Select Walton Surname Genealogy

Here are some Walton stories and accounts over the years:

Izaak Walton and The Compleat Angler

Izaak Walton was born in Stafford.  His father, an innkeeper, died before Izaak was three and his mother then married another innkeeper.  Walton had probably some schooling in Stafford, but he moved to London where he was apprenticed to a cloth merchant and then, for thirty years, was a proprietor of an ironmonger's shop there. 

Walton was a Royalist and did not feel safe in London during the Commonwealth.  He consequently returned to live near his birthplace in Stafford.  He bought some land there, including a farm and a parcel of land at Shallowford.  Part of the attraction may have been that the Meece river, which he mentioned in one of his poems, formed part of its boundary.  Fishing and writing became his pastimes.  The first edition of The Compleat Angler came out in 1653.  Walton continued to add to it for the next twenty five years. 

The Compleat Angler was a combination of manual and meditation.  "Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learnt."  The work became one of the most reprinted books in the history of British letters. 

It was characteristic of Walton’s kindly nature that he left his property at Shallowford for the benefit of the poor of his native town. 
His thatched 16th century half-timbered cottage is now a museum commemorating his life.

Waltons at Alston

It was the elder Jacob Walton who bought the Walton family home of Greenends.  In 1817 he moved his wife Mary and their twelve children across the Nent valley to a long, rambling house then known as Nentsbury Green Ends.  Re-christened Greenends, it was to be the family home to successive Waltons for more than half a century. 

Jacob the elder had risen from wielding his own pick to being an employer of a hundred miners.  While the old man was still alive his son Jacob seemed to have been very much in his shadow. 

But as soon as Jacob the younger became the main “Jacob” in the Walton family, he became a real “adventurer.”  He had his hand in more than a dozen mines in the north Pennines and was undoubtedly the great entrepreneur and businessman of the family.  He is commemorated by a stone and bronze memorial erected for him by his employees at Alston.  When he died at the age of 53 in 1863, it was generally agreed that he had worked himself into an early grave. 

He left Greenends to his son John Pears.  But the Waltons were not destined to stay there much longer.  John’s new wife, Frances Belville, was a Londoner who was used to the bright lights and diversions of life in the capital.  Moving to Greenends – surrounded by moor and fell and a carriage-ride to the nearest village – proved too much of a culture shock.  In 1875 they uprooted to slightly more urban Acomb. 

But Greenends was kept on for another fifty years as a much-loved holiday home, a hunting lodge where the family could relax while chivvying the local grouse. 

Waltons in the 1891 English Census

Walton is very much a northern name.  The three northern counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Durham accounted for just over half of the Walton population in England in the 1891 census. 

Numbers (000's)

The Walton name was particularly evident in Alston, Cumberland and in Stanhope, Durham.  The largest numbers in Yorkshire were in Leeds, in Lancashire in Preston and Blackburn.

Henry Walton at a Slave Auction

The following narrative was based on family reminiscences and embellished for readability. 

“Bound hand and foot, the timid almost-teenage boy stepped on the block outside Market House in Fayetteville.  Henry High Walton, freshly delivered from Georgia by slave train, was the next to be sold to the highest bidder in North Carolina’s most active slave market. 

Slaves adapted to all sorts of misery.  They could tolerate an evil master.  They endured brutal drivers.  They adjusted to working sun to sun with only food enough to sustain a squirrel.  They endured the rod and whip as part of the evilness of slavery.  Not much in life shocked a slave and even less scared him – not even death.  Only one great fear hung like a storm-cloud over his head.  That was being separated from his family and sold to a distant owner.  Sold off was worse than dying. 

A bad year for a Georgia plantation meant liquidation of assets, which meant young folks like Henry were stripped from their families, carted to Savannah in shackles then packed tightly into boxcars on a slave train for a long ride to be sold to other plantations where the adapting process would start over.  Being sold off was walking through fire to end up in hell. 

One of those bad years visited central Georgia was 1841.  The cotton grew thin under a local drought, then a hailstorm in early fall ruined the standing crop.  Henry’s master could not meet his banknote without the liquidation of some of his major assets.  It made good sense to keep the men-slaves from mid-teens to late thirties, workers in their prime, and sell of most of the others. So Henry was on the block. 

A young, fit slave would bring top dollar from a plantation wanting a strong back that could offer many years’ return on the investment.  Henry listened to the rhythm of the auctioneer as the bid went higher but he never looked up.  It was too depressing.  He was already depressed and missed his mama so much that his heart was heavier than a Georgia cotton bale."

Jessie Walton, Texas Sheriff

Jessie Walton, born in Virginia in 1807, moved west and south in stages – first to Tennessee and then to Arkansas and finally arriving in Texas in 1850.

Jessie bought a farm on Briar Creek in Navarro county in 1852.  He was elected Constable in 1854 and then served as Sheriff from 1855 to 1860.

He had scarcely time to get settled in office as sheriff when several men under indictment for the murder of a man by the name of Wells set fire to the courthouse in November 1855 in order to destroy the indictment records.  A wooden structure, it burned to the ground with only a few county clerk records saved.  Runaway slaves and cattle thefts kept the sheriff busy after that.

Jessie later moved to Glen Rose in Texas where he is believed to have died in 1890.

Wesley Walton, Utah Pioneer

Wesley Walton grew up in Maine and spent a few years in his father’s law office in Portland before being lured to California in 1872 by the gold rush stories.  He didn’t make it.  An illness caused him to remain in Salt Lake City.  There he met up with Brigham Roberts and they went prospecting west of Salt Lake in the Oquirrh mountains.  Brigham Roberts was a Mormon and converted Wesley to his faith. 

In 1876 Wesley married Frances Huffaker and they moved north to a two-room log cabin that he had built at Woodruff in northern Utah.  Success came gradually in their sheep business and later in the breeding of purebred shorthorn cattle.  In 1890 Wesley had inherited land in Cottonwood where he built a new ranch. 

“The banister down into the front hall was of beautiful wood and came down in a very graceful curve. All of the children and grandchildren found sliding down it irresistible.  The front hall was a large room with the walls decorated with the heads of many of the animals the boys had brought home from hunting.” 

By the turn of the century the family was living between their two homes.  With thirteen children there was a twenty six year span in ages.  Most of the family stayed in Salt Lake during the winter and spent their summers at the ranch. 

In early anticipation of Utah becoming a state, Wesley jumped right into the ring of politics.  He became Chairman of the State Republican Committee, an honorary position he was to hold for thirty years, and had a say in the choice of the first Governor and Senator of the state.  Later he organized the Bank of Randolph and the Utah and Wyoming Independent Telephone Company.  He was a state senator until his death in 1917.

Sam Walton and Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is often portrayed as a folksy, ol' country boy, concerned about the welfare of his workers.  According to this myth, Sam drove around in a pick-up truck when he could have been chauffeured in a limousine.  Mr. Sam, as he liked his underlings to call him, didn't care a hoot about money, but only about following his dream.  Beneath this myth, however, was one tough businessman. 

Sam Walton had opened his first discount store under the Wal-Mart name in Rogers, Arkansas in 1961.  The idea of a discount store was to sell a lower line of goods than a regular department store, but also to sell many of the same goods as regular department stores at a cheaper price.  How would that be possible?  It required cost accounting "savings."  The discount store could find some efficiencies of scale and also operate at a lower profit margin per unit good than a regular department store.  Walton used two tactics primarily to get his way, one towards his workers and the other towards his suppliers. 

He resolved to pay his workers less, ferociously resisted any unionization, and restricted most of his workers to working no more than 28 hours per week - which would mean they would not qualify for employee benefits.  Wal-Mart workers have earned wage and benefit packages that have been 12-30 percent below those paid to workers in comparable jobs at unionized companies.  During most of Sam Walton's reign, Wal-Mart had an extraordinarily high worker turnover rate of 35-45 percent. 

Walton also instituted a policy that suppliers would have to sell goods to Wal-Mart at constantly lower prices.  That forced them to cut expenses and labor costs.  Eventually this led to many of these suppliers outsourcing their production to overseas sweatshops, a policy that started to gain steam in the 1980’s under Sam Walton's direction.

Return to Top of Page
Return to Walton Main Page