Biographical Non-Fiction posted June 11, 2022 Chapters:  ...7 8 -9- 10... 

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A brief story about my Walton line in America.

A chapter in the book Pioneers of My People

Searching for Waltons

by BethShelby

My Paternal Grandmother, whom I wrote about earlier under the title “An Excellent Helpmate,” was Alma Mae Walton before she married my grandfather. The Walton line was a hard line for me to trace, because these people not only have large families, but they like to use the same names over and over. For a long time, I was sure my Walton line was among a group of Quakers who settled in Bayberry, Pennsylvania since the names were matching. Actually, they used rather common names like Robert, James, John, George, Edward, Samuel, and William. Since I found those same names everywhere I found Waltons, I assumed I was on the right track.

A lot of researchers of the Walton family seem to want to be related to the George Walton, who signed the Declaration of Independence and later became Governor of Georgia. I put it down to wishful thinking and stuck with the Quakers. When I realized I was looking in the wrong direction, it turned out our George was connected to the signer’s line, but he lived a couple of generations earlier than the better-known George. He turned out to be a nephew to our George Walton.

The Walton line, which proved to be ours, goes back to Oxhill, Warwickshire, England in 1570 and his name was William. His son, also named William, was a minister in the Church of England. He had a degree from Emanuel College in Cambridge. When he emigrated from Devonshire, England in 1635 and came to the English colonies in America, he came as a Puritan minister. He was married, and he brought his wife, Elizabeth and their four children, ages 7 to 1 year. They landed in Boston, and by 1637, the family had obtained land and settled in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts. The family had five more children.

The Waltons were some of the first settlers in the primitive settlement. There was no form of government, but in 1651 a congregational form of church government was established by law in Massachusetts. The settlers built a rough-hewn log chapel where William Walton preached and taught for thirty years. The men sat on the front pews of the church with muskets loaded in case of an Indian attack. The settler’s houses had large fireplaces, and the women cooked in kettles or on spits overhanging the open flames.

William and Elizabeth’s oldest son, John, born in 1628, became the next link in my chain of ancestors. John, of my line, left Massachusetts and moved to the Norfolk, Virginia area. He became a landowner, a surveyor and a lawyer. The next three generations of my line of Waltons remained in York County, Virginia. Another of William and Elizabeth’s nine children was Samuel Walton born in 1639. His line eventually led to the birth of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club. Samuel’s line went into Maine and eventually moved West. Sam of the Walmart Store was born in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, in 1919 and died in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1992. His children still run his business.

My next link down was Edward Walton I, Esq. born in Virginia in 1645. I believe in America the Esq. behind the name indicates that he was a lawyer. One of his sons became my next link, Robert Walton, born in 1690. He only lived to be 43, but he and his wife managed to have at least eight children before he died. This Robert was also the great-grandfather of the George, who was the last one to put his signature on the Declaration of Independence. 

Although this George, born in 1749, isn’t my direct line, he is an interesting historical figure. Both of George’s parents died when he was quite young. He and his sibling were taken in by several relatives to raise. He was raised by an uncle in a home with nine other children. The uncle was a carpenter and made him an apprentice in the trade. The uncle discouraged education, but George studied anyway and when his apprentice ended, he moved to Savannah, Georgia and studied law. By the eve of the American Revolution, he was considered the most successful lawyer in Georgia. He was elected to congress in Georgia and served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

He was commissioned as colonel of the First Georgia Regiment of Militia and was wounded and taken prisoner by the British in the Battle of Savannah, but later released during a prisoner exchange. He served as governor of Georgia and was later a member of the US senate. There is much information written about him on the internet. Although living in a time when most successful people in the south owned slaves, George Walton was never a slave owner. When he died in 1804, he was survived by a wife and two sons.

His body lies beneath a memorial designed to honor signers of the Declaration of Independence in Augusta, Georgia. There is a Georgia county and several schools named in his honor. He is further memorialized in the Constitution Gardens in the National Mall in Washington built to honor the 56 signers of that document.

The George Walton from my line was born in 1724 in Price Edward, Virginia. His son John Curtis Walton left Virginia and lived in South Carolina for a while, before moving to the county where I was born, Newton County, Mississippi, and my Walton line continued there. This is where my grandmother and great- grandmother were born. All of the Waltons I ever knew were decent hardworking people. Most of them were landowners. Many of the men served as confederate soldiers during the Civil War, and later generations served their country in all the wars America has been involved in since.

The long running TV show, The Waltons, was supposed to be about a fictitious family of Waltons who lived on Walton’s Mountain in Virginia in the forties. Since my Walton family line remained in Virginia for so many years, I wonder if it was just a coincidence that name was chosen. I imagine my own Walton family was not so different from the family portrayed on television. All of the Waltons had large, lively families and their lands and homes were likely passed down through the generations to other members of the family. I visualize the grandparents continuing to live with the family as they aged, just as they did on the TV show. At any rate, this is the way the Waltons exist in my mind.


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