An ex-soldier of the Civil War, Marcellus B. Walker, is made the subject of this biographical notice. He was born in Hancock county, Indiana, December 1, 1843, and is now a business man of some prominence in Fortville, this county. His parents, Miles and Rachel (Ham) Walker, were natives of North Carolina and Virginia respectively.
Miles Walker came to Indiana in 1819 and first located in Wayne county three miles north of Richmond, with his parents and six children, the five beside himself being Virginia, Verlinda, John, James and Jesse. Miles at that time was nine years of age, and in 1832 the family came to Hancock county. Miles was a farmer, also a cabinetmaker by trade, was principally self-educated and possessed rare powers of oratory. He early became a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church and for fifty years also filled pastoral appointments. During this long ministerial career, Mr. Walker preached more funeral sermons and united more couples in matrimony than any local preacher in Hancock county. He was one of the most patriotic of men and willingly consented to his son s serving in the army during the Civil War. By his persuasive eloquence he checked many riots in their incipiency during the exciting days of the early part of the Rebellion, and his counsel and advice were always largely listened to.
In politics Miles Walker was at first a Whig, and his polling-place was in Green township, Hancock county, at Uncle Johnny Hanger s, where the ballots were cast into a hat covered with a bandanna handkerchief, and where a sumptuous dinner was served on election day. Mr. Walker was a very public-spirited and useful citizen and helped in the cutting of the highway from Greenfield to Pendleton and to clear away much of the superfluous timber from the arable land of the township. He was a warm advocate of the free-school system, and as the popular voice had gone against the use of the public funds for establishing of this system at the first election, he determined to take the matter into his own hands. Accordingly, in conjunction with Michael G. Cooper he started to erect a school building at their mutual expense, but the township trustee anticipated this action by calling for a special election, the result of which was the establishment of free schools throughout Green township.
Miles Walker passed his declining years on the farm he had entered in 1832, and there died July 9, 1899, one of the most honored of Green township s pioneers. He was a man of strong mental faculties and firm convictions. Mrs. Rachel (Ham) Walker died when her son Marcellus B., was but ten years of age. The night of her death she called this boy to her bedside, told him she was going to heaven, bade min to meet her there, and in this consoling faith passed away December 10, 1852, leaving, to deplore her loss, her devoted husband and three children, namely : Marcellus B., Apatia, wife of A. J. Taylor, of Ingalls, Indiana, and Sarah L., wife of John VanDyke, of Markleville, Indiana.
Robert Walker, father of Miles Walker, was born in South Carolina, where he grew to manhood, and after marriage removed to North Carolina; but, being an anti-slavery man, in a short time he decided to leave the South altogether and came to Indiana, where he first located in Chester, Wayne county. In 1832 he came to Green township, Hancock county, and purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres on Sugar Creek, which he later sold and then bought another in the vicinity. In stature he was an athlete and his weight was three hundred and sixty pounds; these great physical proportions probably proved to be the cause of his death as he slipped on the ice one day and sustained injuries from which he never recovered, dying January 10, 1852, at seventy-six years of age.
Robert Walker, father of Robert Walker, was a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and came to America about 1757. For a time he lived in New York, then removed to Virginia and South Carolina, and died in the Palmetto state soon after settling there, in the faith of the Society of Friends. Robert Walker, at one time United States secretary of the navy, was one of his descendants. John Ham, father of Mrs. Rachel Walker, died in West Virginia, when forty-nine years old.
Marcellus B. Walker is emphatically a self-made man as the phrase goes. His early education was limited to a few months attendance at a subscription school held in an old log cabin, and his home training was at hard labor on a farm. When the Civil War called to arms he was but eighteen years old, but he patriotically enlisted in Company G, Twelfth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and among the other engagements in which he took a part was that at Richmond, Kentucky, August 30, 1862, where he was three times wounded and was taken prisoner, but was paroled and returned to his home. Soon after his arrival a hemorrhage started from an artery, when Dr. J. J. Carter held the blood back with his fingers for forty-three minutes while Dr. Nobel P. Howard was on his way to the scene, and between the two surgeons the boy s life was saved. This happened on September 16, and on July 20 of the following year Mr. Walker re-enlisted, this time in Company B, Ninth Indiana Cavalry, of which he was elected duty sergeant. He was again wounded at Linnville, Tennesse, in August, 1864, and at Sulphur Trestle, Alabama, September 30, 1864, and at Franklin, Tennessee, December 16, 1864. He was next sent to New Orleans and then to Mobile, where he was at the time of the fall of that city. He was then returned to New Orleans and thence sent up the river on detached duty, and for gallantry was brevetted captain, and stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he was employed in gathering of horses, etc. Sergeant Walker was next sent, still on detached duty, top Missouri, in charge of four insane soldiers, and while on this trip his regiment was mustered out of service. But Sergeant Walker was retained for several months afterward, and in July, 1865, started north on a hospital boat. While aboard this vessel and asleep one night, it collided and sank, knocking a hole through the hull. Of the one hundred and sixty-eight souls on board, sixteen only were saved, and that by swimming ashore. The captain succeeded in saving the life of a Mrs. Brady, a nurse, by the same method, being ever prompt to act in dangerous emergencies. The survivors remained in scanty garments on the banks of the river until a passing steamer came along and conveyed them to St. Louis, where they were transferred to Jefferson Barracks, just below that city.
On reaching home, August 28, 1865, Sergeant Walker rented the old homestead, built a log cabin, and there resided for three years. He then bought a sixty-acre farm adjoining, on which he lived fourteen years and in 1882 came to Fortville, Here he engaged in the mercantile business for two years, then removed to Hamilton county, Indiana, and for seven years resided on a farm in Fall Creek township. In 1891 he purchased another farm in the same township, resided there until August, 1898, and the came back to Fortville and took possession of his beautiful home, which he had thoroughly improved and modernized. Since 1891 Sergeant Walker has been in the employ of the Consumers Gas Trust Company of Indianapolis.
Sergeant Walker was converted to God on the battlefield of Richmond, Kentucky in 1862 and has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church for thirty-five years and a local exhorter for a quarter of a century. Both Mr. and Mrs. Walker joined the church at Eden in 1867, but later changed their membership to Fortville. For twenty-six years Mr. Walker has acted as a pulpit supply, has been superintendent of the Sunday school and has been very active and ardent in all classes of church work,.
December 31, 1865, Sergeant M. B. Walker was joined in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Mary E. Gray, daughter of Enoch and Mary (Conrad) Gray, natives of Chester county, Pennsylvania, who came to Indiana about 1835 and settled in Madison county, where Mr. Gray became a very prominent citizen, amassed a fortune, and died at the age of seventy-six years; Mrs. Gray died when Mrs. Walker was but two years old. To Mr. and Mrs. Gray were born eight children, namely: Dennis, Edmond; Sarah Ann and Conrad, deceased; Franklin, Joseph and Mary E. (Mrs. Walker), Enoch Gray married for his second wife Phebe Kincaid, and to this union have been born two children, viz: Hiram, deceased, and William.
Enoch Gray was a mason by trade and came to Indiana a poor man; but he was thrifty and industrious, earned through his diligence quite a competency, and owned at his death four hundred acres of good farming land. He and wife were members of the Society of Friends. Mrs. Walker was a first cousin of ex-Governor I. P. Gray, of Indiana, and the Gray family, like the Walker family, have always been highly esteemed wherever they have lived.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 430-433.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI Aug 15, 2006.
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