JESSE G. WALKER
Probably no resident of Plumas County is better or more widely known than is Jesse G. Walker, who has for many years served as justice of the peace for Plumas Township, with his office in the courthouse at Quincy. He is a member of one of the real pioneer families of the Sacramento Valley and, like his father before him, has been an active factor in the wonderful development and advancement which has characterized this section of the state. He was born near Quertina, which is located near Stony Creek, in Colusa County, on the 15th of July, 1859, and is a son of John O. and Rebecca (Green) Walker, who were natives of Virginia and Tennessee, respectively, and were married in Missouri. His father was a well educated man and was well informed on the great political issues of his day. He was a southern sympathizer, was a personal friend of Henry Clay and favored the Missouri Compromise. He sensed the approach of the Civil War and, partly because of the violent disturbances already occurring in Missouri and partly owing to the lure of gold; he resolved to move to California. He joined Captain Coats’ train and became the first lieutenant of that train. He had three big covered wagons, each of which was hauled by three yoke of oxen, and brought with him all the way from Missouri one hundred and fifty head of well bred Durham cattle, his being the first cattle of that breed brought into Mendocino County. He also brought with him a sack of gold, being well-to-do. He settled first in Mendocino County, where he lived for about six months, and then moved to Colusa County, where his son Jesse G., was born. There he farmed and raised stock until 1863, when he moved to Hat Creek, Shasta County, at which time the family consisted of his wife and five children, two sons and three daughters. Mr. Walker also brought with him two armed guards, Dick Pue and Frank Gillain, who remained with him in that capacity for two years. Each of the guards, as well as Mr. Walker, carried two Kentucky rifles and two forty-five Colt revolvers. The Indians were hostile and the grizzly bears were fierce. The Piute Indians, who were numerous, were known as the Hat Creek, Pit River, Fall River and Dixon Valley Indians. Mr. Walker had made settlement right after Captain Crook, of Fort Crook, had killed two hundred and fifty Indians and captured Chief Shave Head. The land in that vicinity was surveyed in 1872 and Mr. Walker then went to the government land office at Marysville, where he took up a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres and a preemption claim of one hundred and sixty acres, locating the homestead on the quarter section on which his home was already situated. The first school in this locality was held in that same year in Burney Valley, and there Jesse G. Walker, then a lad of thirteen years, received his first schooling, though his mother had taught him at home for several years. The family’s trading point was at Red Bluff and every fall the father went with his ox wagons down to that place and lay in his provisions for the winter.
During those eventful years Mr. Walker and his son, Jesse G., were more like boon companions than father and son, and the son recalls many interesting experiences they had together. Jesse G. Walker always did his full part as a boy in yoking up and driving the oxen—in fact, he never drove a team of horses until seventeen years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Walker became the parents of five children. Phoebe became the wife of Peter H. Winters and the mother of nine children, who are engaged in ranching and are still living in the vicinity of Whitmore and Millville. Mary became the wife of Thomas Whittle, who was a rancher in the Fall River Valley and died six months after his marriage. Martha, who was the wife of M. Zevely, a storekeeper at Fall River Mills, died leaving five children. West, born in Missouri in 1856, became a miner in California and died at Redding in October, 1925. He was married twice and left a son and daughter by his first union and a daughter by his second marriage. Jesse G., the subject of this review, is the other member of the family of John O. and Rebecca (Green) Walker. By a marriage, consummated in Virginia, Mr. Walker became the father of eight children, all of whom came to California, where they soon started out on their own account. Mrs. Rebecca Walker died at Hat Creek in 1878, at the age of sixty years, and then the father rented the home place at Hat Creek and he and his son Jesse went to Oregon, where the latter entered Monmouth College, a state school, from which he was graduated in the spring of 1883. He was the banner student of his class, having done two years’ work in one year. The father died at Hat Creek, California, in 1883, at the age of eighty-eight years, and was buried beside his wife. He was everywhere known as “Uncle Johnny” Walker, and was loved by all who knew him. On one occasion a desperate character in Shasta County laid his plans to rob Mr. Walker. Another member of the gang, who knew “Uncle Johnny,” declared, “You are not going to rob that old man,” and he was not molested.
Jesse G. Walker taught school in Oregon from 1883 until 1910 in Klamath, Douglas, Jackson, Lake, Josephine and Benton counties, and taught six months before graduating from college, in which he kept up his studies and graduated at the head of his class. On June 3, 1910, he came to Quincy, California, and during the following sixteen years he followed trapping, mining and chopping. He is an expert faller and ax man and stopped at no kind of work, his parents having taught him many years ago that all work was honorable. He has always been a reader and student, is well grounded in the basic principles of the law and his decisions as justice of the peace have been marked by their adherence to the law, as well as by their common sense and their fairness.
On August 2, 1886, in the town of Union, Oregon, Mr. Walker was united in marriage to Miss Monona Jane Stewart, to which union were born six children, namely: Maud, who died at the age of two years, and was buried at Keno, Klamath County, Oregon; Levi Owensby (“Owney”), born in 1889, who was an electrician at Grants Pass, Oregon, and died in 1923; Wesley Arnold, who is a veteran of the World War; Emma Clare, who is the wife of Cal Jones, of Oakland, California, and is the mother of a daughter; Lucinda Madge, who is the wife of Ben Stoner, of Aurora, Oregon; and Metta D., who is a very successful lawyer in Portland, Oregon, also having charge of the Veterans’ Bureau for the entire state of Oregon.
Mr. Walker is a member of Plumas Lodge, No. 60, F. & A. M.; and Plumas Chapter No. 107, R. A. M., of which he is high priest. He was made a Master Mason in Quincy on February 16, 1920, and has made a close study of Masonry, so that he served as the coach for the officers, as well as the candidates, of his lodge. He is a constant student of history, being particularly interested in the history of California and Oregon, and of Shasta County. He became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1882, while in college, and still adheres to that religious faith. He is a staunch Republican in his political belief and cast his first presidential vote for James A. Garfield in 1880. He is able to tell many extremely interesting stories of the early days in this section of California. He recalls that at the time his family came here there were five hundred and fifty soldiers stationed at Fort Crook, in the Fall River Valley, the Red men being both numerous and hostile. At that time there were only three women north of Millville, Shasta County, namely: Mrs. Staub, at Fort Creek; Mrs. Littrelle, in Burney Valley, and Mrs. Rebecca Walker, in the Hat Creek locality. That was in 1863. About that time John O. Walker bought from a squaw-man by the name of Whipple a claim which extended forty miles north of the log house on it to ten miles south of it. John O. Walker was a subscriber and reader of the Sacramento Union as early as 1858.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.