CLAUDIUS DeMONT WALKER
The citizen who loved his city to the extent that he is willing to devote his energies toward making it a better abiding place for his fellow men, and does his duty in a public capacity, regardless of criticism or adverse comments, is a man worth while. He whose name heads this review is such an individual. As mayor of Atchison, C. D. Walker made a record which will outlive the present generation; as an attorney he has achieved a signal success and ranks high in the legal fraternity of the State of Kansas; as a religious worker he has accomplished much good of a lasting and enduring quality of the community in which he lives. Born of Kansas pioneer parents, his training and education were such as to prepare him for the career which has made him distinguished among his fellow men; and he has proven that a wholesome example set by noble parents is the best incentive that a man an have to guide him through life.
C. D. Walker was born March 29, 1851, at Greenville, Pa., a son of Harvey and Anna M. Walker, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter a native of Ireland. Harvey Walker, the father, was born in 1820 and was a son of Harvey Walker, a native of the Keystone State, who married at Pittsburgh, Pa., Miss Mary Ann CARR, who was born at Mile End, England. The grandfather of C.D. Walker was a wagon and carriage maker by trade and operated a shop in Greenville for many years. The history of the Walkers in America begins with three brothers who emigrated from the north of Ireland in colonial days. One of whom, Samuel Walker, located near Rochester, N.Y., one, Andrew Walker, settled in Virginia and one, the great-grandfather of C.D. Walker settled in Pennsylvania. Being north Ireland people it is practically certain that the Walker family is of Scotch descent, their ancestors having emigrated from the ancestral home of the family to the north of Ireland a few centuries ago when the migration of the Protestant people from the Isle of Britain to escape religious persecution occurred. Harvey Walker learned his father's trade of wagon and carriage making, but worked but little at the business. Imbued with the desire to better his fortunes in the great
West, he left the old home of the family in about 1854 and migrated to Oneida, Ill., near which town he purchased a homestead. After farming for a few years he sold out and started overland to the new state of Kansas which at that time was attracting adventurers from all part of the country. The family possessions were loaded upon wagons drawn by horses, and in due time the Walkers arrived at Ft. Scott in Bourbon County, Kansas, their destination. During the years '57, '58, '59, the senior Walker traded with the Indians, and eventually located on a homestead, twelve miles northwest of Ft. Scott. Harvey Walker was a stanch Methodist of the uncompromising type and was unalterable opposed to the institution of slavery. He fearlessly and freely voiced his convictions at every opportunity, and his out-spoken tendencies frequently brought trouble upon him from the slavery advocates, who had settled in the neighborhood in considerable numbers. He was always introducing new innovations in farming methods and machinery. It is a matter of history that he owned and used the first rake harvester brought to that part of the country. The slavery advocates and border ruffians annoyed him considerably. They stole his horses, broke up his wagons and farming implements and as pronounced were the threats of the slavery men that Mr. Walker was forced to spend most of his time in Ft. Scott away from his family. He was greatly interested in the success of the anti-slavery propagandists and used great influence in determining the ultimate destiny in Kansas becoming a free state. When the war broke out he decided to move north. In the spring of 1861 he arrived in the city of Atchison, which at that tie was a small village, and was induced by Capt. Asa BARNES to locate in Atchison County, where he remained about a year. He afterwards purchased and settled on a tract of land adjoining the town of Winchester, Jefferson County, Kansas. Here he located his permanent Kansas home and developed a fine farm. Here he raised a large family, and gave his children the best education the school facilities at that afforded. Harvey Walker was married December 24, 1848 to Anna Mariah NELSON, who bore him the following children, namely: Crandall C., an importer of thoroughbred horses, Sioux City, Iowa; Claudius D., with whose career this review is directly concerned; Marion D., a farmer and fruit growing, living hear Midland College, Atchison County; Marvin L., a banker of Oklahoma City, Okla.; Ellis Lytle, living in Washington State; Schuyler R., a farmer of Stillwater, Okla.; Harvey Mitchell, an importer of thoroughbred horses of Oklahoma City; William Nelson, a farmer of Stillwater, Okla.; Roland Ferris, who died in infancy; Orlina L., widow of William McKENNEY, deceased, a hardware merchant of Winchester, Kan, and Anna M., wife of William B. STEVENSON, a Methodist minister. The mother of the foregoing children was born in north Ireland, September 24, 1824, a daughter of James and Elizabeth (FARRIS) Nelson. James Nelson was agent for an English estate in Ireland, and was the same of William Nelson and Catherine (STEWART) Nelson. His wife, Elizabeth Farris, was the daughter of Robert and Jane Farris, all of English descent. Anna Mariah Nelson came to America when eight years old with a brother, and went to I've with an aunt in Greenville, PA while her family settled in Bayfield, Canada. She was educated in the schools at Greenville and afterwards became a teacher in the public school where she was wooed and married by Harvey Walker. Harvey Walker and his noble wife were sturdy God-fearing Christians, and the family prayers were a part of the regular regime of the religious creed followed by them through life. They were ardent Methodist who believed in living faithfully according to the precepts of their religion, and the examples set by their upright and consistent conduct throughout their long lives left an indelible imprint upon the lives of their children, who have endeavored to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Claudius DeMont attended the district school at Winchester, and when eighteen years of age left home to enter Baker University at Baldwin, Kan. After two years of hard work in Baker University he entered the agricultural college at Manhattan, which at that time was a college controlled by the Methodists and had the best facilities of any college of the state of Kansas. Here he spent four years and should have graduated in the class of 1873, but on account of ill health was compelled to leave school before the end of the term. In the fall of 1876 Mr. Walker matriculated in the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. During the year previous to this, he had studied law in the office of Boyce & Boyd in Cincinnati, Ohio, and upon his matriculation at Ann Arbor entered the junior class of the university. He graduated from the law department at Ann Arbor in the class of 1878, and immediately located in Atchison, where he began the practice of his profession. From the very beginning his professional career was a success. In February, 1882, he formed a partnership with Judge GILBERT, which continued until Gilbert's election to the district bench in the fall of 1887. Since that time Mr. Walker has practiced his profession alone for thirty-four consecutive years, which has been filled with gratifying success. The district records of Atchison County show that for many years Mr. Walker was interested in virtually all of the important cases pending. For many years he was attorney for the First National Bank of Atchison, Kan., together with many other large institutions of the city.
During his long successful legal career, Mr. Walker has not neglected the material side of his affairs and early invested his money in loans and real estate. His investments were so judiciously made that he has become one of the largest land owners of Kansas, and is rated as one of Atchison's wealthiest citizens. His total holdings in Atchison County will exceed 1,700 acres of farm lands, and he also owns other lands in Texas and western Kansas.
The political and civic career of Mr. Walker has been a noteworthy one and portrays the rugged honesty and public spirited feeling which have actuated him during his whole life. He was first appointed to the office of county auditor by Judge Gilbert in 1888 and served for two years; and was elected to the office of county attorney in 1891, and served in this capacity until 1894. His service as county attorney included the most strenuous years of his life, inasmuch as the court docket was continually crowded during his entire incumbency. This was the time that Coxey's army of unemployed was making its journey from this part of the country toward Washington and on it way committed all kinds of small crimes, and many arrests were made daily. It was Mr. Walker's duty to prosecute these numberless cases as they came up for trial which overwhelmed him. He has served as a member of the city council of Atchison several terms, and was mayor for two years, 1911 to 1913. Mr. Walker's administration of the city's affairs during his incumbency as the chief executive is considered to have been the best that Atchison ever had in a constructive and law-abiding sense. Several miles of street paving was accomplished and many bad streets were repaved thoroughly and well. The first concrete paving in the city was laid on Division street and done in the best manner possible. The city purchased the finest fire apparatus ever brought to a northeast Kansas city. The West Atchison fire station was built. Three large sewer districts were created and the sewers installed. One of these was the intercepting sewer in White Clay Creek. For many years the city of Atchison suffered from the filth and stench of White Clay creek until the same became intolerable. The remedy had been thought impossible, but on Mr. Walker's election he conceived the plan of installing an intercepting sewer which had proved a great success, and a benefit to the city.
The electric light rate was reduced from 15 to 10 cents per kilowatt, thus saving to the consumer thousands of dollars annually. The street lighting was changed from the half night to the all night moon light schedule, with many new lights added and without a dollar's increase in expenses. The city was freed from joints and gambling places and houses of ill repute within the first few months after Mr. Walker went into office and remained so during his entire term. As mayor he first raised the question of requiring the mills and other large institutions located along railroads, and the railroads entering the city to light their own premises and yards.
Mr. Walker was the promoter and organizer of the first independent telephone company in the city, which company succeeded in putting the Bell Telephone Company out of business for the time being, and until the Home Company was sold to the Bell Company in 1911, and a consolidation effected.
Mr. Walker is a Republican and has always taken a more or less active part in his party's affairs. He was at one time a candidate for Congress from the First Congressional district of the state of Kansas, at the time the three-cornered fight for the nomination between Ex-Governor BAILEY, Charles CURTIS and C. D. Walker was waged, and a deadlock ensued which lasted for more than one week.
His family life has been an ideal one, and in keeping with the career of the man himself. The marriage of Mr. Walker and Miss Lizzie E. AULD took place June 7, 1881, at Atchison, Kan. One daughter has blessed this union, Isabelle, wife of Louis D. BROCKETT, a son of B. L. Brockett, a leading lumber merchant of Atchison. Mr. Brockett has charge of the loan business established by Mr. Walker. Mrs. Lizzie Auld Walker was born in Brownsville, Pa., a daughter of William W. and Isabelle .Mullen Auld, natives of Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. The Auld family is one of the oldest of American families. Its members are related closely with the CARROLLs of Carrollton, Va., whose ancestry came from north of Ireland and were originally of Scotch ancestry. William W. Auld migrated from Pennsylvania to Atchison, Kan., in 1872 and was a member of the milling firm of Blair & Auld, from that time until his death in 1895. Mr. Walker has been a member of the Masonic fraternity for over thirty years, and has taken a regular course of Masonry, being a Knight Templar. He is fraternally affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen, Knights and Ladies of Security, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Royal Arcanum. It is only natural that a man reared in a religious atmosphere, as he has been, should take an active and influential part in church and religious work. Mr. Walker has been a member of the official board of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Atchison, since 1880, and has been a liberal and cheerful supporter of this denomination. At present he is chairman of the building committee which has charge of the erection of the new building planned by the church for the ensuing year. Since 1889 he has served as a member of the board of trustees of Baker University, of Baldwin, Kan. In 1908 he was a delegate to the national conference of the Methodist denomination at Baltimore. Successful as a lawyer, having achieved substantial competence in his behalf, made history as a public official, followed the teachings of his Christian parents as regards an upright life and doing his duty in a religious sense, sums up the life career of this useful Atchison citizen.
History of Atchison County, Kansas
by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916
Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003