James A. Walker, a resident of Kansas for more than thirty years, had applied himself with credit to various lines of business and official activity, but is now most widely known as state deputy of the Modern Woodmen of America, with headquarters at Emporia, where he had had his home for the past six years.
Born at Winterset, Iowa, February 12, 1866, he grew up on his father’s farm in Missouri, gained his early education in the public schools of that state, and early in 1884 at the age of eighteen arrived in Jefferson County, Kansas. Then followed two years of farm work, while for the next two years he was with the construction department of the Santa Fe Railroad as a painter under Superintendent B. F. Crocker, working both in Kansas and Oklahoma. With this experience he set up for himself in the painting business at Madison, Kansas, and remained there until 1899.
In the latter year he became acquainted with the Modern Woodmen of America as district deputy, and was traveling in the interest of that great fraternal organization all over the state. He deserves special credit for the successful organization and extension of the influence of this fraternity, and his work brought him the high honor in 1913 of appointment as state deputy, in charge of the order throughout the state, with headquarters in the New England Building at Topeka. He kept his headquarters at Topeka until July, 1914, since which time his official home had been in Emporia. His family had lived in Emporia since 1910. Mr. Walker had his home at 1224 Market Street and his offices in the Kress Building. He also had a fruit farm of 400 acres in Texas.
The Modern Woodmen of America now had about 70,000 members in Kansas. There are 775 local organizations, known as camps, and the Emporia Camp alone had a membership of 500.
The great-grandparents of Mr. Walker were Scotch people, and in the year 1800 they emigrated to America. While they were still on board the ship in Boston Harbor a son, Seth, was born to them. Seth Walker, grandfather of James A., spent his youth in Massachusetts, went with his parents to Kentucky, and while in that state he and Thomas A. Hendricks, who subsequently became vice president of the United States, formed a partnership and ran a steamboat on the waters of the Ohio. Later he removed to Hancock County, Indiana, where he attained considerable wealth and owned a large amount of farm land. His death occurred at Hancock, Indiana, in 1874.
John Harvey Walker, father of the state deputy was born in Hancock, Indiana, in 1839, moved from that state to Iowa in 1865, and in 1870 located in Harrison County, Missouri. In 1881 he moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, and in 1884 arrived in Greenwood County, Kansas, and he is now living at the age of past seventy-five at Madison in that county. Until he left Missouri he followed farming and stock raising, but in Kansas had been a contractor and builder. During the war he enlisted in the service at Indianapolis, but after a time was mustered out on account of physical disability. Politically he is a democrat. John H. Walker married Harriet Nash, who was born in Iowa in 1846, the year that state came into the Union. Their children are: John William, a contractor and builder at Wichita, Kansas; James A.; Mary, who is a specialist in electro-therapeutics at Philadelphia; Flora, wife of Charles Pritchard, cashier of the Fall River State Bank at Fall River, Kansas; and Ira, a contractor and builder at Madison, Kansas.
James A. Walker is a democrat of the old school. While living at Madison, Kansas, he served seven years on the city council and was also city treasurer. That completes his official record in politics, though he had frequently been urged to run for office since. Besides his prominence in the Modern Woodmen of America, he belongs to the Knights of Pythias at Emporia and the Royal Neighbors of America. He is a stockholder in the Lyon County Bank.
In April, 1890, at Madison, Kansas, he married Miss Belle Brumbaugh, a daughter of Samuel and Rachel Brumbaugh of Madison, Kansas, where her father is a retired farmer and banker. Former Governor Brumbaugh of Pennsylvania is of the same family stock. Mr. and Mrs. Walker have three children: Adlai, Hazel, and Martha. Adlai, completed his education in the State Normal School at Emporia and in Iola College, is now connected with the printing department of the Emporia Gazette. The daughter Martha is still a student in the State Normal School at Emporia. Special mention should be made of the scholastic record of the daughter Hazel. She was not yet twenty years of age when she graduated June 1, 1915, from the State Normal School at Emporia, being awarded a life teacher’s diploma and also a certificate as a teacher of public school music. Members of the faculty have stated that she was one of the most brilliant students ever graduated from the Emporia institution. In six years time she completed four years of high school work and four years college course, and not only that but also carried a music course and won her diploma in that department as well. She is now pursuing her work as teacher at Corwin, Kansas.