The Thirteenth Walker Child?

Hi Everyone,

This article was donated by cousin Jan Leonard. Thank you Jan for this interesting post which raises some new questions about the Walker family. I hope all our readers will enjoy  this family mystery.


Those of us researching Walker family history are at least three generations removed from William Alexander Walker and his bride, Jeanne Arbuckle.  We often lament the questions we didn’t ask our parents or grandparents, the unlabeled photographs found in their belongings and the phantom letters we wished they’d left.  Many of us have childhood  memories of or had heard stories about then Walker children; Aunt Ol, Aunt Em, Aunt Cal, Aunt Babe, Uncle Bill, Aunt Ruth and the rest.  We thought there were twelve  Walker children. However the Minnesota State Census enumeration lists Eunice A. Walker, 9 months old, among the Walker siblings living with parents, William and Jane (Jeanne).  This census was completed on May 23, 1885 in Compton, Otter Tail County.  All of the siblings we expected to see listed for this date are enumerated except possibly Kathleen (Aunt Babe).  Kathleen’s year of birth has been documented as either 1883 (the Social Security Death Index) or 1885 (the Minnesota State Death Index).  I was puzzled at finding Eunice because there are family stories or documentary evidence for all the other Walker siblings but none for Eunice.  Because of the uncertainty of Kathleen’s birth year I also wondered if this child somehow might be Kathleen.

1885 Minnesota State Census – Compton, Otter Tail County,  MN


I reviewed all the census data for Kathleen Walker and the weight of the evidence is that she was  born in 1885 so I eliminated the possibility that she was the mysterious Eunice.  If the Walker family is correctly enumerated in the 1885 census is then William and Jeanne had thirteen children (of which we know).

The next surviving census is the 1895 Minnesota State Census and Eunice Walker is not enumerated with the rest of the family.  We can speculate that she died sometime before that date.  A small glimmer of documentary evidence or some additional puzzling information appears on the 1910 Federal Census for William Walker.  “Number of children born” is listed as 13 while “number living” is blank. This entry is a bit strange as the question is generally asked of married or widowed women and is phrased “number of children born to mother” and “number still living.”  In the 1900 census when Jeanne Walker was still alive these two questions are answered as 12 born and 12 still  living. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Copyright Janice Leonard, February, 2015,  All rights reserved.

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