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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

 

Walker's Ford, Tennessee


Nearby or included places Bear Creek
Lone Mountain
Straight Creek
Photo: Walker's Ford Bridge (Joe Payne)
Google maps: Walker's Ford
Bear Creek Road
Walker Ford Road
More: TVA: Norris Dam
eHistory: Skirmish at Walker's Ford
All mentions of Walker's Ford
Wikipedia: Clinch River
Norris Dam
Ford (crossing)

Walker's Ford was a thriving community on both banks of the Clinch River, with a ford and ferry crossing apparently from modern Walker's Ford Road in Union County on the west to Bear Creek Road in Claiborne County on the east. Later, perhaps in the very late 1800s but probably the early 1900s, a bridge was built there; Joe Payne has a photo available through the link at right.

The area was inundated when Norris Dam was completed in 1936, and the bridge was torn down. Much of the surrounding land which was not flooded is now owned by TVA, which kept detailed maps of the property owners and cemeteries. Those maps are included at the end of this article.

Walker's Ford was probably named for Rev. Henry Walker, who owned land on both sides. The Walkers began to settle the area in the early 1840s, but at least some gazetteers in the mid-1850s did not include the name; Civil War records do clearly indicate that the name was in use by the war. A letter in AWB1929 attributes the name to his son Daniel Mackmahan Walker, who operated the ferry there for a number of years, but the name was in use when Dan was still too little to have been operating a ferry.

For decades, nearly every family in the area was either related to or at least connected through marriage to the Walkers. The community had its own post office, stores, and a number of homes. It was also a starting point or waystation for farmers taking their goods downriver on flatboats for sale. Knoxville was a closer destination, but, as a major hub for railroads, Chattanooga usually brought better prices. While the trip downstream was by boat, the trip home was usually on foot, although after an especially good sale, a farmer might purchase a horse for the trip.

The exact bounds are unknown and probably changed over time. Today, the name usually refers to the Union County side only, but letters in AWB1929 indicate that people who lived there did at one time refer to both sides by that name.

More often, though, residents referred to the Claiborne County side as Bear Creek or sometimes even Lone Mountain. In my Family Fileoffsite link to WorldConnect, the name "Bear Creek" is typically used on the Claiborne County side for locations that were probably along what is now Bear Creek Road unless contemporary accounts explicitly used a different place name.

Walker's Ford was a major crossing point of the Clinch, although there were fords nearby. Troops, bandits, and everyone else crossed at Walker's Ford during the Civil War, with a skirmish fought there 2 December 1863.

Even before the war, though, many people from the general direction of Knoxville likely crossed at Walker's Ford. Using modern names for streets, travelers often went the eastern route from Bear Creek Road to Lone Mountain Road, following it to Little Sycamore Road and Mulberry Gap Road, reaching the Virginia state line or Mulberry Gap in about 30 miles. Travelers taking the western route could easily reach Tazewell and Cumberland Gap, the latter being about 22 miles away.

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 17:46:17 MDT .