There are numerous claims on the Internet and in print
regarding Edward B. Walker's parents, with most of them
being variations on the same theme: the connection to
a John Walker of Hawkins County.
A few people might note in their data a "dispute"
over his parents. There is no dispute among the people
who have looked seriously at the original records; the
connection to John Walker of Hawkins County can be proven
to be absolutely false. Any claim of Edward's
parentage which involves John Walker of Hawkins County
is absolutely wrong.
While the Internet has made some aspects of genealogical
research easier by making more source records available,
it has also made the repetition of false information
quite common. This particular repetition is understandable
as the theory has existed for over 70 years and was
first promoted by none other than Annie
Walker Burns, but it's still wrong and has even
been disproved through DNA testing.
To put this false information finally to rest, this
page focuses on the origin of the claim and why it cannot
be correct. While every claim may not be covered here,
every single theory found to date depends on Edward's
father being named John and being the/a John Walker
in Hawkins County. Any theory relying on that connection
Annie had not yet become serious in her genealogy research;
as far as is known, this was probably her first of what
would become more than 300 books, every one of which
is a transcription of records, not a narrative or analysis
of known information. At the time, she wanted to join
the Daughters of the American Revolution and the National
Society United States Daughters of 1812. To do that,
she only needed information back to her own great great
grandfather, Edward B. Walker.
At the time she was researching the book, she was corresponding
with people who may have known more about the family,
but she never seemed to asked the right questions. Although
few in number, there were still a few grandchildren
of Edward B. alive in 1929, and she is not known to
have, successfully at least, contacted them, but other
people with whom she did correspond, including Lizzie
(Walker) Click and her own aunt Minerva (Walker) Walker,
most likely knew more than Annie ever asked.
Annie did not make the claim of Hawkins County John
Walker in her 1929 book, at least not in the copy that
I have studied the most; she apparently had not yet
learned of the will. However, every branch found so
far through which her book has been passed down seems
to know about the alleged John Walker connection; she
probably found it shortly after publishing the book
and wrote about it to numerous family members.
The Infamous 1818 Will
There certainly was a John Walker in Hawkins County
who did leave a will there in 1818 that mentioned a
son Edward; he just wasn't our Edward B. Annie probably
found the will shortly after her 1929 book. She certainly
knew by 1933, when she published Tennessee vital
statistics: record of wills Hawkins County Rogersville,
Tennessee, [DAR Library], which would have included
She did not write again about the family, at least
in depth, until 1957, when she wrote her second
Walker book, which is not nearly as well-known as
the first. And, in the same year, she wrote her Nancy
Ward book, which included the explicit claim involving
the will. Given how widely known the claim was, even
though no direct evidence has been found, she seems
very likely to have notified the family long before.
She may well have mentioned the connection earlier in
other books, too; she tended to insert material about
her family irrelevant to the book she was transcribing
at any given time.
Why It's Wrong
Annie focused too much on the fact that Edward Walker,
Jr., was living in Hawkins County, Tennessee, in 1814
when he was drafted into the War of 1812. The connection
of our Walker family to Hawkins County is quite tangential
The exact movements of Edward B. Walker are hard to
trace, and he cannot be pinned down at all times. However,
at some point in or before 1813, he moved his family
to the middle ridge of Bays Mountain in the far north
of Hawkins County on its eastern border with Sullivan
County. The location was probably along Blair's Gap
Road near the old Dunkard Church, although the exact
location has not been ascertained.
They likely lived just inside the border of Hawkins
County, but, in terms of the community in which they
lived and from which some children and relatives took
their spouses, they were practically in Sullivan County.
The homestead on Bays Mountain was no more than about
10-15 miles from the Horse Creek/Jared's Branch/Long
Island area where they seemed to have known a number
of families and seem to have lived most of the time
before moving to Claiborne County.
According to Randy Walker, a major researcher of Hawkins
County John Walker, John and his descendants lived in
the area of Bull's Gap, Whitesburg, Saint Clair, and
Persia, more than 30 miles to the southeast of Edward
B. Walker's location.
More importantly, though, Annie seems to have made
the identification based on the will alone. A quick
check of Hawkins County Census records would have shown
that the other children named in Hawkins County John's
will were decades younger than our Edward B. She may
not have had easy access to Hawkins County deeds, but
one deed alone, in book 10, page 315, registered 25
July 1822, shows clearly that the Edward mentioned in
the will had died. Witnesses to the deed included some
of the other children named in the will and the land
is described as being next to John's widow.
In fact, those who seriously study the Hawkins County
family have never even considered our Edward B. Walker
to be related; they have long known about the real Edward
named in the will. Still, although Hawkins County John
could be ruled out as Edward's father, the possibility
that he was in some way related, perhaps as a brother
or other distant relative, remained until recently
and along came DNA testing.
DNA has proven beyond any doubt that John Walker of
Hawkins County was not in any way whatsoever related
to Edward B. Walker, not even distantly. Several descendants
of Hawkins County John Walker have been tested and fall
into testing group 18 including a proven descendant
of the man that Hawkins County researchers had already
identified as John's son Edward. Our Walker family,
with several tests as well, falls into group 10.
DNA group numbers in the Walker Surname Project are
arbitrary, by the way. People in group 9, for instance,
are no more closely related to our group 10 than people
in group 18. People falling into group 10 are related
to each other on a direct male line; people falling
outside of group 10 are not related, with the probability
being quite high of no connection since surnames
were first adopted, much less in a time frame that
could ever be proven through existing documents.
Felix Walker, John Walker, and Elizabeth Watson
Annie Walker Burns included information in her 1929
book about both Felix Walker and Dr. Thomas Walker,
two Walkers somewhat famous in early Tennessee history.
She did not claim to make a connection to these men,
although they are mentioned in the letters of others
in her book. In fact, in her later Dr.
Thomas Walker book, she states again that she found
no connection. Unfortunately, probably because of the
rather disorganized nature of her 1929 book, many people
since have decided otherwise.
Felix, from North Carolina, was a companion of Daniel
Boone and an early member of Congress who also was at
Watauga early in Tennessee, well before our Edward was
there. The claim is usually made that Felix was Edward's
brother, so Edward's parents must have been John Walker
and Elizabeth Watson and further that Felix's
father was the John Walker in Hawkins County with the
1818 will. He wasn't; Felix's father lived his entire
life in North Carolina. Felix himself wrote an autobiography
which completely excludes Edward as a brother. At the
moment, more DNA testing would probably be useful in
establishing certainty on the DNA signature of Felix's
family, but the family seems to fall into group 1, a
group completely unrelated to our Walkers.
In rare cases, some people do cite a source for this
claim which does not include Annie Walker Burns, specifically
the book John Walker from Ireland, 1720, and Some
of His Descendants, written by Robert Walton Walker
of Fort Worth, Texas, about 1934. The book is not widely
available at this time but a copy is at the Library
of Congress. Robert Walton Walker did extensive downline
research on his Walker family primarily in the Anderson
County, Tennessee, area, and claimed to be descended
from the same family as Felix. However, despite the
citations to the book, there is no claim in the book
that Edward was connected to his family or to Felix.
In fact, he mentions our Edward specifically on page
59 as a branch of Walkers which he could not connect
to his family.
Even more significantly, Robert Walton Walker's genealogy,
at least as it applies to ancestors starting with his
own great grandfather, is not quite but almost a complete
hoax and should be ignored. Robert was so convinced
that his own great grandfather, Reuben, was a brother
to Felix that, when he couldn't find a brother of Felix
actually named Reuben, he chose Felix's brother James,
closest to Reuben in age, and renamed him to the mythical
"James Reuben Walker". He essentially admits
as much on page 15. He continued to ignore obvious evidence,
such as the fact that Reuben was an enlisted man in
the Revolution while all of Felix's brothers were officers
and that his grandfather Reuben outlived Felix's brother
James by many years.
In other words, any history in his book preceding Reuben
Walker, his great grandfather, should be ignored. More
recently, DNA evidence seems to suggest that Robert's
own family belongs in group 9 of the Walker Surname
Project, connected neither to our Walkers nor to Felix
Dr. Thomas Walker
Although Annie Walker Burns mentioned Dr. Thomas as
well and tried to find a connection, how exactly he
ended up in some claims, invariably as another brother
to Felix, is a mystery and completely false.
To my knowledge, DNA evidence does not yet exist in
the line of Dr. Thomas Walker, but no particular reason
exists to believe that he is in any way connected to
Edward B. Walker any more than any other random Walker
family might be.
Certainly, he did pass through Cumberland Gap and,
in fact, his diary suggests quite strongly that he may
well have walked on or near the land where the Walkers
lived on Mulberry Creek almost 70 years before
our Walkers first moved there. In fact, Dr. Thomas Walker
lived and died in Albemarle County, Virginia, and never
lived in Tennessee, much less Claiborne County. Without
DNA evidence, one cannot completely disprove some sort
of ancient connection between the two Walker families,
but there is no evidence in the slightest that suggests
that such an avenue should be pursued.