Biography of George Walker
George Walker (known during his residence in the county as Judge Walker) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1774. His father, John Walker, came of an old family in Leicestershire, England, was a graduate of the university of Edinburgh, and a barrister at law, removed to America in 1753, married in Boston, and settled in Hartford, Connecticut. George received a good business education, and engaged in mercantile business in Cooperstown, New York. For several years he was highly successful, but, through the dishonesty of a partner, he became deeply involved, and was compelled to close business at a great sacrifice. Disheartened by his losses, and soured by the meanness and dishonesty of his late associates, he determined to seek his fortune in a newer country, and came to Athens county in 1804. Here he purchased and settled on a farm near the present town of Amesville, where he remained all his life. The country was almost a wilderness, and the farm uncultivated, nor had the owner any practical knowledge of the work before him. Mrs. L. W. Ryors, to whom we are indebted for the substance of this sketch, says: “I have heard my mother say that, had it not been for the aid of the man who accompanied them in their long journey as a driver of a wagon, they would have suffered. His name was William Hassey, and he continued to live with the family, a faithful friend and helper, for nearly fifty years. In this wild pioneer life this man was invaluable in every respect, assisting my mother in her new and trying duties, and instructing my father in the art of felling trees and removing brush-not greatly to the credit of his pupil, as the family tradition testifies that he never learned to perform, with skill, that first and necessary part of pioneer life.”
Soon after his arrival in the township, Mr. Walker was elected a justice of the peace, which position he held, continuously, for about twenty-four years. He also acted as county commissioner for sixteen years, and was elected by the legislature, an associate judge of the court of common pleas, which office he held for fourteen years. He was one of the founders and principal supporters of the Western library association, of which Mrs. Ryors recalls some reminiscences. She says: “As long as I can remember this library was kept at my father’s house, and it was most highly prized by the whole family. Books, now a necessity, were then, in that isolated place, a rare luxury. The books were selected with good judgment, and comprised a little of everything-poetry, history, romance, law, medicine, and some scientific and religious works. Poems and novels were the first attraction, I am sorry to say, for the female portion of the family, but they were soon exhausted, and we were glad to turn to more substantial reading. It was no uncommon thing to find a child reading eagerly from the heavy volumes of Rollin or Hume. I was not more than ten or eleven years old, when, in the absence of any ‘juvenile books,’ I read, with delight, Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and the translation of Homer’s ‘Iliad.”‘
An active supporter of schools and of every movement calculated to promote the welfare of the community, judge Walker exercised during his whole life a large and healthful influence. He died in 1856. His wife, who is still remembered by some of her contemporaries as a most amiable christian lady, died in 185o, aged seventy-one years.
Judge Walker had one son- George Walker, Jun., who was, for many years, a successful business man in Amesville. He is deceased. Of his seven daughters, the eldest was married to Col. Charles Cutler; the second to Edgar Jewett, of Athens; two of the others married physicians; one a banker, and one a merchant. Another daughter, Mrs. Ryors, relict of the Rev. Alfred Ryors, minister of the Presbyterian church, is well known in Athens. Her accomplished husband, for many years connected with the Ohio university, and subsequently president of the Indiana state university, was one of the choicest among the many rare and scholarly men, who, during its history, have been associated with the university at Athens. He died at Danville, Kentucky, May 8, 1858.