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The Walker Connection
Back to the Beginnings: The Walker Connection
by Charlotte Filer
In 980 A.D. the Danes invaded Scotland. Near the place of battle was a farm by a long lane fenced on the side with ditches and walls. Peasant farmer Haie and his sons were at work in the field when the Scottish army was retreating along the lane. They leaped up onto the lane. Farmer Haie waved his plow beam, and they shouted "Renovate animos" (Renew Your Courage). The Scottish soldiers took heed and ran back toward the Danes more in disarray than in valor. But, the Danes thought the Scots had fresh troops pouring into the battle and went into retreat themselves. The net result was that the Scots became the victors.
The farmer, known thereafter as Hay, was brought to the Scot King and awarded land called Errol and the coat of arms of Argent. "Renovate animos" became the motto of the Errols. Later William Shakespeare put this story into one of his battle scenes. Dane and Scot became Roman and Briton. The peasant farmer became and old retired soldier, and the sons athletes.
Descendants of the Errols migrated to America. One Daniel Thompson was the 22nd man to fall at Lexington on April 19, 1775. One Mary Richardson was born in Baldwin, Main on April 11, 1811, and on March 5, 1838, at Baldwin was married to Rev. Elkanah Walker. A few days later Elkanah and Mary Walker started their 5,000 mile wedding trip which was to take them to the Whitman Mission at Waiilatpu, near what is now Walla Walla, Wash., on Aug. 30, 1838.
Their bodies now lie in Mountain View Memorial Gardens in Forest Grove. Much took place in their lives which involved them not only in missions but also in the early days of Pacific University.
After spending about a year at Waiilatpu, the Walkers moved on to establish their own mission station among the Spokane and Flathead Indians with Cushing and Myra Eells at Tshimakain near what is now Spokane, Wash. Tshimakain means place of the springs or waters. The Indians came to accompany them from Waiilatpu to Tshimakain. There were then at least 2,000 Spokanes, plus some Flatheads, in the area.
The recently published, "The Diary, 1838-1848, of Elkanah Walker," by Clifford M. Drury, and Mary R. Walker's diaries show that no other residents of early Oregon had kept such detailed accounts of their experiences. The Indian belief in "Big Foot" or "Sasquatch", still a popular myth, is even mentioned.
Walker and Eells attempted to teach the Indians to farm to lead them away from their migratory ways. The Indians were friendly during the life of the mission station and were also faithful in attending religious services. However, there were no converts. Walker and Eells insisted that no Indian could be a Christian and still follow the medicine rights of the tribe.
The missionaries reduced the Flathead language to writing and compiled a 16-page primer. They printed it on the mission press at Lapwai in what is now Idaho, where Henry and Eliza Spalding had established their station of the Whitman Mission. This was the first printed Flathead language book. Some of these early printed materials from the mission press are in the rare book room of the Harvey W. Scott Memorial Library at Pacific.
The Walkers' first son, Cyrus Hamlin, was the first white boy born west of the Rockies to grow to maturity. Their family was to consist of seven sons and one daughter. The last two sons were born in Forest Grove.
Six missionary wives, Narcissa Whitman, Eliza Spalding, Mary Walker, Myra Eells, Mary Gray, and Sarah Smith, formed the Maternal Association. Nellie Walker of Forest Grove, granddaughter of Elkanah and Mary Walker, says today that this was a natural thing for them to do as it was typical of the east. "They were doing what they did back home," she says. Purpose of the Maternal Association was to pray for help in bringing up their children correctly.
Nellie Walker reports that the Maternal Association formed by these missionary mothers is listed by the National Women's Club as the second women's club in America, but she believes that there must have been others in early New England.
After the Whitman Massacre in 1847, the other mission stations were in jeopardy and could not continue normally. The Walker and Eells women and children were sent to Fort Colville for protection. The men put in crops at Tshimakain and attempted to carry on, but spent much time going back and forth between Fort Colville and their families and the mission station and their Indians. The Spokane Indians of Tshimakain said that they would protect missionaries with their lives. But, the Oregon volunteers told the missionaries that they could guarantee them very little protection and that they would have to leave the mission station to go to the valley.
After spending about a year in Oregon City, the Walkers decided to live in Forest Grove (then called West Tuality). This decision was made for two reasons. There was an abandoned land claim available (although the "Abandonee" was later to return and cause some commotion), and they knew that Tualatin Academy (the forerunner of the university) was probably to be started. The Walkers were concerned about educating their children.
On July 13, 1848, at the home in Forest Grove of Rev. Harvey Clarke, one of the founders of Pacific, the Congregational Association of Oregon was formed. Charter members of this Association were Congregationalists Clarke, Rev. Elkanah Walker and Rev. George Atkinson (also considered by many as one of the founders of Pacific), and Presbyterians Rev. Harvey Spalding and Rev. Lewis Thompson.
One of the first acts of this Congregational Association was to vote to "found an academy which would grow into a college" hence, Tualatin Academy and Pacific University. Harvey Clarke suggested that his orphan school might be the basis of the school, and his offer after considerable consideration was accepted.
Walker and Clarke were to donate the land for the campus. This land included the first site for Old College Hall which is now the site of Marsh Hall. For 11 1/2 years Walker was a Pacific Trustee. For five years he was the pastor of the Forest Grove Congregational Church and guided the erection of the first church building. For four years he pastored a Presbyterian Church in Forest Grove.
Cushing Eells became the first principal of Tualatin Academy. He later returned to Eastern Washington to found Whitman College as a memorial to the martyred Whitmans. Walker's name is on the charter of both Whitman Seminary and Whitman College.
After the transplanted missionaries were settled in the Willamette Valley, there was a meeting on April 24, 1850, at the Eells' home in Forest Grove at which a new Maternal Association was formed. The charter members were Emeline Clarke, Mary R. Walker, Myra F. Eells, Abigail R. Smith, and Sarah E. Burton. Later Tabitha Brown, one of the founders of Pacific, became a member. Although her children were then adults, Mrs. Brown was concerned for the children in the school. The preamble to their constitution reads:
"Impressed with a sense of our entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit to aid us in training aright our children committed to our care, and hoping to obtain the blessing of those who fear the Lord, we the undersigned unitedly pledge ourselves to meet at stated seasons of prayer and mutual counsel in reference to maternal duties."
The early records of this Association are in the Pacific Library.
It was on June 11, 1858, in the midst of his pastorate of the Forest Grove Congregational Church, that a commission from the American Home Missionary Society appointed Rev. Walker to minister to "Destitute Places in the vicinity of Forest Grove, Oregon."
In addition to his pastorate and work with these "destitute places," Walker was a farmer. He was the first farmer in Forest Grove to use a reaper and gang plow. He often said at Tshimakain that the missionaries had too little time to do what they were supposed to do because they had to grow their own food and provide for themselves. The same was true at Forest Grove, where he had to care for his large family and make his own way in the new community.
The Walker hoe in Forest Grove was between A and B Streets near what would have been 24th Avenue if that street had crossed thorough the block. The Walker home was the first frame house in Forest Grove. Before and after her husband's death, Mrs. Walker boarded Pacific students at the B Street home.
Cushing Eells gave the land for the Forest Grove Congregational Church. He wanted the typical New England style church yard with the church on the green and the rest of the town built around it. There is still a Congregational (United Church of Christ) Church there today with the Pacific campus on one side across College Way and Main Street on the other side. There is a stained glass memorial to the Walkers in the Church, as there is in another church in Spokane.
After the Indian School opened in Forest Grove in connection with Pacific, Mary Walker recorded many times Forest Grove residents going there to sit with a dying Indian. (The Indians at the school were often in poor health and apparently many of them suffered from tuberculosis).
President Rutherford B. Hayes came to Forest Grove to inspect the school. The train from Portland was late, and he never did see the school. to save time the Indian students were marched to the house where the President was a luncheon guest, to be seen by Hayes there.
Mrs. Walker was introduced to President and Mrs. Hayes. She said privately in her diary, "Mrs. Hayes is much handsomer than her husband."
Rev. Elkanah Walker died in Forest Grove on November 21, 1877. Mary Richardson Walker lived on here until her death on December 7, 1897. Rev. George Atkinson preached Elkanah's funeral sermon. Presiding at Mary's was Rev. Myron Eells. Copies of both sermons are in the Pacific Library.
Many of the Walker descendants studied at Pacific went on to notable careers, and to follow Elkanah and Mary as missionaries. Leva B. Walker and Elda R. Walker, Pacific '01 taught at the University of Nebraska for many years. Many of their published scientific papers are in the Pacific Library. Dr. Joseph Elkanah Walker, Pacific 1867, was a missionary to China and provided Pacific with its Boxer mascot. Some of the descendants still live in Forest Grove now, including Nellie Walker, who was very helpful in the preparation of this article.
It Was Nellie, Pacific '23, who did what her grandparents originally planned to do. They wanted to be missionaries in South Africa, but fate sent them to Oregon instead. As a missionary Nellie Walker first served in China, but in 1935 she was transferred to South Africa and as a member of the third generation fulfilled the hopes of her grandparents.
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