Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Presidents Bush: The Walker Genealogy (Part III)

David Davis Walker, Nephew of Lincoln's Attorney

Bloomington Township is about six miles south from the center of today's Bloomington, Illinois. When George E. Walker packed up his family to move west from Maryland, the town he arrived at was called Blooming Grove, platted in 1831. The Walkers set up a farmstead south of Bloomington in 1838 and remained there until their deaths. George died in 1875 and his wife, Harriet Mercer Walker, in 1878; both are buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. George E. Walker was George H.W. Bush's great-great-grandfather, and Harriet was his great-great-grandmother, and both were long since dead by 1921, when Prescott Bush married into the Walker family.

The Bush family had many generations of Protestantism under their belts by that time, but the Walkers only one generation, at least on the paternal side.

The story was different though in Harriet Mercer's family. Justice David Davis, Harriet's favorite nephew, was interred on Bloomington's north side at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. Bloomington's "greatest legal light," a history of the city's earliest settlers (published in 1874) called him. When Justice Davis was suffering his last illness in 1886, his own favorite nephew, Davis Davis Walker, by then a 30-year resident of St. Louis, returned to sit with the judge's immediate family by his uncle's bedside.

The Walker family owed everything to Davis, Abraham Lincoln's friend and personal attorney.

In the early 1850's Davis worked on financing the Alton & Sangamon Railroad that would provide transportation services for Bloomington, a railroad which would a few years later be rescued by E.H. Harriman.[1] In those days Walker had lived in Bloomington and was close to first cousin, George Perrin Davis, who had childhood memories of riding in Lincoln's horse-drawn buggy during circuit court rounds as early as 1850. George P. Davis and his  Walker cousin were together for a short time at school in Beloit, Wisconsin, but, while George received additional training at Illinois Wesleyan to become an attorney, his poor relation, D.D. moved to St. Louis in 1857 to become an apprentice wholesaler. Nevertheless, the two remained in contact over the years.

After Lincoln's murder, Davis, who had been appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lincoln in 1862, was named  Administrator of Lincoln's estate in Springfield, Illinois (see 1867 clipping, right).

Walker's Dry Goods Business

911 Washington Avenue
D.D. Walker was a hard worker at St. Louis' largest wholesale merchant--Crow, McCreery & Co.--a partner by the age of 25. Other partners in the firm included Wayman Crow, William A. Hargadine, Hugh McKittrick, Frank Ely and Isaac Gibbons, the latter of whom was sued by Walker and his partners in 1876.

The firm engaged in business under various names for several years, and, according to litigation, several surviving original partners incorporated Ely, Walker & Co. around 1878, with D.D. serving as its president until 1892. William A. Hargadine, for whom Walker's second son (George Herbert's older brother) was name, died that year. Hargadine-McKittrick had incorporated a company in 1889, leasing a newly constructed building at 911 Washington Avenue until 1923, when the building bore the name of its tenant, Lammert Furniture. The corporation was sold to Ely, Walker & Co. in 1915.

D. D. Walker's short biographies state he retired once or twice between 1876 and 1910 to recover from exhaustion. It seems possible that during one of those retirements, or perhaps simply a summer vacation to Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, the Walkers boarded the May Queen, which ironically suffered a boiler explosion during their ride. The irony was that, some 21 years earlier, Mrs. D.D. (Martha) Walker's father, Joseph Beaky, had died on a similar steamship, the Minnehaha. Joseph Beaky, only 39 when he died in 1858, was a dealer in wood-burning stoves. The four-year-old boy mentioned in the Bloomington newspaper, The Pantagaph (above, left) would have been little Bertie Walker, while Martha's mother, "Mrs. Beaky," was the former Mary Ann Bangs.

The Jesuit Connections of the Beakey Family

Two weddings--1839 and 1840
In 1862--the same year David Davis moved to Washington, D.C. to take his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court--D. D. Walker married Martha Adela Beaky. Though it has not yet been discovered how they  met, it is intriguing to note one common denominator linking each set of grandparents, two Catholic institutions in two separate locations:
  1. Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where D.D. Walker's father had attended school 1811-12 while D.D.'s future wife's father, Joseph Ambrose Beakey, was a youngster in that town; Joseph also became a student in 1826.
  2. St. Augustine Catholic Church, Philadelphia, where D.D. Walker's first cousin, Mary Scanlan, married in 1839; Martha Beakey's parents married there in 1840.

Genealogy of Emanuel Behe
The Beakey name was an adaptation from "Biechi," the French spelling of the German name "Büchi" under which the family came to America. The German  form eventually became  Behee or  Behe. Emanuel Büchi, who had been born 1751 in the French section of Alsace and baptized a Roman Catholic, grew up to marry Marguerite-Jea (Mary Jane) and  lived for a time in Germany before emigrating to America during the French Revolution when he was in his late 30's.

It is believed, however, that Emanuel first came to  America during the revolutionary war as a Hessian mercenary soldier, before he brought his family to live in Pennsylvania in about 1789, the year of the French Revolution. His son Joseph (father of Joseph Ambrose) was then a lad of nine years.

Emanuel had first gone to the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania before eventually settling in the town of Loretto in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. There he worked as a gunsmith and tinner, training his sons in the same profession. Loretto had been initially set up in 1799 at the community known as McGuire's Settlement by a priest who spoke German and was thus put in charge of German Catholic settlements, which included Lancaster.

Bishop John Carroll, Jesuit
This priest, Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, also known as Augustine Smith, was actually a Russian prince whose father had been Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands. Though baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, he made a decision to become a Catholic priest around 1787, when he traveled to America with Rev. Francis Xavier Brosius. He began studying for the priesthood in 1792 in Baltimore at St. Mary's Seminary under Bishop John Carroll, who ordained him in 1795. Bishop Carroll was also mentioned in Part II of this series. It was this same Bishop Carroll who in 1803 performed the wedding ceremony between Elizabeth (Betsy) Patterson, a Presbyterian, and Jerome, the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Father Augustine Smith was placed in charge of a Catholic colony to be set up in 1799 at the location of Loretto in the Allegheny mountains on 20,000 acres. Refusing at the behest of his family to return to Europe to litigate his Russian claims, his titled inheritance was cut off in 1808 by the Emperor of Russia. Nevertheless, Gallitzin's Catholic colony thrived, and numerous town sprang up with his church being the only Catholic church between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis. It is quite likely, therefore, that Joseph would have been of the right age to serve under Father Gallitzin, who drilled the 142nd Pennsylvania Militia which fought in the war of 1812. [2]

It was also in Loretto where the Behe family would come in contact with another Catholic family named McMullen from Ireland (See Chapter V of linked book by Leo A. McMullen, LLD. who wrote concerning the land on which Emmitsburg, Maryland, was founded:

The land was originally owned by the famous Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Emmit's property extended about four square miles, from Middle Creek to Toms Creek to Friend's Creek to Pennsylvania. The genesis of Emmitsburg dates to influx of settlers in 1730, 1746, and 1757. The town was laid out in 1785.
Emanuel's son, Joseph, (born in Germany in 1773) moved east to Maryland, and after his marriage to Catherine Schreiner, he had remained. Catharine's father, Johannes Schreiner, born in Frederick County, Maryland in 1766 to parents from western Germany, had been baptized as a Lutheran rather than a Catholic. Before Johannes' death, he had moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1828.

Joseph's employer, it was reported, was Mount St. Mary's Catholic school in Emmitsburg:
Joseph Beachi (Senior) was a "tinner" and was responsible for tin, copper, and downspouts for both buildings [at Mount St. Mary's]. He apparently enrolled his sons while he worked here. A copy of his account is in the college's ledger for 1826.[2]
Catharine had given birth to several sons in Emmitsburg before Joseph Ambrose Beaky was born there in 1818,
six years after George E. Walker had left Mount St. Mary's. Because their father worked at the school, John Beakey, Martha's uncle, studied at the Mount in 1823 before Joseph did in 1826. The parents then watched one child after another move west to St. Louis, beginning with James, who is said to have moved in 1836. Both he and his brother John had been trained in tinning by their father and were working with a partner named Andrews in 1838.

Beakey Family's Diplomatic Connections

Martha's father, Joseph, was first listed in the St. Louis directory in 1848. That year's directory also included the name of Clement W. Coote, the new engineer and surveyor for the city, who had followed his brother Thomas Coote west around 1840 from Washington, D.C. to be St. Louis deputy city engineer. In short order Clement had married Joseph's sister, Sarah Beakey, who had traveled west to visit her brothers.

Sarah's new father-in-law was Clement Tubbs Coote, an attorney and low-level magistrate in the nation's capital who arrived there from Cambridgeshire, England. In fact Clement had actually been born in Washington in 1810, but then the Coote family returned home to England and did not return to live until 1817, becoming American citizens in 1822. Marian Coote, Clement's older sister, married Navy Purser William Speiden, whose biographical sketch also sets out details of the life of the elder Coote. Marian's son, William Speiden, Jr., at the age of eighteen accompanied his father, to the China Sea and Japan with Commodore Matthew C. Perry during 1852-55.

We read about much of the Coote and Speiden families' history in an article by Harold Langley which states that in 1838 "Mary Coote, Marian's mother, was taken sick with some unidentified problem and was not expected to live very long. Her daughters took care of her and her son, Clement, left his position as an assistant engineer on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to come to his Mother's bedside."[3] Langley also mentions that the wedding of the youngest Coote daughter, Ann, to James Barry, a Catholic, took place that year at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., and was performed by Very Rev. William Matthews.

The Langley article reveals the reason Clement W. Coote had left his home in the fall of 1840 bound for St. Louis, where he would eventually meet and marry Sarah Beakey:
The lure of the west affected members of her [Marian's] own family. Her brother Thomas found himself unemployed. He frequently lamented that he did not go on the [Charles Wilkes] Exploring Expedition with William Speiden, perhaps as a Purser's steward. He went to St. Louis to try his luck and almost immediately got a position that he liked. So favorable were his reports that Marian's other brother, Clement, set out for St. Louis. He had been unemployed for nine months after his layoff on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
Marian Coote's letters also give a brief snippet in six sentences of the last two decades of her husband's life:
As for William Speiden, he remained in the Navy. His duties kept him on the Washington scene for a few years. Then he was off again for the Mexican War and later participated in the expedition of Commodore Matthew C. Perry to open up Japan. He had two years duty in Norfolk before he joined the East India squadron. Here he became ill and was sent home. He died in Washington on December 18, 1861, at the age of sixty- four.
While his brother-in-law, William Speiden, pursued his career as a naval officer, the younger Clement Coote left his bride in St. Louis, just as the gold rush began at Sutter's Mill in California, to work as a surveyor in nearby Sacramento. His name appeared on the first plan of that city dated 1849, and in 1850 he had been elected secretary of Sacramento's first city council. As early as 1853 he was named city surveyor for Sacramento, but, tragically his death came at the age of 35 in January 1855.

During this time, however, Sarah Coote (sister of Joseph Ambrose Beakey), had moved back to Emmittsburg, Maryland with her eight-year-old son, Clement W. Coote, Jr., where she was busily caring for her aging parents, the Beakeys, paternal grandparents of Martha Beakey Walker; Sarah's mother died in 1850 and her father in 1854, followed shortly thereafter by the death of her husband.

Joseph Ambrose Beakey had gone from Emmitsburg to Philadelphia to look for work about two years after his brothers set out for St. Louis. Perhaps, being the youngest child left at home, he wanted to remain somewhat close to his parents in the event they should need him. Working for a supplier of stoves in Philadelphia, most likely Powell Stackhouse, he met his chosen wife, Mary Ann Bangs, who had been orphaned when her mother, Powell's younger sister Esther Stackhouse Bangs, had died in 1819, while her father was away at sea. Powell Stackhouse switched from making furniture to manufacturing stoves in about 1831. Is it possible that Powell's niece, Mary Ann Bangs, a distant descendant not only of the elite Whitney clan from Connecticut, but also of Edward Bangs, who came to America in 1623, met her future husband who was in Philadelphia to learn about stove manufacturing?

Joseph Ambrose and Mary Ann Bangs married in 1840 at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Philadelphia, the same church, you may recall from Part I where another wedding had been held the previous year (1839) when Mary Scanlan married William Axton  Stokes there.[4] Joseph soon took his new wife back to Emmittsburg, Maryland, where the Beakey family lived, and he was sure to have heard about his new nephew, his brother John Beakey's son, Augustine James, christened in a Catholic Church in St. Louis in 1840. Another nephew had already been born there in 1838.

When their daughter Martha, the eldest, was about seven, the youngest of the Beakey progeny followed his siblings to St. Louis, nine years before David Davis Walker arrived there from Bloomington by way of his Beloit, Wisconsin, school. Four years later, in 1852, Mary Ann Bangs Beakey gave birth to Clement William Coote Beakey, named for his Aunt Sarah's husband.

End Notes:

[1] Its name was changed to Chicago & Alton, under president Timothy Blackstone, who had headed the Union Stock Yards in Chicago before 1866. In 1899 it was purchased by the Illinois Central under the leadership of Edward H. Harriman. By 1901 Harriman was a director not only of the Illinois Central, but also of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad, the Kansas City Southern Railroad, Guaranty Trust Company, National City Bank, Mercantile Trust, Brooklyn Rapid Transit (with August Belmont), United States Shipbuilding Company, Western Union Telegraph, Pacific Coast Company, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and was chairman of the executive committee of the Chicago & Alton Railroad.

[2] Sheldon Spear, Pennsylvania Histories: Two Hundred Years of Personalities and Events, 1750–1950, p. 32. 

[3] Harold D. Langley, "A Naval Dependent in Washington, 1837-1842: Letters of Marian Coote Speiden," in the Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 50, The Fiftieth Volume (1980), pp. 105-122 at JSTOR.

[4] Thereafter they resided at 121 South Sixth Street. Mary's mother, Rosetta Walker Scanlan, had moved back to Philadelphia after her husband died in Cecil County, Maryland, in 1825. Rosetta had met her Catholic husband, James Scanlan, who was allegedly in the city to visit an uncle, Rev. William Matthews, said to be a Quaker minister. It appears to have been a mere coincidence that there would be a Catholic priest by that name installed as Bishop of Philadelphia Diocese in 1828, since the Scanlans met and married in 1807. By all indications Rosetta Walker Scanlan moved back with her minor children after 1825 to live with her  "Uncle Tommy," as they referred to Thomas Walker. A banker, he lived in the middle ward of Philadelphia, according to the 1840 census, which listed his name on the same page as Edward C. Biddle and Francis M. Drexel, a Catholic immigrant from Austria. Drexel's son, Anthony Joseph Drexel, would eventually become a banking partner of J. P. Morgan.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Presidents Bush: The Walker Genealogy (Part II)

Walker Skeletons
In Part I of the Bush family's Walker ancestry, we opened up a closet containing skeletons--the bones of the Dorothy Wear Walker's family dating back five generations preceding the birth of her son, George H. W. Bush. Dorothy's father, George Herbert Walker, had been born in St. Louis in 1875 to David Davis Walker, who had then only recently located to Missouri.

Dorothy's paternal grandfather, David Davis Walker, born in 1840 in Bloomington, Illinois, was the youngest son of George E. Walker, whose family history was set out in Part I.

George E. was the first Walker in his line born on American soil--Burlington, N.J., 1797. Both his parents and two elder siblings were born near Bristol, England before the family's relocation to America in 1792. George's father, called "Beau" Walker, was a sea captain and had been lost at sea while shipping slaves from Sierra Leone, Africa, to the West Indies the same year George was born in America. His mother died when he was nine, and his sister, Rosetta, quickly married in 1807 and moved to Cecil County, Maryland. She took George with her, while their brother (called Uncle Tommy by the Scanlan children) appears to have remained in Philadelphia until some time after 1839. All those facts were documented in the previous segment linked above.

Mount Saint Mary's College, 1826
Rosetta (Mrs. James) Scanlan, then a young bride moved the young boy to Sassafras Neck, Cecil County, Maryland, a community located on the most northerly cove of Chesapeake Bay. Rosetta's husband, Dr. James Scanlan, provided George with the semblance of a Jesuit education, sending him 120 miles away to a new school in Emmitsburg, founded by a French priest, Fr. John DuBois, in 1808.[1] John Carroll, America's first Catholic bishop, later Archbishop of Maryland, who purchased the land for Mount St. Mary's in 1793. George's studies at Mount Saint Mary's were for only one term (1811-12) along with some thirty boarders at Emmitsburg, twelve miles southwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, approximately 120 miles from Sassafras Neck. Other alumni from the school's early history, including names of men who would become quite famous,included:
The Carroll family in Maryland were not only large shareholders in the old Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, but also clients of Alexander Brown's investment bank in Baltimore. The Brown family's history is being written up in Linda Minor's series at the Minor Musings website.

Harriet Mercer's Family

Indications are that George attended the school only that one term, until he was fifteen. The War of 1812 began that year, and his whereabouts from that time until he he married a Protestant, Harriet Mercer, in 1821, has not been discovered. About his bride's family, however, much is known. She was the youngest of six children born to John and Rebecca (Davis) Mercer, in St. Stephen's Parish  in Earleville, Cecil County, Maryland.

The Mercer family reputedly descend from William Mercer of Aberdeen, Scotland, who served as a soldier in Ireland, where he remained until his death in 1675. Thomas Mercer, William's son or, perhaps, his nephew, came to eastern Maryland in 1671, from which date the family genealogy is documented at St. Stephens Parish, the same church where Thomas Mercer's descendant, Harriet Mercer, married George Walker 150 years later. The Davis and Mercer families had inhabited Sassafras Neck, Maryland, for generations, dating as far back as 1671 for the Davis family and 1703 for the Mercers.[2] The four generations of Mercers leading up to Harriet had seen a large accumulation of land and slaves purchased to work their plantations.

Harriet and Ann's mother, Rebecca Davis, granddaughter of Thomas Davis, Sr. and Rebecca Gregory through their son William Davis (1742-1791), was also a niece of John Davis (1744-1788), who had married Frances Mercer in 1793. Before settling in Maryland (previously part of Chester County, Pennsylvania), the Davis clan had settled in Kennebunk, Maine, from which they relocated to the warmer climate.

Harriet had been only ten years old when her neighbor George, living at the home of his brothe-in-law, Dr. Scanlan, left school at "the Mount," in Emmitsburg and presumably returned home to Sassafras Neck. Since her mother (formerly Rebecca Davis) had died in 1802, Harriet, then only a five-month-old infant, was reared by her father, John Mercer, likely with assistance from his sister, Frances Mercer Davis and her husband, John Davis (1744-1788), who was also Harriet's maternal uncle.

Harriet's fifteen-year-old sister, Ann, had married 24-year-old physician David Davis, brother of Rev. Henry Lyon Davis, rector of the St. Stephen's Parish Episcopal Church in Cecil County, but became a pregnant widow in 1814, due to the untimely death of her husband. Ann gave birth to David Davis (junior) shortly thereafter. Harriet no doubt helped Ann look after the baby, who grew up to become an attorney in Illinois, appointed to the Supreme Court by Abraham Lincoln. Rev. Davis was later named principal of Maryland's first university, St. John's College: (chapter III sets out his tenure at this historic institution). Ann Mercer Davis was remarried in 1820 to a Baltimore publisher, Franklin Betts.

John Mercer's death in 1820 left Harriet an heiress, but her newly acquired estate was in trust overseen by her elder brother, William Davis Mercer, her legal guardian, appointed in a codicil to John Mercer's Will, which provided that all the real and personal estate that he had
"willed and devised to his daughter Harriet, shall go to his son William D. Mercer, and held by him until Harriet shall arrive to the age of twenty-one years.
William Davis Mercer operated one or more of the plantations he himself had inherited from their father and, from time to time, he hired a broker to sell some of his slaves in Louisiana. In 1832 a lawsuit had been filed against his slave broker (Warfield), who had purchased the slave in issue from Mercer before selling her on the auction block, along with other slaves actually owned by Mercer.

Harriet's inheritance consisted of a 321-acre farm, which her new husband, George E. Walker attempted to cultivate. This farm was part of what was called the "Chew's Resurvey," mentioned in the papers of Benjamin Chew, Jr., in particular letters to and from his brother-in-law, Edward Tilghman, regarding loans owed by Mercer against the property. Chew, Sr. had moved to Philadelphia in 1754, set up a highly lucrative legal practice, and "owned an elegant town house on South 3rd Street. Here, he attended St. Peter’s [Episcopal] Church and associated with many influential people in the city. He became involved in other business interests, including iron works and land speculation." The Walker family, as mentioned in Part I, attended St. Augustine's Catholic Church, which was burned in May 1844, followed by more riots which occurred in July. Thomas Walker decided to move west also after that.

It should be noted that the First Bank of the United States was established at

The Slave Plantations in Sassafras Neck

Archives in Maryland indicate that only a year after Harriet married George Walker, a mortgage on the Frisby Farm was the subject of a foreclosure lawsuit filed by Philadelphia banker, Benjamin Chew:
CHANCERY COURT (Chancery Papers) 1822/02/01
7162: Benjamin Chew vs. William Davis, George Walker, Harriett Walker, and William D. Mercer. CE. Mortgage foreclosure on Frisby Farm [see p. 340 at link], Frisbys Prime Choice. Recorded (Chancery Record) 123, p. 756. Accession No: 17,898-7162-1/2. MSA S512-7195   1/37/4/
The same Frisby Farm or Prime Choice had been the subject of a lease in 1752 from a Bristol, England, man (Loyalist, associated with Benjamin Franklin) named Daniel Cheston to Harriet Mercer's uncle, John Veazey, husband of her father's older sister Rebecca:
Deed Book VII, P. 468. Lease. Daniel Cheston of Bristol but late of Kent Co., Maryland, merchant, and Francina Augustina his wife and daughter of the late Arriana Jennings, wife of the Honorable Edmond Jennings, esq., of Annapolis, for 5 shillings, to John Veazey of Cecil Co., 373 acres, part of 2 tracts of land lying between Sassafras and Bohemia Rivers in Cecil Co. called Frisby's Farm or Frisby's Prime Choice, by Scotchman's Creek, by Thomas Davis' land called the Level and by a tract called King's Aim. Made 31 Aug 1752. Wit: Thos, Luntley, Jno. Hope. Rec: 20 Jan 1752. M's. Bordley, Clerk.
It appears, however, that the land described above was part of Harriet's inheritance, devised in 1764 to her grandfather William Davis by his father Thomas Davis, who had purchased it from Daniel Cheston:
Source: S986 Abbreviation: Will Title: Will for Thomas Davis (1698-1763) ... To my wife, Rebecca Davis, her choice of all my horses, & for life, 1/2 the lands bequeathed to my son Thomas Davis excl. her 1/3 the lands I bequeath to my sons William, Joseph, & John Davis. CONT To my son Thomas Davis, the part of The Levell on the N side a br. of Back Crk. below my dw. house, 6 3/4a of Frisbys Prime Choice, & 25 2/4a of Frisbys Farm I bought of Mr. Daniel Cheston. CONT To my sons William & Joseph Davis, equ. div., the part of The Levell on the S side a br. of Back Crk., Tullys Lot 12a, Rattle Snake Neck 100a, Kings Delight 69a, Marys Jointure 57a, & Cockatrice, 20a on Rattle Snake Point. CONT To my son John Davis, 55a of Frisbys Farm, & if he d. s. p., equ. div., to my sons William & Joseph Davis. CONT To my son William Davis, Pew #9 in St. Stephens Ch., to my son Joseph Davis, Pew #25 in sd. ch. CONT Extrs: my sd. wife & my son William Davis. CONT Witn: Jno. Ward, Matthias Hendrickson, Benjamin Cox. CONT 23 July 1763, sworn to by all 3 witn.
In the fall of 1838 George and Harriet Walker traveled by wagon to Blooming Grove, McLean County, Illinois. David Davis, Harriet's nephew, was there practicing law with Abraham Lincoln. The Walkers' youngest son would be born in Illinois in 1840 and named David Davis Walker in honor of that same nephew, whose own history is related below.

David Davis' Maryland Roots

In 1815, a few months after his father had died, David Davis, Jr. was born to Ann Mercer Davis; five years later she married Franklin Betts. Young David would then be bounced back and forth between his mother, now Mrs. Betts, and his uncle, Rev. Henry Lyon Davis, who had moved to Annapolis to become president of St. John's College. Marcy Brant's excellent article reveals information about an early court case involving disputes between Davis and Betts over which man would be the better guardian for the boy. Years after the legal battles, Rev. Davis' son, Henry Winter Davis, only two years younger than David Jr., boarded with his cousin at Kenyon College in Ohio, and both subsequently were educated as lawyers.

David entered Kenyon in 1826, graduated in 1832, then entered the legal office of Henry W. Bishop in Lenox, Massachusetts to study law.[3] David was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1836, practicing law in McLean County while showing an interest in Whig politics. The Walker family moved to that county two years later and resumed their farming.

Henry Winter Davis
Henry Winter Davis would remain in Maryland, locating in Baltimore and running for Congress as a Know-Nothing. He would later join the Radical Republicans. According to the Lehrman Institute website, Henry Davis was
a combative, volatile and brash chameleon who changed religion with the philosophical winds and parties with the political seasons [and] ... became a thorn in President Lincoln's side.
In fact President Lincoln was once quoted by Noah Brooks as saying: "I've been told that insanity is hereditary in his family, and I think we will admit the plea in his case." The year after losing his Congressional seat in the election of 1864, Henry W. Davis died in Baltimore.

Walker family
It was in Lenox (in the western part of Massachusetts) that David Davis met his future wife, Sarah Woodruff Walker, daughter of William Perrin Walker, a noted judge from a family dating back to Revolutionary War days, with no obvious relationship to George E. Walker. The judge would not allow his daughter to marry until 1838—after the proposed bridegroom had completed law school in New Haven and set up a law practice in Bloomington, Illinois. The couple’s first son was named George Perrin Davis after Sarah’s brother.[4]  

David Davis’s maternal aunt, Harriet Mercer Walker, wife of George E. Walker, had four surviving children in Cecil County, Maryland before their move "out west" to southern Illinois in 1838. The background on these sons was given by Roger Hughes, "Degrees of Separation," Illinois Times, April 4, 2007:
  • John Mercer Walker (1822-1888)--John Mercer Walker, the firstborn, served in the Mexican War at Santa Fe. Soon after, he caught “gold fever” and went overland to California in 1849. His first cousin, Circuit Judge David Davis of Bloomington, helped stake his adventure. John stayed in the Sacramento Valley and farmed 160 acres in Yolo County for more than two decades before returning to Illinois to manage a Davis farm near Maroa. He retired sometime around 1883 and lived with the Davis family in their Clover Lawn mansion at Bloomington until he died in 1888, at age 65.
  • Thomas S. Walker (1825-45)--Thomas S. Walker died in 1845, at age 19. Nothing else is known about him, except that he is buried in the pioneer Woodlawn (Rhodes) Cemetery in rural Bloomington Township.
  • George W. Walker (1832-96)--George W. Walker married Mary Lilly and farmed for the rest of his life near other Lilly family members in Tazewell County’s Mackinaw Township. They had five children and also reared a son of a Walker brother who died tragically in an 1876 farm accident. Mary’s parents built and operated the Lilly Inn, where lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln sometimes stopped in when Davis was holding court in Tazewell County. Letters in the David Davis Papers — archived at various locations, including Springfield — affirm that George lived and worked for extended periods at the David and Sarah Davis home in Bloomington while growing up. Family members relate that George often took care of the Davis horses. He was being paid about $12 a month by Davis in 1852. George occasionally drove the judge’s carriage when Davis was riding his judicial circuit. According to family lore, Lincoln is believed to have ridden along with them at least once — and maybe more often. George died in 1896, at age 63.
  • Edward Scanlan (1835-1876)--Edward S. “Ned” Walker also was regularly found at the Davis home in Bloomington during the 1840s and 1850s, the same years in which Lincoln would drop by to visit the judge. Ned returned from Civil War service in the spring of 1865, several months after the death of his father, and took charge of the family farm at Blooming Grove. He married Sarah Bay of Bloomington. His mother Harriet lived with them until her death, in 1869. Ned died in 1876, at age 40, when he accidentally fell to his death in a farm well. Sarah and her three young children soon left the farm that had been in the Walker family for about four decades.
After the move to Illinois, three more children would be born to them:
  • David Davis Walker (1840-1918)--David Davis Walker was born in 1840. Letters in the David Davis Papers show that with the assistance — and at the insistence — of the judge, D.D. Walker attended the Beloit College preparatory school in Wisconsin for two years. Young Walker then journeyed to St. Louis in 1857, soon after his schooling, for employment as a clerk in the wholesale dry-goods firm of Crow, McCreery & Co. Wayman Crow founded the business in 1835. He was a longtime friend of Davis and partnered with the judge in various land transactions across the Midwest. D.D. Walker quickly learned the dry-goods business. He had his own company by the 1880s and was living exceptionally well — though sometimes in poor health — in St. Louis. Around the turn of the century, his six children were marrying into some of the most influential St. Louis families, such as Lambert, Filley, Papin and Wear. He and wife Martha had a summer home at Kennebunkport, Maine, and a winter home at Santa Barbara, California.... D.D. Walker died at Kennebunkport in 1918, at age 78.
  • Rosetta Walker (1842-1919)--Rosetta Walker had 10 children with husband Thomas LeRoy Ijams. They farmed in the LeRoy area in DeWitt County. She died in 1919, at age 77. Like her siblings, Rose sometimes lived away from the family farm during her younger years, helping out at the always-busy Davis family home at Bloomington.
  • Sarah Davis Walker (1845-1915)--Sarah Davis Walker began occasionally living with the Davis family as early as 1853, when she was about 8 years old. Sarah married Samuel Raley in the mid-1860s. They farmed and had four children. The Raleys first lived in Illinois, near LeRoy, then in Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Sarah died in 1915, probably in Wharton County, Texas, at age 70.
David Davis Walker

Justice David Davis
David Davis soon became a circuit judge, traveling with Abraham Lincoln, and he has been credited with being the brains behind achieving Lincoln’s election to the Presidency. He accompanied Lincoln to Washington for the inauguration and remained there for a time, possibly helping in the transition, before returning to Illinois to resume his position as Circuit Judge. Shortly after his return, he was appointed chairman of a Western Commission in St. Louis, to investigate claims against the War Department and Union General John C. Fremont with regard to military preparedness. In October 1862, President Lincoln appointed his friend to be a Justice on the Supreme Court.

David Davis residence in Bloomington
David D. Walker arrived in St. Louis in 1857 after studying at Beloit College Academy in Wisconsin for several years. Judge Davis sent his only son, George Perrin Davis, who was two years younger than his cousin, D.D. Walker, to Beloit at about the same time Walker was there. George P. Davis received further education at Illinois Wesleyan, of which his father was an incorporator and trustee. With a partner, Wells Colton, Davis in 1836 bought the law practice of Jesse W. Fell, and in 1843 he also acquired Fell's mansion on the south side of Bloomington, called "Clover Lawn," which has come to be known as the David Davis Mansion.

A decade later Fell and Davis witnessed the groundbreaking of the Illinois Central Railroad in the northern part of the city. This is the railroad which would decades later be reorganized by E. H. Harriman--thus serving to rescue the investments of Bloomington's wealthy citizens who had retained their stock.

According to the Roger Hughes article cited above:
Even after his death, on June 26, 1886, Judge David Davis continued to assist the less successful of his Walker cousins — just as he had regularly helped them and their parents across earlier decades of the 19th century. Decatur’s Daily Review newspaper reported on Aug. 4, 1886, that the will of the late circuit judge, Supreme Court justice and U.S. senator had been “offered for probate” and that it included “comfortable support for his poor relations. . . . ” Among the “poor relations” were all but two — D.D. and George W. — of his Walker cousins. He provided lifetime annual legacies for some of them and one-time bequests for others. Also, he gave “my horse ‘Whoodlebug’ and my Washington buggy” to John Mercer Walker. Shortly before the judge died, D.D. Walker visited Clover Lawn to pay respects to a first cousin who had, about three decades earlier, helped put Lincoln in the White House even as he was also giving the young Walker a life-changing jump-start to future personal and family success.

[1] The revolution in France following America's revolutionary war caused the Catholic priest to flee to the United States in the 1790's. Eventually he settled in Maryland, where he was assisted by Fr. Simon Gabriel Bruté, in setting up Mount Saint Mary's school at Emmitsburg. Bruté taught there 1812-34, later became the first bishop of Vincennes, Indiana. 

[2] The Mercer family's roots in Cecil County were deep, and they can be traced as far back as the birth of Robert Mercer, Sr. there in 1703 to the Scottish-born Thomas Mercer, who married a widow, Elizabeth Barnes MacGregor (born in Cecil County in 1666). Thomas left four sons: Robert, William, Thomas, Jr., and John.

[3] Bishop was a close friend of Berkshire County Clerk Charles Sedgwick, of a prominent family living in Massachusetts and Connecticut whose first American ancestor, Robert Sedwick, arrived in 1635 and was appointed governor of Jamaica by Oliver Cromwell in 1655. The intermarried Sedgwick, Dwight and Ellery families were notable in the Skull and Bones fraternity at Yale. 

[4] Marcy J. Brant, “David Davis,” Illinois History, Volume 46, Number 2 (February 1993); Davis entry in American Biographical Library.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Presidents Bush: The Walker Genealogy (Part I)

George E. Walker, from Slave Trader's Son
to Jesuit-Educated Farmer

We all are aware that John Newton wrote the lyrics to the hymn "Amazing Grace" to the tune of an African slave tune he heard when he was captain of a slave-trading ship. However, few of us have heard that the first of Presidents George H. W. and George Walker Bush's ancestors on their Walker genealogical line to move to America was also a slave trader--Captain Thomas "Beau" Walker from Clifton, a suburb of Bristol in Gloucestershire, England. Captain Walker married Catherine McClellan (or McLelland) in 1785, and their first two children were born there in Bristol.

Beau, a ship captain engaged in trade from the Bristol port to the West Indies, in 1792 moved his wife and two children to America and applied for citizenship, buying land in New Jersey in 1795--a move which occurred the year following the historic slave revolt in Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1791. America had only recently won its independence from Britain, the thirteen colonies having ratified the new Constitution in 1789.

At that time slaves were being imported at the New Jersey port at Perth Amboy and sold to Dutch farmers in the Passaic and Raritan river valleys, who "had a long history of slave ownership." Burlington, New Jersey's port at Camden saw fewer slaves being brought to the county because of the Quaker influence across the river in Pennsylvania. In 1797, however, the same year Catherine gave birth to their third child, George, Captain Walker was lost at sea while engaged in bringing slaves from the Sierra Leone coast, according to research published at Slate, which attempted to confirm that Thomas Walker and Beau Walker were, in fact, one and the same man as mentioned October 24, 1797, in Life and Letters of Zachary Macaulay:
Slave ship in British trade
You have heard of the noted Beau Walker, an English Slave-Trader of these parts. He arrived at the Isles Du Los [off present-day Guinea] lately in an American Brig being bound to Cape Mount [in present-day northwest Liberia] for slaves. He had scarce arrived at the last place, when exercising his usual barbarities on his officers & crew, they were provoked to conspire against him. As he lay on one of the hencoops a seaman came up & struck him on the breast with a handspike, but the blow being ill directed, did not produce its intended effect and Walker springing up would soon have sacrificed the mutineer to his fury, had not a boy at the helm, pulling a pistol from his breast, shot him dead on the spot. His body was immediately thrown overboard. Thus ended Walker’s career, an end worthy of such a life. The vessel left Cape Mount, and it is supposed has gone for the Brazils or South Seas. There could not possibly have been a more inhuman monster than this Walker. Many a poor seaman has been brought by him to an untimely end.
If the verification of Walker's identity is true, it sounds as though the infant George was better off for having lost his father, at least in Macaulay's estimation of the "inhuman monster" of a man called Beau Walker. Had he not died when he did, history may have been changed forever. For whatever reason, his death led the widow Catherine Walker to relocate across the river to Philadelphia.

George's mother (Beau's widow) is recorded as being married in 1801 to her second husband, Robert Hodgson, in Philadelphia, about 30 miles from Burlington, N.J., in the historic Christ Episcopal Church. The service was performed by assistant rector Dr. James Abercrombie. When Catherine died in 1806, she left behind three children: 
  • Rosetta, born in Clifton, Gloucestershire,  in 1785, was 21 when her mother died;
  • Thomas McLellan Walker, born in England in 1787, became the man of the family, sometimes known as "Uncle Tommy"; and
  • George E. Walker, born an American citizen in Burlington, N.J. in 1797, was ten years younger than his brother and twelve years younger than his sister, and a mere nine years of age when his mother died.
George's Catholic Upbringing by Scanlans

Within a year after Catherine's death in 1806, Rosetta met Dr. James Scanlan, a physician, who appears to have been in Philadelphia visiting his uncle, Dr. William Matthews, Jr., brother of the former Susannah Matthews, who had died in 1792. The Matthews family, who were also related by marriage to Kitty Knight, is mentioned in the Cecil County Historical County Bulletin No. 31, dated May 22, 1967 at page 159:
Susannah Matthews Scanlan's brother, Dr. William Matthews' estate

Scanlan was in Philadelphia, visiting his mother's brother, Dr. William Matthews (1735-1808), whose death occurred only a year after James' marriage to Rosetta Walker. Many of the papers relating to lands owned by Dr. Matthews (Bohemia Manor, Vulcan's Rest, and Worsell Manor), adjoining St. Xavier's mission in Old Bohemia, were donated to Georgetown University archives. About the mission land's history, as quoted from a book by Myndie Burgoyne, Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake (Haunted America), who wrote:
Fr. Mansel sailed up the Chesapeake and up the Bohemia and obtained land between two branches of the Bohemia River.  There he founded his mission and named the tract of land St. Xavier.  On a high piece of ground, he built a chapel and log cabin. He named that St. Francis Xavier - after the most famous Jesuit missionary. In 1774 Fr. Thomas Pulton founded a Jesuit Academy on the property for educating young men. John Carroll attended the Academy around 1747, and went on to found Georgetown University.  He later became the bishop of the first established Diocese in the Colonies – Baltimore – making him the first American Catholic Bishop.

After a ceremony at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in historic old town Philadelphia, James took his new wife and her youngest brother, George E. Walker, to Sassafras Neck, an area located between two branches of the Bohemia River, in Cecil County, Maryland.
Read Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Mississippi

Dr. Scanlan, a dedicated Catholic, saw to it that young George had a proper Catholic education by sending him in 1811 at the age of fourteen to  Mount Saint Mary's Jesuit school, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. There Rosetta gave birth to their first child, James William Scanlan in 1809, whose birth had been followed by three daughters (Mary, Catherine or Kate, and Rosetta Ann). Finally, in 1821 another son, Edward Barto Scanlan, was born only four years before Dr. James Scanlan died in in 1825.

The  widow, Rosetta Walker Scanlan, who had by then resided in Maryland for eighteen years, chose to return to Philadelphia, where her eldest son was beginning medical studies at Jefferson Medical College (now called Sidney Kimmel Medical College), in the area where Rosetta's brother Thomas Walker lived.

Yale graduate Dr. George McClellan,[1] who studied surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, had founded Jefferson in 1824 as part of a college near the western state line. Once James Scanlan's medical studies were completed, he moved to Mississippi to practice medicine, reportedly dying in Thibodaux, Louisiana in 1838. Rosetta's youngest son, Edward Barto Scanlan, also ended up in the deep south, seemingly disconnected from his uncle, George E. Walker, and the rest of the Scanlan family.

George Walker's Nieces--Mary Scanlan Stokes
and Kate Scanlan Minahan 
and Great-Niece, Agnes La Roche

Rosetta's eldest daughter, Mary Scanlan, was ardently courted in 1839 by William Axton Stokes, son of merchant Charles Stokes, whose devout Catholic family was on Philadelphia's Social Register. The original papers describing their courtship, as donated to Villanova, indicate that Mary Scanlan lived in Philadelphia with her uncle, a Mr. Walker, who could only have been Rosetta's brother, Thomas Walker.[2] One genealogist reveals research indicating Thomas was a bank clerk and living at 181 S. 9th Street in Philadelphia before he relocated to Bloomington, Illinois, reconnecting with younger brother, George E. Walker. The 9th Street location is adjacent to the medical school which Mary's brother, James W. Scanlan, attended at the same time. Other genealogy reports show that "Uncle Tommy" was buried in the David Davis plot in the Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington in 1870.

William Stokes in 1839 was already an attorney, later becoming chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He moved to Western Pennsylvania soon after Mary Scanlan Stokes died in childbirth in 1849, only two years after the death of her mother (Rosetta Walker Scanlan). Her widowed husband was quickly remarried to a woman named Nancy and, during the civil war, received a Major's commission.[3]

Soon after the war, Stokes resumed his position with the railroad, but in about 1870 he returned to Philadelphia. The body of his wife Mary, originally buried at the now defunct new St. Mary's cemetery, was moved at some point to Vault No. 12 at St. John's Churchyard, apparently by daughter Catherine (Kate) Scanlan. William Stokes' brother, Dr. Thomas P. J. Stokes, who had studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania during the 1840's, died at age 41 in 1856 and was also interred in this vault. Agnes Stokes La Roche's remains also reside there since her death in 1904.

Uncle Tommy is also mentioned in a letter, part of a collection at Illinois Wesleyan University, from Catherine Scanlan Minahan to Judge David Davis' son, George Perrin Davis (who will be discussed in Part II), asking for help for her nephew Tom, son of Edward Barto Scanlan. Kate (shown in the 1850 census as a 35-year-old single woman in Greenburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, keeping house for her recently widowed brother-in-law) in order to help a recent widower, Daniel F. Minahan, take care of his infant son born in 1853, married him and continued to live in Western Pennsylvania until at least 1870. Minahan was a civil engineer and railroad contractor, as well as author of several mathematical works, and was said to have "laid out the first road between Latrobe, Pa., and Chicago." Kate is referred to in a biography of his son, Thomas Boromea Minahan, as  "his stepmother, a talented Southerner," who helped him to become
proficient in classics, history, orations and poetry, subsequently attending a parochial school. He was graduated at St. John's College, Fordham, N. Y., in 1876, with the degree A.B., carrying the honors of his class, and in 1902 Fordham University gave him the degree LL.D.
René de la Roche
Mary and William's daughter, Agnes Stokes, grew up to marry in 1873 Dr. C. Percy La Roche, son of René de la Roche, who obtained a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1820, after first working as an accountant for a shipping firm and then serving in the War of 1812. Percy's father's biography states that he served thirteen years on the Board of Health of Philadelphia and that he spent twenty years as a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. He also boasted membership in numerous other medical societies and charitable organizations. He married in 1824 Mary Jane Ellis, daughter of Colonel (Judge) John Ellis of Natchez, Mississippi, and died in 1872. Percy's biography mentions that he had been educated at St. Mary's in Baltimore until 1852, thereafter attending Georgetown in Washington, D.C., then studied medicine at the University of Philadelphia. He did his medical residency at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia in vaccines.

Author Bertram Wyatt-Brown did not mention the fact that the La Roche family had also used the name "de la Roche, and his gave Percy's father's name as Dr. René Marc Marie LaRoche, leading to some confusion, since he was often known simply as "Dr. René de la Roche." Percy's grandfather, another René, had owned a plantation in St. Domingo (Haiti), the destruction of which in the slave revolt of 1791 prompted him to relocate to Philadelphia until his death in 1820, and to continue the practice of medicine for which he had prepared himself in France. 

The second Dr. René La Roche (or de la Roche), Agnes Stokes' father-in-law, drew close to Dr. Samuel D. Brown, founder of a secret medical fraternity in 1819 at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, which had among its aims promoting "harmony of the profession," and creating "a powerful underground force in medical politics." When Dr. Brown died in 1830, René de la Roche became his "ardent eulogist," according to a satirical paper prepared by Dr. Chauncey Depew Leake, read to the Wisconsin Medical History Seminar in 1921.

Called Kappa Lambda Society of Aesculapius, this secret fraternity established branches in numerous other cities, and Dr. De la Roche, along with Franklin Bache and other members in Philadelphia, in 1826 began publication of the North American Medical and Surgical Journal, which mentioned Dr. Brown's Kappa Lambda and its desire to inculcate a "higher standard of excellence" in the medical profession. The new Jefferson Medical school founded by George McClellan in that same year occurred within the prestigious era of Kappa Lambda Association. However, after publishing only twelve volumes of the journal, the Association was dissolved in 1836. These same forces, however, after attack and defeat in 1831, resurrected the same ideas into a new group formed in 1847 called the American Medical Association.

It should be recalled that Haiti, known in those days as Santo Domingo, or Saint Domingue by the French, was the same island to which Beau Walker smuggled slaves from Sierra Leone. Had Captain Beau Walker sold such "cargo to the De La Roche family? Only further research can say.
Click to enlarge.


[1]  Brief research did not indicate that he had any family relationship with Catherine McClellan Walker.

[2] Possibly incorrectly transcribed as "J.W." instead of T.W., Mary's uncle's conduct was considered by William A. Stokes as either tawdry, rude, or strange, and was more specifically described in the journal as follows:
On Monday 9 Sep 1839, I called on Mr Walker by consent of Mary and had a long interview. At times during the conversation he was very much excited and at other times calm. He said that the family had deceived him and treated him as a fool and a puppet that Mary & Kitty [probably Catherine Scanlan, also known as Kate] had positively denied there was any ground for suspicion, that they must have know that this declaration was false-- that we were in no [�] adapted for each other & more particularly that our [�] and feelings are at variance and that our religious views were dissimilar -- he said that I had no idea of the pertinacious bigotry of the Catholics -- that if I am thought of the matter seriously as I probably would I would be violently opposed to Mary's religion and that my profession was one in which I could not expect to make money for some years and that Mary was far from being a young girl and that it was inexpedient that at her age She should be embarrassed by any engagement. However others had [�] that I had behaved with honor &c &c. I defended the family and the whole matter to my best ability and he finally said that though he would not oppose he would not approve the matter -- that he should always be glad to see me or a friend and would me with politeness. I left him & in the afternoon communicated the whole matter to Mary.

[3] Although Stokes had in 1847 helped author a political treatise about the writ of habeas corpus with Edward Ingersoll, a man who supported the Confederacy's legal arguments and who did not agree with Chief Justice Taney's Supreme Court opinion in the case of Ex Parte Merryman, he did not totally agree with Ingersoll. A son of Charles Jared Ingersoll, in 1865, while speaking in favor of the states' right to secede, the younger Ingersoll had been beaten, arrested and jailed on a charge of carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Four years earlier, Major Stokes, in contrast, had delivered a speech at the Union Convention in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in September, 1861, in which he denied the right of secession, which he called a "union for disunion" at page 7. Edward Ingersoll's name, curiously enough, also appears amidst the petty bickering and medical intrigue central to the politics that surrounded the formation of Jefferson Medical College in 1826, notably regarding the dismissal of Francis S. Beattie, professor of midwifery, who subsequently sued the faculty and the trustees of the Jefferson Medical College. The Ingersolls, father and son, at various times were trustees of the college at Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, which had sponsored the medical school.

(To Be Continued)