Rufus Walker, one of the most extensive fuel dealers in Moline, was born in Williamstown, Orange County, Vermont, December 10, 1839, his parents being Rufus and Susan Walker. Eleven children, seven boys and four girls, were born to this couple. The father, who was a shoemaker by trade, died December 22, 1839, when the subject of this sketch, the youngest of the large family, was only twelve days old. The seven sons all learned the same trade as the father, that of shoemaking.
Rufus Walker obtained a common school education in Williamstown, and in November, 1860, he left his native state and came west, settling in Rock Island County, where he obtained a clerkship in the general store of Ainsworth & Walker at Edgington. He was employed in this store until July, 1864, when he purchased the business and conducted it until February, 1873, when he removed to Rock Island, and in company with C. E. Dodge purchased the business of E. H. Smyth, which they conducted for three years under the firm name of Walker & Dodge. In the spring of 1876, together with Mr. Meigs Wait, he secured the right of way and about $22,000 in money for the Mercer County Railroad Company. Mr. Walker ran a general store furnishing supplies during that same year. They also purchased the land where the village of Reynolds now stands, and laid out that town, later going into the lumber business there, and continuing in that business until the winter of 1887. In February, 1882, Mr. Walker moved from Rock Island to Reynolds. When the firm discontinued the lumber business in 1887, Mr. Walker moved from Reynolds to Moline, where for the past eighteen years he has been engaged in the coal and fuel business.
On August 19, 1862, Mr. Walker was married to Miss Jane Edgington, the daughter of John and Susan Edgington of Buffalo Prairie Township in this county. A biographical sketch of Mr. John Edgington appears else-where in this volume. Four children have been born of this wedlock, they being John, deceased; Frank B.; Rufus, Jr., who is now in partnership with his father, and Susan E. Mr. Walker is a member of the Congregational Church of Moline. He has never affiliated himself with any fraternal organizations. In politics he is a Republican, but has never been an aspirant for party office.
The life of Rufus Walker is the life of the average plain, unostentatious business man. He has been successful in the things that he has undertaken. He is a man highly honor-able and with a scrupulous regard for his word. He enjoys a reputation of being a business man of great ability and of high integrity.