Profile of the Rev. John Davis Walker and Margaret Ann Houston lines



The Rev. John  Davis Walker was born in Claiborne Co., TN on 4 Sept. 1855. His parents were Jacob Shuff Walker, born 31 December 1826, died 4 Oct. 1887 and Martha (Patsy) Davis born 7 Nov. 1825, died  in June of 1900 according to the records of Straight Creek Baptist Church where she and Jacob appear to have been members since 1866. Jacob and Martha were married in Claiborne Co., TN 7 Nov. 1846.  Jacob’s parents were Edward Walker, Jr. and Mahala Tussey. Edwards’ parents were Edward Walker, Sr. and Jane Horne. Edward Jr. was in the War of 1812 and Edward Sr. was in the Revolutionary War.



     Rev. John D. & Margaret A. Houston Walker                              Rev. John Davis Walker


 On 16 Oct. 1873 Rev. Walker married Margaret Ann Houston who was born 13 June 1858 in Grainger Co., TN. Her granddaughter, Jerusha Edith Grant Bowers, stated that her Grandmother Walker was born on the river at Black Fox. Her father was William Jasper Houston who was born 28 May 1838 in or near Smyth Co., VA and died 23 Nov. 1863 in a skirmish near Chattanooga, TN. He was a member of Co. C, 29th Tennessee Confederate Inf. Her mother was Margaret Ann Fox, who was the daughter of Abraham Fox and Elizabeth Goodman who were married on 27 August 1832 in Smyth Co., VA and later moved to Claiborne Co. Margaret Ann Fox Houston died ca. 1859 in Claiborne Co., leaving her daughter, Margaret Ann Houston, to live with her maternal grandparents; the Foxes.


The parents of William Jasper Houston were James R. Houston and Martha Ann Buchanan. They were married on 18 Oct. 1832 in Washington Co., Virginia.


Regarding William Jasper Houston, some information has come to bear, which may indicate that he was a member of the 48th Virginia before enlisting or being conscripted into the 29th Tennessee. A William J. Houston, 23, laborer is found in 1860 at Seven Mile Ford, Smyth County, Virginia with the Oury family. lists a William J. Houston, 23, laborer, as enlisting from Smyth Co., Seven Mile Ford with Co. D, 48th Virginia Confederate Infantry on 18 May 1861. Detailed on 30 April 1862 as a teamster.


My William Jasper Houston was born in 1838, is listed in the 1850 Smyth Co. VA census with his parents and sister Nancy Jane, same district as the Oury family. In 1857 William Jasper Houston married Margaret Ann Fox in Claiborne Co., Tenn. His parents, James R. and Martha Ann Buchanan,  moved to Union County, Tennessee sometime between 1850-60. They are in Union County in 1860 and are in Claiborne County in the 1870 and 1880 census. In 1858 William Jasper Houston and Margaret Ann Fox had a daughter, Margaret Ann Houston. In 1859 William Jasper Houston’s wife dies of causes unknown at this time.


In 1860 Margaret Ann Houston is found with her maternal grandparents, Abraham Fox and Elizabeth Goodman, in Claiborne Co. Her father, William Jasper Houston, has not been found in any Tennessee census records as of yet. In 1850 Abraham Fox, William Jasper Houston’s father-in-law, is living beside the same Oury family that we find the William J. Houston that may have joined the 48th Virginia. This indicates that there was some connection at least between the Fox family and the William J. Houston that lived with the Oury family in 1860. They knew each other.


The records of the William J. Houston who joined the 48th do not indicate how long he stayed with this regiment, but did list him as being a “teamster” in 1862. My William Jasper Houston joined the 29th Tennessee Confederate Infantry in January of 1863 and was killed on 23 November of 1863 at the Battle of Missionary Ridge.


I think that perhaps my William Jasper Houston returned to Smyth County, Virginia after the death of his wife, Margaret Ann Fox Houston, and went to work for the Oury family. The war broke out in April of 1861, he joined the 48th Virginia, served his term or deserted, and then returned to Claiborne County to be with his daughter. He then either joined the 29th Tennessee or was conscripted into service. He never returned home and his place of burial is unknown as well.


Some census records pertaining to the Houston, Fox, and Walker families



In 1840 in Washington Co., Virginia I found a James R. Houston as head of household being between the

ages of 20-30. Our James R. Houston would have been about 29 years old at this time. Another male is

listed as being under 5. Our William Jasper Houston would have been about 2 years old at this time. The household shows a female between 20-30. Martha Ann Buchanan would have been about 26 years old at this time. Another female is shown to be between the ages of 5-10. Nancy Jane Houston would have been about 6 years old at this time. Therefore I believe this is our James R. Houston family. A William Houston is also shown between the ages of 50-60. Two females in the household, one being between 20-30, and the other being between the ages of 50-60. Perhaps the parents of James R. Houston.



10th District of Smyth County, Virginia 1850


John Goodman   78        Farmer  Real Estate = $1000.00   Born in  Pennsylvania

Elizabeth             79                                                                  Born in Pennsylvania

(These are the parents of Elizabeth Goodman who married Abraham Fox. Page 172, Household # 217)




10th District of Smyth County, Virginia 1850


James R. Houston              39      Farmer      Real Estate = $500.  Born in Virginia

Martha Ann (Buchanan)   36                                                            Born in Virginia

Nancy Jane                         16                                                                 ditto

William Jasper                   12                                                                 ditto

(Page 172,173, Household # 224. Seven households away from the Goodmans)




James R. and Martha Ann Buchanan Houston                   Nancy Jane Houston Herron, John K. DeBord

                                                                                         holding Curtis,  Nancy Emmaline Herron DeBord holding Rettie






10th District of Union County, Tennessee 1860


James R. Houston        49      Miller          Real Estate = $100.

Martha                          46

(Page 484, Household # 929)





Post Office 7 Mile Ford of Smyth County, Virginia 1860


John Foster Oury         28      Farmer

Louisa                           17

Catherine ?                    1

Thomas A. Oury           30

Christopher                   82

Martha                          42

William J. Houston     23       Laborer


11th Civil District of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1870


J.R. Houston        59        Working in gristmill

Martha                 56         Keeping house

(Page 316, Household # 34. lists last name as “Hounton.”)



11th Civil District of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1880


James R. Houston   69    Va, Va, Va        Working as a farmer. Listed as having a broken leg.

Martha                    66    Va, Va, Nc         Keeping house


(Page 217, Household # 190, E.D. 109. They are living with their son-in-law, Rev. John Davis Walker at this time)



10th District of Smyth County, Virginia 1850


Abram Fox                      39       Farmer         Real Estate = $1320.   Born in Virginia

Elizabeth (Goodman)      47                                                                         ditto

Rachel                             17                                                                          ditto

John                                 15                                                                         ditto

Ann                                 14                                                                          ditto

Margaret Ann                 10                                                                          ditto

(Page 160-61, Household # 62. Margaret Ann Fox later married William Jasper Houston)


Household #61 is the house of Christopher Oury and his wife Catherine, four children, one being John Oury, 19. In 1860 we find a William J. Houston, 23, living in the John F. Oury , 28 , household. I believe this is our William Jasper Houston.



10TH Subdivision of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1860


Abraham Fox(e)                         49         Farmer        Real Estate = $3000.      Born in Virginia

Elizabeth (Goodman)                 55                                                                         ditto

Elizabeth Painter                         6                                                                          ditto

Margaret A.H. (Ann Houston)    2                                                                         ditto

Jane Buchanan                            29                                                                         ditto

(Page 200, Household # 1282. There is a James (27) and Rebecca (23) Painter with kids, household # 1276)



11th Civil District of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1870


Abraham Fox           58       Farmer          Real Estate = $1800               Born in Virginia

Elizabeth                  67       Keeping House                                                  ditto

Elizabeth Painter      17                                                                            Born in Tennessee

Margaret Houston    11                                                                            Born in Tennessee       




11th Civil District of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1880


John D. Walker           24          Farmer                        Tn, Tn, Tn

Margret                       21          Keeping House           Tn, Va, Va

William J. Walker       5

Anna Walker               3

Susan Walker             7/12

James R. Houston       69          Farmer/Broken Leg     Va, Va, Va

Martha Houston          66          Keeping House            Va, Va, Nc

(Page 217, Household # 190, E.D. 109)



9th Civil District of Union County, Tennessee 1900


John D. Walker          44            Preacher

Margaret A.                41           Tn, Va, Va

Floyd J.                      18            Farm Laborer

Mary E.                      11            Housekeeper  

(Sheet # 6-B, E.D. 159, Household # 108) 


5th Civil District of Union County, Tennessee 1910      


John D. Walker         54             Farmer

Margaret A.               51            List “None” for trade

Susan E. Grant           30            Daughter and widow of James Rufus Grant who died in Celina, Texas.

Edith Grant                11            Granddaughter

Ethan C. Grant           10            Grandson

Carlis Grant                 8            Grandson

( Sheet # 3-A, E.D.183, Household #38)


5th Civil District (Old 9th District) of Union County, Tennessee 1920  


John D. Walker          64            Farmer

Marget A.                   61            

(Sheet # 4-A, E.D. 191, Household # 57)


5th Civil District of Union County, Tennessee 1930  


John D. Walker          74           Farmer  (18 years old when married)

Margaret                     71           Occuapation “none.” (15 years old when married)

(Sheet # 14-B, E.D. 87-9, Household # 252)                         



The Walkers at Big Springs, Union County, Tennessee


At this point it is not certain when Rev. Walker moved to Union Co., TN, but land deeds (Book T 869) indicate that Rev. Walker bought from Lewis and Mary A. Wilson a tract of 150 acres in District 9 of Union Co., TN on 1 Jan. 1902 for $550.00. This property was located within the little community known as Big Springs, which is near Sharps Chapel. Rev. Walkers' property is now within what is known as the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Reserve. Rev. Walker's property bordered such neighbors as Sherman Hill, Nicholas Albright, Alvis Wilson, Harvey Turner, the Meltabargers, the Glandons, and the Peters. His property contained many springs, including a thee-headed spring, a graveyard containing Civil War soldiers, and the Big Springs School and Church. My great grandmother, Jerusa Edith Grant Bowers, attended this school from the age of five to fourteen. Grand paw Walker used to take little watermelons from his melon patch to the children while they were in school. (See Vic Weal’s story)My great grand mother was quoted as saying that it took all day by covered wagon to travel from the Walker's house at Big Springs to Knoxville. Boards would be put across the bed of the wagon to sit on. You would have to cross the Clinch River by way of Witt's ferry and sometimes by canoe. Would stop on Copper Ridge to eat lunch, rest and feed the horses. She also said that people such as the Farris' and the Hills, who owned stores at Big Springs, would travel to Knoxville for supplies and that she would ride back with them in order to see her mother, Suda Walker, who worked at a pants factory in Knoxville. Suda's husband, James Rufus Grant, died in Celina, Texas in 1902 of pneumonia. They had sold out and moved from Grainger Co. to Texas. James's brother, Wiley Grant chartered a railroad coach to Texas. Suda moved back to Knoxville and later married an later married George M. Heatherly who was born on 28 January 1888 and died on 8 January 1974. He, too, is buried at Bookwalter. George married Birdie Nelson first, who died of T.B. and then went to work for Grandpaw Walker. “He (George) was a good worker, conscientious” according to Ethan Grant. (9 July 1983 tape)


 Rev. Walker and Margaret Ann lived on their farm at Big Springs from 1902 until they were forced to sell by T.V.A. on 29 Dec. 1934. Suda’s children, Carl, Ethan, and Jerusa Edith , lived with Rev. Walker  for several years as well. Originally surveyed as 150 acres, T.V.A. found the property to contain only 119 acres and paid only $1785.00 for said property. Rev. Walker was very distraught upon finding that he had been paying taxes on what was thought to be 150 acres. This and the move to Inskip contributed to his death. They moved to Keck Road above Inskip on Black Oak Ridge in Knoxville. They later sold this farm to a Mr. Irwin. Rev. and Mrs. Walker became members of Glenwood Baptist Church in Knoxville on 17 May 1936. They are buried at Glenwood. According to Rev. Walkers' obituary he had served as a Baptist minister for 45 years. He was known as a circuit rider. He served 22 different churches, which included the church at Big Springs, Texas Valley, Loyston, and Demory. His last church was at Cedar Hill Baptist Church in Campbell Co. According to my great grandmother, Jerusa Edith Grant Bowers, who was the daughter of James Rufus Grant and Susan (Suda) Ellen Walker Heatherly, Rev. Walker became a Christian and Southern Baptist at the age of 17. He had to work an entire week in order to buy his first bible.


It was said that Rev. Walker was a good, old fashioned preacher who could preach all day. He died in Knoxville on 23 Aug. 1941 and Margaret Ann died on 12 July 1944 in Knoxville as well. Susan (Suda) Ellan Walker Grant Heatherly was born on 15 Nov. 1879 in Claiborne Co. and died in Knoxville on 22 July 1941. She is buried at the Bookwalter United Methodist Church Cemetery.  A relative told me that Suda had breast cancer first, and then died of stomach cancer. Suda was “very kind, very gentle” and “If she liked you she would do anything for you. If she didn’t like you she wouldn’t have anything to do with you.” Uncle Ethan Grant said his momma Suda ,“didn’t talk very much.” And that she used to play the accordion. (from his tape dated 9 July 1983)


Maggie Heatherly Cox said Annie Walker died of Cancer of bowels and Dorothy Hill Elmore died of cancer as well. Aunt Molly had family bible and other things belonging to Rev. Walker. She said her Uncle Maynard and Aunt Molly had everything. Rev. Walker had money in the bank for all of his children, but they apparently didn’t see any of it. The will was changed according to Maggie.

Wheeler Hutchinson lived at Big Springs and recalls Rev. Walker having a long, white beard down to his belt. Rev. Walker would put him into Carvice Berry trees so he could eat the berries. Mrs. Walker used to give him cookies.


Rev. John Davis Walker’s obituary reads thusly:

The Knoxville Journal, Sunday, August 24, 1941, Page A-6



Rev. Walker, Retired, Dies Here At 86. Baptist Minister served 22 Churches in 45 Years


The Rev. John D. Walker, 86, retired Baptist minister, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W.M. Hill (Molly Walker Hill), 2439 Magnolia Ave, yesterday at 8:35 p.m. The Rev. Walker had been a Baptist minister for 45 years until his retirement, having served 22 churches. His last pastorate was at Cedar Hill Baptist Church in Campbell County.


 He was a member of Glenwood Baptist Church. Survivors include his widow, Mrs. Margaret (Ann Houston) Walker; one son, the Rev. Floyd J. walker, Home Dale, Idaho; one daughter, Mrs. W.M. Hill, Knoxville; a brother, Dr. S.A. (Silas Andrew) Walker, Knoxville, and a sister, Mrs. Carter Carr, Tazewell. Mr. and Mrs. Walker were married Oct. 16 1873, at Tazewell…..almost 68 years ago. Services will be held at Glenwood Baptist Church today at 3:30 p.m. The Rev. L.C. Childs and the Rev. F.F. Brown will officiate. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery. The body will be taken from Mann’s to the church to lie in state one hour before the service. Active pallbearers: Monroe Hill, Myers Hill, Robert Bowers (Uncle Robert, son of Jerusa Edith Grant Bowers), Mason Elmore, Edward Cox, Albert Bridges, Horace Jones, Edward Moore, Sam Fox, Boyd Bayless, Hazen Hill, and John Farriss.



Margaret Ann Houston Walker obituary reads thusly:


Knoxville Journal, July 14, 1944


WALKER, Mrs. Margaret Ann Houston, 86, wife of the late Rev. John D. Walker, pioneer Baptist minister, died at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Knoxville General Hospital, after a few days’ illness. She made her home with a daughter, Mrs. W.M. Hill (Molly Walker), 1169 Luttrell Street. Body remains at Rose’s.

Funeral 3 p.m. Friday at Glenwood Baptist Church. Rev. L.C. Chiles, Rev. Paul F. Buckles, Rev. A.C. Hudson and Rev. Will Kirkpatrick officiating.  Body will lie in state at the church for one hour before services. Rose in charge. Survivors; Daughter Mrs. W.M. Hill, one son; Rev. Floyd J. Walker, Homedale, Idaho. Number of G. children, G.G. grandchildren, and G.G.G. grandchildren. Daughter indicates that  Margaret Ann Houston Walker’s parents were both born in Tenn. Don’t believe this is accurate (This from Death Record)





Susan Ellen Walker Grant Heatherly’s obituary reads thusly:


Mrs. Suda W. Heatherly


Mrs. Suda W. Heatherly, 62, of 401 Fairfax Avenue, died at 4:10 a.m. yesterday at St. Mary’s Hospital, after two years’ of illness.  Mrs. Heatherly was  a member of Lonsdale Baptist Church and a native of Union County. She came to Knoxville 29 years ago to make her home. Surviving are her husband, George M. Heatherly; two daughters, Mrs. William E. Bowers (Jerusa Edith) and Miss Margaret Heatherly of Knoxville. Five sons Ethan C. Grant of Salem, Ore., Elmer, Ralph, John, and Gene Heatherly, Knoxville. One sister, Mrs. W.M. Hill (Molly Walker Hill), Knoxville, and a brother, the Reverend Floyd Walker of Idaho and her parents, the Rev. and Mrs. John Davis Walker, Knoxville.  The body was taken from Rose’s to the home yesterday afternoon. Funeral will be at 2:30 p.m. today at Rose’s. The Rev. Frank W. Wood will officiate. Burial will be in Bookwalter Cemetery. Pallbearers: G.L. Brock, T.E. Walker, C.K. Underwood, M.C. Morgan, J.G. Childress and William Elbert Davis. (Paw Davis)





The following conglomeration of information was given to me by my great grand mother, Jerusa Edith Grant Bowers and her half-sister Margaret (Maggie) Heatherly Cox, who were grand daughters of Rev. John Davis Walker. Jerusa Edith and her brothers, Carl and Ethan, lived with the Walkers at Big Springs when they were young.  Jerusa Edith Grant Bowers was born on 25 September 1898 at Liberty Hill, Tennessee to James Rufus Grant and Susan (Suda) Ellen Walker, daughter of Rev. Walker. These tidbits give a great indication of life in the small community of Big Springs where the Rev. Walker and Margaret Ann Houston Walker lived.



             Side view Walker House                                       Rev. John Davis Walker farm at Big Springs, Union Co., Tenn.


My great grandmother said the Walker farm had a spring house made out of logs, a smoke house, a barn, a corn crib, and a wood shed that was open in front with the sides and back closed. Under the smoke house they had a cellar lined with canned foods. They grew lettuce, mustard greens, sage, corn (hickory cane), wheat , onions, potatoes, beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and dill for dill pickles, hot peppers, and watermelons. They had June apple and Walnut trees and would fill a trough in the barn with walnuts for the kids. They took the grain to the mill by horse and had to sift the meal after it was ground. The meal and flour were kept in large wooden meal bins in the kitchen. They waited until the onion tops fell over then would tie about six together and hang them to dry in the rafters of the house.

Walker’s sitting on the porch of their Big Springs Road House


They also dried hot peppers and strung beans (shuck beans or leather britches) on a string and hung them behind the stove to dry. They would shell corn by hand by rubbing one ear against the other. Seeds were saved and put into cloth bags they had made and put these in the attic rafters to dry as well. After putting paper over the sweet potatoes they would let them lay in the sun to soften and then would store them in a cool, dry place. Made corn bread, biscuits, cakes and pies and drank only milk, water, buttermilk and coffee. They ground their own coffee and only drank coffee in the morning. They kept big crocks of milk and buttermilk in the springhouse and had to put blocks of cedar on top of the crocks to keep them from floating away. The milk and buttermilk was brought out last for meals.


Grandpaw Walker had four churches and would preach at one the first Sunday of the month, then the next, etc. He would often be given a pair of socks or an old hen or nothing for payment. They would go to Lafollette for  special items such as shoes and cloth. Traveled to Sharps Chapel by horse until they purchase a horse and buggy.


Andy Henegar lived on the ridge above Rev. Walkers. Sylvester Hill donated the land for Big Springs Church. Sherman Hill had a mill and a store. According to my great grandmother, Edith Grant Bowers, Sherman hill drowned himself in a cistern due to T.V.A's land grab. Mrs. Nell Albright thinks that he hung himself. Maggie Heatherly Cox, Rev. Walker's grand daughter stated that Sherman Hill hung himself. Sherman Hill had said that they would never take him away from there (Big Springs). Maggie said " lo and behold one day they missed him one mornin and went to the barn. I don’t know who it was found him, there he was top of the hay thing, hangin dead, hung hisself." It has been said that some graves were moved from Hill Cemetery. Sherman Hill's grave was moved to Lynnhurst Cemetery and when his coffin was opened he was petrified. Maggie said that Sherman Hill's store had "dry goods and things that country people had to buy like salt and sugar and seed of course, and thread and material. Didn’t have a whole lot, and coffee."


Boss Stooksbury lived by the old cemetery, which had Civil War soldiers in it. Witt's Ferry, which I believe was owned by James Elbert Witt, was 3 miles below the Walkers' place. Those traveling from the ferry to the Walkers would pass such families as the Mills, Farris', Hills, the Sanders, Welches, Meltabargers(sp. ?), Nelsons, Letts, and the big mill dam.  They were part of the Lost Creek Post Office when they first moved to Big Springs.  


And this from the Wednesday, January 25, 1961 edition of the Knoxville Journal: Home Folks by Vic Weals.


A child of the King

Mrs. George Miller of Maryville has happy memories of Big Springs School in Union County. But she admits she might not have enjoyed those years as much had she known then what she knows now about sanitation.


The teacher would send wither two boys or two girls to the spring for a bucket of water. And when they returned the water would be passed among the pupils, with everybody drinking from the same cup.


Ethan Grant’s grandfather, Preacher John D. Walker, owned the house above the spring. In the spring house he kept a gourd dipper hanging for the public to use. The water seemed to taste even better when drunk from that long-handled gourd, Mrs. Miller remembers.


There was a wall to separate the public part of the spring from the room where the milk and butter were kept. “One could look through the cracks in the wall and see the milk crocks, which had covers weighted down with rocks,” Mrs. Miller said.


Preacher Walker’s home was Mrs. Miller’s birthplace. Her daddy, Lewis Wilson, sold it to Walker. Eight of nine Lewis children had been born in the home.




The road which ran near the school windows led to Mr. Walker’s fields. The kids would watch every time he passed hauling corn in a one-horse sled, or maybe bringing in a load of the cornfield watermelons he raised. Cornfield watermelons were about the size of a large grapefruit and got ripe at fodder-pulling time. He would bring a sack of the melons to the school and give them to the children. “Those watermelons tasted mighty sweet to hungry school children at the afternoon recess,” says Mrs. Miller.




When Preacher Walker would be working in his fields, the youngsters could hear him singing what must have been his favorite song:


“I’m a child of the King,

My father is rich in houses and lands,

He holdeth the wealth of the world in his hands.

Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold

His coffers are full, he has riches untold.”


Walker’s singing would ring from those hills and hollows. “I could name many of my school teachers at Big Springs. The last and most important one was George Miller. He became my husband in 1914 and is still my favorite teacher today,” says Mrs. Miller. The community cup, or dipper, of those days probably wasn’t nearly as unsanitary as a lot of the daily routines we go through in modern, crowded living. And when hygiene got to be such an urgent subject in the schools, many of us were frightened into going thirsty rather than drink from a glass somebody else had used.


Grandpaw and Grandmaw Walker




Granny Bowers (Edith Grant) said that the Walker farm had a paline fence around the gardens and other areas. Said their house had wooden shingles and was originally half story. House was originally constructed of logs, then covered with clapboards. During the War of Southern Independence soldiers were hidden over the porch by removing a log, allowing the soldiers to hide over the porch. Granny Bowers said the house faced East/West. There was a gable over the porch. Grandpaw Walker set out two cedars in front of the house. They are still there today. They used to travel to Sharps Chapel by horse and buggy. Granny Bowers said there was a three headed spring below the Walkers.


This, too, is still there, as is the foundation stones, fireplace bricks, and spring house foundation. Maggie Heatherly Cox mentioned Grandpaw Walker collecting walnuts and putting them in a trough in the barn for the kids. The walnut trees are still on the property as well. The barn also had wooden shingles and was built of lumber. There was a breezeway, which went through the center of the barn, and the barn faced North.


Granny Bowers said that her Grandfather, John Parker Grant, was clerk of Elm Springs Baptist Church at Liberty Hill in Grainger County, Tenn. Granny Bowers pronounced Elm as Elam, which is traditional Appalachian speech or usage for this word.


Maggie Cox said that Grandpaw Walker would cross the road and go up the ridge to pray, when he was troubled, and would often come down singing "I am a child of the King."


 She said they made there own lye soap and used Sears Roebuck Catalogs for toilet paper. Said that Grandpaw Walker had a dog named Chipper, which he kept in the house. Granny Bowers said that someone hung one of his dogs. Also mentioned that the Walkers had peach trees and canned peaches were kept under the house in the cellar. Maggie says she remembers very well Grandmaw Walker having to clear away the weeds around the cellar door to get it open. Maggie detailed very well how the inside of the house looked, the kitchen and fireplace, etc. Remembers the meal bin in the kitchen and often wondered what happened to all of the Walker's possessions.


Granny Bowers related a story to me where she, Carl, and Ethan Grant decided to dam up the spring house creek in order to float a boat they had made. A wooden fence crossed the spring creek a little ways down from the springhouse. This is where they built their dam, by putting things up against the fence. The dam caused the spring creek to back up thus causing the milk cans, crocks, butter and other things left in the spring house to cool to go floating down the creek. Granny Bowers said Grandpaw Walker became very mad. She said Grandpaw Walker was slow to anger, but could really get mad if he was irritated.


Granny Bowers told me of the time she and her brothers over heard Grandpaw and Grandmaw walker reading from some type of farmers journal, which stated that if you stored your watermelons in your seed grain they would keep till fall. Granny Bowers and her brothers took their wagon to a watermelon patch on the hill, took several, and hid them under the seed grain which Grandpaw Walker kept stored in the spring house loft. He sold this grain to other farmers. Later he went to the springhouse to sell some grain, and found it ruined by the melons which had rotted and molded. Granny Bowers said Grandpaw Walker didn't get mad, he thought the kids were smart for trying.


Granny Bowers told me of the time, around Easter, when Grandpaw Walker told her and brothers Ethan and Carl to take all of the eggs from the hens nest and hide them. Granny Bowers said they hid them along the top of the rafters in the barn. When Grandmaw Walker went to collect the eggs she thought her hens had stopped laying. She was upset because she would not have eggs to color for the children when Easter came. She told Grandpaw Walker she would probably have to go to the general store and buy eggs. Grandpaw Walker told the kids to find the eggs and told Grandmaw Walker it was just a joke. Granny Bowers said Grandmaw Walker would use red onion skins boiled in water for red Easter eggs and walnut hulls for brown. Can not recall what she said she used to make yellow eggs.


Some Home Remedies as told to me by Granny Bowers.


Mix hog lard, turpentine or coal oil and camphor as a salve for wounds. Used on male hogs, etc after castration.

Mix whiskey, camphor gum and glycerin for cough syrup.


Used urine to heal chapped or infected hands. (Note: Granny Bowers did not say whose urine and did not say if this remedy was applied to chapped lips)


Used carbolic acid for upset stomach. One (1) tablespoon every few hours in a glass of water.


An old saying was "If you're sick enough to go to the hospital you started digging the grave."


Uncle Ethan Grant, during a taped conversation (9 July 1983) on the Heatherlys said “Bill Bear, the old black man, use to come over to Grandpaw’s (Walker) when I was a youngster, used to ride a mule. I can still remember him and they (Bill Bear) had Cherry trees on his ten acres. He would come over there with Cherry bark and ask Grandmaw (Walker)  to make cough syrup. She was a master at home remedies you know. I remember she use to boil the cherry bark and boil it for about twenty four hours, I think, and make it into syrup, a red syrup. It was good for coughs and she would bottle it and Bill Bear would come back and take it to his wife. (Who had T.B.)


Granny Bowers tells of the time she traveled to her Grandpaw Walkers in Union County during a real bad thunder and lightning storm in the back of a covered wagon. Said the roads were terribly rough and the hollows were pitch black. She said she was scared to death and never so glad to get to her grandfather's house. Maggie Cox mentioned that she once had to take a canoe across the Clinch River with her uncle, I believe, because it was late and the ferry operator was asleep. Said she was scared to death too.


There is the story Granny Bowers tells about the time when her Grandpaw Walker's mare took off with him and would not stop. This made him mad so he took the horse, hitched him to a wooden sled, loaded the sled down with rocks and then proceeded to punish the horse by making it run around and around his barn and spring house. This was done against the protests of Grandmaw Walker.


Granny Bowers said there was a neighbor next to the Walkers who kept cutting down Grandpaw Walkers' white oak saplings in order to make split oak baskets. Said the man always promised to give the Walkers some fresh veal and when he did it turned out to be goat meat.

Grandpaw Walker moved from Union County to Inskip due to the T.V.A. project. He eventually became blind and had to live with his daughter Mrs. W.M. Hill. Granny Bowers said the logs from her grandpaw's house was moved to Sharps Chapel. I believe Maggie Cox said that some of the logs were used to build the little ranger station at the entrance to Chuck Swan.


Cora Trent, and old friend of Granny Bowers (Jerusha Edith Grant), said she and Edith used to sit together at singing school at Big Springs Church. Cora recalled a traveling show which consisted of a man and his dummy and remembered the man singing:

“Johnny get your haircut, shave and shine, Johnny get your haircut short like mine” and then said “How do you like that Brother Walker?” Grandpa Grant and Cora Trent’s brother went out selling fruit trees. (James/Jim Grant or John Parker Grant)


The following conversation per email between  myself and Phillip Walker occurred on 23 May 2007 and opens some new doors and certainly raises some interesting questions. The following material was graciously provided by Phillip. Thanks!


OK, this is going to sound strange, but Bill Walker on Lone Mountain Road (Isaac's great grandson who lives on Isaac's property today) told me about a "Mean John Walker" who eventually left the area, but he didn't really even know the time frame. I seriously doubt it, but have you ever gotten even a hint of John Davis Walker possibly being a troublemaker before he married. As I said, I'd be shocked, but the only other John I've been able to find in the immediate area is John Gilmore Walker, who was much, much older in any time frame Bill may have heard about and never left the area.


Interesting about John; I guess it's possible that he could have been "Mean John." Bill didn't know a lot about him, just that he lived in the area, drank a lot, and got into fights and such. He assumed that Mean John wasn't a family member, but, as we both know, it was almost impossible not to be a Walker in that area without being a family member.


The Union County Historical Society (instead of Claiborne for some reason) has released a book of the church minutes for the Straight Creek Baptist Church, which I got a while back. There's nothing earth shattering in them, particularly since the church had already sent me the page that said Martha (Davis) Walker died in June 1900, but, actually, I did learn that Jacob Shuff was one of two men who gave the land for the church, and the copy of the deed they included has his signature, which becomes the second copy of it that I have seen. I'm not surprised that he gave the land, given where the church is, but I hadn't known that.


The records are interesting, though, from the perspective that a huge percentage of the people who went there in this time period (1866-1951 with pretty much complete records) are related to us. While Jacob and Isaac's families are both represented heavily, unfortunately, the Walkers/Munseys on the other side of the ridge on Bear Creek apparently went elsewhere.


There is some mention of a John Walker who pretty much has to be John Davis. I have really excerpted the book yet, but I'll go back through and find the mentions of him to send you. If I remember correctly, he left the church for a little while and then came back and was called "Rev." when he came back. Chances are that you can get a a really good idea both of when he joined the church (probably his first) and when he became a minister. 

J.D. isn't mentioned that often, but here's everything in the book about both him and Margaret. There's no mention of when he personally joined. Jake and Patsy appear to have been members from the beginning of the book (1866), and his brothers Silas, Sterling, and Andrew all joined 4 December 1878. But Margaret Houston joined and was baptized less than a year before she and John married, well before Andrew and company.


A note first: I believe that the 1879 entry for "John Walker and Wife" probably refers to John Gilmore Walker and not John Davis Walker. J.G. mostly went to the Hickory Valley church, but he was a member here, too, at some point. In the 1882 entry, there's a specific mention of " J.G. Walker" who returned his letter and rejoined, although he's never mentioned again.


26 December 1872: 1st: Opened the door for the reception of members and received Margaret Houston a candidate for Baptism.


4 May 1879: Dismissed Brother John Walker and Wife by letter.


4 October 1881: 4th: On motion a charge was brought against Brother John Walker for being intoxicated. 5th: On motion was excluded for the above named charge.


4 January 1882: 2nd: Opened the door for the reception of members and received John Walker by restoration. J.L. McBee by restoration [Julius McBee, who was excluded at the same time as John for the same reason], J.G. Walker by return letter.


4 June 1885: 5th: The church granted Brother John Walker & wife Margaret Walker letters of dismission from this church when joined to any other church of the same faith and order this done by order of the church in session.


1 February 1895: The Baptist Church of Christ at Strait [sic] Creek in session the pastor being absent. 1st On motion Brother J.D. Walker was appointed moderator protem for the day.


1 September 1895: 3rd: On motion we invite Elder V. Capps and Elder J.D. Walker to be with us at our next meeting and help administer the Lord's Supper.


1 April 1897: 5th: On motion the church invite Elder J.D. Walker and Elder V. Capps to be at the next meeting to assist in the communion.


1 September 1897: 3rd: On motion the church invite Elder J.D. Walker, A. Marian, and V. Capps to assist in the administration of the Lord's Supper.


1 April 1899: 6th: The church invite Bro's W.P. Harrell, J.D. Walker, D.T. Butcher to be with us in our next communion .


Uncle Ethan on Grandpaw Walker. (Tape 9 July 1983)


I’m dubbed a humorist in most of my writings and I like to hear people laugh and always have, ever since I was a kid. I still do. Well, I inherited it I guess from Grandpaw Walker. You know, I think  about Grandpaw Walker. I can’t get him out of my mind. I used to hate him, but I got over that because hate, you know what it will do for you. But, when I was more mature I had a greater understanding of people, all kinds of people, and was able to understand why Grandpaw Walker was like he was. (Tape ends before an explanation is made regarding Uncle Ethan’s hatred towards Grandpaw Walker, but the following excerpt may she some light)





Uncle Ethan Grant on visiting the Heatherly home at Bear Ridge, Union County. (Tape 9 July 1983)


“Carl (Grant) and I used to be allowed to go up there (to the Heatherlys) sometimes on Sunday and we’d stay until after supper and it was so different from what we had at home (Grandpaw Walker’s). You know, course Grandad was one of these men who believed that children were to be seen and not heard and that’s the way we were raised, we couldn’t speak out of turn. We couldn’t speak even at the meal times when we were eating unless we wanted something and we could ask for it. But we had to keep quiet cause it was, well, it was a bad situation. But we would go up to the Heatherlys and I can remember the behavior, ha ha. They didn’t have any behavior. It was one of the nicest things that you can imagine, the way they got along. The parents were good to their kids. Of course Wallace (Heatherly) was very strict, he could whip em and he did if they needed it, but not very often. It was so much different  from the way we were raised. And there were some other people in that community that were like that. I can remember…well, I’d better not get started on that.”


Uncle Ethan Grant on poverty and the Poor House. (Tape 9 July 1983)


“I don’t remember that anyone in either the Walker or the Heatherly family were ever poor enough to have to depend on somebody else. You know back in those days in each county they had the county poor house. I can remember a saying that if we didn’t work we’d end up in the poor house and that was a disgrace. Even to think about winding up in the poor house. I don’t remember any people in our community that went to the poor house. There was one family, the Parkers, that lived the next house down below Grandpa’s. (Walker) They were quite poor because ole Jim Parker was paralyzed. He was struck by lightening and was never able to walk after that. He had quite a big family. Henry was the oldest boy and he was Grandpa’s farm hand before he hired George (Heatherly) instead. And then there was some girls. The only one I remember was Nila. She used to come up and help Grandmaw with the housework and Grandpaw and Grandmaw, they’d give them food. Mrs. Parker was always embarrassed you know, but nevertheless they had to eat and Henry of course worked his head off to try to support them. Their land was bad and about all they had was what Grandpaw paid him. Grandpaw paid him forty cents a day and three meals. He’d come for breakfast and stay for dinner and then for supper. He’d help with the chores, milking, feeding the stock in the barn then he’d go home after dark. Winter and summer.



Uncle Ethan Grant on church at Big Springs and Grandpaw Walker. (Tape Saturday 18 February 1984, 7:15 p.m.)


“Now, I think of Grandpaw Walker. I think Grandpaw Walker was a preacher for something like forty four years out there in the country. And I don’t remember ever hearing him mention money in the church, except to say that the bible says the love of money is the root of all evil or something like that. I don’t think Grandpaw was paid very much of anything at all. He was a circuit riding preacher and he preached at, I think, three other churches and only once a month out there at Big Springs. There was no expenses for the churches up-keep except for coal oil in the lamps, the big oil lamps that hung from the ceilings on chains. I don’t know who bought that coal oil, but I do remember that Grandmaw (Walker) bought hers at Sherman Hill’s store for five cents a gallon for the lamps at home. Now, the church clerk was a man named Matt Hill. Matt Hill swept out the church each Sunday or Saturday. We had four church services the weekend that we had church out there. Had a service Saturday morning and Saturday night and Sunday morning and Sunday night. And that made up for the four Sundays in the month. They also used to have what they called a fifth Sunday meeting. I don’t remember much about that, but I  heard about it”


“But the BIG meeting was in May. May meeting. That’s when we had communion, when Grandpaw preached his, well, maybe not his best sermon, but certainly the loudest. And the little communion table down under the lectern was set by my  mother (Susan Ellen Walker Grant Heatherly) and your mother (referring to Maggie Heatherly Cox). And I can remember that there was a cruet or bottle or something filled with what looked like wine. I heard momma say that it was blackberry juice I think. And there were little crackers or something, you know, that they ate or passed around when Grandpaw preached, ha ha. And that was church, that was religion. It was the only religion that we knew. Grandpaw made it quite plain that it was the only religion. And that’s the one think about Rev. Jerry Falwell. He believes in the bible, the literal teaching of the bible. And he won’t change his mind ever and neither did Grandpaw I guess from what I understand.”




The following letter came from Ethan Conrad Grant, son of James Rufus and Susan (Suda) Ellen Walker Grant Heatherly. Ethan, Carl, and sister Edith (Granny Bowers) lived with Rev. Walker at Big Springs after their father died in Texas. This is Uncle Ethan’s impressions of Rev. John D. and Margaret Ann Houston Walker.


May 27, 1975 Ethan Grant, Salem Oregon


Dear Oliver,


Your surprise visit Saturday was an enjoyable highlight of what to any but an odd-ball who lives primarily in books and a peaceful sort of exile would consider a lonely life. My only regret is that your presence and that of your charming young Mike seemed to have triggered my own excess verbiage, inherited naturally from an extremely talkative grandfather. (Grandpa John Davis Walker)


We did touch on the family background and yesterday it occurred to me you might appreciate having something from the available records, which I found woefully incomplete. In any event, the enclosed will provide what I think is an authentic lineage dating from the birth of our Great Grandfather in 1827 (Jacob Shuff Walker). Dabs of supplemental information I have, plus some memories, may also be of interest.


Grandpa (John Davis Walker) once told me family legend had it that he was descended from a family of Walkers that first settled on Roanoke Island, Virginia. It may be so, although my histories mention no Walkers among the immigrants who were settled there by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587, when three boatloads with a total of 150 migrants from England arrived. The family, however, did originate in Virginia and Grandpa had many relatives there. Aunt Mollie remembers a trip he once made on horseback to visit some of them and has a picture of him and his horse taken under the Natural Bridge which, incidentally, is a long, long way for any man to ride a horse from Union County, Tennessee. (Big Springs)


The first mention I can find in my early American history of a Walker is that of Sir Hovenden Walker, a British fleet commander who in 1710 banged his way into what was then Fort Royal, captured it and founded what now is Annapolis, Maryland. If the family could

be traced to him, you and I could claim our roots in royalty, which seems to be the prideful aim of so many who search the genealogies. My own feelings about that were recently expressed by my little cartoon feature character, The People Watcher, when he said: “What’s the good of showing the neighbors where your new genealogy proves your family tree sprouted from European royalty, when Grandpa horns in and describes how he worked his way over cleaning pens on a cattle boat.”


That also is inherited from Grandpa Walker (John Davis Walker). It always seemed when he and Uncle Silas Walker got together they delighted in ridiculing any and everyone they felt were stuffed shirts. Grandpa was eighteen and Grandma (Margaret Ann Houston) was fifteen when they were married. Grandma’s mother (Martha Ann Fox Houston) died when she was about a year old and her father, William Jasper Houston, was killed in the Battle of Missionary Ridge on 23 November 1863 when Grandma was five years old.


She lived with her Grandfather and Grandmother, James R. and Martha Ann Buchanan Houston (Census records show her living with her maternal grandparents, Abraham and Elizabeth Goodman Fox in 1870). Grandpa Walker met her when he was hired to come over and help build a fence. Grandma did the cooking and apparently it appealed to him. I never knew any two people who seemed more suited to each other or lived all their lives so thoroughly devoted that I doubt anyone ever heard a cross word between them. He was rough on others, but solicitous of her welfare and her every want at all times. I think I knew him far better than any other of his grandchildren for I spent more time with him.


He got our a 4:00 A.M. every day and for some unknown reason I woke and piled out to dog his footsteps wherever he went. In wintertime, he first stirred up a roaring blaze in the big fireplace, then built a fire in the kitchen range, took his lantern and went to the barn, with me tailing him. Everyone else slept until the house was comfortable.


Evenings he and Grandma sat in front of the fire with a big coal oil lamp between them on a little cedar stand and read, he his Bible and she mostly with a magazine called “Comfort” and a newspaper called “The Toledo Blade,” which Grandpa wouldn’t touch because it told of so many of the world’s evils. About the only other publications he ever read was “The Baptist Reflector.” He did once tell me he had read two books, one of which I think was authored by Billy Sunday, the Billy Graham of that era. But it doesn’t mean he wasn’t an educated man, in his own way. He spoke good English, could out spell any of the rest of us and seemed keenly aware of most that was going on in the world. A died-in-the-wool fundamentalist Baptist, he knew his Bible by heart, almost, and believed it literally, even to preaching the horrors of fire and brimstone, which scared the very hell out of me until I finally managed to complete a formal education at age twenty eight, when I began a long search for the Bible’s meaning as interpreted by the lessons of Jesus.


And nobody could ever doubt Grandpa was full of original dry wit. I’d often think of him when someone says or writes of happenings today. For example, Scriveners Scotty Reston one day last week proposed in his New York Times commentary that it would promote peaceful world conditions if the Washington hotline between Russia and China could be extended to all other nations. It reminded me of the time our Big Springs community got a hotline telephone system. There were about a dozen subscribers all hooked into a single party line. It seemed that every time it rang, the whole neighborhood would hurry to get into whatever was being talked about. To Grandpa it was a nuisance and annoyed him.


One night after Grandma eavesdropped for half an hour or so and sat down with some sort of juicy gossip, Grandpa said, “I can understand how voices can be carried through hollow wires a lot better than I can understand why they don’t get plugged up by so much dirt.” If and when I ever write that book I mentioned to you and Mike, I imagine there’ll be a right smart little bit of it devoted to Grandpa. Meanwhile, in order to prevent this from extending itself to a lot of surplus wordage, perhaps I ought to squeeze it off and get back to my present means of making a living. As I said, I thoroughly enjoyed you and Mike, and hope you’ll both come back, perhaps with others of your family. And so… Good wishes, Ethan Grant, Salem, Oregon


Tape recording by Ethan C. Grant to his ½ sister Margaret Heatherly Cox on 25 March 1983 gives the following regarding Rev. John D. Walker and Ethan’s experience living with the Walkers at Big Springs:


Uncle Ethan said that his “Childhood memories were not good. I was an unhappy child. Momma (Susan Ellen Walker Heatherly) was strict, but it wasn’t her fault because after daddy died (James Rufus Grant) we went back to live with Grandpaw and Grandmaw. (Walker) Grandpaw was strict. We weren’t treated like many other children were because Grandpaw believed that children were to be seen and not heard. The school house was on his property (Big Springs) and I thought he owned it because he hired the teachers and made sure that they understood the biblical admonition to spoil the rod and spare the child, and when he drummed that into the new teacher he hired, he gave her a rod and those teachers used it. Carl and I were whipped at school because other kids picked on us and we probably picked on them and we fought and that would get us licked in school. Then there was a rule that if we got whipped at school we had to get another one when we got home. When I went to law school I found that we were victims of what’s called Double Jeopardy, ha ha.”






The following Walker Family statistics were copied from records in the possession of Mrs. W.M. Hill (Mary Etta Walker) of Knoxville Tennessee, as part of the total records she has extending back to an earlier period.  The disclosure here begins with the parents of John D. Walker:


                       Birth Dates       Death Dates


Jacob S. Walker      January 1,  1827         Oct. 4, 1887

Patsy Davis Walker   November 7, 1825         June 1900


Parents of:


Elizabeth                                 November 1, 1847?       Nov. 7, 1940

Mahalla                                    March 21, 1849

Martha E.                               March 10, 1851?            Jan. 27, 1876

William Henry                        January 6, 1853

John Davis                               September 4, 1855        Aug. 23, 1941

Andrew C.                               July 24, 1857                May 15, 1926

Sterling G                                September 25, 1859      1890's ?

Mary A.                                   March 23, 1862           Died 6 mths?

Silas A.                                   August 5, 1865             May 21, 1944

Alice E.                                   July 4, 1867                 Jan. 18, 1957


John Davis Walker                September 4, 1853    August 23, 1941

Margaret Ann Houston          June 13, 1858          July 12, 1944  Married October 16,1873   



               Houston & Annie Walker Phipps                                                Stone of William Jasper Walker

                Floyd J. & Susan Ellen Walker


Children of Rev. John Davis Walker and Margaret Ann Houston:


William Jasper Walker                      August 29, 1891

Anna G. Walker                                  June 9, 1938

Susan Ellen(Suda)Walker                  July 22, 1941

Floyd J. Walker                                 March 13, 1951

Mary Etta(Molllie)Walker                Died age 92




Anna G. Walker and Houston L. Phipps on September 26, 1885

Parents of Lettye and Molly,


Susan Ellen (Suda) and James R. Grant on August 12, 1897

Parents of Jerusa Edith, Ethan Conrad and William Carlas Grant.


Floyd J. and Nolia Wilson on Dec. 31, 1900. Parents of William J., Gladys, Caleb, Ben, Oliver J., and John Graham.


Mary Etta and William Maynard Hill on September 23, 1906.

Parents of Ruth Lynn and Dorothy.


Thrown together by William Joseph (Joe) Mode

Knoxville, Tenn.



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