafted in Sullivan County.
Despite some claims otherwise, neither Ned’s unit nor Joseph’s unit appears to have been at the Battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson. Instead, they organized at Knoxville and marched to Ross' Landing and over Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, to Fort Strother on the Coosa River in Alabama, and on to Mobile more than 500 miles away. A summary by the Tennessee State Library and Archives indicates that the soldiers walked the whole way, but, as General Carroll was known to carry men south on flat boats, at least part of the trip downstream may have been by boat.
Ned’s unit did arrive in Mobile before the Battle of New Orleans. But while Andrew Jackson continued to plan the attack at New Orleans, he still assumed that the British would attack Mobile, and attacks were also possible by a faction of Native Americans known as the Red Sticks, a disaffected band of Creeks. Booth's regiment was left to protect the various forts around Mobile, and at least some of the troops probably were stationed at Camp Mandeville south of Mobile.
No major battles appear to have occurred in the area where he likely was. Whether there were smaller skirmishes with Native Americans or others is unknown. Fourteen out of the 104 men of his unit did not serve the complete term, so they presumably died in some manner or deserted. However, disease was rampant and usually killed more in these times than combat itself, and desertions were also common.
The Battle of New Orleans itself occurred on 8 January 1815. Much has been made of the fact that the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, had been signed the previous month on 24 December but news of the treaty had not yet reached the United States. While technically true, the United States did not actually ratify the treaty until mid-February, and war continued until then. However, the battle at New Orleans was the culminating battle. General Andrew Jackson had under his command some 7,000 regular soldiers, sailors, pirates, and French citizens, as well as militiamen from Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In that battle, the British army of 8,000 seasoned veterans launched a frontal assault on entrenched Americans. In about thirty minutes, the British suffered about 2,000 casualties to the American's 71. This battle made a hero of Andrew Jackson and helped to later make him president.
Ned was most likely discharged at Mobile after the war. He received pay for the full term at that time; for his service as a private, he was paid $53.33, which equates to $8 a month. Since his unit was drawn from upper East Tennessee and even his own brother was likely nearby, Edward probably embarked with a large group of men for the trip home. Since upstream river travel seems unlikely, he quite possibly walked all the way home; even at a brisk pace, he likely did not arrive home until the fall at the earliest.
Marriage and Moving
The exact timing of the marriage is unknown, but Ned and Haley probably married in Sullivan County, Tennessee, about 1816 or 1817. In 1813, Ned’s father had settled on the middle ridge of Bays Mountain just over the Hawkins County line with Sullivan County. Ned and Haley are believed to have first settled there, just a few miles from her parents as well. A family legend has it that Ned’s father chose the location so that he could see Indians coming from all sides. One deed places the location on the road from Jonesborough to Armstrong’s Ford, the latter being in modern-day Knoxville, but the road location is somewhat uncertain. Some evidence points to this location as possibly being considerably south of the currently suspected location.
Almost all of the Walkers and some of the Tusseys, at least for a while, would eventually migrate to Claiborne County, Tennessee, including parts that are now in Hancock County. Family members settled within about five miles from each other in an area starting on the south just a bit south of the present location of New Salem Church, following Little Sycamore Road toward Mulberry Gap to Ned’s home and perhaps a little further. Some lived right on Mulberry Gap and Little Sycamore Roads, while others lived a bit north, generally around Hoop Creek as well as probably around the current intersection of Highway 63 and Rebel Hollow Road.
Unfortunately for researchers, a large number of records have been destroyed over the years, and there were also several methods for acquiring and selling land in the early years; very few early records relating to Walker land acquisitions have been found, even during time periods when they are known to have lived there. The first provable record is a deed in 1818 when Ned’s oldest brother, Joseph, who married Haley’s sister Mary, bought land adjoining land he already owned on Little Sycamore Creek; no deed for the original land has been found until it was sold after Joseph’s death in 1851. Joseph was clearly on Little Sycamore, just about 5 miles from where Ned and Haley would settle, no later than 1818, and all of the Walkers may have already moved together when Joseph did.
Evidence given to the current owners of their still-standing house suggests that Walkers owned the Ned Walker house for decades before 1818, but the story has not yet been confirmed. The house may already have been standing when they purchased the property, or there may have been related Walkers on the property before the few documents of the era suggest.
Ned did not sell the land he owned on Bays Mountain until 1827, long after the 1818 date he is thought to have settled on Mulberry Creek, making 1827 probably the last likely date that the couple moved to Mulberry. However, that sale does not particularly suggest that they waited that long to move. Evidence suggests that at least one of his siblings as well as many of the Tusseys remained in that area of Sullivan and Hawkins Counties, and Ned could have rented out or loaned the land to them after he moved to Mulberry Creek. More tellingly, the 1827 sale appears to correspond to a visit that Ned made back to Sullivan County when his father-in-law, Jacob Tussey, died there, and Ned conducted other business. Quite possibly, Ned had long before left the land but decided to officially sell it perhaps the only time he was in the area since he had left it.
At this point in time, one can only surmise why they chose to move where they did. The Mulberry Creek area today is a beautiful but very isolated area, suggesting that they wanted to get away from a growing civilization. But a closer look at the area in history suggests a very different picture. The Mulberry Gap area was settled early, before 1803, and was a thriving community by the time the Walkers settled there. One of those very early settlers was John Jones who married Mary Fitzpatrick and settled nearby before 1802; Mary Fitzpatrick was a sister to a man who married another Tussey sister, and the families of Jones, Fitzpatrick, Walker, and Crawford seem to have intermingled from an early time in Sullivan County. By the time the Walkers settled the area, they already knew people there and probably were not moving into a community they had not seen.
More importantly, though, the current distance from any major road today belies the reality in the early 1800s. Although the exact route is not known precisely, a main road from the east to Cumberland Gap, just about 8 miles away from their home, seems to have followed, more or less, the present-day locations of Highway 25E and Little Sycamore Road, bearing left on Highway 63. Far from being isolated, the area at the time was on a heavily-traveled thoroughfare filled with pioneers moving to Kentucky and other points west, likely opening many avenues for trade; the Walkers lived no more than a mile from this road.
Farming on Mulberry Creek
Like most of the families in the region, the Walkers were farmers, cultivating the rocky hillsides of East Tennessee. Stories told to the current owners indicate that Ned was also a leatherworker, and they found evidence of leatherworking
in the house itself. No other evidence of this occupation has been found, and whether he did work only for his family or for hire is unknown.
The limited land records available suggest that Ned’s original land holdings were somewhat small but that the farm reached at least 337 acres by his death. Research given to the current owners suggests much larger Walker holdings at some point but cannot be confirmed through record sources.
One son often told his daughter of being taken out into the fields and put on a pallet while his parents worked. Although the products of the farm were quite varied, Ned seemed to specialize in pigs. In 1850, for instance, the farm schedule indicates that Ned had 100 improved acres along with 160 unimproved acres for a total farm worth $1,000 along with farming implements and machinery worth $100. He also had 5 horses, 6 cows for milking, 4 oxen, 10 other cattle, 14 sheep, and 100 pigs, with all the livestock being worth $400. The produce of the farm for the year ending 1 June 1850 included 20 bushels of wheat, 1500 bushels of "Indian corn", 600 bushels of oats, 50 pounds of tobacco, 37 pounds of wool, $10 worth of orchard products, 200 pounds of butter, 250 pounds of flax, 100 pounds of maple syrup, 325 pounds of beeswax and honey, $100 of "homemade manufactures", and $10? [hard to read on microfilm; originals are at Duke University] of animals slaughtered.
What he did with the pigs is unknown, whether he sold meat to neighbors or travelers or had some method for moving them to market. The current owners of his house report that newspapers from Kentucky dated to the 1820s were used to plug leaks in the walls of the house, suggesting some contact there, where he had relatives and may have done business. Although Ned could not write, many people who could not write at the time were able to read.
The House on Mulberry Creek
Remarkably, the house on Mulberry Creek where Ned and Haley settled and where both would die is still standing and has been carefully restored by the current owners. Soon after purchasing the property in the early 1990s, the owners received a call from a person they remember as a heart surgeon in Houston, although the name has now been lost. He described to them details of the house, including the fireplace, that they themselves did not find until they restored the home. He also described the exact locations of the graves, which the homeowner was able to find after more than a day of searching in the weeds. The identity of the caller of course would be of great value to know, but clearly, whoever he was, he knew details passed down by someone who had been in the house before the 1920s.
The Houston caller traced the home and the Walker possession of it to a land grant issued to an Elijah Walker in 1789, who the caller claimed was the father of Edward B. Walker, Sr. Such a land grant has not been found and does not appear in major indices; in addition, Edward B. Walker was not even married until a year later and was married in Sullivan County, and Ned married a woman from Sullivan County as well. Quite possibly, the grant mentioned by the Houston caller had been issued to Elisha Wallen, a name easily confused in the old handwriting as Elijah Walker, and was sometimes even written that way; he was not related to the Walkers, but he was a long hunter and a land speculator in the area and had a large number of early land grants in the Mulberry area.
Still, the house itself may well date to 1789 or around that time. Log houses, of course, could be as individual as their builders, and sometimes older building techniques were used in newer houses according to the curator of the Museum of Appalachia. There are several facets to the Walker house, however, that do suggest a very early date. According to Mike Walker, a descendent who has restored a number of these types of homes, people began using saws in the very early 1800s to finish the squared-off logs; quite clearly, the logs at the Walker house were finished with an axe, a very labor-intensive process that presumably the builders would have avoided if at all possible.
Other construction techniques, such as the design of the windows, indicate that the house, or at least the bulk of it, was built in the late 1700s or very early 1800s at the latest, being consistent with the 1789 date. Several layers of flooring were found, including clapboards and even a dirt floor; dirt floors were rarely found after 1800 in that part of Tennessee. Finally, the homeowners found Kentucky papers from 1823 lining a wall, indicating a very early occupation in any event. The University of Tennessee or other research group could date the logs in the house exactly by analyzing the tree rings or with carbon dating.
When the Walkers first settled the area, presumably around 1818, Ned and his brother Joseph were married, and possibly two other siblings were, Martha and William, who have not been traced and are not known to have moved to Claiborne County; in fact, evidence is accumulating that Martha never left Sullivan County, although proof is lacking. All of the other children of Edward Sr. and Jane Horn were unmarried and ranged in age from 17 to 3. It may have been Edward Sr. and not Ned who first settled on the land, or they may have settled together. Married couples often lived with parents the first few years of their marriage, especially before children were born.
So who built the home and when are certainly questions, but the newspapers in particular prove a very early date, making the house probably one of the oldest still-standing log homes in all of Appalachia. Adding to the mystery, though, is the fact that the house was probably not built entirely at the same time in any case; according both to the owners and even the untrained eye, one side of the house is different from the other and may even reflect different builders. Both sides, though, use American chestnut wood with an occasional poplar log.
The house as it currently stands appears to be the saddlebags style, namely two different houses that shared a chimney and were later connected. The original front of the house is now the back; in the 1920s, a paved road was laid where the current road runs, but the older road known to the Walkers ran along the creek. When the owners in the 1920s started using the back as the front, they also built an addition on to the original front which destroyed many of the architectural details of it. Even though the house appears to be the saddlebags style, the fact that both sides are two stories high is very unusual.
By the time that the Walkers presumably settled the land about 1818, neighbors on both sides had been well-settled for about 10 years, suggesting that they moved to an established farm regardless who established it and whether relatives had owned it earlier. Typically, when a family settled on new land, they would build quite hastily a log cabin where they would live for a few years until they had the time to build a more permanent home. The current Walker home, both sides of it, are clearly the latter, and both sides would have taken months to build; both sides are two stories with finished logs on full limestone foundations.
The late date established by the Kentucky newspapers, 1823, seemingly would have given the Walkers the time necessary to construct their finished house. However, one side if not both may have already been built when they moved to the property; perhaps the Walkers themselves bought the house and then built the second side immediately given that Edward Sr. and Edward Jr. may have been sharing the home, or they built it later as other children married. In any case, both sides were clearly constructed and connected by the Civil War, as that connection was necessary to form the secret room they used to hide food and valuables from the soldiers of all stripes passing through the area.
Assuming that the original house was only one side of the existing house, it may have been built in the English “hall and parlor” style, with two rooms on the first floor separated by a staircase and a single room on the second floor; nearly every two-story home of the era was built in this fashion. The only known early staircase, though, was in front of the chimney, possibly external to the first side of the house built.
The chimney is made of limestone cut from the yard and was located at the back of the original house between the two halves of the house; two fireplaces, one in each half of the house, open to the same chimney. Presumably, when the second half of the house was built, the existing chimney was opened up to create the second fireplace. To the untrained eye, at least, the stone appears to be roughly cut and the construction quite old. The hearth on the original left side of the house was quite large, taking up much of the room; it then curved around to the other fireplace on the other side of the house. This design begs for further research as to the possible uses of such a large hearth. According to the Houston caller, Ned was a leatherworker, and the homeowners found evidence of leatherworking in the house near the hearth.
One of the more interesting features of the house still exists but is not currently operational. According to the homeowners, at least six natural springs flow from the ridge across the creek from the original front of the house. They had not yet found evidence of the actual piping, but the Walkers or some previous owner had tapped one of those springs to keep a supply of water running through a spring box inside the house. Such a supply would help to keep items cool and may have been used for drinking water as well. Evidence of various outbuildings has been found on the property as well, as would be expected.
Proof that Ned Walker at least lived in this house does not rely on an unknown caller from Houston. The house is clearly on the land that Ned owned at the time of his death as mapped from the 1852 survey and the 1881 Bishop deed; the Bishop deed still referred to the land as the Edward Walker place as the current owners indicate that their deed still does; they own 100 acres of the original farm.
Not only is the house clearly on his land, other evidence provides overwhelming proof that this particular house was exactly the house in which Ned lived and was not a replacement house built after a fire or some other catastrophe. Census records including neighbors are always consistent, but Sallie (Crumley) Walker talked about the house specifically in her 1878 pension application. In that application, she said that she was still living in the same house where she was married in 1848 and where Haley died in 1842.
Additional evidence extends the existence of the house into the 20th century. Melbourn Green Walker, one of Ned and Haley’s grandchildren, wrote in a 1929 letter that he had had dinner in Ned’s house when he lived no more than a mile from there and had even eaten from his table. Meb lived at Mulberry, practicing medicine there from 1898-1902, dating his visit to that era. Although the house had left Walker hands about 20 years before, no reason exists to doubt his identification; Bill, Ned and Sallie’s son, still lived nearby, and Meb’s own father, John Gilmore Walker, the son of Ned and Haley who also grew up in the house, was still living as were other children.
No further documentation has been found that specifically references the house after that period, and, in fact, local residents in the latter half of the twentieth century came to believe that Bill or perhaps his brother James had built it. However, the house itself provides two bits of evidence proving that it is the original Walker house. James’ granddaughter, who knew him only briefly but his wife much longer, was told of a secret room where food was hidden during the Civil War. The house most definitely has that secret room, including two shotgun holes, perhaps a later addition.
Overwhelming and unexpected proof, however, was found on the outside of the house on one of the logs on the original back of the house: the signature “John G. Walker” carved into the log. John G. was John Gilmore Walker, and the carving closely matches his known signature; in addition, extensive tracing has found no other John G. Walker ever living in the area; the signature was covered up in the renovation in the 1920s but is now fully visible.
The First Set of Children
Other family histories have long held that Martha Gillus Walker was a daughter of this couple, and, given that she was probably born around 1816, she would have been the oldest. Even her own daughter in 1929 indicates that Martha was Ned and Haley’s child. She was not, although she likely was raised by the couple. Court records from the dispute over Ned’s estate strongly infer that Martha was not his daughter, and P.G. Fulkerson, who knew the family and wrote about them, did not mention Martha. She could have been Haley’s daughter from an unknown first marriage or the daughter of one of Ned or Haley’s siblings who died young or just an orphan they adopted. Although she definitely is not Ned’s daughter, she is included here as she apparently was considered part of the family.
All of their natural children were probably born in the house at Mulberry Creek, although there is some question as noted above. Henry, the oldest, was born in 1818, and Jane, the oldest daughter, on 22 August 1920. Then came Isaac on 27 October 1822, Mary in December 1825, Jacob Shuff Walker on 31 December 1826, and Anna on 18 April 1832. Sabra was probably born about 1834 or so, but there are many questions about her birth date; she may have been born as early as about 1830. Ned’s last two children with Haley were Johnathan, born 13 November 1837, and then Sarah, born in July 1840.
The current owners of Ned’s house have been given information that there was yet another child, a daughter, who died by choking on a brad from Ned’s leatherworking; if so, the most obvious break in the birth order would suggest that she may have been born about 1830. She does not appear in the 1840 Census, suggesting an early death, which would fit with the story. A female of the proper age does appear in the 1830 Census, but given the uncertainty of Sabra’s birth date, could have been Sabra.
Lizzie (Walker) Click, Jacob’s oldest daughter, related in a letter to Annie Walker Burns in 1929, long after the events, that Jane (Shuff) Tussey lived with Ned and Haley when Jacob was little, sometime in the early 1830s; she appears to have been with her own son Jonathan Tussey in 1830. According to the story, the family came across the ocean when she was little. Because money supposedly could not be taken out of the country of origin, Jane sewed a coin, called by Lizzie a gold guinea, into a feather bed. Because the coin was so small, finding it in America took some time. The story cannot, of course, be proven, and it is not known whether Jane (Shuff) Tussey was born outside the United States.
Lizzie also related a story that Jane had a “film” over her eyes; Jacob would go out to the creek to collect mussels. The mussel shells would be ground into powder and blown into her eyes, temporarily solving the problem. Curiously, powdered pearls from oysters apparently have been shown to relieve symptoms of conjunctivitis, and perhaps this story relates to that problem and remedy.
Ned was about five feet nine inches tall, with blue eyes, a dark complexion, and dark hair. No physical description has been found for Haley, although a picture of her sister Mary has been found. However, family tradition holds that both sisters spoke with heavy accents, sometimes called Swedish and sometimes French. As mentioned earlier, most likely, the accent may have been German; despite their Swedish ancestry, their family had been in the United States for five generations. Lizzie Click also said that Jane (Shuff) Tussey could count in “Dutch”, although she probably meant German. The word “Dutch” then as now (“Pennsylvania Dutch”, for instance) often meant German.
Details of the couple’s life with their children can only be surmised. The children, at least some of them, attended school, although some of the girls could not write, and evidence suggests that at least one boy learned in adulthood to write. School at that time was limited to a very few months of the year, and children from an early age also worked on the farm.
Full records have not been found to prove church membership for all members of the family at all times, but enough evidence does exist to suggest the likely possibilities. In early Tennessee history, churches were few and far between; different congregations often met in the same buildings, and people often attended services for other denominations.
At the time, many people, especially in that region, were moving away from more established churches, many that had been state-supported, into denominations such as Baptist and Methodist. Older denominations did not thrive on the frontier, often because they insisted on well-educated, permanent ministers and did not have enough ministers to supply to the sparsely populated frontier.
Ned’s parents were married in a Baptist church by a Baptist minister. While such a decision may have been made for convenience, the fact that many, if not most marriages of the era were performed by justices of the peace suggests that the couple was, in fact, Baptist at the time. As for the Tusseys, there is no direct evidence but a possibility that they were members of the old Dunkard Church in Sullivan County at one time.
In the late 1790s and early 1800s, there was considerable activity in the area by Methodists, particularly Bishop Francis Asbury. Although again direct records have not been found, the known church memberships of both the Walker and Tussey children suggest that the older Walker and Tussey couples converted to Methodism during this period.
Ned and his family probably attended the Thomas Chapel Methodist Church on Mulberry Gap Road; early records from the church, which met for decades in homes, are not available, but older records show memberships for his second wife and four children by both marriages. The current building for the church, long abandoned and used as a barn, was built around 1900, and the building attended by the Walkers no longer exists.
Haley died on a Wednesday after Christmas, on 28 December 1842. Lizzie Click indicated that she died of scurvy which started in her foot. Scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency that was often thought to be caused by sea water; of course, sailors actually got scurvy from a lack a fruit, something usually readily available in the Mulberry area, so scurvy seems quite unlikely. She was buried across the creek on a hill overlooking their home in a grave marked with a limestone marker with no inscription; according to what the homeowners have been told, the child who choked is buried there as well as is Ned.
Apparently after Haley died or perhaps a little earlier, Ned bought a slave who seems to have had a daughter. The two only appear on the slave schedules of the Census, and no deeds have been found involving their purchase. The slave schedule represents only one day in every ten years, and since a granddaughter remembered seeing Ned at a slave sale, he may have bought and sold others at various times. However, only the two are known.
The older woman, whose name is not known, was in the household in 1850 and was born about 1820; she was blind, which indicates all the further that she was purchased specifically to take care of the household and the children. The second was so young as to almost definitely have been her daughter and was born between 1846 and 1848; assuming that she is the same little girl sold at Ned’s death, her name was Tilda. It seems likely that Tilda was born during the time that Ned owned her mother, although she may not have been.
At least three possibilities arise: the mother may have been married to a man at a nearby farm, Ned may have arranged for her to get pregnant, or, quite possibly, Tilda could be a Walker. The mother was no longer in the household in 1860, and whether she died or was sold is unknown; efforts to track Tilda have not been successful, although she may have been the Matilda Woodson who married an Andrew Cloud after the Civil War.
The Second Family
Ned would eventually marry again, to a woman named Sarah Crumley, called Sallie. Sallie was a daughter of William Crumley who lived further up the Mulberry Gap Road. She was born 28 September 1813 probably in the Mulberry area, and she appears to have not to have married until she married Ned on 28 November 1848. They were married in Ned’s house by John Crumley, a justice of the peace who was most likely her brother. It was John Crumley who recorded the marriage in the family Bible that was later lost to fire. Since Hancock County had recently come into existence, any legal record of their marriage was lost in the courthouse fires.
By the time Ned and Sallie married, some of the oldest children were already married and out of the house, while the youngest was just 8, and several of Haley’s children may have been close to Sallie. Ned and Sallie would have four children of their own, all boys: William, born in October 1850, Edward, called Edd, born in February 1852, James Harvey, born 12 July 1855, and Milton Green, born 23 May 1858.
Ned’s Death and the Civil War
The two younger boys in particular likely remembered little of their father, though. Ned died 9 April 1860 at his home on Mulberry Creek in what was by that time Hancock County. He had liver disease and had been sick for nine days when he died at the age of 64. He was buried with Hayley and the unknown daughter on the hill across the creek from his house. While none of the graves are marked with inscribed stones, efforts are underway to place a military stone at the grave.
By the time Ned died, all of the older children were married, and he had already staked some or all of them. Typically, one would expect Ned to have left a will which specifically excluded the older children, since they already had been given shares, and providing for the second family and his much younger widow. Ned left no will, leading to a series of events that would keep the Walkers going to court for more than 20 years and even involving the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court battle, though, would have to wait until after the Civil War.
The 1860 Census, enumerated as of June 1 but actually enumerated in August on Mulberry Gap Road, shows Sarah living with just her own four children and Martha Crumley, a 22-year-old servant who was likely a sister or a niece. She still was listed as owning Tilda, the remaining family slave, although she would lose Tilda in April 1861.
Despite having the four young boys in school, she was probably not without help around the farm. Bill at 9 and Edd at 7 were capable of helping, and she had brothers and brothers-in-law in the area. For that matter, Ned and Haley’s children were generally not far away; only Jane had long ago left the state and was living in Izard County, Arkansas, at the time of the Census. Martha, Jacob, Sarah, Johnathan, and John Gilmore were all still living in Hancock County within a few miles; in fact, Johnathan and John Gilmore were practically next door. The others were only a few more miles away, closer to the Clinch River, with Isaac on Straight Creek, Henry, Mary, and Sabra on Bear Creek just over the hill from Isaac, and Anna not far away in Grainger County; Anna would soon move to Bear Creek. All of the older children would soon leave Hancock County, almost always for Bear Creek and Walker’s Ford, with most moving at some time during the war.
Walker sympathies during the war are hard to measure and were not monolithic; Sallie’s own sympathies are unknown. In a war that pitted brother against brother, that scenario was probably no more common than in East Tennessee. When Tennessee, the last of the southern states to secede, held a referendum on secession, secession won by a two-to-one margin in both West Tennessee and Middle Tennessee – but lost by a two-to-one margin in East Tennessee. Knoxville, the nearest large town, has been called the only city that both the Union and Confederate forces considered to be hostile.
The reasons that most East Tennesseans opposed secession are not particularly difficult to understand. A great number of people who lived in the Appalachians were descendents of people who moved there partially to be left alone, and quite a few, while not necessarily believing in full equality, were uncomfortable with the idea of human bondage. Slavery did occur in Hancock and Claiborne counties despite some histories that claim otherwise, and both Ned and his brother Joseph owned slaves, but slave owners were few in number.
Key to the equation, though, was the fact that the Grand Division of East Tennessee is quite mountainous, and most farmers, like Ned, farmed relatively small farms on the sides of rocky mountains and ridges. Large-scale cotton farming, with the attendant large plantations and slave populations, were not possible in East Tennessee, while the geography of Middle and West Tennessee allowed such plantations more typical of the deep South. Most of the people who owned slaves in East Tennessee owned no more than one or two, with very few households owning more, and most households owning none. Simply put, the economy of East Tennessee did not depend upon slavery.
Henry, the oldest son, had become a circuit-riding Methodist minister and was staunchly pro-Union; just two weeks after the contentious Republican convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln, Henry named a son for him. That son would be kidnapped during the war by a band of Confederates who supposedly intended to kill him, but one of them knew the family and returned him safely to his parents. Shadrach Ball, whom oldest daughter Jane had married, was also a Methodist minister and would soon be chased out of Arkansas for preaching “the Abolitionist’s Gospel,” and the couple would lose two sons and a son-in-law, all fighting for the Union, during the war. In addition, most of the first cousins of Ned and Haley’s children who did fight appear to have fought for the Union, with several dieing for the Union, mostly in prison camps.
On the other hand, the only son of Ned and Haley to fight actually did so for the Confederacy, serving barefoot at Missionary Ridge. He contracted typhoid and walked home from a hospital near Atlanta, deserting according to some accounts which are certainly debatable. In any case, he served more than a year and half along with two sons of a first cousin, both of whom died before Jonathan left the army; another first cousin also seems to have served the Confederacy.
Regardless of who supported what side, life was miserable for the residents of Mulberry Gap as well as the Bear Creek/Straight Creek/Walker’s Ford area. Military planners early in the war considered nearby Cumberland Gap crucial as it had once been a major transportation route; only later in the war did they realize that time and technology had greatly reduced the importance of the Gap, but not before it changed hands multiple times. In addition, raiding parties, both official and unofficial, regularly traveled in the Mulberry Gap area and at Walker’s Ford. Local citizens, then, were harassed no matter who they supported, and many had to hide food and valuables. Mary (Tussey) Walker, the widow of Ned’s brother Joseph, hid food in burial crypts, while Ned’s own house had a secret room on the second floor, accessible only through the attic, where food and valuables could be hidden. Famine, violence, and outright anarchy reigned, with schools and churches often closed, and local governments intermittently functional.
Tennessee seceded officially on 8 June 1861. Even with local sentiments favoring the Union, both the state and local governments became Confederate, and there were certainly a considerable number of Confederate supporters in the area. In fact, behind Ned’s property on Mulberry Creek is a hollow that became known as Rebel Hollow due to the large number of Confederate supporters there, some of whom occupied the Hancock County courthouse at one point. Even though Tennessee joined the Confederacy, Sallie had already lost her slave in the estate sale.
East Tennessee was the last of the Grand Divisions to return to Union control. The Union first invaded parts of Tennessee in early 1862. Nashville fell on 25 February 1862, causing the Confederate state government to flee to Memphis; they certainly were not going to flee to a hostile population in East Tennessee. Memphis fell just a few months later, on 6 June 1862, at which point the Confederate government of the state of Tennessee ceased to exist permanently; in fact, Andrew Johnson, who would later become president after Lincoln’s assassination, was sent by Lincoln to Nashville even before Memphis fell to set up a military Union government. West Tennessee would never again be occupied by Confederate forces, although southern parts of Middle Tennessee were reoccupied from the fall of 1862 until July 1863 and again briefly in November and December of 1864.
Union forces did not invade East Tennessee until August 1863, with Knoxville, the nearest large town to the Walkers, captured 1 September 1863; Chattanooga fell later in the month. Grant then drove the Tennessee Confederate forces completely out of Tennessee two months later in November, while Burnside drove off a Confederate force determined to recapture Knoxville. While Burnside was successful in saving Knoxville, that Confederate force retreated into upper East Tennessee, probably causing even more problems for the Walkers and their neighbors. That force finally moved into Virginia in the spring of 1864, and Tennessee was finally free of all Confederate forces.
Sallie and all of Ned’s children by both marriages survived the war, and even Johnathan would finally recover from his illness and long trek and live to old age. But they had lost many cousins and other relatives including two of Ned’s grandchildren, sons of Jane.
The Court Battle – A Family Feud?
Although several events regarding Ned’s estate occurred during the war, the real battle began after the war was over. That he did not leave a will is rather curious, although, of course, many people fail to take that step. In 1852, Ned had all of his land formally surveyed and deeded even though portions had already been in the past. His action suggests that he wanted to make sure that he had clear title to his entire property. Having already lived there for decades, the decision to do so at that time would seem odd except for the fact that, a few months earlier, his brother Joseph had died unexpectedly when a limb from a tree he was cutting fell on him. In other words, the timing would suggest that Ned was thinking ahead to his own death and the need to have clear title as early as 1852.
But he still left no will. Given that he was only sick for 9 days, he may not have had the chance to write a will, and he may also have not realized that the illness would be fatal. Regardless of the reasons, the lack of a will combined with the Civil War would play havoc on his family.
Inheritance laws of the era were considerably different from today; a wife did not automatically inherit real property, which in those days included both real estate and slaves. Instead, widows had a dower right under the law, meaning that she was entitled to a 25% interest in the land and retained the right to live there for life – provided that she lived there continuously. When she died or moved elsewhere, her interest in the land would disappear, and her right to live on the property again forfeited. Sallie also, by virtue of having had at least two children with Ned, was entitled to a child’s share of the real property. Since Ned left 13 living children, Sallie herself was entitled to only 1/14th of the estate in addition to her dower rights.
Sallie’s feelings about her share are not known, but subsequent events suggest that either she was unhappy about it and manipulated her family or that her family manipulated her. Still, neither she nor her family were in control of everything that happened next.
Apparently, Henry, the oldest son from the first marriage, decided he wanted the property. As was typical in that area and era, he worked quickly to buy out the shares of his other siblings, and courts generally did not get involved deeply in such cases. Relevant deeds from Hancock County are lost due to courthouse fires, but the court records suggest that Henry was able to come to quick accommodation with his older siblings, thus owning 9 of the 14 shares apparently in both the property and the slave.
The four boys from the second marriage were still minors when Ned died, and Calvin Ramsey, Sallie’s brother-in-law, had been appointed guardian for their interests in the estate. He seems to have refused to sell out to Henry because the county court ordered that both Tilda and the real estate be sold on the steps of the courthouse in Sneedville in April 1861.
The auction was held, and R. C. Woodson, a local merchant, purchased Tilda for $800. A note was carried back for two years upon which Woodson was supposed to pay the money. There is no record as to whether a Walker attempted to purchase her; she grew up in and may have been born in the Ned Walker household but was forced to leave on the eve of the Civil War, in the very month in which the Confederates fired on Fort Sumpter. She would finally be free as early as the fall of 1863 or as late as the spring of 1864.
Henry Walker did show up for the auction and placed the winning bid of $1,900 for the real estate; as with the slave sale, a note appears to have been carried back for 2 years allowing him to finance the purchase, but, since he already owned 9/14ths of the property, he presumably financed about a third and finally had the property he wanted securely within the Walker family. Or so it would seem. Soon thereafter, Calvin Ramsey protested the land sale, claiming that it sold for well less than it was worth at auction. Quite clearly from the record, Ramsey himself wanted the land and even offered the court $2,100, although his lawyer later convinced him to withdraw the bid; as guardian for the minor children, his bid was a conflict of interest.
In what would seem to be a surprising development, the county court agreed and ordered a second auction for April 1862. Ramsey had not alleged, at least according the existing record, any fraud whatsoever in the earlier public auction; he merely alleged that the property should have sold for more. That the county court agreed with him may well have had something to do with the war. Tennessee had seceded just after the first auction, and a Confederate government was now in control. Henry Walker was a well-known Union supporter. The Ramseys and the Colemans, who were soon to enter the picture, appear to have been Confederate supporters.
So, in April 1862, the property went up for auction again on the courthouse steps in Sneedville. Henry Walker himself was so angry about the turn of events that he did not show up, although his brother Johnathan did and perhaps other siblings were there, although records do not indicate whether they bid for the property. Calvin K. Coleman, who was born and grew up next door to Ned, made the winning bid this time, at $2,105, again with a note carried back for two years.
The Hancock County government was not fully functional during parts of the Civil War, and the next entries in the court records appear in 1865, three years after the second auction and after Union control was regained. During the war, William Neil had been the Clerk and Master responsible for collecting the notes used to purchase both the slave and the property. Woodson, who purchased the slave, appears to never have paid; not surprisingly, he apparently tried to avoid payment for something that obviously he lost. The court ruled, though, that a note was a note and that he owed the money. The Walkers alleged that Woodson was hiding assets, and whether they ever collected the money is unclear from the record.
During the war, Coleman had cut an unusual side deal with Calvin Ramsey, the guardian of the four youngest sons, the details of which are not specified in the court record. That deal, though, meant that Coleman paid on the notes either 4/14ths, or 5/14ths if Sallie (Crumley) Walker was involved in the deal, directly to the people involved and not to the clerk. Henry did not dispute this side deal, as he had no economic interest in that portion. Coleman, then, was responsible for paying the rest of the money over two years to the Clerk and Master.
Coleman had gone to Neil during the war to pay off the rest of the notes – well before they were due, as a matter of fact. He attempted to pay in Confederate currency, which Neil refused. Neil instead insisted that Coleman use Confederate Treasury notes, which Coleman did obtain and turned over to Neil. Neil, as it turns out, was quite ill and soon died, having not completed his duties; he did not get court approval to complete the sale, he did not turn over any money to the Walkers, and he did not deliver the deed to Coleman. Since there is an explicit statement in the record that Neil was an honest man and beyond suspicion, quite likely some people thought otherwise.
So, after the war, Henry Walker sued Calvin Coleman trying to get the land back for a new sale, or, failing that, to get the notes paid in money of value. Post-war Tennessee law stated that all transactions that had occurred using Confederate Treasury notes were invalid; the law did, however, explicitly allow such transactions if a contract were involved, apparently to avoid widespread disruption to major business contracts. Technically, a deed probably would have been considered a contract, but Coleman never received a deed; this distinction, though, did not end up being important to the final decision.
At first glance, one might get the impression that Henry was trying to take advantage of a technicality, but the record seems quite clear that court approval, which Neil never sought due to his illness or the war or both, was required to complete the transaction. Such approval would have allowed Henry, among other things, to protest the form of payment. And because the court had not approved the transaction, Neil never gave Henry the now worthless Treasury notes. So Henry had never received a penny in any currency for his 9/14ths of the estate.
Many of the depositions in the court records revolve around the issue of whether the auctioneer specified that U.S. currency and gold were allowed or whether he specified the “currency of the land”, which Coleman argued would have been Confederate currency at the time. A number of people testified that the auctioneer required U.S. currency; a number of others testified to “currency of the land”. Not surprisingly, those who testified to U.S. currency tended to be related to the Walkers, and those who testified to currency of the land tended to be related to Coleman – or to Sallie (Crumley) Walker. Despite all the paperwork on this particular issue, this issue, as with the delivery of the deed, proved not to be relevant to the final outcome.
The suit went through various stages, with Henry winning at every step, so one may assume that Coleman was the one who took it all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Henry apparently had not disputed the legitimacy of the second auction, and the Supreme Court ruled that the sale was final and that Coleman owned the land. However, they ruled the payment of the notes invalid and that Coleman was to pay the full amount owed to Henry. The Court brought up a different issue that, if Henry’s lawyers had raised it, the documentation is not in the Hancock County file. The same law that recognized transactions using Confederate Treasury notes if a contract were involved also required that the transaction be completely above suspicion; because Coleman’s payment raised a serious appearance of fraud, the transaction was held to be invalid.
Fraud charges were not brought against Coleman, at least as part of this case, and the Supreme Court certainly did not convict him of fraud or even definitively rule that fraud had taken place; instead, they ruled that Coleman’s actions raised enough suspicion to conclude that fraud might have been involved and thus invalidated the transaction under the law. In fact, his actions were probably legal at the time but were highly suspect.
What Coleman was thinking and what he knew at the time, and in fact, the exact timing of his interaction with Neil, are not altogether clear. But the wartime developments in Tennessee would seem to have had to play a role in what he tried to do with Neil. Since he attempted to pay off the two-year note early, he certainly went to Neil before April 1864. Although the local government in Hancock County was still Confederate apparently, the Confederacy in Tennessee was in its last throes, and Coleman had to have known that; in fact, Knoxville may well have already been taken when he approached Neil. Even if the entire invasion of East Tennessee had not yet started at the time, certainly the rest of the state had fallen, and rumors of the impending Union invasion of East Tennessee were rampant in the region well before the actual invasion which ended up putting East Tennessee under Union control.
In short, although Confederate Treasury notes were not Coleman’s idea, Confederate currency was. Coleman tried to pay off the notes early and even paid a full two years worth of interest at his own, not Neil’s, suggestion, so the early payoff was not an attempt to reduce interest charges. One would be very hard-pressed to believe that Coleman took this step without fearing that his Confederate money would soon be worthless. Coleman’s transaction probably was perfectly legal at the exact point in time he made it, and, in his mind, he probably felt he had done nothing wrong and was out a large sum of money. On the other hand, the money soon would have become worthless anyway, and the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled against him.
Henry would still have trouble collecting the money, though. At one point, he got a court order which required the sale of Coleman’s share of his own late father’s land. Whether that sale went through or exactly what happened has not yet been determined, and whether Henry ever collected is not entirely certain. The main court case regarding the estate was terminated in 1872, not particularly because all matters were resolved but because Henry himself died in early 1872. There was at least one more suit against the estate by the second set of children, and rumors of additional suits, none of which have been examined yet.
Because of the courthouse fire in Hancock County, the exact chain of title cannot be traced, and whether Coleman ever got title is not known. Between 1878 and 1880, Sallie moved into Tazewell with her youngest sons, Jim and Green, so that both of them could go to college; according to family stories on Jim’s side, she took in washing to support the two through school, and both had a great deal of catching up to do in school, possibly because of the nonfunctioning schools during the war. Technically, when she left the homestead, she would have lost her widow’s dower, but apparently no one pushed the issue; also, while unproven, her oldest son Bill and his family may have lived in the house for a time.
The first deed available in Hancock County for the property is from 1881, when Elisha and Bettie Bishop owned the land subject to Sallie’s dower rights. How they obtained it cannot be traced, but Elisha owned quite a bit of land in the area and may have bought out Coleman to keep him from losing his own land or otherwise acquired it as a result of some of the legal machinations going on over the estate. The Bishops sold their interest, still subject to dower despite Sallie’s having moved, to Hugh Parkey and Patterson Breeding. A few months later, on 16 January 1882, Sallie sold her dower rights to Parkey and Breeding for $400, and the land thus left the Walker family. Also, starting in 1879, she drew a pension based upon Ned’s military service starting at $8 per month and increasing to $12 before her death.
Just two weeks before Sally sold her dower rights, her son Green had gotten married; Jim was still unmarried. The three, plus Green’s wife, all moved sometime in 1882 to Grainger County, Tennessee, where Jim married in 1885. Sallie lived alternatively with the two families for the rest of her life. Very shortly after Jim married, they all moved to Jacksboro in Campbell County, where Jim and Green, according to tradition in Green’s family, started the Walker Brothers School. No record of the school has been found, but many such enterprises were created in Tennessee in that era with few records remaining. Court records of the era may reflect it, though.
Apparently, the school did not operate for a long period of time, because all the families left Grainger County sometime between 1889 and 1893 and settled in Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee, where Green would teach and run the school system while Jim owned a hotel and livery stable; Green was also elected to the state assembly from Cocke County around the time his mother died. Sallie died presumably in Newport of currently unknown causes, on 11 January 1898; she is buried in Union Cemetery there along with Jim and Green and their families.
Even in death, Sallie leaves us with a minor mystery: Jim and Green did not purchase the plot in which she was buried for more than eight months after her death. Where she was first buried is unknown. However, Jim and Green were both heavily involved with the local Methodist church in Newport, and that church was one of the ones involved in the creation of Union Cemetery, which had its first burial in July 1898; they probably wanted to have a permanent place for both them and their mother in the new cemetery. In fact, Green and Jim and their wives are all buried there despite the fact that all had moved long before their deaths, Jim to Athens and Green to Clinton.
Quick Sketches of the Children’s Adult Lives
Martha Gillus Walker, called Patsy, the apparently adopted daughter, was the first to marry, in about 1833 probably in Claiborne County to Henry Clarkson, a son of James Lee and Sarah (Cook) Clarkson from up the Mulberry road in Lee County, Virginia. Henry was born about 1813 possibly in Virginia and died some time between 1837 and 1840 either in the Mulberry Creek area or in Lee County; his burial place is unknown. He left Patsy with two children, and she moved in with or next to Ned and Haley.
Patsy remarried after her mother’s death to William Clarkson, a nephew of her first husband, who was the son of Fairwick and Agnes (Muncy) Clarkson. Although his tombstone indicates that he was born 20 September 1815, he was probably born six years or so later. They married on or near 30 July 1843 in Claiborne County and had five known children. The couple lived for a while in Hancock County then moved to Bear Creek and later to the Nave Hill area of Union County by 1880, when the couple lived near Jonathan Mack Clarkson, one of their sons. Patsy died, most likely there at Nave Hill, on 10 March 1884. Family stories place her unmarked grave in the cemetery on Mack’s property, although those same stories erroneously place Bill there as well.
Bill went on to outlive practically everyone, living at the end with a grandchild. He died 29 June 1920; according to his tombstone, he was 104 and according to some family members, 107. Most likely, though, he was in his late 90s and possibly did reach 100. Bill was buried in a marked grave in the cemetery at Cave Springs Baptist Church in Claiborne County, and there are no marked graves on either side of him. According to a caretaker of the cemetery, early burials in this cemetery were sloppy, sometimes with three people in one grave, so normally one would guess that Patsy is buried beside him. However, he was buried by the granddaughter with whom he lived about 35 years after Patsy died, and he is buried near that granddaughter and her husband. So there is less reason than usual to suspect that he was buried with his wife, and substantial reason to believe that Patsy was buried on Mack’s farm.
Henry Walker was born in 1818 probably at Mulberry Creek although possibly on Bays Mountain. He died sometime between 1 January and 2 March 1872 near Walker’s Ford on the Union County side. He is buried in a marked grave in Gose Cemetery in the Bear Creek area of Claiborne County.
He first married Lucinda Doherty. Although her tombstone, one shared with Henry, indicates that she was born in 1826, the tombstone apparently was made many years after her death, and she was born about 1823 at the latest and possibly earlier. Lucinda’s parentage has not been fully proven, but she appears to have been the daughter of Jane Overton, who married a much older man, William Doherty, who lived just down the road from the Walkers at the intersection of Little Sycamore and Mulberry Gap Roads. After William Doherty died, Jane Overton married Henry’s uncle, Samuel, who would have raised Lucinda.
Henry, a Methodist circuit rider and known Union sympathizer, and Lucinda married 21 July 1839 in Claiborne County, probably at Mulberry. They moved to the Bear Creek area and what was then the Claiborne County side of Walker’s Ford in 1858 and moved to Union County a few years later. They had 8 children before Lucinda died in 1866 probably at Walker’s Ford in Union County. She, too, is buried in Gose Cemetery.
Henry then married Martha Jane Hatfield, who was born 1 September 1840 in Claiborne County in the Mulberry area; they were married sometime between 1866 and 1869 probably in Hancock County. Martha had other connections to the family: she was the daughter of Adam Yeary Hatfield and Mary Fulkerson Davis, and Mary’s sister Martha had married Henry Walker’s brother Jacob. Martha and Henry only had one child before Henry died, and then Martha married William Newton Click and had several more children. Even her second marriage was related in that William was the brother of Andrew J. Click who married the oldest daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie), of Jacob Shuff and Martha (Davis) Walker.
Henry and Martha’s one child, Charley, accidentally shot himself in 1887 while cleaning his gun. Martha would live until 12 April 1918, when she died at Mulberry Gap. She is buried with her second husband in the Click Cemetery on Ramsey Road directly across from Mulberry Gap itself.
Jane Walker, sometimes known as Jenny, was born 22 August 1820 probably on Mulberry Creek and died between 2 June and 31 December in 1880 at Mound City in Linn County, Kansas. She married Shadrach D. Ball, usually called Shade, who was born 25 August 1816 in Lee County, Virginia, and died 20 November 1862 at Mound City. Shade was the son of George Washington and Sarah (Moore) Ball. Both are buried in a family cemetery in Mound City on land still owned by descendents. The two married on 8 September 1836 probably in the Mulberry Creek area then of Claiborne County.
Shade was a Methodist circuit rider like Henry Walker, his brother-in-law. Sometime in the late 1840s, the couple left Tennessee with a number of his extended family for Izard County, Arkansas; his father died along the trip. Shade was known to fiercely preach “the Abolitionist’s Gospel” and was essentially chased out of the state; the family left in stealth and settled at Mound City. The couple had eight children; two of the sons and one son-in-law all fought for the Union in the Civil War, and all three were killed. Shade also died during the war of causes not currently known.
Jane then briefly married a local farmer who took all of her money; she soon divorced him, but she was left penniless. Her contact with her Tennessee relatives is unknown. By the time she lost Shade and her sons, both her parents had died, and she still had small children. She had few options, and, according to descendents, she did not have a happy life in Kansas.
Isaac Walker, generally known as Ike, was born 27 October 1822 probably on Mulberry Creek and died 22 June 1895 at his farm on Straight Creek in Claiborne County. He married about 1846 probably in Claiborne County Mary Haynes, called Polly. Polly was born 10 May 1822 in Union County and died 13 October 1899 probably at Straight Creek; both are buried in Burch Cemetery at Straight Creek. Polly’s parentage is not known although a number of her siblings are. The couple had at least six children, several of whom moved to Newton County, Missouri.
After their marriage and before the Civil War, the couple moved to Straight Creek about one mile from the present location of Straight Creek Baptist Church. Ike was technically young enough to be drafted into the Civil War but was older than the typical age and does not appear to have served. His sympathies in the war are not known. Ike remained a Methodist throughout his life, but his wife was a Baptist who attended the Straight Creek Church.
Mary Walker, called Polly, was born in December 1825 probably on Mulberry Creek and died sometime after 1900 probably on Bear Creek in Claiborne County. She married sometime between 2 April 1849 and 1 April 1850 a Samuel Crawford, who was born about 1824 in Tennessee and died sometime between 1880 and 1900. Although his parents are far from proven, one old family source suggests that Sam was Polly’s cousin. Quite possibly, the Martha who married John Crawford in Sullivan County is Polly’s aunt Martha, and Samuel may have been their son. At present, however, this connection rates only as a guess. The couple had 6 known children, two of whom moved to Newton and Cass Counties in Missouri. The burial places for both Polly and Sam are unknown, but since three of their children are buried in Campbell Cemetery on Bear Creek near where Sam and Mary probably lived most of their married lives, the couple could easily be in two of the many graves there marked only with fieldstones.
Jacob Shuff Walker was born 31 December 1826 probably on Mulberry Creek and died 4 October 1887 probably at his farm at Straight Creek in Claiborne County. He was married 7 November 1846 in Claiborne County probably in the Mulberry area to Martha Davis, called Patsy. Patsy was the daughter of Eli and Martha (Baker) Davis who lived a few miles up the road from Ned, and the granddaughter of Rev. Andrew and Elizabeth (Avant/Avent) Baker. She was born 7 November 1825 at Mulberry Gap and died sometime in June 1900 at Lizzie Click’s house on Bear Creek in Claiborne County. Both are buried in unmarked graves in a pasture behind the Straight Creek Baptist Church.
For a little while after their marriage, the couple seems to have lived near her parents near Mulberry Gap. They moved to Straight Creek probably in the early 1860s to a farm with the house being across the creek behind the current location of Straight Creek Baptist Church. Both attended the church, although Jacob was raised as a Methodist and converted in 1858. The couple had 10 children.
Jake was technically young enough to have been drafted but was older than the usual soldier and did not appear to serve, possibly because of his skills as a blacksmith. His sympathies are unknown.
An Unknown Daughter may have been born about 1830 and died as an infant, apparently choking on a brad used in Ned’s leatherworking. She supposedly occupies the third grave at the homestead.
Anna Walker was born 18 April 1832 on Mulberry Creek and died sometime after 1880 probably on Bear Creek. She was married in about 1850 probably in Hancock County to William Munsey, born 3 April 1832 probably in Lee County, Virginia, who died sometime after 1880. They had at least 9 children and settled in the Lone Mountain/Bear Creek area. William was the son of James and Nancy (Owens) Muncy and probably changed the spelling of his name to Munsey. He was also brother to John who married Sabra Walker. The couple’s burial locations are not known but could be in Campbell or Gose Cemetery on Bear Creek.
John Gilmore Walker was born 28 November 1834 on Mulberry Creek and married 11 September 1856 in Claiborne County and was called Little John. His wife was Lucinda Atkins, the daughter of Morris Atkins and Lucinda Peak and a sister to Dr. Samuel Atkins, who married Henry Walker’s daughter Malissa. Lucinda was born 1 March 1838 probably in Grainger County and died 5 May 1913 probably in the Walker’s Ford/Hickory Valley section of Union County. Both are buried in Yadon Cemetery in Union County, and the couple had 10 children.
John was raised near Mulberry Gap and, among other things, apparently was responsible for taking care of his younger half brothers after his father remarried, being the one to retrieve the doctor, supposedly an elderly woman who boiled herbs and bark as medicine. This woman may well have been Patsy Davis, wife of Eli, although no hard evidence currently exists.
After the marriage, the couple lived briefly near his parents but soon bought a farm on a ridge on Bear Creek in Claiborne County from his oldest brother, Henry. He later sold that farm to his brother-in-law, Lawrence Wolf, and bought the Abe Haner tract in Union County in the Hickory Valley area near Walker’s Ford, where he lived for the rest of his life.
John was a blacksmith during the war, making items for the soldiers, although he apparently was not actually in the army because of the blacksmith exemption. At one point, soldiers from one side or another chased him; he was hit by a bullet at some distance, but, because of the distance, the bullet was nearly spent and simply raised a bruise on his head. Supposedly, neighbors rose up and killed the attackers. Later, he was also an engineer helping to keep the Clinch River navigable at one point.
Like most farmers in the area, John, according to his daughter, built rafts to carry wheat, corn, hams, meal, and honey down the Clinch River to Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, to be sold. While no evidence is presented as to how he returned, the typical farmer at that time would simply walk home or perhaps, if enough money was made, purchase a horse. In any event, such a trip likely took months.
Sabra Walker, called Sabrey, was probably born about 1835, although her birth date is somewhat questionable and could have been as early as 1830. She was definitely born while the family lived at Mulberry. She married John Munsey, the brother of William, her sister Anna’s husband; John was born about 1830 probably in Lee County, Virginia. The couple seems to have settled along Lone Mountain and had at least 13 children before Sabrey died between 1880 and 1882. William would remarry twice more and have three more children. He died sometime after 1900.
The locations of both graves are unknown but may have been in Campbell or Gose Cemetery. However, various Internet sources describe a specific tombstone inscription, namely “Johnnie Munsey – an idiot”, over the grave of one of their sons who probably had Downs Syndrome. To date, no one has identified the cemetery in which that tombstone was supposedly found, and it does not appear in cemetery books for Claiborne, Union, or Grainger counties. If it does, in fact, exist, Sabra and John may be buried there, possibly even in marked graves.
Johnathan Walker, called Doss, has been one of the more curious Walker brothers. He was the last boy born to Ned and Haley, being born 13 November 1837 at Mulberry. He married Elizabeth Sumpter, called Betsy, about 1856 probably in Hancock County. Her parents are not entirely proven but appear to be Charles and Sally Sumpter who lived next to Ned and Haley; Betsy was born 28 July 1836.
Johnathan is curious because he is one of the very few Walkers to have fought for the Confederacy. In fact, many of his first cousins died for the Union. His reasons for choosing that side are unclear. When the war started, he lived very near what is now known as Rebel Hollow, which was so named because of the Confederate sympathies in the area. He went to war when he had a small daughter at home and his wife was pregnant; curiously, he volunteered the day before a Confederate draft went into effect. He may have felt compelled to join, may have followed the sympathies of his in-laws, or may have genuinely believed in the cause.
In any event, he served for about a year and a half, even fighting barefoot at Missionary Ridge and Chickamauga. After Chickamauga, he contracted typhoid and was taken to an army hospital in Lagrange, Georgia, near Atlanta. At the hospital, Johnathan decided he would be better off at home and set off with rags wrapped around his feet for his brother John Gilmore Walker’s house at Walker’s Ford. Although some records show him as a deserter, he presumably at least assumed that he had permission, since he stopped and talked to members of his unit on his way home. More than one testified that he gave a very sick Johnathan no chance of making it home alive, although he did but was unable to work from quite some time. He got home right about the time the Union took East Tennessee and never returned to service. His later request for a pension was rejected, although he applied very shortly before his death and did not have time to answer many questions.
Johnathan and his wife eventually settled next to John Gilmore Walker and stayed there the rest of their lives. Although their youngest child appears to have died young, they had at two children who reached adulthood. Betsy died 21 May 1911 in Union County and was buried in Yadon Cemetery there. Johnathan married a widow, Sarah Elizabeth Ramsey, on 11 January 1915 in Union County; Sarah was much younger, having been born 7 April 1868 in Hancock County, the daughter of Alvis and Mary (Hopkins) Ramsey. Johnathan died 17 August 1922 in Union County and was buried the next day in Yadon Cemetery next to his first wife; Sarah died 19 November 1941 and is buried in Nave Hill Cemetery. Johnathan supposedly died of rheumatism that he had had for 25 years and acute gastritis which he had had for 25 days.
Sarah Walker, born in July 1840, was the last child of Ned and Haley. She married Lawrence Wolfe, who was born in May 1829 in Virginia, and had at least seven children. Family tradition indicates that the couple moved to Missouri, which they did but only late in life with some of their children. In fact, they appear to have lived in the Bear Creek area of Claiborne County most of their married lives. Lawrence died in 1911 and Sarah in 1915, probably both in McDonald County, Missouri. Lawrence is buried in Macedonia Cemetery in Newton County; there is no marker for Sarah, but she likely was buried there as well.
William Walker, called Bill, was the first child of Ned and Sallie. He was born in October 1850 at Mulberry and became a leatherworker. He married about 1872 Rebecca Ann Baker, the daughter of Thomas and Lucinda (Campbell) Baker of the Little Sycamore area where she was probably born on 17 March 1849. They had at 9 children and appear to have lived in the Mulberry area their entire lives.
According to a family legend, Bill may have been estranged from his mother, possibly having something to do with the estate settlement. Supposedly, one day Bill and his family were working in the yard when a woman in a black carriage pulled up; Bill quickly sent his family inside and briefly talked to the woman. Only after she left and he went inside did he tell his family that the woman had been his mother.
Bill died sometime between 1900 and 1910; according to at one family legend that has not been corroborated, Bill may have had a business dispute, and some family members believe that he may have been poisoned. The same legend has him buried in the Coleman Church Cemetery in an unmarked grave, although again the location has not been corroborated. Rebecca died 11 August 1916 in Hancock County and is supposedly buried in Four Mile District there, although the location is unproven.
Edward F. Walker, called Edd, was the next child, born in February 1852 on Mulberry. He first married Mary Jane Lewis about 1871 probably in Hancock County. Mary was a cousin, the daughter John and Anna (Walker) Lewis; Anna was a daughter of Ned’s oldest brother Joseph. Mary was born 23 September 1830 in the Little Sycamore area.
Edd and Mary had at least seven children and eventually settled in the Goin area. Mary died 21 October 1921 in Claiborne County and is probably buried in an unmarked grave in the Russell Cemetery in Goin. Edd then married Jennie Snyder, a widow, in 1924; Jennie was the daughter of Frank and Jennie (Mink) Snyder and the widow of James Burley McBee and others. Edd died sometime thereafter and may be buried with his first wife. Jennie, born 22 September 1890, died at 94 on 27 March 1985 at Hillcrest Nursing Home in Knoxville and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Knox County, Tennessee. Without a doubt, she was the last spouse of any of Ned’s children to die, although she was not married to Edd for long.
James Harvey Walker, apparently called Jim but called always “Mr. Walker” by his wife, was born 12 July 1855 at Mulberry. In August 1885, he married Mary Adelia Phillips, who was born 21 December 1869 in Grainger County, Tennessee, the daughter of William and Emily (McConnell) Phillips. The couple had ten children, several of whom died young, including two of meningitis within two weeks of each other.
Jim was a teacher, hotel owner, livery stable owner, and farmer, and had a degree in math from Tazewell College. In 1911, though, the hotel he owned in Newport burned, and he lost everything, including Ned’s family Bible and other family information. He owed a partner supposedly $8,000 and was forced to declare bankruptcy; his partner could not prove the amount nor was James sure, but he felt obligated. He bought a farm in Oneida, Tennessee, selling part of it the next year and paying back all $8,000. He then moved to Athens in McMinn County, Tennessee, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Jim was active in Democratic politics and teaching and was principal in Athens. He died 9 October 1939 in Athens, but his body was taken back to Newport to be buried with his mother. Mary Adelia died in 1945 in Athens and is buried next to her husband; several of their children who died young are buried with them. Jim was the last of Ned’s children to die.
Milton Green Walker, called Green, was the youngest of Ned’s children, being born 23 May 1858 at Mulberry. On 29 December 1881, he married Mary Elizabeth Johnston in Claiborne County, the daughter of Isaac McNew and Vesta (Southern) Johnston. Mary was born 19 April 1864 probably in Claiborne County. Only three children are known, including one who died as an infant, although others who did not live to adulthood are possible.
Green, who graduated from Lincoln Memorial University, was a teacher and superintendent in Newport and in Clinton, Anderson County, where he settled after leaving Newport. He also sold dry goods in Newport and served one term in the Tennessee General Assembly.
He died 17 September 1924 in what was then called Knoxville General Hospital of heart failure resulting from arteriosclerosis and arterial hypertension with cardiac hypertrophy as a contributory factor; he was living in Athens at the time but was taken to the hospital in Knoxville. His body was taken back to Newport to be buried next to his mother two days after he died. His wife lived more than 30 more years, finally succumbing 21 August 1955 possibly in Clinton, and she is buried next to Green.
Map and Photo Sources
Maps for the Sullivan County as well as Claiborne/Hancock County areas were generated by Google Earth and annotated by the author; licensing does not permit commercial use. Earth; not for commercial use.
The map of War of 1812 forts was taken from the Web site of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
The outside photo of Ned Walker’s house was taken by Roberta Estes; the author has additional photos taken by both Tim Walker and himself. The fireplace and spring box photos were taken by the author.
The deed map for Ned’s land was generated with Deed Platter online and then annotated by the author.
The photo of John GilmoreWalker was provided to Tim Walker by John’s grandson Earl B. Walker.
The photo of Johnathan Walker was included in a family history by Charles Atkins Walker but could be John Gilmore Walker.
The photo of James Harvey Walker and his wife Mary Adelia was provided by his granddaughter, Adelia Knight.
The photo of Milton Green Walker is cropped from a poor copy of a photo provided by his granddaughter, Vesta Underwood.
Return to Joe Mode’s Family Album