Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
THOMAS WALTERS is certainly to
be classed as one of the earliest pioneers of the Big Bend country.
There were probably not more than two or three settlers in the whole region
when he selected his home place and entered the field of stock raising
on these broad prairies. He now dwells about eleven miles south from
Wilbur on a farm of four hundred and eighty acres which is well stocked
and in a high state of cultivation.
Thomas Walters was born in Fulton county,
Illinois, on March 13, 1835, the son of John and Elizabeth (Borker) Walters.
The father was born in Tennessee and raised in Alabama. He served
in the Black Hawk war and was a prominent and well-to-do citizen of Illinois
in early days. The mother was born in Illinois, descended from Welsh
parentage. Her father, John Borker, was one of the earliest settlers
in Illinois. He was a prominent and wealthy citizen and was widely
known for his philanthrophy and generosity. Our subject received
his education in the common schools of his native state and worked for
his father on the farm, until 1859, when he crossed the plains with ox
teams to Walla Walla, arriving in that town in August of the same year,
it then being composed of a few dwellings, two stores, and one saloon.
Although many poor emigrants were slain by the Indians on the road in 1859,
our subject and his train came across safely. Mr. Walters immediately
hired out freighting and continued the same until 1861, when he went to
Orofino and began mining. He made lots of money there, and in 1863
went to Boise in company with his brother, John Walters. They did
well, mining, making as high as eight hundred dollars per day. In
1865, they sold their mining interests and put forty thousand dollars into
freighting outfits. They transported goods into the mines, receiving
twenty-five cents per pound and it is interesting to note that twenty-five
cent pieces were the smallest change in that part of the country.
In 1865, Mr. Walter bought a farm in Walla Walla and after freighting some
years went there to reside. In 1874, he came to his present location
and no neighbors were nearer than twenty miles. His trading was all
done in Walla Walla, one hundred and twenty miles away. The brothers
of our subject were John W., who was in partnership with William for years
and died in this country, in 1900; Joseph, a farmer in Nebraska; Tanney,
a wealthy farmer of Illinois. Mr. Walter has certainly experienced
the hardships of the rough days of the early west and has shown commendable
effort and wisdom during his long and eventful career, and is now the owner
of a comforable and valuable property. He is well known all over
the Big Bend country and is as highly esteemed as he is widely known.