James Harvey Walker (left)
and his brother Milton Green Walker; courtesy
Vesta (Taylor) Underwood
James Harvey Walker, apparently called Jim but called
always "Mr. Walker" by his wife, was born
12 July 1855 probably at his
parents' home on Mulberry Creek in Hancock County,
The son of Edward
and Sarah (Crumley) Walker, Jim would barely have
remembered his own father, who died shortly before Jim
turned 5. The Civil War interrupted his education, but,
after the war, he received a degree in math from Tazewell
James Harvey and Mary
Adelia (Phillips) Walker. Photo courtesy Adelia
In 1882, he moved with his mother, his youngest brother,
and his brother's new bride to Jacksboro in Campbell
County. There, he and his brother Green started the
Walker Brothers School. In August 1885, probably in
Campbell County, he married Mary Adelia Phillips, born
21 December 1869 in Grainger County, Tennessee, the
daughter of William and Emily (McConnell) Phillips.
The couple would eventually have ten children, several
of whom died young, including two of meningitis within
two weeks of each other.
Modern look of Jim's hotel,
Newport, TN; photo taken 7/3/2006 by Phillip A.
Between 1890 and 1893, both couples, along with Sarah
(Crumley) Walker moved to Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee.
In Newport, both were principals of the school there
as well as teachers. Green went on to serve in the state
legislature from Cocke County. Both Jim and Green were
active in the Methodist Church in Newport and helped
to start Union Cemetery.
Jim also became a hotel owner and owned two livery
stables in Newport. The hotel, per Eddie Walker III,
later became the Newport City Hall next to Brown Funeral
Home. It was built as a hotel by David P. Click in 1867,
who ran it until his death in 1895; he was killed by
a train below the depot. J.A. Conway and then J.A. Denton
were the next owners, and then Jim bought it and owned
it certainly by 1906, calling it "The Walker House".
In 1912, though, his hotel in Newport burned, and he
lost everything, including apparently his
father's family Bible and other family information.
The fire did not completely destroy the building though;
it was later repaired and used as a hotel for a while.
It then became the city hall for Newport and more recently
a police station; stone siding was added in 1934, and
the building likely looks very little as it did when
it functioned as a hotel. Oscar O'Neil apparently bought
it after it burned, and Mr. and Mrs. Press Valentine
were the last owners, calling it the Newport Hotel by
Family home in Athens,
TN; photo taken 9/2/2005 by Phillip A. Walker.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Athens, Tennessee.
There he lived in a house that is still standing, although
it is in need of restoration. It is currently across
the street from Parkway Baptist Church. Jim continued
to teach and was sometimes principal in Athens and he
was also involved in Democratic politics.
Tombstone at Union Cemetery,
Newport, TN; photo taken 8/30/2005 by Phillip
When Jim died 9 October 1939 in Athens, his body was
taken back to Newport and buried next to his mother
in Union Cemetery. Mary Adelia died in 1945 in Athens
and is buried next tohim, and several of their children
who died young are buried near them. Jim was that last
of Ned Walker's children to die, 144 years after the
birth of his father.