Wesley and Sarah Walker

My great-grandfather, John Wesley Walker was a carpenter and woodworker who lived in Bloomington, Indiana. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War with the rank of Captain. His military service may have been broken into several periods. My grandmother's scrapbook contains his discharge as a Private on 30 Aug 1862 after 90 days service in Company A, 54th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. We have his diary, which was mostly written during the summer of 1863 and includes the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in its entries. The photo below, however, identifies him as a member of the 117th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, a unit which mustered in on 17 Sept 1863, and served in Kentucky.

J. Wesley Walker and Sarah Elizabeth Voss were married 19 Nov 1868 "in a little Methodist Church on West Sixth Street", according to the article describing their golden wedding anniversary celebration. Wesley was the son of John Finley and Sarah (Green) Walker. Sarah was the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Cook) Voss. Wesley and Sarah Elizabeth's family Bible, which I have, was a wedding gift from Sarah's uncle Emery Voss. Sarah assembled a photo album which was passed down through the family and which is now a part of this Carey Family Album. Most of the pictures in it date to the 1860-1880 period.

The following pictures belonged to my mother. The caption, in which the wedding date is incorrect, was probably typed by my uncle Bill Walker:

Wesley and Sarah had the following children, all born in Bloomington:

  1. Sarah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Walker, born 14 Aug 1869, died 15 Feb 1879 in Bloomington. There are two photos of Lizzie in Sarah's photo album.
  2. her twin, a male infant who died at birth.
  3. George Voss Walker, born 20 Oct 1871, died 11 Jan 1958 in Bloomington.
  4. John William Walker, born 17 Apr 1876, died 26 Dec 1947 in Tucson, AZ.
  5. Charles Edward Walker, my grandfather, born 19 Aug 1880, died 29 Jan 1952 in Santa Monica, CA.
  6. Norman Morris Walker, born 13 May 1883, died 29 Jun 1952 in Big Spring, TX.

Lizzie's death was reported in a brief item in the 19 Feb 1879 issue of the Bloomington Progress:

Wesley Walker has been dangerously sick during the past two weeks with pneumonia. His 10-year-old daughter, who had taken cold after having had measles, died on Saturday. Funeral services at the M. E. church on Sunday.

The census taker visited the Walker family in 1880 just before Charles' birth. In 1900, Grandpa was there, listed as "Charlie" and working as a stenographer, along with his little brother, who was still attending school.

Wesley must have attended numerous reunions of Civil War soldiers over the years. The photo below is from a clipping which may have appeared about 1950, to judge by the large advertisment for a Kaiser automobile on its back...

Our Bloomington of Yesteryear... No. 479

Photo Courtesy J. L. Patton


The group pictured here is composed of Civil War veterans of Company E, 117th Regiment. All were residents of Monroe County when photo was made in 1888.

Shown in the front row, left to right, are William Kerr, Thomas Evans, Jacob Patton, Billy Fyffe, Wesley Walker, Isaac Penny, Squire Bill Adams, William Potter and Jack Lampkins.

Rear, left to right, are Robert Patton, Ren Smith, David Hughes and Thomas Kilpatrick.

One by one, these grand old men of the G.A.R. went to their reward. Indiana has no Civil War veterans living. In the nation as a whole, only a very few boys in blue are with us.

Wesley and Sarah lived at 222 East 7th Street in Bloomington. For a picture of them on their front porch which might have been taken in 1914, see their son John's Tombstone scrapbook. Here they are in 1908, with two of their grandchildren, Frank and Elizabeth Walker:


Fifty years of happy married life were fittingly commemorated today at the home of Capt. and Mrs. Wesley Walker, East Seventh street, when many of their friends called during tbe day to extend kindly felicitations. The golden wedding anniversary of this well known couple was made a most agreeable event by the arrival Qf their son, Norman, from El Paso, Texas, telegrams, letters, flowers and presenta from friends and relatives at a d1stance.

Among the telegrams of congratulations. was one from Garcia, Mexican consul-general to the United States, wbo is a personal friend of Norman Walker, Mexican manager of the Aseoclated Press. Another was from the Universlty Club, of El Paso, of which Norman Walker is president. John and Charles, sons at Tucson, Ariz., and Mrs. Norman Walker, at El Paso, also sent messages. Mrs. Norman Walker sent a huge bouquet qf yellow chrysanthemums, and flowers also came from friends over the state. A handsome gold loving cup, engraved with the names of the parents was presented to the venerable couple by the children.

Mr. Walker is 76 and his wife 74,1 but they are yet young in heart and showed great pleasure in receiving their friends today. There is not a more highly respected man and woman in the city than Mr. and Mrs. Walker, who have spent all of their fifty yeara of married bliss in Bloomington, where by right living and kindly deeds, they have endeared themselves to the entire community.

They were married in a little Methodist Church on West Sixth street, half a century ago. Mrs. Walker, before the happy event, was Miss Sarah Voss. The living children are George, this city; Norman, El Paso, Texas; Charles and John, well known business men of Tucson. The grandchildren are Mrs. Robert Holland, Buffalo, N. Y., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Walker; Frank, Charles Jr., Elizabeth, Jeanette, and William, children of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Walker; and Norman Jr. Allen Wesley, children of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Walker.

Although he has been a very busy man since he graduated from Indiana University and took up an important newspaper post at El Paso, Norman Walker has never forgotten his parents and takes great delight in his return visits each year. Christmas day, last year, he penned the following beautiful tribute to his father, which The World-Courier takes pleasure in reproducing at this time:

My Dad -- a tribute.

Christmas day, nineteen hundred and seventeen years ago in a barn in Bethlehem, a father dreamed dreams of the future for the Son who snuggled to his holy Mother's bosom in the manger. Today another carpenter sits in his humble little home and dreams his day dreams for the little ones who play at his feet.

Time has completed one cycle in this home and is wheeling for another flight into the empyrean blue of the future of these little ones. Fatherhood came four-fold to bless and honor his three score and sixteen. On this day of nativity a second generation has returned to be baptised at the fountain head of love.

To me the carpenter of Nazareth and the carpenter of Bloomington are akin. Something in the smoothing of rough surfaces, the joining of wood and the creation of things artistically useful is transmitted to the soul of the worker which makes him different from other men.

The product of a state which is the living heart of the nation; the folling hills, the maples whispering in the west wind and the green fields combined to create a man. Denied even the crude learning of the backwoods log school house by stern necessity, he is a cultured gentleman for he possesses an infinite regard for others.

In the full bloom of young manhood he answered the call of his country to preserve the Union forever. War was the crucible which crystallized a great soul in the white heat of sectional strife. Putting aside his musket he took up the task of hewing a home for himself and his mate in the hear of the middle west.

Now, in that soft after glow of life with the day's work well done, he and his mate of a golden half century sit surrounded by their children's children and bask in the warmth of their great love.

The world holds that but one perfect Man has walked down the corridors of time. To me another has the same holy light of love in his eyes, the same sweet smile on his face and the same great heart which beats only for others.

He is my father.

This article which reported John Wesley Walker's death appeared in the Bloomington Daily Telephone of Monday, 13 December 1920:


Old Soldier, Prominent Citizen and Father of Successful Family

Ill for over two years, Capt. Wesley Walker, leading citizen soldier, died Sunday at his home on east 7th Street. The funeral will not be until Thursday, awaiting the arrival of the sons from the far west.

The widow survives, also four sons -- George of this city, Charles and John of Tucson, Arizona, and Norman of El Paso, who are all enroute home.

Mr. Walker was a Methodist, a carpenter and contractor, an Odd Fellow and Grand Army man.

Further details of his life and character will appear later.

Capt. Walker has been sick for several years, with the complications of old age, and his sons have all been at his bedside together and at different times to see him. Sunday the three sons in the southwest were wired that the end was at hand and Charles and John, of Tucson, were on the road home when the death took place. Norman was reached at 11 o'clock last night at El Paso with the news of the death and at once started for Bloomington.

The passing of Capt. Walker causes a marked feeling of sadness among the older generation of Bloomington people. For a half century the name of Capt. Walker in Bloomington has stood for uprightness and honesty and good citizenship.

In years gone by there was not a man or woman or child in the city but what knew Capt. Walker and liked and respected him.

This obituary which appeared on the day of great-grandfather's burial provided the "further details" promised in his death notice...


Family and Friends Pay Last Respects to Citizen Soldier.

At 2 o'clock this afternoon the funeral of Capt. J. Wesley Walker, of the older generation of Bloomington men who during the heyday of his life was one of the leading citizens of the little town which grew into the present city of Bloomington, was held from the home on east 7th street. The services were in charge of Dr. Taylor and Dr. W. H. Wylie, Capt. Walker having long been a member of the Methodist church, and the burial was at Rose Hill.

The few of the life-long friends of Capt. Walker who are still living, gathered with the family and friends of the younger generation, to pay the final tribute to the dead. In keeping with the long and upright life of Capt. Walker, the final services were simple, and the farewell words which were said were very heartfelt.

Capt. Walker's four sons, who made the last years of his life very happy ones by their individual successes, were all at the funeral. George, who resides in Bloomington, was the only one present when the old veteran died but the others - John and Charles, from Tucson, Arizona, and Norman, from El Paso, Texas - arrived last evening, having started for Bloomington as soon as the word reached them that the end was near at hand. Besides the widow, the only other close relative present was one brother, Rolla Walker, ex-county treasurer. Of a family of eight brothers and sisters, Rolla Walker is now the sole survivor.

Capt. J. Wesley Walker was born in Lawrence county in 1842, but moved to Bloomington when he was only 12 years of age. His father at that time, became the editor of the Bloomington Progress, the first Republican paper to be established in Bloomington and which had a long and successful career. When the civil war broke, Capt. Walker went for three months with Company E of the 117th Indiana Volunteers, re-enlisting when his three months was up and seeing hard campaigning in the western field of the war until the victory was won.

Coming home to Bloomington Capt. Walker shortly married Miss Sarah Voss, and started his long business career as a carpenter and contractor. He became a member of the Odd Fellows lodge, taking a great interest in that order, and at his death he was the second oldest Odd Fellow in Bloomington, President J. D. Showers, of the Trust Company, being the first.

Capt. Walker in the old days did his duty as a public spirited citizen of the village of Bloomington. He served as an alderman in the days when it was the duty of an alderman to get out and clear the snow away after a big storm or do any public work which happened to be needed about town. He was a member of the old Bloomington volunteer fire department when that organization was a social affair - as well as a grim fire fighting outfit.

Industry marked every year of Capt. Walker's life and he did not retire until seven years ago, when he was forced out of active service by ill health. For five years he was able to be about some, but for the last two years has been bedfast, bearing hard suffering without complaint. The two happiest events of the last years of his life was a family reunion a few years ago when all of his sons got back home at the same time, and his golden anniversary held a couple of years afterwards.

Capt. Walker and J. D. Showers were life-long friends. They started their friendship as young Odd Fellows and continued it through the years. One incident that drew them close together happened when they were both young men. They went to New Albany together to attend an Odd Fellows reunion and decided to go across the river to Louisville to see the sights. Being burdened by their lodge regalia they stopped at a New Albany home to leave it for a few hours. The daughter of the house took it at their request - and made such an impression on young Mr. Showers that the lodge reunion was followed by a courtship and the New Albany girl became Mrs. Showers.

The wife is left alone, but in the few years to remain, blessed with the thoughts of the devoted union together and the consolation that Capt. Walker's life was one of honor, patriotism and usefulness.

The pall bearers today were Walter Robertson, Fred Seward, Henry Woolery, Rice Wampler, Monroe Pauley and William Shields.

The following letter, on the stationery of the Odd Fellows lodge, was preserved in Sarah and Wesley's family Bible:

December 16, 1920.
Who died December 12th, 192O.

Once again Death has summoned a worthy Brother Odd Fellow, and the Golden Gateway to the Eternal City has opened to welcome him to his home. He has completed his work in ministering to the wants of the afflicted, in shedding light into darkened souls and bringing joy into the places of misery, and as his reward has received the plaudit "well done", from the Supreme Master.

And Whereas, the all-wise and merciful Father has called our beloved and respected Brother home,

And Whereas, He having been a true and faithful brother of our Mystic Order, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That CECELIA LODGE, #166, I.O.O.F., Bloomington, Indiana, in testimony of her loss, tender to the family of the deceased brother our sincere condolence in this deep affliction, and that a copy of these resolutions be sent to the family.

R. E. Wampler
S. C. Coffey
A. H. Beldon

The picture below of Sarah Walker was a familiar sight at my grandparents' home, but I never thought to ask who the baby was. Could it be my mother, or one of my aunts? Which one?

Sarah survived Wesley by more than sixteen years. In her later years, she was one of Bloomington's oldest citizens and her birthdays were reported in the local newspapers. The articles contained a great deal of information on her children and other family members and are provided here just as they appeared, complete with spelling and other errors. The first article was clipped off in mid-sentence just as you see it.

Mrs. Sarah E. Walker, Pioneer, Honored on 86th Birthday

Relatives and friends greeted Mrs. Sarah E. Walker, 222 east 7th street, yesterday, on the occasion of her eighty-sixth birthday anniversary, which she celebrated at her home, receiving callers, pioneers like herself, presents and congratulatory telegrams.

Mrs. Walker was born and reared in Springville, Lawrence county and in 1866 came to this city. In 1868, she married John Wesley Walker, a Civil war soldier and local contractor, whose father was John F. Walker, editor and publisher of the Bloomington Republican, long since defunct. Mrs. Walker went to housekeeping at her present residence 65 years ago.

Mrs. Walker is the mother of four sons, namely, John, a stenographer of the federal court at Tucson, Arizona, who has recently been appointed by the government to settle an irrigation controversy in Arizona; Charles, connected with a bonding house, of San Francisco, California;2 Norman, a graduate of I. U. in 1906 and the head of a publishing company at El Pasco, Texas; George V., local painter and decorator, 222 north Dunn street. She has thirteen grandchildren.3

Mrs. Walker has a vivid memory of Bloomington of the long ago and can relate interesting tales of the city's early history. She finds great delight in reading newspapers and keeps informed on current events. She prefers newspaper reading to books and The...


Mrs. Wesley Walker, pioneer Bloomington citizen, celebrated her 89th birth anniversary at her home, 222 east 7th street, Sunday.

Early Saturday morning congratulatory greetings in the form of gifts, telegrams, telephone calls, and throughout the day letters and cards deluged the Walker home from relatives and friends in distant points and locally.

Mrs. Walker before her marriage on November 19, 1868 to Wesley Walker, was Miss Sarah Voss, who with her parents and brother, came to Bloomington from Lawrence county in 1866. Her brother, John C. Voss, conducted a jewelry store on the west side of the square. He moved to San Antonio, Texas, in which city he died in 1913.4 His son, Maxwell Voss now lives in San Inis, Potisi, Old Mexico.5

Following their marriage 66 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Walker went to housekeeping in the residence in which she now resides. Mr. Walker died in 1920. Blessing this union are four sons and thirteen grandchildren.3 The sons are: George V. Walker, local contractor, this city; Norman Walker, newspaperman, El Paso, Texas; John Walker, federal court attorney, Tucson, Arizona; Charles Walker, realtor, Santa Monica, California. Mrs. Thomas Allen6 and Mrs. Jennie East, of Bloomington, are cousins of Mrs. Walker's.

Mrs. Walker enjoys excellent health. She finds delight in piecing quilts and doing tatting and she is extremely apt in this work. She is a confirmed reader, keeping posted on current events. She looks forward to the warm days of summer when she supervises the planting of flowers in her yard, an innovation she enjoys.

Mrs. Walker is an honored member of the First Methodist Episcopal church. She remembers Peter Cartright, the circuit rider, who established Methodism in Bloomington.

Few people reaching the advanced age of 89 years possess the alert mind and excellent faculties which have been alloted to this venerable lady. She has seen Bloomington grow from a village to its present commanding position as one of the state's principal cities.

Mrs. Walker is to be congratulated upon reaching 89 mile stones upon life's highway and this newspaper joins in extending felicitations.

Mrs. Wesley Walker Has 90th Birthday

Mrs. Wesley Walker, 222 east 7th street, celebrated her 90th birth anniversary today. Mrs. Walker was born April 1, 1845 at Springville, in Lawrence county. She came to Bloomington with her parents, William and Elizabeth Cook Voss 69 years ago, in 1866. Two years later, in 1868 she married Mr. Walker, a civil war veteran and local building contractor. He died in 1924.7

Mr. and Mrs. Walker went to housekeeping at her present address, she having lived 67 years in one house. In 1877, when Walter Bradfute established The Telephone the Walkers started taking the paper and Mrs. Walker has been a continuous subscriber, perhaps the oldest local reader.

Throughout the day Mrs. Walker received felicitations from members of the First Methodist church aid society, in which church she has been identified since 1866; letters, post cards and telegrams from relatives and friends at distant points, also flowers.

When the postman arrived this morning with a large amount of mail, he remarked that it must be her birthday. Mrs. Walker said it was, whereupon the postman said she appeared to him to be about 69 years of age. When she suggested he add 21 additional to his guess, he was astonished.

During the winter months Mrs. Walker occupies the time in reading newspapers, books and magazines and in piecing quilts and cushion tops. Her quilts are the envy of all eyes, perfect as to needlecraft and versatility of design. As the warm days of summer approaches Mrs. Walker looks forward to the task of planting her yard with flowers, which task gives her much pleasure and enjoyment; she is a lover of flowers.

Sunday, Mrs. Walker was entertained at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. George V. Walker, 222 north Dunn street. Other guests were: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Strong and daughter, Miss Anna Lee.

Great-grandmother's death and funeral were reported in the articles below which I found in my grandmother's scrapbook. The first clipping from the Bloomington Telephone had "Jan 8 1937" written on it:

Mrs. Sarah Walker Dies After Short Illness

Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Walker, 91 years of age, died at 11:50 p. m. Thursday [8 January] at her home, 222 east 7th street. She had been critically ill of pneumonia for the past eight days, and had been in failing health for nine weeks.

Mrs. Walker had lived in Bloomington 70 years, coming here with her parents, William and Sarah Elizabeth Cook Voss. She was the widow of John Wesley Walker, civil war veteran, and for many years a building contractor. Mr. Walker died in 1924.7

Mrs. Walker lived a very active and useful life and retained her strength in a remarkable degree for a woman of her age. She was an excellent seamstress and her needlework on the many quilts she finished was of unusual design and beautifully executed. She kept up an interest in world affairs and during the winter months, devoted much of her time to reading newspapers, books and magazines. She was perhaps the oldest continuous reader of The Telephone. When the paper was established in 1877 by the late Walter S. Bradfute, father of the present owner, Mr. and Mrs. Walker became subscribers and she had taken the paper continuously throughout the years. During the spring and summer months, Mrs. Walker devoted much of her time to gardening, being an ardent lover of flowers.

Mrs. Walker was born in Springville, Lawrence county, April 1, 1845. She came to this city in 1866 and two years later was married to Mr. Walker. They went to housekeeping in the location on east 7th street where Mrs. Walker lived the remainder of her life.

She was a devoted member of the First M. E. church.

She is survived by four sons, George Voss Walker, painting contractor and decorator, of this city, John William Walker, of Tucson, Ariz., Charles Edward Walker, of Santa Monica, Cal., and Norman Morris Walker, who has gained wide recognition as a newspaper correspondent and writer; two cousins, Mrs. T. A. Allen, of this city, and Mrs. Georgia Brown,8 of Paris, Ill., and 12 grandchildren.3

The next clipping was marked "Jan 12 1937" and may be from a different newspaper:


Widow Of Civil War Veteran Placed To Rest At Rosehill Cemetery.

Paying tribute to the long and useful life of Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Walker, widow of the late Capt. Wesley Walker, Dr. C. H. Taylor, of the First M. E. church conducted the funeral services at 2:30 o'clock this afternoon at the home of her son, George V. Walker, 222 north Dunn street. The Rev. W. E. Moore, of the First Christian church, assisted in the service.

Three of Mrs. Walker's sons were at the funeral, George Voss Walker, local painting contractor, John William Walker, of Tucson, Ariz., and Norman Morris Walker, of El Paso, Texas. The fourth son, Charles Edward Walker, of Santa Monica, Calif., could not be here.

Interment was made in Rosehill cemetery, and pallbearers were Fred Seward, Austin Seward, Homer Robertson, Walter Morgan, Ila Dobson and Edmond Strong.

Mrs. Walker, a resident of Bloomington 70 years, died of pneumonia at her home, 222 east 7th street, last Thursday night. She was 91 years of age and until the past few months had been active in the work connected with her home, where she had resided since her marriage to John Wesley Walker, civil war veteran, in 1868. Mr. Walker preceded her in death in 1924.7

Among those from out of the city who were here for the funeral of Mrs. Walker were George Hayes and Mrs. George Sullivan of Lawrenceport, and Mrs. Nora Buche and Mrs. Josephine Simmons of Orleans.

1 Sarah was 73 years old at the time.
2 Sarah's son Charles lived in Santa Monica, California, from 1924 on.
3 Sarah had twelve living grandchildren -- Charles' eight children and Norman's four. George had a daughter, Nellie (Walker) Holland, who died during the influenza epidemic of 1918, and a son, Orville, who died in childhood.
4 Sarah's brother John lived for a number of years in El Paso and died in Dallas, Texas, according to his obituary.
5 In case you're as unfamiliar with Mexican geography as the reporter seems to be, this probably refers to the city of San Luis Potosí, which is the capital of a state of the same name!
6 Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Voss) Allen (1856-1946), was Sarah's first cousin, a daughter of Emery Voss.
7 Wesley's death is erroneously reported as having occurred in 1924 in Sarah's 90th birthday article. The same error was picked up by the author(s) of her obituaries.
8 Georgia (Bovell) Brown's mother, Sarah Jane (Cook) Bovell, was Sarah's mother's younger sister. My great-grandmother and Georgia were first cousins. She obviously stayed in contact with her Illinois cousins since, in 1930, she traveled to Paris for the funeral of Georgia's sister.
This page was last updated 25 Jul 2019.