Wood L. Walker, general manager of the department store of the J. Ward Walker Company, at Greenfield, this county, and for years recognized as one of the leading business men of that city, is a native son of Greenfield and has lived in that city all his life. He was born in July, 1864, son of J. Ward and Mary J. (Todd) walker, long prominent residents of Greenfield, the former for years and until the time of his death, early in 1915, having been regarded as a leader in the commercial life of Hancock county.
J. Ward Walker was born in the town of Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana, March 11, 1836, son of John Wood Walker and wife, the former a merchant of that place. John Wood Walker was a Virginian who came to Indiana in 1833 and settled in Madison county, where for a time he engaged in farming. From 1846 to 1852 he operated a blacksmith ship and in 1853 opened a general store at Pendleton, remaining in business there until 1858, in which year he moved his stock to Greenfield, and was thus engaged in business there the rest of his life, his death occurring in 1883; and thus was founded the present prosperous business conducted by the J. Ward Walker Company. Up to 1864 the store was conducted under the firm name of G. H. and J. Ward Walker; from 1864 to 1868 it was J. Ward Walker & Company, and from the latter year to 1871,Walker & Edwards, Dr. O. M. Edwards having been admitted to partnership. In 1871 J. Ward Walker helped to organize the Greenfield Banking Company, Nelson Bradley, president; J. Ward Walker, cashier, and M. Chandler, assistant cashier. Mr. Walker remained in the bank until 1876, in which year he started a men's furnishing and clothing store at Greenfield, under the firm name of J. Ward Walker & Company, his sister, Sarah M. Walker, being associated with him in the business. In 1882 the store was moved to the Randall block, moving thence in 1892 to the Dudding & Moore block, and thence, in September, 1896, to the Masonic Temple, where it ever since has been located. On March 28, 1906, the company was reorganized and the firm name was changed to the J. Ward Walker Company, J. Ward Walker, president; Sarah M. Walker, vice-president, and Wood L. Walker, secretary-treasurer. After the death of the elder Walker early in 1915 Charles H. Cook was elected president of the company; Edwin P. Wilson, vice-president, and Wood L. Walker was retained in his position as secretary-treasurer and general manager, the latter now being the only surviving member of the old firm of J. Ward Walker & Company.
The late J. Ward Walker was diligent in his own business, and was ever mindful of his duty as a good citizen to the common good and in many ways was active in promoting the best interests of his home town, so that his death, on February 22, 1915, was regarded as a loss to the whole community and was sincerely mourned. His wife had preceded him to the grave some years, her death having occurred on June 9, 1902. It was in Madison county, in the days of his young manhood, that J. Ward Walker was united in marriage to Mary J. Todd, who was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, daughter of the Rev. Miles and Judith (Zeublin) Todd, both natives of that same county, the former of Scottish descent and the latter of Swiss descent, who came to Indiana in 1852 and settled at Pendleton, Madison county, where Mr. Todd became a merchant and where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives, his death occurring on July 14, 1902, he then being ninety-two years of age. Mrs. Todd died in 1896. Mr. and Mrs. Walker were active members of the Bradley Methodist Episcopal church and were earnest promoters of all good works hereabout. Mr. Walker was a Royal Arch Mason and a Knight Templar, a member of the blue lodge, the chapter and the commandery at Greenfield and was also a member of the Greenfield council, Royal and Select Masters. He and his wife were the parents of six children, of whom five grew to maturity, as follow: Luella, who died unmarried at the age of twenty-two; Arthur R., who married Caroline Bacon and had seven children; Allie E., who married W. W. Cook, a Greenfield attorney, and has three children; Wood L., the subject of this biographical sketch, and Nannie B., who married Edward P. Wilson, vice-president of the J. Ward Walker Company, of Greenfield, a biographical sketch of whom is presented elsewhere in this volume.
Wood L. Walker was reared in Greenfield and received his education in the public schools of that city, Upon leaving the high school he entered the drug store of E. B. Grose, and was there engaged from 1884 to 1887, in which latter year he took his place in his father's store, and has ever since been connected with that establishment, having gone through all stages of development in the conduct of the business from bookkeeper, which was his first work in the store, to his present position of secretary-treasurer and general manager of the J. Ward Walker Company. Mr. Walker gives his undivided attention to the affairs of the store and is widely known in commercial circles throughout this part of the state.
On October 2, 1889, Wood L. Walker was united in marriage to Nellie Whitsell, who was born at Tipton, Iowa, and to this union four children have been born, Marthena, John Wood, Joseph W. and one who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Walker are members of the Bradley Methodist Episcopal church and take an earnest part in various social and cultural activities of their home town. Mr. Walker is a Republican and gives his thoughtful attention to local political affairs, but has never been an aspirant for public office. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a Knight Templar, a member of the blue lodge, the chapter and the commandery at Greenfield and of the council of Royal and Select Masters at McCordsville. He is warmly interested in Masonic affairs and has "crossed the sands" to the "oasis" of Indianapolis, being an enthusiastic member of Murat temple, Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in that city.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 1133-1135.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 28, 2001.
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