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The Walkers were an early family in the colonies, as documented in “The History of the Walkers of the Old Colony,” a book that several branches of the family have (2003).86 The sketches below are therefore brief until recent generations.
The immigrant was a I. “Widow” Walker, who lived and owned land in Rehoboth (now Seekonk), MA, in the mid-17th century. She last appears in records in 1643, when she gave in the value of her estate (50 pounds) for a pro rata division of lands. Her share appears in the list of 30 Jun 1644; and lots were assigned her in several divisions afterwards, as in the drawing for the “great plain” and on 18 Feb 1646 for the “new meadow.”
Tradition has it that “Widow” Walker had three children, probably all born in England – Sarra (b. 1618)87 and James (b. 1619/20),88 the eldest two, immigrated in 1635 on the ship Elizabeth from London, as “servants” to/with their “uncle,” John Brown, baker (b.c. 1595), who appears to have been the widow’s brother-in-law. They settled in Taunton, MA. Probably Widow Walker and son Philip, who settled in nearby Rehoboth, came later.
Historial records also mention a Richard Walker and a William Walker, who were possibly related to these others, and who came over on the same boat as James and “Sarre.”
II. (Deacon) Philip Walker (b.after 1620; d. Aug. 21, 1679) was the third child of Widow Walker, and first appears in early Rehoboth records in 1653. Like his brother, James, Philip came to America as a “servant,” and took up his freedom on 1 Jun 1658.
Philip married Jane in 1654.89 They had 10 children: Samuel, Sarah, Philip, Elizabeth, Mary, Experience, Elizabeth, Michael, Ebenezer, and Martha. The family had a home/farm on Watchemoket Neck, south of the Great Plain (now Kinnicut Place on the road from Providence, RI, to Barrington, about a mile from the India Bridge), and in Rehoboth (now Seekonk), “an attractive and fertile spot” overlooking the Providence River. In 1659, Philip was listed as a weaver, and he became one of the wealthiest men in Rehoboth. In the allotments of 1671, his estate was estimated at 387 pounds, the third largest out of 78 in the town. In 1678, there was only one larger estate out of 83.
Philip held various positions of trust in the community. He was surveyor in 1657, constable in 1658, on the Grand Inquest in 1668 and 1678, one of the selectmen several years between 1666 and 1675, and deputy to Plymouth in 1669. On 14 May 1659 he was chosen one of a committee to meet a committee of the new town of Swansey to settle a controversy (probably about boundaries). Philip was also a deacon in the church.
On 2 Nov 1663, “Goodman” Walker was appointed one of a committee to buy or build a parsonage or “house for the ministry.” On 20 Jun 1678, the town having called Rev. Angier to settle there, “the townsmen and Deacon Walker were chosen to treat with Mr. A. about it.” The town agreed that the sums to be raised should be freely subscribed, “if it may be,” but if the subscriptions fell short, “Deacon Walker, Gilbert Brooks and three others should devise the mode to raise” what was needed.
In one period, the towns were obliged to sustain the war against the powerful Indian chief, Metacomet (also known as Philip). Many who served as private soldiers advanced money. The list of those in Rehoboth shows that Deacon Walker furnished 26 pounds, the largest sum with two exceptions, and about double what was advanced by any of the 77 others named. Rehoboth, an isolated plantation, was especially exposed to the incursions of the “savages.” The first and last blood of that fierce struggle, in which Metacomet fought to destroy the colonists in New England, was shed in Rehoboth. There the conflict opened in 1675 and closed in 1676, when Metacomet died. However, on 26 Mar 1776 [sic: 1676], the Indians burned houses in the part of Rehoboth later called Seekonk and Philip Walker’s may have been among them, for he left an unfinished house when he died three years later.
Philip died 21 Aug 1679, when son Ebenezer was just three, and is buried in the graveyard at Seekonk. His estate, appraised on the oaths of James and Samuel Walker in Oct 1679, was valued at 681 pounds. The court ordered his house to be completed at the expense of his estate. His widow, Jane remarried on 2 Jun 1684 to John Polley of Roxbury, and lived there until her death in 1702.
Our ancestor III. Ebenezer Walker (b. Nov. 1676; d. 13 Mar 1717/18) married twice. By his first wife, he had two children who died in infancy. On 11 Oct 1703, he married Dorothy Abell (b. 18 Nov 1677), and had nine more children, six of whom survived (among them our Caleb).90 Left a widow at 30-31 with six children, Dorothy remarried John Reed in 1724 and died 1 Aug 1741, age 64.
IV. Caleb Walker (b. 30 Oct 1706; d. 3 Apr 1768) was a resident of Rehoboth, Bristol Co., MA, all his life. He had five children with his wife, Abigail Dean (d. 1 Jan 1795, age 91),91 of Taunton. The fourth was Abel.
V. Abel Walker was born (11 May 1736) and married (14 Apr 1763) in Rehoboth, MA, to Lois Read. During the Revolutionary War, he served as a private under Capt. Nathaniel Carpenter; for four days in Col. Thomas Carpenter’s Regiment; and for a time with Capt. Peleg Peck’s company of Col. Carpenter’s regiment. His company marched from Rehoboth to Bristol, RI, on the alarm of 8 Dec. 1776.92 In 1779, he moved to Hardwick, MA (about 20 miles west of Worcester), and bought a farm in the west part of the town where he lived until he died. He mostly stayed at home, was scrupulously exact in his duties, and enjoyed esteem in the community. He and his wife belonged to the Congregational Church of Greenwich, three miles from home, and his pew was “rarely empty.”
Abel and Lois Read93 Walker had seven children, Thomas being the sixth. Lois was born 27 May 1741 and died 24 Mar 1800 in Rehoboth. After her death, Abel married her sister, Bathsheba on 25 Nov 1801 (d. 27 Jan 1819, age 73?). He died 17 Feb 1819, age 83, in Hardwick, MA.
VI. Thomas Walker, b. Nov. 18, 1777, in Rehoboth, MA, spent his early youth in Hardwick, until he began an apprenticeship in the printing office of Isaiah Thomas in Worcester, about 20 miles away.94 There he met his wife, Mary (“Mollie”) Eaton (see below), born in Worcester on 23 May 1771.95 They married in 1797 or 1800? In 1799, Thomas and one Ebenezer Eaton, who had also apprenticed with Isaiah Thomas, went 220 miles west to Rome, Oneida Co., NY, then a village of about 400, and started a weekly newspaper. For the rest of his life, Thomas was a publisher of newspapers, almanacs, and tracts; and a banker and engaged citizen.96
The Columbia Patriotic Gazette, published by Thomas Walker for Eaton and Walker, was one of the earliest papers west of Albany. Walker brought the printing materials with him from Worcester and hired a man in Rome to make a “ramage” press for the first issue (1 Aug. 1799). Years later, Thomas recalled that Mr. Liston, British Minister to Washington, passed through and stepped into the office to buy a copy. The paper was first printed on or near the site of the J.T. Miner & Sons store. The next year, the office moved to an upstairs room in the Rome Coffeehouse owned by Solomon Rich, where later the stores of E.H. Shelley and H.W. Mitchell stood. A year later, the paper moved around the corner to the middle of what was later the American Block. In 1800, Ebenezer Eaton moved on to Aurora (or Geneva?), NY, and in March 1803, with the help of personal and political friends, Thomas shifted his paper to Utica, renaming it the Columbian Gazette and supporting the Jefferson administration.97 Utica (named in 1802) was the center of Mohawk River trade, so a bustling commercial hub, and an important transportation point for pioneers moving westward.
A typical issue of the paper (31 Jan 1803, “American Independence 27th year, Federal Government 14th year”) was 16.5” by 11” and contained four pages, with four columns to a page. The first page was dedicated to the speech of Governor Caleb Strong of Massachusetts, delivered to the two houses on 14 Jan. The second page was nearly taken up with “Congressional Affairs,” the debates of Jan. 4-6th being reported. Under the heading “Foreign Intelligence,” there were dates from London of 26 Nov 1802 (two months old) in which the King’s Nov 23. speech to Parliament was given.
Ten years later, a typical issue of the Utica Columbian Gazette (9 Mar 1813) was 26” by 21” on pale, coarse, dirty green paper. The leader was a 20-line summary of proceedings of Congress. The news related almost exclusively to the war raging with Great Britain. The news in London papers (still two months old) received at New York was also reported – mainly, about the war between England and America and the Bonaparte adventure in Russia. There were political announcements about elections to be held and an uncomplimentary description, in verse, of a “modern Politician.” About 40 advertisements from Utica merchants were included – all of this offered weekly, for $2 per year.
In 1825, Walker sold the paper to William J. Bacon and Samuel Dakin, who merged it into the Utica Sentinel and Gazette. Walker’s health was failing but he remained president of the Bank of Utica, and from 1839 was vice-president of the Savings Bank of Utica. He served as Utica’s mayor and president of the Utica Academy (1850), as a magistrate for 30 years and an elder of the Presbyterian Church. Described as “quiet, reserved, and unostentatious,” he was said to have “few superiors in good sense and sterling worth” and to be “a most valuable citizen and perfect Christian gentleman.”
Thomas Walker and Mary Eaton married in 1800 in Worcester and had seven children by 1814, the fifth of them, George. Mary died 1 Nov 1845, Thomas on 11 Jan 1863, and both are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica.98
VII. George Walker (b. 7 Oct 1809; d. 22 Nov 1890) was born in Utica and had business talent. Educated at public schools, he was commissioned captain’s clerk on the USS Constitution, on which he rounded Cape Horn in 1839.99 Not satisfied with the sea-faring life, he returned to Utica and bought a farm near Ithaca; by 1846, he was employed by a dry goods firm in Utica (Stacey, Golden & Walker), with Fitch B. Stacey the senior partner.100 He later became a member of the Webb & Walker firm that dealt in drugs.101
Rev. Dr. Leeds married George and Anna Maria Gird, who was teaching school in Utica, on 23 Oct 1849. The family lived at several homes on Court Street, and then at 20 Cottage Place by 1890. This remained home until Anna’s death in 1924. Their first six children were born in Utica and the last two, in the suburb of Whitesboro:
*In June 1855 Oneida Co. Census, along with Eliza Gird (18; Anna’s sister), Emma Walker (20), and two women servants. For descendants of all children, see files.
Anna Gird was very fondly remembered by many descendants. She loved botany, plants, and flowers, and also reading. She herself wrote for Godey’s Ladies’ Book and the Ladies Home Journal under the pen name Isabella Jocelyn. She also penned verses - a sweet poem for her younger brother Henry’s bride, Martha Lewis (c. 1849/50; see Gird website); “The Arm Chair” (see files) in 1890-91; and probably many more. She was a lovely blue-eyed blonde, who later had beautiful white hair.
In 1865, George sent his sons William and Thomas, and probably Charles, to the Canandaigua Academy; George and Anna sometimes spent extended visits there, boarding at the Canandaigua Hotel and Webster Hall. In 1918, Tom wrote his brother Charlie that he had many “not so pleasant memories [of the place…]..it was conducted very much on the lines of a reform school. There was so little of the modern spirit of liberal education…I can only feel glad it is a thing of the past.”
In 1870, in failing health, George retired from active business life. A member of the Oneida Historical Society, he was a man “of quiet disposition and had many friends.” He and his wife were for over 50 years members of the Presbyterian Church. Both he (d. 22 Nov 1890; lot 36 plot 7C)102 and his wife (d. 29 Feb 1924, age 99) were buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica.
VIII. Thomas Eaton Walker was born at 18 Court St. in Utica, on 10 Sept 1852. His early education was at the Sand Bank School on Aiken Street in Utica, then at the Whitestown Seminary and Canandaigua Academy – of the unpleasant memories. In 1871, at 19, Tom joined the Masons, a network in which he remained active all his life. Evidently, too, he was “a skilled draftsman” and worked several years in an architect’s office. In 1874, Tom joined the Utica Citizens Corps, and derived great pleasure from the comraderie of membership in the volunteer Friendship Hook, Ladder, and Bucket Company, an early fire brigade.103
Thanks to Tom’s scrapbook, shared by Jim and Jean Upton (January 2004), his later interests and activities are richly illustrated. The scrapbook contains articles he found of interest, poems, maxims for life, and clippings chronicling his doings – as well as some of his own writings and cartoons. It is a wonderful glimpse into the man and his values, as well as of his work as a self-taught businessman, assayer, and city manager. The scrapbook is also the source of much of the information below.
According to his daughter, Alleene, at 21 (1873), Tom went to Florida, then at 22, to California to seek his fortune: “He had the West in his blood.” Evidently, he also was not well in the Utica climate. Utica newspapers noted that he planned to make his home with relatives in southern California. In his words:
Early in March 1875, I left New York city on the old wooden side-wheel steamship Henry Chauncey, bound for California. In about 10 days we reached Aspinwall (now Colon), crossed the isthmus on the railroad to Panama, and reimbarked on the SS Constitution, another side-wheeler, for San Francisco.
After a short visit in San Francisco, I again sailed through the Golden Gate, headed for LA, on a small steamer called the Mohongo. We reached Wilmington early in the morning…The passengers were taken quite a distance [on a smaller steamboat that met the boat] and put ashore. After a long wait we boarded the train and soon landed…at the old Commercial Street station…I rode up town in a hack and put up at the St. Charles Hotel, which at that time was in the immediate center of business…104 LA was then a city of 8000 inhabitants[,] about half Mexicans and half white people.
Tom might have heard about his mother’s cousins, Henry and Edward Gird, who had gone West in 1852 and settled by 1860 in Los Angeles (see GIRD below). He certainly intended to rendezvous with his mother’s cousin Dick Gird, who had visited Utica in 1860 after some years out West. When he set out from NY, Tom was perhaps not aware that Dick Gird in 1874 had gone from San Francisco to Arizona.105 Thus, Tom clerked at a stationery store in LA [pop: 13,000] in winter 1875, before heading to AZ to meet up with Cousin Dick.
The two bought some land between the mill sites of the McCracken and Signal mining companies and laid out the town of Signal, of which Tom was postmaster (1876-77). Tom wryly described this later as an “honorable though not much sought-after position.” At the time this was rough territory, full of Apaches, and he wrote to a Utica newspaper about the fate of another young New York native: “He died over one hundred miles from medical aid, but had the most tender care and vigilant watching…My advice to young men is to stay with their relatives and friends and give Arizona a wide berth.”
It was in Signal that Dick Gird connected with Ed and Al Schieffelin, brothers who had some promising ore samples. The three set out for what came to be called the Grand Central/ Contention mine, joined shortly by Tom Walker – who with them and two others successfully petitioned for that area to be delineated as the Tombstone district (Pima, now Cochise Co.) in April 1878.106 Tom worked as an assayer, spotting veins, assessing their potential, then mortgaging their future revenue (“bonding”) to start development, or selling them outright. Tom located and “owned” the Sunset mine, one branch of the rich veins the Gird-Schieffelin group found.
In December 1879, Tombstone was “a dust-blown collection of tents and shanties perched on a high plateau between the Dragoon and Whetstone mountains… The main street swarmed with prospectors buying tools, merchants setting up new shops, and carpenters erecting storefronts, complete with board sidewalks in front of each entrance. Confidence men loitered about, waiting to tempt strangers with offers of town lots that had no legal title or of shares in mines that had no ore.” Within another six months, the population would reach 5,000. Tom, like Gird and others, went out on sorties with the Indian scouts to subdue Apaches, and seems to have relished frontier living. His Scrapbook contains several poems on the romance and beauty of the West, and he wrote himself on the landscape and its riches.
In late 1879-early 1880, shortly before infamous shootouts like the one at the OK Corral took place (later in 1880), Tom sold his interest in the Sunset mine for $60,000. In April-May, he and Dick Gird traveled visit back to Utica, surely basking in the success of their recent ventures. By summer, both were back in California, as were the Schieffelins: all had cashed out of the mines and were buying property in or near Los Angeles. Gird bought the Chino Ranch. In July, Tom purchased “half the fine ranch of Capt. J.Q.A. Stanley just below the city.”107 As the story goes, Tom came to LA, saw a house owned by the Southern Pacific railroad owner (Stanley?), wanted it – and bought it. He must have been thinking of providing a proper home for his bride.
This wedding announcement appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Walker-Smith. In San Francisco, Sept. 28, 1880 by the Rev. Horatio Stebbins, Mr. T.E. Walker of Los Angeles to Miss Florence Smith of San Francisco.” Tom’s daughter, Alleene, said her father went to visit “the people who took care of grandmother [Mary Smith: possibly the MacDougalls in Salinas]”and met Flo. Or, he might have visited Dick Gird’s sister, Ellen, and her husband Horace Martin in San Francisco, and met their niece, Flo, there.
The young couple’s first home in LA, set on 20 acres of land, was lovely – a six-room house with hot and cold baths, barn and outbuildings, windmill, three horses, a cow and lots of thoroughbred poultry. Surrounding the house were 500 deciduous trees, 700 orange trees, 10,000 vines, and berries “of all kinds in abundance.” For some reason, the Walkers sold the ranch less than two years later (December 1882), complete with “furniture, carpets, curtains, lambrequins, pictures, china and glassware…marble clock, vases…”. Although the home was only a half-hour’s drive in a buggy from the Los Angeles post office, perhaps Flo, who is remembered as very socially conscious, wanted to be nearer the city.
Tom had bought five downtown lots [check] in July 1882, and in January 1883 a lot in the “Bunker Hill tract.” Los Angeles had grown to 18,000 in 1883 and to 35,000 by 1884 – so was in the midst of a property boom. Around this time, the newspaper noted, “T.E. Walker is about to build a fine residence on Temple street, near Victor Beaudry’s place.”108 Tom had almost doubled his money in selling the ranch, and presumably put that back into construction at 401 Temple Street, a quite fashionable area, where the family lived until 1891.
Perhaps still using his cash-out from Arizona, Tom Walker opened and ran a business at 37 S. Spring St. in Los Angeles from November 1884 until sometime in 1886: Walker and Smith, gunsmiths and sporting emporium. His partner, George Melvin Smith, was from the Smith & Wesson pistol manufacturing firm – and the “first-class” company got off to a fine start, running large ads in the local papers. Along with guns, they sold boxing gloves, fishing tackle, fencing foils, and baseball bats, and repaired locks and revolvers.
The store closed in 1886, within three years, for reasons unknown,109 and Tom looked for other projects. As daughter Alleene said, “Wherever Dick Gird went, Tom Walker went” – and Gird stepped in at this time and several other times to help. Thus, when Gird subdivided his lands for sale in 1887, Tom and a Mr. Thompson became “sole agents for the sale of the celebrated Chino Ranch Lands,” with an office at 40 S. Spring St.110 By 1890, Tom was listed as proprietor of the Toltec Hotel, the Walker residence, which they evidently turned into a place of entertainment and perhaps a genteel boarding house. The “May party” the Walkers held there in 1890 was “one of the most brilliant social affairs of the season,” featuring dancing to music, whist and other amusements, and liberal refreshments.111
Known in family lore NOT to be good at business, Tom must still have been seeking a steady living, for in January 1891, the family moved to Altadena, where they lived on a ten-acre plot off Mariposa and El Molino. The 1882 Italianate home they purchased for $30,000 from the builder, Frederick Woodbury, is still standing . On the National Register of Historic Places as the earliest surviving home in Altadena, the so-called Woodbury-Story House is well maintained. An upstairs bedroom where one of the Walker girls probably slept is still decorated with handpainted wallpaper of white lilacs. Flo loved the home, and her garden there was laid out in the form of four hearts.112 Tom and Flo sold the house to the Story family in March 1895, and thereafter lived in nearby Chino, probably again under the wing of Richard Gird.113
While living in Altadena Tom Walker bought 20,000 acres, at ~$5/acre, in the Imperial Valley as an investment: “we’re going to irrigate – this place will blossom.” The land developer who was his partner “ran off” and Tom was left owning the land. He “studied hydraulics,” but eventually abandoned the land. [Was this what his son-in-law Steve Jurika tried to develop in ~1910?]
Tom Walker pursued his hobbies and passions regardless of the ups and downs in his career. He remained active as a charter member of the Al Malaikah Shrine in Los Angeles, and of the Masonic Pantalpha Lodge there. In July 1888, he also was elected president of the LA Rod and Gun Club. Considered one of the three best trap shooters in Southern California, he was an authority on dogs, hunting, and guns, on which he wrote extensively. Tom was also remembered as an expert cartoonist, dealing mostly with hunting scenes “and such topics.” In 1895-96, he was president of the Southern California Kennel Club: his pointer, Lassie K., won first in the puppy class, San Francisco, 1895, and first (out of 641 entries) in open class, Los Angeles, 1896. And in Altadena, he was a founding member of the Knights Templar Commandery (also a Masonic society).
In 1898, Tom made his last major move, to Oxnard, Ventura County. Through Dick Gird, Tom must have met the principals of the American Sugar Beet Company (ASBC) in Chino, the Oxnard brothers. The brothers formed the Colonia Improvement Company to establish what became Oxnard – an area considered ideal for sugar beets, and ripe for investment, despite the dry year of 1898 that caused some financial panic. Tom became a director of the company and was responsible for marketing the first lots in the city. The town was laid out in January 1898, the map was recorded 21 April, and the Colonia Improvement Co, T.E. Walker, secretary, held the deed to the subdivided area.114 The ASBC built what was then the second largest sugar beet refinery in the United States there, and by 1903 when the town was incorporated there were 2200 residents.
Tom Walker served as a judge on the Elections Board in 1902, and as first president of the board of the Oxnard Library, established in 1906 with a $12,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. The Walkers lived in town at several addresses where they rented;115 daughter Alleene remembered, “[at this time] we weren’t anything, I used to think the most fun was picking beans!”116 The Walkers also had a cabin at Matilija, in a canyon near Wheeler Springs at the foot of the mountains.
Tom Walker held other positions as the town grew – secretary and director of the Oxnard Light and Water Company, and the Oxnard Development Company; treasurer of the Ventura County Power company (1908-09), manager of the Interurban Land company (1914), and vice president of the Oxnard Garage and Machine Company. From city directories, we learn that he was superintendent of the Oxnard Municipal Water (and Streets) Department from about 1913, when he earned $1500 per year, until his death in 1930. He was also director of the Masonic Club, and Secretary of the Oxnard Lodge, No. 341, F. and A.M.
Meanwhile, the Walkers had three daughters:
Each daughter’s story could be written – but this focuses on Blanche. As noted, she had a wonderful imagination and published a poem reflecting unusual awareness of the world when she was just 12:118
In a wonderful kingdom over the seas
The Chinese children sit on their knees
With their backs to the teacher, and jabber away
And pore o’er their lessons til bright noonday.
The Chinese children count this way,
And over the task they rock and sway.
When the session is over, each give a flop,
And the master says quickly, “wylo, chop chop.” (go quickly)
Blanche published a number of other short pieces in the LA Times in the late 1890s, telling stories where the narrator is almost always a man or boy! From 1895-97, she attended the California Normal School at Los Angeles, one of five institutions that prepared teachers; this was something like a junior college, a two-year course that gave one advanced standing if enrolling in a university later. After graduating, she moved with her mothers and sisters to join Tom in Oxnard in June 1901.119 Their first home was located in “rooms fitted up for the on the lower floor of the Bond Building.”
In Oxnard, Blanche’s doings figured often in the weekly newspaper and she is described as having many friends. In June 1901, Tom and several friends launched the second yacht to fly the flag of the Oxnard Yacht Club, auspiciously named the Alleene, and the whole family attended the celebrations. Blanche had girlfriends visit from Los Angeles, and went to visit them; she was vice president of the Tennis Club; went to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in nearby Ventura; attended balls and dances; and helped friends entertain at holidays and around weddings.120 At a friend’s wedding shower, she won a prize for making a “dainty coat hanger” – and at a card party took consolation prize – a silver hat pin – while sister Kate won a “pretty gilt clock” as first prize.
Blanche had a lively social life: sister Alleene recalled that she had many compliments on being so beautiful – blue eyes, dark hair - and was very bright. “No one had a better brain or as much energy: Blanche liked to work and do things because she liked to do them.” In June 1903, Blanche was one of 15 applicants who passed a Board of Education exam and was accepted as a teacher. In July 1903, when her father took a cruise on the Alleene, for several weeks Blanche was left in “charge of the Colonia Improvement Company’s office.” And in August she went on an extended visit to friends in LA.
In late June 1904, this “social favorite” left Oxnard for New York to visit “the great eastern metropolis” and go then to Utica “for an indefinite period.”121 We know that Blanche attended Cornell University for one semester of the 1904-05 school year, and that one or more of her Walker/Gird cousins were studying there at the time. She probably stayed with cousins, too, and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, but it must have been lonely – “people in the East were so different.” Blanche came home in July 1905.
Just a few days after Blanche’s return, sister Kate married the scion of a well-known Oxnard family, Paul Alvin Rice, an event that made several local papers and a match of which her parents surely approved. The paper mentions a “Miss Walker” as bridesmaid, but whether Blanche or Alleene, we don’t know. Alleene recalled that Kate “seemed to have some of her mother’s character. She didn’t really like children, and was often at odds with her sisters.” However, Kate’s daughter, Bunnie, thought her mother was unlike her two sisters - “not just selfish and out for herself.”
In June 1906, Blanche put her teaching certificate to work: she was appointed one of eight teachers at Oxnard’s Grammar School.122 That fall, she taught first grade and had 41 students. That summer she gave a skating party, and in the fall acted in a sketched called, “Wanted, A Wife,” to benefit All Saints’ Church. Again, there were New Year’s open houses to help with, bridal showers to attend, and a wedding where she was a bridesmaid.
In 1907-08, Blanche was listed – rather unusually, for this era - above her father’s entry in the city directory, as a teacher, living at the same address (347 4th St.).123 This address was surely where Steve Jurika first called on the Walkers in June 1907 and met Blanche. Something happened, however: Blanche was listed in July 1907 as again teaching at the grammar school - but three weeks later another teacher was appointed in her place. We read nothing more of her in the local papers until she helps with a party in Oxnard in late June 1908.
This was probably a tense time in the Walker household. Sister Alleene recalled Blanche as Dad’s favorite: she had had plenty of opportunities to get married, but my father objected. Hill (son of an Oxnard settler family)124 drove his team and rig to town – but Dad wouldn’t let Blanche marry him. And Blanche was incensed at Mother – they never agreed at all, about anything. Of her mother, Blanche herself said, “When I was little, it seemed I was always punished….I was a great reader and decided I’d wash dishes and put newspaper on the wall and just read the newspaper - and Mother said I couldn’t. So she turned the paper upside down. And it wasn’t long before I could read it upside down as well as right side up.”
Alleene also recalled that Blanche thought it was time to leave her family. She was an unmarried elder sister, and had plenty of suitors, including a young lawyer whom her parents were keen on. Alleene also remembered that Blanche went to teach school in the Arizona Territory for a year or so (perhaps after Stefan’s visit, so 1907-08?; she reportedly visited Tombstone). During her year of teaching at a mining camp, she brought home a guy from the camp, but Dad again said “no.” When Blanche took matters into her own hands in June 1908 [at almost 27], and announced she would wed Stefan Jurika, the family was completely shocked by her marriage (I was 14 [Alleene]). In July, Blanche left for the Philippines to get married, an event the Oxnard paper announced as “a surprise to her friends,” three days after the event.
Parental disapproval of this match notwithstanding, Tom Walker’s health was not good, evidently due to extreme overwork and a “runaway” accident around Christmas 1906 from which he recovered very slowly. So in March 1909, Tom, Flo, and Alleene sailed on the Siberia to visit Blanche in Jolo, a “year-long trip to the Orient.” Family letters suggest there was an idea that Tom might help his new son-in-law with business in Mindanao, but the Walkers didn’t like the Orient and returned in about six months.125
In Sept 1911, 17-year-old Alleene married Jim Tweedy.126 Their union was covered in the papers, and took place at Kate and Paul Rice’s home, with just the hosts and clergyman present. The newspaper headline – “Eludes Friends to Get Married” - only hints at her eagerness to get out of the house, the last daughter at home. Alleene (“Ma-maw” to her grandchildren) was beloved by family who knew her. She said to Kate one day, “My mother must have picked [my name] out of a dime novel.” Kate answered, “Oh, no! It was a very popular serial that was coming out in the Ladies Home Journal.” But Alleene always “felt it was a cross I had to bear.” Some family say Alleene got her nickname, Aunty Tom, from her father, because she was a tomboy and he had no sons. “She was such fun – she wore big hats, and always drove a pink Cadillac. Every year she would trade it in for a new model. She really knew how to enjoy life! She wore everything pink!”
In Feb 1911, the Jurikas visited the Walkers in Oxnard. Noting their arrival, the local paper said they were from “Holo, Hawaiian Islands,” and staying with Kate and Alvin Rice. Stefan was back in Oct 1912, “a wealthy merchant of Zamboanga…on a tour of the world;” he recounted for the local paper some hair-raising stories of a “gunboat run amuck among Moro fanatics.” Then in summer 1915, the family came for a reunion at Kate Rice’s house, a visit that lasted about nine months. During this time, Stefan went on fishing parties, Blanche visited Los Angeles, the family went up to Matilija Springs, and Stefan shot himself in the foot that November. Blanche and the children sailed back to Manila from San Francisco in March 1916. Their next visit would be seven years later, in 1923.
The town of Oxnard grew steadily into the 1920s-30s, but never experienced a boom, and Tom was working hard as a city official. In 1918, he and Flo could no longer afford to have a car, and Tom undertook to send his brother Charlie in Utica back interest on (a loan from?) his father’s estate, explaining that life had been hard financially. Bunnie remembered their house around this time as a duplex on a corner,127 with a nice garden – “Florence always had a nice garden.” A few years before Tom’s mother, Anna G. Walker, died in 1924, she sent Tom her “Irish silver.”128
Finances aside, Tom was a respected member of the community. He wrote occasionally for local papers on, for example, the natural beauties and history of the Channel Islands. And he was an honored guest at the 50th anniversary (1926) of the completion of the first railroad to link northern and southern California. Tom was remembered as “a gentleman” who loved children, horses, dogs, boots, and guns. He was a devoted grandfather, writing his brother in Utica about the joy of having his 8-year-old granddaughter Bunnie come for lunch each school day.129 Florence was more prickly, remembered for only welcoming people in her home who were “social or ostentatious in the grand manner.” Once, Tom took his grandson from the Philippines, Tom Jurika, to his office because Flo was never too comfortable with children and wouldn't have the boy at home. Tom Jurika even said his grandmother was “the only woman I remember being afraid of!” Flo’s granddaughter, Bunnie, too, remembered her as “stricter than strict, a bitch,” who always dressed perfectly. Once the beds were made, nobody could sit on them…and she was always cooking things, candies and cakes, which Bunny didn’t like – “so I was the difficult one.”
Tom and Flo bought a home in Oxnard in 1927. They were living there, at 244 G St., when Tom died 10 Jun 1930 of cancer (death certificate: double pneumonia) that started with an area on his nose by his glasses. He was buried (cremated?) in Santa Barbara the following day. Flo Walker is also said to have died of cancer on 9 Nov 1934, “very quickly.” We don’t know where they are buried, or if their ashes were scattered.130