William Walker and Sarah Holcombe

Jane Curl Walker (c 1806-1884) was the daughter of William Walker (bef 1776 - c 1832) and Sarah Holcombe (bef 1790 - 1850).

Outline

Section 1

The strongest evidence for generation 7 is a comparison of handwriting by William Walker on four different marriage bonds that proves that the William Walker who married Sarah Holcombe in 1804 in Campbell County, VA, is the same William Walker who was the father of Jane Curl Walker, married to Martin Luther Hawkins in 1823 in Jessamine County, KY. Handwriting comparison provides strong evidence in this case because William Walker had a distinctive, rather unkempt handwriting style, and because there are available four different marriage bonds on which he wrote extensively. Further evidence is presented as follows:

Section 2

U.S. Census evidence that Jane Curl Walker's parents were both born in Virginia.

Section 3

Evidence that Jane Curl Walker's father was the same William Walker who was named in the 1798 will of George Walker of Jessamine County KY; and evidence that Jane Curl Walker's maternal grandfather, John Holcombe, lived in Prince Edward County VA where his daughter Sarah met William Walker, and that the Holcombe family later moved to Campbell County VA, where William Walker returned to marry Sarah.

Section 4

Statements from various historical texts that Jane Curl Walker and her brother, Algernon Sydney Walker, were descended from the Walkers of Virginia.

Section 5

Documentation of dates and places of birth, marriage and death.

For each marriage bond, will, or deed that is presented as evidence in this chapter and the next, a transcript is provided first, then a copy of the original document is shown.

For reference sake, the siblings of Jane Curl Walker with birth dates are listed here.

  • Martha Ann Walker (1805-1888) m. Dr. Robert Howe Paris (1793-1873)
  • Jane Curl Walker (1806-1884) m. Dr. Martin Luther Hawkins (1788-1841)
  • George Ann Walker (1807-1879) m. John Anderson (?-1835)
  • Dr. Algernon Sydney Walker (1811-1884) m. Melvina McReynolds (1812-?)
  • Elbridge Gerry Walker (1813-?) – attorney, never married
  • William Samuel Walker (b. 1815) – probably died in childhood
  • John H. Walker – (b. 1816) probably died in early adulthood
  • Sarah Holcombe Walker (1817-aft 1880) m. Rev. Dr. James Breckenridge Evans (1808-aft 1880)
  • Mary Elizabeth Walker (1821-?) m. Robert James Foster (1816-1869)

Section 1

William Walker wrote on four marriage bonds allowing handwriting comparisons (handwriting comparisons follow the paragraphs below):

1) William Walker m. Sarah Holcombe1, Campbell County, VA, 1804, signed by William, witnessed by Samuel Venable (Sarah's uncle, brother of her mother, Martha Venable2). On this bond, the father's permission is signed by J. Holcombe, but the text of the permission is clearly in a different handwriting, and appears to have been written by the groom, William Walker;

2) Jane Curl Walker m. Martin Luther Hawkins3, Jessamine County, KY, 1823; father's permission written and signed by Jane's father, William Walker;

3) Martha Ann Walker m. Robert Howe Paris4, Jessamine County, KY, 1822; father's permission written and signed by Martha's (and Jane's) father, William Walker;

4) George Ann Walker m. John Anderson5 , Barren County, KY, 1828; father's permission written and signed by George Ann's (and Jane's) father, William Walker.

First, the "William Walker" signatures from the four marriage bonds were isolated and placed in Box 1 below for comparison. The three signatures from the William Walker we know to be Jane's father are very similar to the signature of William Walker, groom of Sarah Holcombe in 1804. Also included in Box 1 is the word "Will" written by Jane's father on her 1823 marriage bond, for comparison with "Will" as Walker signed his first name on the 1804 document, again very similar.

Second, in examining the paragraph of written text that constitutes J. Holcombe's permission for Sarah Holcombe to marry William Walker in 1804, it is clear that the handwriting of this paragraph differs substantially from the handwriting of the signature of J. Holcombe. Further, the name "William Walker" as written in the permission paragraph (isolated and reproduced at the bottom of Box 1) is almost identical to the signature of "William Walker" signing the same bond as the groom.

It appears that William Walker, groom of Sarah Holcombe, hand wrote the permission paragraph for his father-in-law, J. Holcombe, to sign. There are two possible reasons we can imagine, and of course there may be others, such as simple expediency. First, William Walker was an attorney (documented below), and the family may have depended on him for the wording of the paragraph. Second, John Holcombe was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and was wounded at the Battle of Germantown in 1777 (see verification of his Invalid status below [accent on the first syllable of "Invalid"]). Perhaps John Holcombe was somewhat infirm by 1804.

Comparing various words and phrases from the permission paragraph from 1804, with the same words and phrases from William Walker's three permission paragraphs from the marriage bonds of 1822, 1823, and 1828, shown in Box 2 below, it appears likely that the same individual hand wrote the permission paragraph on all four of these documents; further, when these similarities are taken together with the four "Walker" signatures and the "William Walker" from the permission paragraph of the 1804 bond, it appears clear that the permission paragraphs and "Walker" signatures on all 4 marriage bonds were written by the same person; therefore the William Walker who married Sarah Holcombe in 1804, in Campbell Co., VA, is the same William Walker who was father to Martha Ann, Jane Curl, and George Ann Walker.

Section 2

Three separate pages from the 1880 U.S. Census, respectively for Jane Curl Walker Hawkins and two of her siblings, indicate that Jane Curl Walker's parents were born in Virginia

Jane Curl (Walker) Hawkins: The 1880 Prairie Township AK census6 shows Jane C. Hawkins (mother-in-law), born Kentucky (col.. 24), father born Va (col. 25), mother born Va (col. 26).

George Ann (Walker) Anderson: The 1880 New Orleans7 shows George Ann Anderson (mother), born Kentucky (col. 24), father born Va (col. 25), mother born Va (col. 26).

[There is one oddity on this census: George Ann (Walker) Anderson died in New Orleans on 9 Nov 1879, yet she is listed on this 1880 census, with a single line strike through her name. The daughter and granddaughter listed are hers, so this is the correct George Ann Walker. Her listed demographic information is all accurate, except for the rather major error of the implication that she was alive at the time of the census. Perhaps the census page was prepared from data collected the year before?]

Algernon Sydney Walker: The 1880 Scottsville KY census8 shows Algernon S. Walker (physician), born Kentucky (col. 24), father born Va (col. 25), mother born Va (col. 26).

Section 3

This section presents evidence that Jane Curl Walker's father, William Walker, was the son of the George Walker whose will was written 22 Dec 1798, proved March 1800, in Jessamine County, KY. It is necessary to discuss the will of Col. George Walker at this point to confirm the dates and places of residence of his son, William Walker.

The will of George Walker9 lists wife Priscilla; four sons: William, David, Benjamin, and Jacob; and daughter Nancy. According to the will, Jacob was not of full age as of 1798. The will names two executors: son William Walker, and George Walker.

In the will, George Walker d. 1800 states that he leaves "the plantation whereon I now live" to his eldest son William. We assert that this William Walker still lived in Jessamine County 10 years later, on the plantation he inherited from his father, and appears on the 1810 Jessamine census10 [The 1800 census was lost.] The following is evidence that the William Walker who appears on the 1810 Jessamine Co. census is the same William Walker mentioned in George Walker's 1798 will:

  • A search on ancestry.com shows just one William Walker living in Jessamine County KY in 1810
  • The entry on the 1810 census shows William Walker age 25-44. George Walker's son William was at least 23 in 1798 (because according to the will, only his youngest brother Jacob was under 21 at that time), so he was at least 35 in 1810;
  • On the same census page, two entries above William is Priscilla Walker, age over 44, presumably William's mother, as mentioned in George Walker's will. On this 1810 census page, William Walker and Priscilla are owning a plantation (or a divided plantation) consistent with their owning the plantation left to William in the will of George Walker. It is unclear why they are listed separately; they appear to be listed together on one plantation on the 1820 census (see below);
  • The 1810 census entry just above Priscilla Walker is the only George Walker on the 1810 Jessamine County census, and the family demographics are consistent with this being the second co-executor of George Walker's 1798 will: specifically, this "co-executor" George Walker m. Rachel Caffery is known historically to have had at least 9 sons, and is shown as such on the census page (please see further discussion about this historical George Walker below). These facts support the conclusion that the William Walker on the 1810 census is the same William Walker who was the son of George and Priscilla Walker, who was the inheritor of the Jessamine County plantation, and who was the co-executor of the 1798 will.
  • This 1810 census entry for William Walker also appears to be the father of Jane Curl Walker: William Walker is shown with three daughters under 10 and no sons, corresponding to Martha Ann, Jane Curl, and George Ann [The marriage bonds in Section 1 confirm William had these three daughters.] The 1810 census entry thus fits the profile of the father of Jane Curl Walker and two other daughters, and is the only William Walker in Jessamine County. Therefore, this 1810 census entry is evidence that William Walker, legatee of the 1798 will, is the father of Jane Curl Walker. The evidence is strengthened by continuing to follow William Walker in historical records:
  • The 1820 Jessamine census11 continues to show just one William Walker in Jessamine County (see ancestry.com search, page D41). On this 1820 census, William Walker is the owner of a plantation owner. The census entry for William Walker's family shows one female over 45, probably William's mother, Priscilla, now listed living with her son, and shows their combined plantation. This 1820 census entry shows three males under age 10, corresponding to Jane Curl Walker's brothers, Algernon Sydney, Elbridge Gerry, and John. It also shows several young adults whose identities are unknown to us, but some may be (grown) children of the co-executor of George Walker's will, George Walker, who died in 1819 (see below).
  • The continuum of evidence of this William Walker, resident and plantation owner in Jessamine County, continues with his signature on the two wedding bonds from Jessamine County discussed in Section 1, from 1822 and 1823.
  • In about 1828, William Walker moved his family to Allen County, KY, where he was admitted before the court as an attorney in July 182912. He is listed in the 1830 Scottsville census13shown with 3 sons age 10 to 20, again corresponding to Algernon Sydney, Elbridge Gerry, and John. We can explain two of the three young daughters shown on this census entry, Sarah H. and Mary E., but have no record of the third young female on this census. Note that two of William's older children and their families have moved with him to Scottsville and are shown on the same 1830 Scottsville census page: Robert and Martha Ann Paris, and John and George Ann Anderson.
  • William Walker was appointed an Allen County Attorney14in October 1831. He had died in Allen County by October 1832, when a notation in the Allen County Day Book references his "heirs and representatives"15.

The above 9 bullet points represent a continuum in the record of William Walker, son of George Walker (d. 1800), and father of Jane Curl Walker.

Co-executor George Walker (of the 1798 will) shown on the 1810 Jessamine census was a second cousin of William Walker's; the two shared common great grandparents George Walker m. Anne Keith (of Elizabeth City, VA). There is a print source by J. Estelle Stuart King, "Abstracts of Early Kentucky Wills and Inventories", Genealogical Printing Company, Baltimore, 1969, that states in error that the co-executor George Walker was a son of the 1798 will's author [this book is quoted on various internet sites]. However, the will16 states several times that George Sr.'s four sons were William, David, Benjamin and Jacob, and did not include a George Jr. The sentence naming the executors was misread by Ms. King or her researcher: the will17 appoints as executors "my son William Walker & George Walker", not "sons". The co-executor George Walker was the son of George Walker (d. 1780) m. Mary Meade of Brunswick County, VA; he married Rachel Caffery and had at least 9 sons with her; he was the second attorney to open an office in Nicholasville, Jessamine County, KY (in 1799); served as a Colonel and staff member of Kentucky Governor Shelby during the War of 1812; was an appointed U.S. Senator from Kentucky for 4 months in 1814; and died in 1819. He moved from Virginia to Jessamine County in 1794 with at least two of his siblings, Jacob Wythe Walker and Courtney Walker, and is listed as brother and executor in Courtney Walker's will proved in Jessamine County in March 1804.

William Walker and Sarah Holcombe both grew up in Prince Edward County VA

William Walker's father, George Walker, was a long time resident of Prince Edward County, VA, before moving his family to Jessamine Co., KY. George Walker served as Colonel in the Prince Edward Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War (proven elsewhere on this web site).

John Holcombe was also a long time resident of Prince Edward County, VA, thus William Walker and Sarah Holcombe grew up in the same county. John Holcombe served as a Captain in the Virginia Colonial Army in Prince Edward Co. in 177318. George Walker also served as a Captain in the Prince Edward Co. Colonial Army, in 176719.During the Revolutionary War, Holcombe served as a Captain in the 41st Regiment, Continental Army, and later as a Colonel in the Virginia militia20. Walker also served as Colonel in the Virginia militia21.

John Holcombe continued residence in Prince Edward Co. is confirmed by his listing in Prince Edward Co., VA on the Virginia Census of 178722. The index23shows two individuals who could be the "J. Holcombe" of the marriage bond of William Walker and Sarah Holcombe: both are John Holcombe. The John Holcombe of Prince William County owns no listed assets and is unlikely to be the father of Sarah. The other John Holcombe is shown as a resident of Prince Edward, with extensive assets, and also owns land in Cumberland County24.

This land in Cumberland County tied George Walker and John Holcombe in a 1791 indenture: Holcombe sold Walker land in Cumberland Co.25

Finally, John Holcombe later moved his family to Campbell Co. VA26. William Walker married Sarah Holcombe in Campbell County.

To summarize, the facts discussed above show that John Holcombe and George Walker were residents of Prince Edward County when William Walker and Sarah Holcombe were growing up; that George Walker and John Holcombe both served in the Prince Edward, Virginia Colonial Army, and that they effected an indenture in 1791, proving that the families were acquainted; and that John Holcombe moved to Campbell County, VA, where William Walker returned to marry Sarah Holcombe.

Section 5

Three historical texts reference the connection between the Jessamine County Walker family and the Walkers of Virginia.

  • Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, "Kentucky – A History of the State", F.A. Battey & Company, 1887, page 759, gives a biography of one of Algernon Walker's sons, Elbridge Walker. The biography states that Algernon's father was William Walker, a successful lawyer, and that Algernon's grandfather was George Walker of Virginia, who emigrated to Jessamine County, KY.
  • Paul Thompson, "The History of the Orphan Brigade". Lewis N. Thompson publishing, 1898, page 503, gives a brief biography of Captain David C. Walker, son of Algernon Sydney Walker. The chapter states that Algernon was descended from "the Walkers and Holcombs of …Virginia. The chapter does contain a couple of errors, including stating that the Walkers and Holcombs lived in Albemarle County, Virginia, which we have no evidence was ever true.
  • Mrs. Lewis D. McPherson, "The Holcombes Nation Builders", Quintin Publications, 1947, p. 729, references John Holcombe and wife Martha Venable; John and Martha's daughter Sarah Holcombe m. William Walker, and the Walker children including Jane Walker. The book also details descendants of Jane's sister, Martha Ann Walker Paris, for 5 more generations, into the early 1940s.

These references are provided as evidence that historical and family tradition recognized the lineage from John Holcombe and Martha Venable to Sarah Holcombe; from Col. George Walker to William Walker; and from these to Jane Curl Walker. These three books are valuable historical references, and the McPherson book in particular is a monumental achievement of family genealogy research. However, in the custom of their day, the narrative in each book mixes documented facts with undocumented, long-held assumptions, some of which turn out to be in error. Therefore these texts can only serve as guidelines for more definitive research.

Section 5

Jane Curl Walker's middle name is documented on a family letter27, written to her by her grandson, Rev. William Brodie of Coleman, Texas, in 1881. The letter opens as follows:

"Mrs. Jane Curl Hawkins Dear Grandma,"

William Walker's latest possible birth year can be deduced from his father's will, which was signed on 22 Dec 1798. The will lists four sons, William clearly the oldest (he is named first, he inherited the father's plantation, and he was executor of the will). The will explicitly states that one son, Jacob, was underage. This places the birth year of the other three sons at least 21 years before 1798, or 1777. Because William was the oldest, his birth year must have been before 1776.

As noted above, William's appointment as a County Attorney for Allen County KY was recorded in Oct 1831, and his "heirs and representatives" are referenced in the Allen County Day Book in Oct 1832, placing his death between these two dates, or c 1832.

Sarah Holcombe's birth year can be approximated by her stated age on the following census pages:

  • 1810 Jessamine KY: age 16-25
  • 1820 Jessamine KY: age 20-45
  • 1830 Allen Co. KY: age 40-50 (shown living with her daughter George Ann and son-in-law, Jonathan Anderson)

The 1810 census establishes her earliest possible birth year of 1785; the 1830 census establishes her latest birth year of 1790. The 1820 census is compatible with this range.

Her date of death is known from a family letter28dated 27 Jul 1850, written to Jane C. (Walker) Hawkins by her brother, Elbridge Walker. The letter opens with the following:

"Vicksburg, Miss July 27 1850

My Dearest Sister

I received a letter this morning from Brother Sidney [Algernon Sidney Walker] informing me that our dearest old mother was fast failing and that he had entirely despaired of her recovery, that she has sank rapidly in the last few days before he wrote. His letter was dated the 16th instant. I hasten to lay this sad intelligence before you. We should be prepared at all times to hear of the death of the old and infirm. You know that our dearest old Mother was always feeble, and that she has weathered the storms of life much longer than any who knew her ever expected, so my Sister we should not mourn or repine when we shall hear of her deceased…"

Family records indicate that Sarah Holcombe had in fact died by the time this letter was written. Based on the state of Sarah's health described on July 16, we feel comfortable placing her death in July 1850. Her place of death was Allen County KY: she was living with her son, Algernon Sidney Walker, as referenced in the letter above, and is shown living with his family on the 1850 Scottsville census29.

The marriage date and place for William Walker and Sarah Holcombe is established by the marriage bond30.

william walker 1


william walker 2

Citations

1Walker-Holcombe marriage bond, 23 Mar 1804, Archives, Campbell VA County Circuit Court

2 Dorman, John Frederick. Adventurers of Purse and Person. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005, Vol. 3, p. 811

3 Hawkins-Walker marriage bond, 4 Jul 1823, Archives, Jessamine KY County Clerk

4 Paris-Walker marriage bond, 4 Oct 1822, Archives, Jessamine KY County Clerk

5 Anderson-Walker marriage bond, 18 Aug 1828, Archives, Barren KY County Clerk

6 Edward Freyschlag family, 1880 U.S. Census: Arkansas, Washington, Prairie Twnshp

7 George Ann Anderson family, 1880 U.S. Census: Louisiana, Orleans, New Orleans

8 Algernon Walker family, 1880 U.S. Census: Kentucky, Allen, Scottsville

9 Will of George Walker, made 22 Dec 1798, proved in March court 1800, Archives, Jessamine KY County Clerk, Nicholasville KY

10 William Walker family, 1810 U.S. Census: Kentucky, Jessamine

11 William Walker family, 1820 U.S. Census: Kentucky, Jessamine

12 Allen County KY Day Book 1825-1837, p. 53

13 William Walker family, 1830 U.S. Census: KY, Allen, Scottsville

14 Allen Co. Day Book, op. cit., p. 106

15 Ibid., p. 119

16 Will of George Walker, op. cit.

17 Ibid.

18 Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1988, p. 30

19 Ibid., p. 30

20 Dorman, op. cit., p. 811

21 "Colonial Soldiers", William & Mary Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 2, April 1935, p. 139

22 Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florene Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia. Springfield: Genealogical Books in Print, p. 1297

23 Ibid., p. 1709

24 Ibid., p. 331

25 Holcombe-Walker deed, 5 Sep 1791, Record of Deeds, Prince Edward Circuit Court

26 Dorman, op. cit., p. 811

27 The Jane Walker Letters, www.MullinsFamilyHistoryProject.com, letter #82

28 Ibid., letter #17

29 Algernon Walker family, 1850 U.S. Census: KY, Allen, Scottsville

30 Walker-Holcombe marriage bond 1804, op. cit.