Walker Family

from Thelma Marsh's Moccasin Trails to the Cross

The William Walker family was a very outstanding family among the Wyandott nation. Mr. Walker was a white man, born in Virginia. When he was about eleven years old, he was helping his uncle plow. William rode the horse and his uncle walked along behind the old plow. It had been some time since there had been any trouble with Indians, so Mr. Walker had no fear as he guided the horse toward the edge of the field. The sun was bright, the birds were singing, and the smell of the earth so freshly turned in the furrows was a delight to him. Just as they reached the end of the field shots rang out. His uncle was hit in both arms. William slipped from the horse, and they both ran like a streak for the fort. Just when they had almost reached the safety of its walls, his uncle was struck and killed. William was grabbed and taken captive by a band of Delaware Indians.

Young William was taken from Greenbrier County, Virginia and brought to the Delaware settlement on the Whetstone Creek, now Delaware, Ohio. Here he was adopted into a family who treated him very well. It is not known just how long he remained with this family, but probably four or five years. The Delawares and the Wyandotts met in a large body at Detroit. Here a white man by the name of Adam Brown saw Walker and recognized him. He had known his family in Virginia, for Brown had been captured by the Wyandotts after he was a grown man, and had been adopted into the Wyandott Tribe. Brown decided to ransom young Walker from the Delawares. This took considerable time in negotiations, and some stretching of customary proceedings, but it was done. The family he had lived with was to get valuable presents from the King's store-blankets, clothes, guns, ammunition, etc. William Walker made his home with Adam Brown from then on until his marriage to Catherine Rankin.

Catherine Rankin Walker had a fine education. She had been a teacher before her marriage to William Walker. She showed great wisdom and influence in her support of the mission which was established among the Wyandotts. Even the neighboring tribes would seek her counsel before making important decisions. Rev. James B. Finley said of her,

"Mrs. Walker was a most amiable woman, of good education, and half Wyandott. She possessed great influence in the nation; and this whole family were his (Stewart's) hospitable friends, and the untiring friends of the mission which was afterwards established there. Her mind was well enlightened and she could expose the folly of their supersti tions better than anyone I knew."

She was a descendant of the French Montours and the Irish Rankin families. A French gentleman by the name of Montour came to Canada and settled there. He married a Huron Indian woman. Their daughter, Mary Montour, married James Rankin. She was of the Big Turtle clan of Wyandotts. Catherine was the daughter of Mary Montour and James Rankin.

It is not known just how she met William Walker, or when she came to Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Their eldest son, William, Jr. taught at the mission school, was the first postmaster of the village, and a chief and leader in his tribe. When the Wyandotts went west, he went with them, and became the first governor of the Provisional Government of the Nebraska Territory.

Catherine Walker died in 1844. Her stone is in the circle of markers above the Harrison Smith Park, along Fourth Street. Why she was buried in the old Indian cemetery is not known, for she was a member of the Wyandott Mission Church and entitled to burial at the Old Mission cemetery. Her husband had never joined the church, which was very new at the time of his death in 1824. It is not known where he was buried, but quite possibly it was in the old Indian burial ground. This might account for Catherine being buried there, for she wished to be near her husband in death as she had been in life.