Who was William George Walker? Where and when was he born? What were is height and weight and color of hair? Where did he live and work? For some of these questions we’ve found ready answers, but for others the mystery remains and waits for just the right record to be found or book to be opened. Some questions may never be answered…….but here is what we know of the life of William George Walker, Gentleman.
William George Walker was born in Ireland in 1820. His birth may have been in January, and the likely parents were William Walker and Mary Davison. IGI records provide the clues with a Christening record dated January 30th, 1820 and a marriage record for William Walker and Mary Davison showing that they were married 19 September, 1807 in Donaghmore, 13 years before William George’s birth. Although the proof isn’t yet rock solid, this could very well be our subject. And if so it’s likely that he had younger siblings and may have had older ones as well. The IGI lists includes many other Walker entries and possibly some of William’s siblings or other relatives are among the listed.
William emigrated to Canada sometime before 1840 and made his way to Woodstock in Oxford County where he was a partner with George Menzies in publishing the newspaper “Woodstock Herald” which was in print from June 3, 1840 to January 1, 1848. The Herald was the first newspaper to be published in Oxford County and could be had for the price of “eleven shillings and three pence per annum when delivered in town or called for at the office, or sixteen shillings and three pence, if mailed, paid in advance.” It was published every Monday evening “In the Town of Woodstock, Upper Canada, by George Menzies and William G. Walker.”
On November 25, 1841, William was married to Margaret Amelia Daly, the second daughter of Captain Alexander Daly. The Daly family lived in East Oxford which is just a few miles from Woodstock. The marriage was performed by Rev. William Bettridge. March 19, 1843 brought the birth of William and Margaret’s son William Alexander Walker; The newspaper “The Woodstock Sentinel” dated March 23, 1843 carried this announcement: “Walker, W.G. and Walker, (boy) Born March 19, 1843. A family legend has it that the Walkers also had another son, but this has never been proved.
The Walker family eventually left Wodstock to settle in Huron County in the Town of Fordwich located in Howick Township. Although it’s not clear when they arrived, it probably was in the mid-1850’s. A history of Howick Township states that the first settler in the Township arrived in 1851 but it wasn’t until 1853 that more settlers arrived, with W. G. Walker and others arriving after 1854. W.G. Walker was active in the Howick Agricultural Society and in 1859 was its first president, the first Howick Township Fair was held in Fordwich at the home of the Walkers. William was also a member of the Masons.
Information from the book “The lines of Howick, Vol 2” indicates that W. G. and “Mary” Walker owned property in Fordwich and were grocers during the 1860’s. “Mary” is very likely W.G. Walker’s wife Margaret. Margaret Amelia Walker died June 13, 1864 at age 38 and is buried in the historic “Old Sotheran” Cemetery in Fordwich.
On October 1, 1865 William married Melinda Ketchum. Their marriage record shows that William was age 45, born in Ireland, parents were William and Mary; Melinda was age 32, born in the U.S. and her parents were Joseph and Lovina. Family tradition has it that William’s son, William Alexander was unhappy that his Father remarried so he left home and never spoke to his Father again. According to the 1871 Census return William and Melinda were living in Fordwich, ages 50 and 35 respectively and William gives his religion as Church of England, his occupation “gentleman.”
William’s will was written on June 9th, 1877 and was witnessed by Stephen Ketchum, Arthur Mitchell and John Hutchison, all of Fordwich. Although no gravestone has been found for William it’s probable that he died soon after the will was written and is buried in Old Sotheran Cemetery near Margaret Amelia.
Melinda Ketchum Walker died November 25, 1896 and is buried in Fordwich City Cemetery.
SOURCE: Canada, Ontario, Huron County, Howick Township, Fordwich ,1871 population schedule. Copy provided by Ontario Genealogy Society, Woodstock Branch, May, 2004
SOURCE: Canada, Ontario, Huron North, Howick Township, Fordwich, 1881 population schedule. Digital Image, FamilySearch – Internet Search, date accessed: May 12, 2004.
SOURCE: Reid, William H., Marriages Notices in Ontario, 1810-1849
SOURCE: State of Minnesota, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death. Document #562, William A. Walker, March 7, 1930.
SOURCE: Scott, James, The Settlement of Huron County, Ryerson Press, 1966
SOURCE: Fordwich, Ontario, Canada, Last Will and Testament of W. G. Walker, dated June 9, 1877