Thursday, 21 April 2011

Who was John Stewart Walker?

John Stewart Walker with his younger brothers.

Thanks to his letters, I have a first-hand account of what my ancestor, John Stewart Walker, did during the Civil War. However, until lately, I knew almost nothing about his life before the war. In order to learn more, I wrote letters to various relatives and eventually got in contact with my previously unknown cousin, Jack Jones. Jack has long had an interest in our shared ancestor, and he was able to provide me with a good deal of information. Most of the below comes from his notes.

John Stewart Walker was born in Virginia in 1827. His father, David Walker, was a Scottish immigrant who had come to American to join in the family tobacco business. With the death of his father in 1845, John Stewart Walker went to live with his uncle, John Stewart, in his mansion at Brook Hill (which still stands). Soon thereafter, John enrolled in Washington College and later transferred to Harvard, where he was a member of the exclusive Porcellion Club. On John Stewart Walker’s 21st birthday, he held a massive party at the Revere House. The party proved so expensive that when his uncle received the bill, he pulled John out of school and brought him home.

J.S.W.'s tobacco award.

The next year, 1849, John married his second cousin, Lucy Otey, and bought a $10,000 property in Richmond.  From then until the war, John joined in the family tobacco business, producing his own award-winning brand, Queen Bee Tobacco.  John Stewart Walker and his family were members of the Centenary Methodist Church in Richmond. John is listed as a steward of the church in 1856 and became superintendent of the Sunday school in 1857, a position he held until he volunteered in the Virginia militia. It is thought that several men in his company were members of his Sunday school.

J.S.W. in his more respectable years.


  1. My goodness! All this is completely new to me.

  2. You should start a what's an Otey blog. Now there's an interesting relative ( bob lee notwithstanding)! Mom, dad and Lucy have been to the form "Otey" abode in Lynchburg. Now a B&B (naturally).