Biography of William A. Walker
William A. Walker is a member of the board of supervisors of Racine County, while his business interests are those of a manufacturer. He is devoting his attention to the making of railroad anchors and has developed a business of a very substantial character. Mr. Walker was born in Windham, Ohio, July 28, 1850, a son of John B. and Ellen (Whiteley) Walker, who were natives of Yorkshire, England. When eighteen years of age the father came to the United States with his eldest brother, landing at New Orleans, whence they made their way northward to St. Charles, Illinois. After a short time John B. Walker went to “The Phalanx.” a community settlement at -Windham. Portage County, Ohio. When this disbanded he purchased the farm and in connection with its cultivation and improvement operated a sawmill and wool carding machine. He also made ties for the first railroad between Cleveland mid Youngstown. Ohio, and there he lived for nine years, afterward removing to Leavittsburg, Ohio, about seven miles south. At that place he turned his attention to the woolen manufacturing business and after spending seven years there removed to Youngstown, Ohio, where he founded a larger manufacturing plant and continued to manufacture woolen goods, being identified with the business interests of that locality for a decade. In 1871 he removed to Girard. Ohio, and opened a woolen manufactory there, while at the same time he conducted a sawmill operated by water power. Five years passed, at the end of which time the factory was destroyed by tire and he had little insurance upon it so that his losses were heavy. He then came to Wisconsin and made his home with his sons until his demise. His wife was a daughter of William Whiteley, who on leaving England took his family to New York and in the early ’40s removed to Racine, soon afterward joining the English settlement in this locality. The parents of William A. Walker met in St. Charles, Illinois, and were married there. They had been reared within three miles of each other in England but had never become acquainted in that country.
William A. Walker obtained a public school education and spent four winter terms as a pupil in school at Youngstown. Ohio. He early began to assist his lather in the factory and was associated with him in manufacturing interests until September, 1874, when he entered the real estate office of his uncle, Simeon Whiteley, with whom he continued for fifteen months. He was next in the railway and mail service for eight years and for nine years was manager for the Racine Refrigerator Company, becoming sole owner of the business which he conducted for two and a half years, when the factory was destroyed by fire, with little insurance upon it. Mr. Walker was also interested in the Racine Shoe Manufacturing Company and was part owner and business manager for the Racine Economy Spring Company. Later he purchased all of the stock of that company and the enterprise became the foundation of the present business. He engaged in the manufacture of bolster springs, seat, springs and tongue supports for farm wagons. About 1909 he turned over the active management of the business to his sons. Willard and Warren, who have built up a business of large and gratifying proportions, now confining their trade largely to automobile specialties, but Mr. Walker is still acting as president of the Walker Manufacturing Company. In 1909 William A. Walker became interested with John M. Scott in the manufacture of railroad anchors for the prevention of creeping of rails and to this undertaking has since been devoting his energies. Splendid success has attended them and their output. is now very large. He is also a director of the American Trades & Savings Rank.
On the 26th of December, 1872, Mr. Walker was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Goff, who was born in Steuben County, New York, a daughter of ‘Warren and Lucina Goff, the former a millwright by trade. Mr. and Mrs. Walker became the parents of six children: Bessie, who is now the wife of Walter S. Holden, an attorney. of Chicago and has two sons, William and Warren, twins, who are engaged in business as previously indicated, and triplets who died in infancy.
Mr. Walker joined the Sons of Temperance when fifteen years of age and has always been loyal to the purpose of that organization. For forty-one years he has been a member of the board of trustees of the Universalist church and his life has ever been guided by high and honorable principles. He also exemplifies in his career the beneficent spirit of the Masonic fraternity with which he is affiliated. In politics he is a republican and for the past two terms has been a member of the board of supervisors. His life has been characterized by untiring diligence and determination. Starting to earn his living in early manhood he has worked his way steadily upward, persistency and energy enabling him to overcome all the difficulties and obstacles in his path and push steadily forward to the goal of prosperity.