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Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company

Page 806

HON. CHARLES A. WALKER, of Carlinville, is a distinguished member of the bar of Macoupin County. He was born in Tennessee, four miles from Nashville, August 21, 1826. His father, Abraham S., was a native of the same state and was a son of Charles Walker, who was born in Rowan County, N.C., in 1765, of Scotch parentage. Charles Walker, the grandfather of our subject, removed to Logan County, Ky., in the early days of its settlement, and from there he subsequently went to Tennessee, of which he was one of the original settlers. While a resident of Logan County, Ky., he married Matilda Stephens, whose father, Abram, was born in England in 1870, and came to America soon after the Revolution. He at first settled in Virginia, whence he went to Kentucky, and from there removed to Davidson County, Tenn., dying there at a ripe old age in 1815. Their son Abraham S., the father of ex-Senator Walker, was a gunsmith by trade. He removed from Nashville, Tenn., to Illinois in 1828, accompanied by his wife and three children. His wife, whose maiden name was Rosina Phelps, was born on the shores of Albemarle Sound, N. C., January 2, 1899(the year has to be a mistake, but is what the book says - probably should be 1799). She was a daughter of Joseph Phelps who was a native of North Carolina and was of Welsh descent. She died at Carlinville, February 12, 1875, having attained a venerable age. Four children, Caroline, Charles A., Tennessee and James L., were born to them, the last named died in his boyhood, in August, 1851. Abraham S. Walker located in Madison County, where his father-in-law, Joseph Phelps, had entered a tract of Government land where he resided until 1830, when he came to Carlinville, which was then but a small village of four or five buildings, of which one was a small frame house, the others being of logs. The only store in the place was owned by Mr. Plant who carried a small stock of general merchandise in the frame building. The surrounding country was for many years sparsely settled and the inhabitants had but little communication with the outside world, as there were no railways and for some time only a weekly mail. All kinds of game were plentiful and often furnished a welcome addition to the sometimes scant fare of the pioneer.

The father of our subject bought a tract of land at Carlinville on the south side of the public square. He erected a log house for a dwelling on the southeast corner of the square, and another building of logs for a gunsmith and blacksmith shop. He carried on the smithy until 1836, and then went into the mercantile business, buying his goods at St. Louis and transporting them with teams, taking five days to make the round trip. Mr. Walker continued in business here until 1868, dying in March, 1875, at the age of seventy-four.

Charles A. Walker, the subject of this sketch, was two years old when his parents brought him to their new home in Illinois. He grew with the growth of the country, witnessing its entire development from a wilderness. He attended the pioneer schools, one of which was taught in the old Court House which was built of logs. He has in his possession the record of the school for the winter of 1845-46. The entire number of scholars enrolled in Carlinville at that time was forty-two. John Frow was the teacher. After leaving the public schools our subject was a student at Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, until the gold fever of California broke out, when, becoming imbued with the popular excitement of the day and being fitted by a vigorous constitution to enjoy an overland trip through a wild and unexplored country, he on the 13th of March, 1849, in company with Charles Palmer, brother of Senator Palmer, and John Keller started for the distant Eldorado.

Traveling with three yoke of oxen attached to a wagon, the little party crossed the Mississippi River at St. Louis, and passing through the State of Missouri, crossed the Missouri River at Independence. They spent a few days there and then went up the north bank of the river to St. Joseph. At that time there were no white settlers except soldiers and traders at a Government post between Missouri and Sacramento City, aside from the missionaries, soldiers and Mormons at Salt Lake City. Deer, antelope and elk were plenty, and herds of buffaloes were encountered on the plains and even wild horses were occasionally seen. Mr. Walker and his companions were one hundred days in journeying from St. Joseph to Sacramento. The first winter of his stay on the Pacific Slope he engaged in mining near Placerville, and after that in packing provisions from Marysville to Feather River.

In 1851 our subject returned to Illinois by way of the Isthmus, and engaged in clerking for his father until his marriage. After that event he established himself in business on his own account. In 1856 he turned his attention to the study of law in the office of Messrs. Gilbert & Rinaker, was admitted to the bar in 1858, and since that time has been in active practice at Carlinville. He has made for himself a most enviable record as an advocate and stands today among the leading members of the profession. He is distinguished by strong common sense, a keen insight into all legal questions with which he has to deal, and a clear, practical style of presenting his cases that makes him popular with judge and jury. Mr. Walker is pre-eminently adroit in elucidating testimony from witnesses and in dealing with juries and men generally; he has unusual discernment as to the value of evidence and an intuitive knowledge of human nature. He is happy in his domestic relations, as by his marriage, November 16, 1852, to Miss Permelia A. Dick, a native of Sangamon County, Ill., and a daughter of Daniel and Susan Dick, he secured one of life's inestimable blessings, a good wife. Two children have been born to them - Lolah and Mae.

Our subject's position, not only as one of the leading lawyers of the county but as a gentleman of culture and broad mind, liberal in his views, of generous, genial nature, has made him very influential in the civic life of this part of the State. In the various high official positions that he has held he has displayed that true and disinterested public spirit that seeks the highest good of the community, and his name is indissolubly linked with much that has promoted the best interests of the city and county. In the Court House agitation Mr. Walker, by his outspoken views and prominent position became a leader in the opposition to the creating of a debt which would weigh the county down. In educational matters he has always taken a deep interest, and as President of the Board of Education, has been potent in instituting many needed reforms in the local schools. He was author of the Compulsory Education Bill and was instrumental in securing its passage when it became a law in the session of 1882-83.

When Mr. Walker entered the arena of politics he voted with the Whig party but in 1854 he became a Democrat and has ever since been an able advocate of the tenets of that party. He has served as Mayor of Carlinville, administering the affairs of the city with ability and public spirit. In the year 1862 he was elected to the State Legislature as Representative of his district, and in 1880 his fellow citizens sent him to the State Senate. Sound statesmanship, devotion to the interests of his constituents, and an unswerving adherence to the highest principles of honor and honesty marked his career as a legislator.

1891 Index
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