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Signature of Edward B. Walker Genealogy of Edward B. Walker
1756-1838, Duplin County, North Carolina - Sullivan, Claiborne, Hancock Counties, Tennessee


Edward B. Walker and Jane Horn

WorldConnect: Edward B. Walkeroffsite link to WorldConnect
Spouse: Jane Horn
Family Bible: Alternate on file
Photos: No known photos
Signatures: Edward's on file; Jane illiterate
Tombstones: Burial locations unknown
Links: Pension
Family Bible
Methodist conversion
Why Jane got no pension
Who his parents are not
N. C. Maps: Halifax, NC
Kenansville (Duplin Co.)
Kenansville to Halifax
Kenansville to Kingsport
Kenansville to Wilmington
Wilmington, NC
Wilmington to Brunswick
Tennessee Maps: Blairs Gap Road
Horse Creek/Fall Branch
Kingsport (Sullivan Co.)
Mulberry Creek/Gap
Reedy Creek
Wikipedia: John Ashe
Duplin Co, NC
Great Wagon Road
Gen. Griffith Rutherford
King George II
King George III
North Carolina
Sullivan County, TN
Wilderness Road
Wilmington, NC
More: Brunswick in the Revolution
Rev. Richard Murrell

Birth and Childhood

Edward B. Walker said he was born in 1756 in North Carolina; that statement, in his pension application, is the only direct evidence known of his birth. Unfortunately, he did not give an exact date or name the county where he was born, although other evidence suggests that he may have been born sometime after March in that year. His parents are unknown, and the search continues.

At the time that Edward was born, North Carolina was still a colony of Great Britain, and King George II was on the throne. The Carolinas has been established as a royal colony 86 years before Edward's birth, and the two states were formally divided in 1712. At first, North Carolina was settled mostly by religious dissenters and the poor of Virginia; in fact, North Carolina's early citizens were often called "the quintessence of Virginia's discontent." Those early residents were often squatters who established small farms. Unlike its Southern neighbors, North Carolina was not dominated by aristocrats and plantations, and the citizen's sense of rugged individualism made the colony one of the most democratic of the original British colonies alongside Rhode Island.

Over time, and starting before Edward's birth, other groups flooded into North Carolina, including the Scotch-Irish, a group to which many believe Edward's family may have belonged. The Scotch-Irish were not actually Irish at all but were Scot Lowlanders, Presbyterians who, years before, had been forced into northern Ireland. Because of tensions with the Irish Catholics and oppressive economic conditions imposed by the British government, tens of thousands left Ireland and came to the American colonies in the early 1700s.

At present, nothing is known as to when Edward's family came to North Carolina or from where; they may have been there decades before his birth or perhaps only months. And until specific ancestors can be proven to connect overseas, the origin of this branch of the family cannot be known. DNA evidence does suggest, however, some possibility that the family may have been English in origin, not Scotch-Irish.

The first 21 years of Edward's life are a blank to researchers; except for the fact that he was probably educated as a child since he could read and write, nothing at all is known – not where he lived or who he might have known. Although he was born in North Carolina and was in North Carolina when serving in the Revolution, at present, we cannot even know whether his family was in the state the entire time.

Jane Horn's origins are even more obscure. She was born about 1772, and her father's name was Frederick. There is no evidence to show where she might have been born. There are a handful of mentions of her father presumably in some early records, and she might have been born in southwest Virginia, although that location is nothing better than wild speculation at the moment.

The American Revolution

The first known facts about Edward's life as an adult begin shortly after the United States declared its independence from Great Britain and King George III on July 4, 1776. The following spring, Edward was living in Duplin County, North Carolina, when he was drafted to serve his first term of service in the Revolution.

The details of Edward's service are a little confusing. Huge numbers of North Carolina records of the period were destroyed in the 1800s, so piecing together the complete story is difficult to impossible. According to Edward's pension, he first served in the spring of 1777 under a Captain Nathan Hill in a regiment commanded by a Colonel John Ashure. Both are probably mispellings, and little is known of this company. Edward's pension was approved, so whatever method the government had to confirm his service, the government apparently did confirm it, but no record of that confirmation is included with the pension.

One other known pension, that of a man named Thomas Bullard (S.6770) talks of serving in Duplin County under a Captain Nathan Hall, who at that time, probably 1781, was attached to Colonel James Kenan. He also speaks of serving under a captain Hardy Holmes from Duplin County under a Colonel Ashton, presumably Phillip Ashton, in 1778 a few months after one of Edward's tours of duty. "Ashure" could have meant Ashton, or, additionally, may have been John Ashe, Jr., who had actually risen to General by then.

Connecting what is known, Nathan Hall probably stood on the steps of the courthouse in Duplin County and draft the already-existing local militia into service. The company marched to Wilmington, North Carolina, where his unit joined other forces under General Griffith Rutherford. They served at Wilmington and nearby Brunswick to prevent a British landing there; ships were offshore much of the time.

No general engagement occurred, although Edward spoke of several skirmishes with exchanges of gunfire. The militia in situations like this did face peril, but, being short-timers, they often performed manual labor to allow the more regular troops to rest, such as building earthworks and moving equipment. They sometimes got smaller rations than the regular troops as well, although Edward, in his pension, mentions of none of these things.

After three months, Edward was discharged, and he returned home to Duplin County. In each of the next two springs, in 1778 and 1779, Edward was again drafted under the same captain and went to Wilmington and Brunswick.

Some time after those terms, he stated that he was drafted to serve under a Captain Harrison or Harris in the regiment of Colonel Hogan, probably a reference to Colonel James Hogan. Instead of going to Wilmington, he was stationed in Halifax, North Carolina, on the Roanoke River, again for about three months.

Not all of those who lived in the colonies supported independence, and some, though definitely a minority, openly opposed it. Probably about a third were loyal to the British government during the war and were known as "Loyalists" or often derisively as "Tories" after the party then in power in Great Britain. The rebels who fought for independence were known often as "Patriots" or sometimes "Whigs" after the largest minority party in Great Britain.

All told, some 50,000 Americans fought for the British, and these forces had a significant influence in many places, including much of North Carolina. Loyalists generated significant terror among the population, and many revolutionaries stayed close to home in order to protect their families and property. On the other hand, many who supported the King, even those who did not fight, sometimes found their land and other property taken by a suspicious population.

Tories sometimes controlled parts of North Carolina and were sporadically active for some time. The British finally captured Charleston in 1780, and a large army under Lord Cornwallis invaded North Carolina. On 7 October 1780, Americans at Kings Mountain decisively defeated the British, and Cornwallis retreated to the vicinity of Wilmington. Though the timing is unknown, Edward volunteered several times to go on scouting parties against the Tories. In one engagement, Edward was wounded twice in the head with a sword, and he carried those scars for the rest of his life. He was also captured when he was wounded, but he soon escaped.

James More, a friend of Edward's who served with Edward at times during the war, said years later that he "…Remembers well to have heard it spoken of in the army that the said Edward Walker was a verry valliant soldier and a true whig [patriot] and more particularly when the army was stationed at Wilmington North Carolina when the present applicant [Edward] was verry highly spoken of as a soldier…"

Moving To Sullivan County, Tennessee

Some time after the war, probably in the late 1780s, Edward moved to Tennessee; whether he lived anywhere else in the interim is unknown, nor is it known who moved with him. There is no evidence that he married before his one known marriage, to Jane Horn, but given his experiences and their ages at their marriage, certainly the possibility for an earlier marriage arises.

Why did he move, and why did he pick Sullivan County? Until more is known of this period in his life, speculation is the only avenue available. the government had banned settlement west of the Alleghenies, but the ban was often ignored; after the war especially, people flooded west into Tennessee, Kentucky, and other such places. A substantial portion of Duplin County's population seems to have left in the decade after the war.

Edward himself seems to have decided to stay where the Wilderness Road to Kentucky met the Great Wagon Road from the north. It was there in Sullivan County where he presumably met and soon married Jane Horn. They were married about the first of May in 1790 at a church on Horse Creek by a Baptist minister named Richard Murrell.

Murrell was a frontier preacher of some note. Jane was quite clear that the couple was married in a church, with the banns of marriage being posted for three consecutive Sundays before the marriage. She was less clear about the exact date, always saying "about the first", not "on the first". She also indicated that the church had "gone to destruction". The actual church may have been long forgotten, but may have been the Double Springs Baptist Church, one of several where Murrell preached for over 30 years. While Double Springs is still an active church, church history suggests that it may have burned about 1809.

For a while, the family seems to have lived around the area of Horse Creek/Jared's Branch/Falling Water, with Jane stating that, at one point, they also lived on Reedy Creek across from Long Island in Kingsport. Edward also mentioned living in Russell County, Virginia, for some period of time; his name does appear on tax rolls there from 1800 to 1802, but whether the person named was him or not is unknown. There have been no land records found for this period in his life.

Sometime before 1813, Edward moved to Bays Mountain to a location described as being on the road from Jonesborough to Armstrong's Ford on the middle ridge of the mountain. The exact location is unknown but is thought to have been on or near Blair's Gap Road just over the Sullivan/Hawkins County border near the old Dunkard Church.

A Religious Conversion?

An apparent religious conversion is documented in a separate article.

Early Married Life

Living near the intersection of major migration routes, they had contact with people from all over, and while there were still some trouble with Native Americans at times, most of the trouble subsided quickly, although a granddaughter claimed that Edward moved to Bays Mountain specifically to "see Indians coming from all sides"

About their daily lives, little is known. What is known of the people in this part of Tennessee in general at this time is that their existence was dedicated to survival. Those living on the frontier had no time to be idle and no access to luxuries though the standard of living quickly improved after the turn of the century.

The authors of Tennessee: A Short History [Stanley J. Folmsbee, Robert E. Corlew, Enoch L. Mitchell, 1969, pp. 115-116] give a good description of the living conditions of a typical family at that time in East Tennessee. A family would live in a one-room log cabin with a loft where the boys would sleep. The cabin would have a large fireplace needed both for heat and for cooking.

The floor usually consisted of either dirt or of logs split in two with the flat side up; later, planks were used. Since nails were not readily available, the roof was usually made with long, white oak clapboards held in place by ridgepoles and by wooden pegs. Doors and windows were sawed out of the walls, and the windows were covered by glazed paper and wooden shutters.

Early settlers typically had very little furniture, none of it fancy. Early beds were simply pieces of wood attached to the wall with wooden pegs; mattresses consisted of bed ticks filled with straw or pine needles covered with animal skins. A large clapboard on wooden legs served as a table, and chairs were short sections of tree trunks. Spoons were whittled from animal horns or from wood. Gourds were often used for many purposes, and clothing hung from antlers or from pegs on the wall.

Food was surprisingly varied at the time. Though corn was almost always served in one form or another, vegetables, fruits, nuts, maple sugar, and honey were often available. At first, pioneers ate wild animals for the most part, but, as herds increased, domestic animals were eaten. Meat was preserved by salting or by stringing it over a slow fire to dry.

Early pioneers usually dressed much like the Indians of the area. Hunting shirts made of dressed deerskin reached halfway down the thighs, fitting loosely and fringed at the bottom. Pants were made of similar material, and moccasins were made from either dressed buckskin or buffalo hide. Leggings, which protected against briars and snakes, were wide strips of deerskin wrapped around the ankles. Women wore dresses of linsey, which was a coarse cloth made from linen and wool or cotton and wool, or osnaburg, a coarse, heavy cloth originally made from linen and also used for making sacks; dresses were usually dyed in various colors. Jewelry was practically unknown.

Farming implements were rudimentary at best, and settlers made their own implements and other supplies, including soap and candles. Plows were usually made of wood at first, except for an iron point bolted on known as a "bull tongue;" iron plowshares came soon afterward. Hoes and harrows were also used. Grain was cut with a reap hook or cradle and was separated from the straw with a flail or by the hooves of horses.

The people of the frontier were isolated from the rest of the country to a great degree; in fact, that isolation did not begin to end until the coming of the railroads mostly after the Civil War. While newspapers were started in some areas such as Rogersville and Knoxville over time, news traveled slowly, especially international news. In upper East Tennessee, mountains and untamed rivers hindered communication and trade for decades.

This Spartan existence is probably very much like the experience of Edward and Jane, their family, and most of the early settlers in the area. Education, in particular, was a problem. Although at least one of the younger children, Jonathan, was able to read and write, most were not. At the time that the Walkers settled in what would become Tennessee, there simply were no schools and few if any tutors available.

Settling on Mulberry Creek

As usual with this family, land records are sparse, and not enough exist to determine exactly when the family began its move to Mulberry Creek in what was then Claiborne County and whether they all moved at once. Apparently around 1816 or 1817, the couple, with some if not most of their children, moved to the area of Mulberry Creek and Little Sycamore Valley; exactly where Jane and Edward themselves lived is unknown, although they have have lived in the still-existing home of Edward Jr. for a while, and they seem to have lived with son Jonathan who was probably a short distance away at the intersection with Rebel Hollow Road.

People who visit the area today are struck by its beauty but also its extreme isolation. Modern travelers would tend to believe that the Walkers sought that isolation in moving from the growing community near Kingsport. In fact, at the time they moved to Claiborne County, the area was not isolated at all.

A thriving community had formed at Mulberry Gap at least by 1803, and people that the Walkers must have known settled the area no later than 1802. John Jones, a Revolutionary War veteran, had moved from the Jared's Branch area in Sullivan County to Hoop Creek in Claiborne County by then, and his wife was Mary Fitzpatrick, sister to James Fitzpatrick who married a Tussey sister as did two of Edward Walker's sons; in fact, one of this couple's sons, Thomas Fitzspatrick Jones, married one of Edward's daughters after the Walkers had moved to Claiborne County. And there were others in the area.

So the Walkers did not move to a place where they knew no one, nor was the area as isolated as it now seems. The Mulberry Gap Road, which once encompassed also what is now called Little Sycamore Road, was a heavily-traveled path to Kentucky and Virginia, with easy road and river access to major markets in the region. Over time, the importance of Cumberland Gap diminished, and new roads and different settlement patterns caused the Mulberry area to be bypassed.

Later Life

Son Jonathan wrote in the pension application that he had lived with his parents all but two years of his life but gave no details of the two years. Edward was probably ill for several of his later years; when he gave his pension deposition in 1832, he said he was "so old and infirm that he cannot attend court with out greatly injurying of his health and [he stated] that he is afflicted with a disease he is advised by his Doctor caled the dropsy which has so completely unmanned him that he has scarcely any use of himself."

The term "dropsy" dates to an era where symptoms themselves were called the disease without an understanding of the underlying cause. Dropsy, for instance, was used to refer to most any sort of fluid buildup in the body; however, it most often referred to what is now known as congestive heart failure. The disease was somewhat treatable even at that time with a drug still used sometimes today, digitalis; Edward's treatment from his doctor is unknown. This 1832 statement tends to indicate that Edward was ill for the last years of his life, but exceptions about courthouse attendance were often made for older citizens, so the amount of his impairment cannot be judged. He lived for six more years after this statement.

Edward died on Sunday, 26 August 1838. His place of burial is unknown; a large number of graves from that era in that area were never marked. The likelihood of identifying his grave today is quite slim, although with the discovery of Edward Jr.'s grave in 2005, the possibility does still exist.

After Edward's death, Jane did receive his final pension payment and applied for a widow's pension, which was never granted. That long story can be found with the pension documents.

Jane continued to live in the area, although with whom is unknown, until at least early 1845 and perhaps as late as about 1850. As with Edward, her place of burial is unknown, although Tim Walker has identified a good possibility in the cemetery across the street from Edward Jr.'s house.

All original material © 2007-9 by Phillip A. Walker or by cited authors. Submissions are welcome. Reuse allowed under limited conditions. Page last modified Saturday, 26-Jun-2010 17:45:49 MDT .