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Ezra Walker Collection

Manuscript Collection No.154
Overview | Biography | Scope and Content | Container List


.3 cu.ft. in 1 box. 1826-1853.

Provenance: The Ohio University received the Ezra Walker Collection as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. John S. Walker in November 1991. Janet M. Carleton processed the collection in December 1991.

Property Rights: The Ohio University owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights and/or literary rights as possessed in these papers have been dedicated to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights and possible literary rights is the responsibility of the researcher and the publisher.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Ohio University Library.

Photoduplication: Ohio University will entertain requests to photocopy reasonable amounts of material from the collection for the convenience of individual researchers.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection name and number, and Ohio University Library in all footnotes and bibliographic references.

Related Materials: See the A. B. Walker Manuscript (Manuscript Collection #120) and the Athens County Pioneer Association Collection (Manuscript Collection #51) also in the department's collections.

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Ezra Walker was born around 1802 in East Poultney, Vermont. His father Dr. Ezra Walker moved the family to the Marietta, Ohio area in 1810. In the next year they traveled further into Ohio, settling in Athens County where Dr. Walker became the first resident physician in Ames Township.

Ezra graduated with a class of four from Ohio University in 1826. He promptly relocated to the Charleston, Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia) area to read law in the office of the Honorable Lewis Summers. He also taught school in the Kanawha Salines for a short while. Following his study of law and admission to the bar, Ezra Walker remained in the Kanawha County area to practice. In 1829 he was awarded his Master of Arts degree from Ohio University--these were then awarded to graduates who continued academic studies for three years following completion of the bachelors degree.

Around 1834 Walker was appointed to the position of Engineer and Superintendent of Western Improvements by the James River and Kanawha Company, where he remained until his death. Ezra also edited and published the Kanawha Banner for a few years. He died in Kanawha County, Virginia in March 1853 leaving a widow, Julia Shepard Walker, and two children, Ezra and Kate.

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The collection consists of 46 documents: 7 bills, 1 printed document, 1 diagram, 1 hand written manuscript copy (the only document attributed to Ezra Walker), and 36 autographed, signed letters. Each letter is in an individual folder, accompanied by a typewritten transcript. The contents of each are also summarized in a short description in the container list. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by writer, then chronologically. The bills are separated into two folders; one contains 5 postal bills while the other contains 2 account bills.

All but a few of the letters are incoming correspondence to Ezra Walker. The correspondence is of both a personal and a business nature. Many letters mention Ohio University, giving information on the financial and educational status of the University ranging from good to troubled, in addition conveying how it was to be a student here in that time. The letters also give details of the salt industry and development of the Kanawha Valley and the Hocking Valley including the Athens, Ohio area. The importance of the available modes of transportation are emphasized with the development of the mail service, overland roads, railroads, and canals noted. George Summers' letters written from a Whig perspective candidly discuss the relationship between President and Congress, including references to "Loco Foco" Democrats.

The main correspondents are as follows:

  1. William Holmes McGuffey, educator, text book author (The Eclectic Reader), and President of Ohio University 1839-1843.

  2. George W. Summers (OU 1825), lawyer, judge, and member of the Virginia State house of delegates 1830-1832 and 1834-1836, delegate State Constitutional Convention 1851, delegate State Secession Convention 1861, member United States House of Representatives 1841-1845.

  3. Lewis Summers, lawyer, judge, OU Trustee 1829-1843, and elder brother to George.

  4. Archibald B. Walker, Hocking Valley businessperson, local historian, founding member and Recording Secretary of the Athens County Pioneer Association, and Ezra's brother.

  5. Ralph M. Walker, younger brother to Ezra, author of letters while in attendance at OU.


[Note: All items listed below may be found in the department's collections.]

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1971.
Washington D.C.: GPO, 1971.

General Catalogue of the Ohio University: From the Date of
Its Charter in 1804 to 1857. Athens: Van Vorhes, 1857.

Hoover, Thomas N. The History of Ohio University.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 1954.

Inter-State Publishing Company. History of the Hocking
Valley, Ohio. Chicago: Inter-State, 1883.

Laidley, W. S. History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West
Virginia and Representative Citizens. Chicago: Richmond-Arnold, 1911.

Peters, William E. Athens County Business. Athens:
privately printed, 1945.

Summers, George W. Unpublished transcription of a letter.
Kanawha Court House, Va: 1857.

Walker, Charles M. History of Athens County, Ohio.
Cincinnati: Clarke, 1869.

Williams, Clark E., ed. The Ohio Alumnus. Vol. 19, no. 7
(April 1937), Athens: Ohio University Alumni Association.

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Bills (1833-1840) from Postmaster, Kanawha County Court House (Virginia) Post Office to Ezra Walker

  • 1 - April 1-July 1, 1833; July 9-Sept 23, 1833; Oct 1- Nov 29, 1834; Jan 1-March 31, 1840; April 4-June 30,1840.
Bills/account slips (1829-1838) from James M. Laidley
  • 2 - Aug 7, 1829; Feb 13, 1837 and, on reverse, March 20, 1838.
Letters (1840-1842) from William Holmes McGuffey, postmarked Athens, Ohio to Ezra Walker, Charleston, Virginia
  • 3 - 4p. ALS, Dec 25, 1840. OU politics (dealing with Board of Trustees on faculty appointment), written on printed OU class schedule.
  • 4 - 3p. ALS, March 23, 1841. OU politics (dealing with Board of Trustees on faculty appointment).
  • 5 - 3p. ALS, April 27, 1841. OU politics (Board of Trustees decisions, revaluation of University lands, invitation to commencement).
  • 6 - 2p. ALS, July 7, 1841. OU politics (Board of Trustees, state legislature decision on revaluation of University lands, invitation to OU exams).
  • 7 - 4p. ALS, Jan 3, 1842. OU politics (McGuffey voices inclination to quit due to revaluation effects), written on printed OU class schedule.
Letters (1826-1845) from George W. Summers to Ezra Walker
  • 8 - 4p. ALS, Feb 19, 1826. Invitation to study law, admonishment against studying too hard, for health reasons. Heading Walnut Grove, Va. to Ezra Walker, Student, Athens, Oh.
  • 9 - 4p. ALS, June 22, 1827. Admonishment against working so hard teaching school for health reasons. Heading Walnut Grove to Tinkersville, Kanawha Co, Va.
  • 10 - 4p. ALS, Jan 21, 1836. National politics (slavery, railroad). Postmarked Richmond to Charleston, Va.
  • 11 - 4p. ALS, Feb 14, 1843. National politics of the 27th Congress. Heading Washington, DC to Charleston, Va.
  • 12 - 3p. ALS, Feb 22, 1843. Criticism against Walker by Stockton. Heading Washington, DC to Charleston, Va.
  • 13 - 5p. ALS, Feb 4, 1845. National politics of the House of Representatives (Jacksonism [sic], state's rights, tariff, railroad). Heading House of Representatives to Charleston, Va.
Letters (1827-1843) from Judge Lewis Summers to Ezra Walker
  • 14 - 3p. ALS, June 28, 1827. Walker has temporarily discontinued law studies to earn money. Heading Walnut Grove to Kanawha Salt Works, Kanawha Co, Va.
  • 15 - 2p. ALS, Dec 21, 1830(31?). Request for books. Heading Walnut Grove, Va. to Washington, DC.
  • 16 - 2p. ALS, Jan 9, 1835. Business, state of mail service. Heading Walnut Grove, postmarked Coalsmouth to Kanawha County Court House, Va.
  • 17 - 3p. ALS, Jan 9, 1835. Poor condition of current mail service. Heading Walnut Grove, postmarked Coalsmouth to Kanawha County Court House, Va.
  • 18 - 3p. ALS, Jan 29, 1835. Salt business, railroad, improved mails. From Walnut Grove to Charleston, Va.
  • 19 - 3p. ALS, Jan 17, 1843. Salt and banking business, railroad, local politics. From Walnut Grove to Charleston, Va.
Letters (1841-1852) from A. B. Walker, postmarked Athens, Ohio to Ezra Walker, Charleston, Virginia
  • 20 - 2p. ALS, April 26, 1841. Salt business.
  • 21 - 3p. ALS, July 8, 1841. Salt and coal business, mention of OU.
  • 22 - 3p. ALS, Oct 18, 1841. Request for business loan, canal progress, mention of OU.
  • 23 - 4p. ALS, Feb 22, 1842. Salt business (canal tolls and progress), mention of OU.
  • 24 - 3p. ALS, June 7, 1842. Salt business (canal tolls and completion).
  • 25 - 3p. ALS, April 4, 1843. Salt business ("Salt Bill," canal completion).
  • 26 - 4p. ALS, Sept 10, 1845. Letter containing description and diagram of wooden bridge.
  • 27 - 3p. ALS, Jan 2, 1847. Railroad, mother's tombstone, mention of poor condition of the University.
  • 28 - 4p. ALS, March 9, 1847. Salt business, railroad.
  • 29 - 3p. ALS, March 25, 1847. Bridge business.
  • 30 - 4p. ALS, Feb 14, 1852. Family news, railroad.
Letters (1828-1848) from Ralph M. Walker to Ezra Walker
  • 31 - 2p. ALS, Sept 17, 1828. Description of graduation speeches from OU student, mentions Templeton's "The Claims of Liberia" commencement address. Heading Athens, Oh. to Walnut Grove, Va.
  • 32 - 4p. ALS, Oct 24, 1828. OU student describes course of study and trip to Chillicothe. Postmarked Athens, Oh. to Walnut Grove, Va.
  • 33 - 4p. ALS, Nov 27, 1828. OU student describes college and dormitory life. Postmarked Athens, Oh. to Walnut Grove, Va.
  • 34 - 1p. ALS, Oct 17, 1848. Letter of recommendation for a portrait painter. Heading Austinburg (Ashtabula County), Oh., salutation ends "...other," no address (presumed to be to Ezra).
Miscellaneous business letters (1833)
  • 35 - 1p. ALS, July 18, 1833. Legal request about road and bridge at Coal Bridge. From Phillip R. Thompson and James F. Leays. Heading Coalsmouth, postmarked Coal Bridge to Ezra Walker, Charleston, Va. Miscellaneous family letters (1837-1853)
    • 36 - 4p. ALS, March 20, 1837. Family news. From P. Fuller (sister), Lou, L., and A. B. Walker. Postmarked Athens, Oh. to Ezra Walker, Charleston, Va.
    • 37 - 3p. ALS, Feb 18, 1853. Family news. From Julia W. Beard (niece). Heading Standardsville, postmarked Athens, Oh. to Ezra Walker, Lewisburg, Va.
    Letter of recommendation for Ezra Walker (1830)
    • 38 - 1p. ALS, Dec 10, 1830. Recommendation letter for Ezra Walker. From Judge Lewis Summers. Heading Walnut Grove, Va. to Senator John Tyler (Va.), Washington, DC.
    Manuscript copy of letter (1843)
    • 39 - 6p. Manuscript copy of letter, May 27, 1843. Labeled "Copy of letter to L. Summers 1843 respecting propellers." Author assumed to be Ezra Walker.
    Printed document (1848)
    • 40 - 1p. Printed document, May 8, 1848. Announcing availability of regional scholarships (McGuffey is listed as a faculty member.) From University of Virginia to Ezra Walker, Kanawha County Court House, Va.
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