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From the Pen of R.S. Walker

This file is from the papers of
writer Robert Sparks Walker, whose father William emigrated from Hawins to
Hamilton Co. on New Year's Day, 1871. It was submitted by:

"My father (William T. Walker) had not revisited his old homestead in Hawkins,
and in 1912, I decided to present him a Christmas present of a visit with
his brother, Preston CLay, who was still living in the old home in Otes. ..The
train we were to take (from Chattanooga, where both lived), operated
between new Orleans and Washington D.C. and was running late, as most trains do at
Christmas time...... "At Bull's Gap we boarded the small passenger train that then ran as far as
Big Stone Gap, Va. Before the train left, my father said, 'Here is where I
saw the first locomotive train. In 1856 when the East Tn., Va.& Ga. Railroad
was built, a crowd of us young folks waslked 6 miles to see it. I can yet feel
the thrill when I saw then engine puffing through here, oulling a few cars.
That wasn't long ago - only 56 years.'

"When our train arrived at Otes, it was pitch dark. We succeeded in
borrowing a lantern from one of the 3 residents of the placeee. Without it, we could
not see a foot of the country road. My father had not traveled this road since
he was a young man, but even so, he recognized several large trees that we
passed, & on reaching his childhood farm, he said, 'Bring the lantern;
there's a path somewhere here that makes a short-cut across the field to the old
homestead!'  We found it, & halfway across the meadow, he asked to search
for a familiar old tree. When we located it, he embraced it as if it were a
long lost brother!

"In a few minutes we were at his old home, where his Civil War veteran
brother, Preston Clay Walker, had gone to bed. A knock on thedoor & Uncle
Preston ands Aunt Ellen were soon up, the wood fire kindled & in a half
hour, an old fashioned supper was on the table, the kind that has become as
extinct as the dodo.

"Never before had I becomeee so thrilled listening to stories of exciting
events that had taken place in this old house. On the mantel was ticking
away a Seth thomas clock with a hundred years of history. A hole was in the
front glass. 'Do you remember the soldier in the Civil War who accidentally let
his gun go off & it shot that hole in the clock's door?' my father asked.

"Father then asked Uncle Preston to move his rocker over, & reaching down,
he took hold of a loose plank and lifted it up. 'That saved my life more than
once,' he said."During the war, this country was ravaged by bands of
guerillas from the Confederates in southeast Tn. & n. Ga. who after ransacking all
homes, barns and smokehouses, & carrying off provisions, livestock & grain,
brutally killled every young man, married & single, whom they knew as
Northern Sympathizers. They came here often & searched this house. On one occassion
they were on the front porch before Mother spied them. She quickly lifted
this plank, & I slid down, & in another moment, Mother's eockwe was over it, &
she was calmly knitting. After searching the house, they left, & in a short
time, we heard a gun fire at our nearest neighbors. We knew they had killed Jim
Stewart. After they passed going back, I took the horse hitched to a sled,
went over & put the body of Stewart on the sled & hauled it to the little
cemetary back of our farm. I met the gang on the eway, but they did not
molest me, perhaps because I had the body of the man they had just murdered."

William T. Walker became a judge in Hamilton County for 19 successive
years, & was known for his integrity, honesty & fairness to all.

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This page was last updated Thursday, 31-May-2012 12:53:31 MDT