Shelby County, Indiana
The Daily Republican
Written for the Republican:
Friday evening, July 3, 1885
Page 2, column 2-3
Further Details of Ben Walker to the
Close of His Eventual Life.
[BY WILLIAM HACKER]
Walker having finished his speech and given the council a full understanding of the whole matter he with dignity retired, leaving those stern warriors to determine the case as they might think proper. Their deliberations were long and critical, occupying the remainder of the day. After each had expressed his views and a conclusion had been reached it was found to be the unanimous voice of the council that the Walker brothers had violated no law of Indian warfare. They decided that those Indians in going amoung the white people as they did and that too in a tune of peace and boasting of the dastardly deed they had perpetrated had thereby made themselves liable to be dealt with just as they had been; and had the Walkers not avenged the insult thus offered they would have acted like great cowards and old squaws. This decision allaying all apprehension of further difficulty with the Indians on that score, Benjamin Walker determined to made an effort to renew his domestic relations. He accordingly wrote to his wife, form whom he had now by the force of circumstances been separated for six long years, giving her a full statement of how matters stood with him in the West. He requested her, if she felt free to do so, to sell the property left in her care and with their little boy, a lad now near six years of age and whom he had never yet seen, to come out and join him and they would make their future home where he was located. The faithful wife, ture to the instincts of love and honor, cheerfully acquiesced in her husband's request and at once set about making preparations for her contemplated long and perilous journey.
Early in 1792, General Wayne being appointed to the command of the Northwestern army, commenced collecting his forces at a point called Legionville, on the river some twenty miles below Pittsburg. This, however, proved a most difficult undertaking to accomplish. The terrible defeat of General Harmer in 1790 and again of St. Clair in 1791, had so discouraged the people of the West that it was not until the spring of 1793 that the commanding general found himself in a condition to venture forward in the accomplishment of the work he had been appointed to do. By this time the faithful wife had her arrangements all made and cheerfully cast in her lot with the army as it moved toward its destination in the West. On the 30th day of April, 1793, the army under Wayne shoved out from their moorings at Legionville, and with this more than heroic wife and little son commenced their voyage to the land of their future operations. Their journey was a long and tedious one, attended with many difficulties and hair-breadth escapes, and perhaps would never have been successfully accoumplished but for the wisdom and energy displayed by the commander in advising and directing their entire movements. After many weeks of toil and countless difficulties the army made a successful landing at a place facetiously designated by the commander as "Hobson's Choice" near Fort Washington, now Cincinnati, as it appeared to be the only place where it was possible for him to effect a safe landing. From this point the faithful wife and mother with her little boy procured some temporary conveyance near a hundred miles further down the river. In due time she made a safe landing at the mouth of Loughrey creek where she was met by the husband and father and conveyed to his little cabin a few miles further up that stream. Their reunion, though effected under such adverse circumstances, was amost happy one intensified by their mutual love and affection during their long enforced separation. The joy and gratitude that thrilled the heart of the husband and father in thus being permitted to embrace his heroic wife and noble little son, who for the first time he was now permitted to behold, mind be left to the imagination as words are totally inadequte to describe them. Suffice it to say that their happy domestic relations were at once removed and thenceforth, continued uninterrupted to the close of life.
That most faithful woman became the mother of seven sons and three daughters all of whom lived to mature age. In the midst of her household duties she found time to attend to the education of her children which her own early training so well qualified her to perform. In fact all the schooling any of her children received was imparted to them by this devoted mother; and so well and truly was this duty attended to upon her part that all of her sons in one place or another became in after life influential, public spirited and wealthy citizens. It may here be suggested by some that this apparently heroic woman, brought up in refinement as she was, acted foolishlin thus braving the dangers and hardships of frontier life far remote from civilization and right in the midst of hostile, treacherous savages. It may be thought that her conduct partook more of sheer recklessness than of true heroism and devotion to the marriage vow. So it would appear as the world views it, but all around her stood Freemasonry with her shield of portection to insure her safety, we see good reason for her conduct. She relied upon the assurance given by those Indian Brothers to her husband that she could join him in his wildeness[sic] home in perfect security and that while their brother Walker should continue to act in good favor towards them, grind their corn and teach them how to cultivate their fields so as to produce a more abundant crop, he and his should have full protection from all harm. Upon these assurances she felt she could rely, so she accepted the situation and was not deceived. Some two years after she had joined her husband in his wilderness home, the treaty of Greenville was concluded with the various tribes of the Northwest. This brought Brother Walker's residence some ten miles within the Western boundary of that treaty. Other emigrants now began to settle in the same neighborhood and soon our long isolated brother found himself pleasantly associated again with people of his own race. The Indians then retired and no further trouble or difficulty was ever had with them in all that part of our State.
It is not known that Brother Walker ever made any effort loking towards the organization of a lodge of Masons in Indiana. It is presumed, however, that he did not, for long before the country had become sufficiently settled so as to justify an enterprise of that kind in that part of the State, the hardships, exposures and deprivations through which he had been called to pass almost from his youty up had so wrought upon his physical system that he had become much of an invalid. So much so that the care as well as support of their large family of children devolved mainly upon the efforts of his devoted wife. He, however, lived to quite a mature old age having reached his four score. Many years before life's scenes closed with him he became a member of the M. E. church with which his devoted wife had long been connected and ever after maintained a consistent Christian character. A few years since the writer had the opportunity of a pleasant conversation with his old class-leader from whom he learned that Walker was a man of superior cast of mind though in his general deportment rather rough and uncouth, which can all be readily accounted for by his long connection in early life with the army of the Revolution. Yet with all he had a heart full of generous, noble impluses, and after becoming a member of the church he lived a truly pious and devoted life. He died at the residence of his son James Walker in Urbana, Illinois, in the winter of 1838-'9 and his mortal remains lie entombed in the cemetery near that place. His faithful wife preceded him to the grave some ten or twelve years and her remains are at rest in the little graveyard near the village of Hartford, in Ohio county, where so many years of her devoted life had been spent in domestic duties.
The subject matter of the foregoing historical incidents has been selected from among many others of similar import that might have been given to illustrate the manner as well as to record by whom civilization was first introduced into the southeastern portion of our State. From these sketches it will appear that civilization was not at all times a voluntary emigrant to the State, but by the force of circumstances it appears at times to have been thrust out as it were and compelled to find a lodgment in the wilderness among a savage race of people. Another improtant feature in the case will also appear; that whereever civilization did find a logement and however barbarous the people might be there was Freemasonry ready at hand to receive and throw around her the broad mantle of her protecting care until such times as the savage tribes could be removed and the country opened to the free intruduction of a civilized race. We close this sketch of a most remarkable life by simply adding that that little boy, of less than six years of age, who accompanied his noble mother to this then savage wilderness, in after years became our own venerable Brother John C. Walker, the father of our lodge here in Shelbyville and the master spirit of that early enterprise. To his noted life and achievements we shall endeavor in a subsequent article to devote a little more time as well as space.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
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