I have intensively examined the lives of several planter families of the planter society of St. Bartholomew's Parish in Colleton District, South Carolina. Their importance to us is that they all migrated to Jefferson County during the 1840's and 1850's. The focus of my research has been on the family of David Walker and Rebecca Raysor. My discovery of this family was by sheer accident, but I am so thankful to have been able to conduct my research on them.
I first learned of the Walker Family through my Aunt Lucille Smith. Throughout my childhood, I was always fascinated with stories of long ago. Luckily, I was blessed to be in the presence of those who could tell them to me. My grandmother and Aunt Lucille had a paternal Great Aunt by the name of Mary Virginia Walker, nee Hinton. She was the sister of their grandmother, Etta Washington Smith, Nee Hinton. Known to my grandmother and Aunt Lucille as "Nanny", she was the wife of John Isham Walker, the youngest son of David and Rebecca Walker.
At the time of John Isham Walker's death in 1910, he and Nanny were living on part of his father's original estate which is where Ann Jordan lives now. After his death, my great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John Butler Gordon Smith, moved in the house with Nanny. Then around 1914, my great grandparents purchased a tract of land adjacent to the Seaboard Airline Railroad in "Downtown Drifton". There, Nanny resided with them until her death in 1931. My great grandfather, Gordon Smith, ran a general merchandise store and also was engaged in farming. Also, his store was the voting site for District No. 7 of Jefferson County.
As a child, my Aunt Lucille remembers Nanny entertaining the children of the household with stories about the family and the things that she had seen in her life. She had many of the original pieces of furniture of her inlaws, the David Walker family. Among those possessions was their family bible. It was kept in a trunk in the living room. At the time of her death in 1931, the trunk remained in our family until some years later. It was traded with the bible to a black carpenter by the name of William B. Bellamy of Greenville, Florida. Mr. Bellamy was a part time preacher and was more than happy to trade his services for the bible and the trunk.
It was not until the fall of 1993 that I became inspired to look for the bible. I never expected to find it, but was inspired by the hope that it was still in existence. With the information provided by Aunt Lucille, I began my search by asking to see if anyone remembered Mr. Bellamy. I also contacted an aunt of mine in Greenville to see if she could ask around there. She teaches school with one of Mr. Bellamy's granddaughters at Greenville Elementary School. The granddaughter informed us that her grandfather was deceased, but that her grandmother waS still alive. Upon asking her grandmother about the bible, she received the reply that she remembered the bible and still had it. Further, she alluded that she was blind and not feeling well, but that when she felt better that she would look for it. Well, I would not push, so I accepted that I might not ever see the bible, but still hoped that one day I would. Then out of the blue, the granddaughter brought the bible to school one day in a grocery bag and gave it to my Aunt Nora Walker. She sent the following message from her grandmother. "Tell those white folks they don't owe me nothing for this." That afternoon, I went and retrieved the bible and saw my dream come true. I knew then that this was my passion, calling, and labor of love.
My initial search began with the information that was provided in the family record of the bible. It listed the birth and death dates of the parents and all eleven children. It also listed the birth and death dates of the brothers of Rebecca Raysor. Too, between the pages there were heirlooms that were from Mrs. Walker and my great great great aunt "Nanny". There were family photos, news clippings, ribbons, and even an invitation for my great uncle, Franklin W. Smith's, high school graduation from Monticello High school in 1930. All of these heirlooms I had preserved by the Florida Archives ad cool seal laminated. I have all of them here tonight except the high school graduation invitation, which I have given to his daughter, Frankie S. Rosey, of Merritt Island, Florida.
In the bible, David Walker was listed as being born on September 1, 1803. His wife, Rebecca Raysor, was born on September 15, 1806. They were united in marriage on June 28, 1827 in Colleton District, South Carolina.
David Walker waS the son of Captain Isham Walker and Martha Walker of Colleton District. His mother's maiden name is unknown to me. Isham Walker served as a Captain in the War of 1812 and also as a member of the South Carolina Legislature. For his service during the War of 1812, he was granted a bounty land grant of over 1000 acres of land in St. Bartholomew's Parish. Isham Walker was born on February 5, 1777 and died on October 9, 1848 in Colleton District. He is buried in the Walker Family Cemetery which is on his original tract of land. His wife, Martha, was born on April 29, 1779 and died on March 8, 1838. She rests beside her husband. David Walker was the oldest son and had two brothers and two sisters. They were William, Isham N., Mary and Martha Ann. Martha Ann married Edward Harden Dopson on March 9, 1837. Some of her descendants still reside in Colleton District today.
While living in Colleton District, David Walker held numerous public offices. He was a member of the South Carolina Legislature, Commissioner of Free Schools, Tax Assessor, Member of the Board of Public Roads, and a charter member of the St. Bartholomew's Southern Rights Association in 1852. He and his wife Rebecca were the parents of eleven children, of whom eight reached maturity. They were George Raysor, Michael, Isham, Eleanor Ann, Mary Rebecca, David Edwin, Alfred William, Laura, Hannah Raysor, James, and John Isham. Of the eleven children, Isham, Laura, and David Edwin died during childhood and are buried in their grandfather's cemetery.
About 1854, David Walker, his wife, and eight children moved to Jefferson County, Florida. Rebecca Walker's brother, Col. John Michael Raysor had preceded them in moving to Jefferson County with his wife, Mary Ann, in 1846. Also her brothers, Alfred and George Raysor were living in the county. David and Rebecca Walker settled around Nash and purchased 900 acres of land. According to the tax schedules of Jefferson County in 1859, David Walker owned 50 slaves valued at $25,000. The overseers of his plantation were Mr. A. F. P. Douglass and Jesse R. Atkinson.
Five of David Walker's children married in Jefferson County. On November 14, Hannah Raysor Walker [should read "Eleanor Ann Raysor"] was united in marriage with William H. DeWitt. Just two years later, she died with no surviving children.
On May 26, 1858, Mary Rebecca Walker married the widower William J. Carroll, M. D. He was formerly married to Florida H. Mathers, daughter of William Mathers, also of Jefferson County. On May 26, 1868, Mary Carroll died with five children surviving her. Their names were James D., Ellen Florida, Rebecca, George Walker, and Mary Elizabeth Carroll. Dr. Carroll was remarried and removed to Suwannee County, Florida.
On April 4, 1860, George Raysor Walker was married to Louisa E. Mathers, another daughter of William Mathers. To this union were two children born, Michael and David Walker. 2st Lt. of Company G, Fifth Florida Infantry, George Raysor Walker was killed on July 2, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On March 14, 1866, Hannah Raysor Walker was married to James J. Walker of Madison County. Three children were born to this union. Hannah Walker died on December 19, 1873. She was the only daughter to survive their father, David.
On April 6, 1871, John Isham Walker was married to Mary Virginia Hinton, the daughter of John J. Hinton and Louisa C. Hinton, nee Armstrong of Madison County. To this union were no children born.
Michael Walker and Alfred William Walker were members of Jefferson Rifles, Company H, Third Florida Infantry and both died of wounds incurred for the defense of their South. In the year 1851, Michael Walker was united with the Methodist Church. On April 1, 1862, he was elected 1st Corporal of his Company. He died on October 27, 1862 at Red Sulfur Springs Hospital. Alfred William Walker died of disease at home on September 30, 1863.
James Walker, the tenth child, was also a member of Company G, Fifth Florida Infantry. He died of wounds incurred in battle on May 6, 1863 in Richmond, Virginia.
Well, it was the end of The War and the loss of life among the family was tremendous. By the death of the father, David Walker, on October 29, 1871, only two of his eleven children remained alive. They were Hannah and John Isham. By the death of Rebecca Walker in 1873, only one of her eleven children remained alive. Imagine burying ten children during your lifetime. It is unthinkable in our day and age. What had begun as a flouishing and healthy and reproducing family, almost ceased to exist by the turn of the century.
Further research led me to the grandchildren of David and Rebecca Walker. After all, I want to find someone who is a direct descendant of this prominent family. My leads have led me to Suwannee County. After the death of Mary Carroll, her husband remarried and relocated there. He had also been wounded in The War, but survived. According to the census records, he was a pharmacist in Suwannee County. My interest was in the children that he had with his first wife. Again, they were James D., Ellen Florida, Rebecca, George Walker, and Mary Elizabeth. Again tragedy struck the family. Both James D. and Ellen Florida died of Galloping Consumption in their early twenties. Rebecca died in 1899 at the age of thirty five. George Walker Carroll moved to Anniston, Alabama and had several children. Mary Elizabeth Carroll was married to John W. Brinson and also had several children. They migrated to Hillsborough County, Florida.
These are the only grandchildren that I have been able to locate. The fate of the childen of George Raysor Walker and Hannah Raysor Walker are unknown to me. Too, are the burial sites of David and Rebecca Walker. John Isham Walker, their youngest child, is buried by my aunt in Roseland Cemetery. At the foot of Nanny's grave is where we buried my Great Aunt Mary Virginia Smith Hawkins when she passed away in August of 1994.
I suspect that David and Rebecca Walker are buried in the Walker Cemetery that is located on this J. B. Thomas place in Aucilla. There are numerous unmarked graves there. Also, Col. John M. Raysor and Alfred Raysor, the brothers of Rebecca Walker, are buried there. There are also many graves there which are only piles of bricks today. At the onset of my research, this really troubled me. I feel that everyone needs their name carved on the face of the earth after they pass from it. Perhaps, that is why I have been so persistent in researching this family, but mostly I feel that their lives deserved the attention and recognition as true heroes of our history.
This story is shared here with the kind consent of its author, Charles Gordon Armstong Walker, II. Our gratitude for his persistence is immeasurable.