John R.S. Walker

John Read Samuel Walker
1846 - 1900

JRS_Walker_Pic1John Read Samuel Walker was born in Pleasant Green, Cooper County, Missouri on March 18, 1846.  He was the son of Anthony Smith and Mary (Read) Walker.

His father died during the Civil War and he inherited property in Bates County, Missouri.  In 1866 he left Yale College in his sophomore year to move to Summit township, Bates County on what would become Poplar Heights Farm.  There he built a home, barn and began farming and stock raising. In 1870 he was elected to the Missouri State Legislature, its youngest member, where he served on the committee on elections.

After his term in the legislature, he sold the farm to his brother-in-law, John L. Hickman, and returned to his study of law. On October 13, 1880 he married Alice Brevard Ewing, daughter of Judge E.B. Ewing, and sister-in-law of Senator Francis M. Cockrell. After being admitted to the bar, he practiced law in Cooper County, Missouri being elected in 1888 as county prosecuting attorney. In 1895 he was appointed by President Cleveland as United States district attorney for the Western District of Missouri.  He later practiced law in Kansas City, Missouri, served as trustee in the United States Bankruptcy Court.

John and Alice had four children.

  1. Alice Ewing Walker - born July 29, 1881
  2. John Read Walker - born December 31, 1882
  3. Anthony Ewing Walker - born December 16, 1885
  4. Ephraim Brevard Walker - born November 17, 1893

John died on January 1, 1900 in Kansas City, Missouri. He rests in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City. His wife, Alice, died January 10, 1914 and rests beside him in Forest Hill Cemetery.

History Reports on John Walker

John Read Walker, lawyer, was a native of Missouri, born at Pleasant Green, Cooper County, March 18, 1846. His ancestry was most honorable, being directly traceable to Robert Read, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  His parents were Anthony Smith and Mary (Read) Walker.  They were early settlers in Cooper County and very prominent residents of central Missouri.  His father, a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky, became one of the largest and wealthiest land-owners of Cooper County. During the Civil War he was a Union man, and was helpful to the cause. He reared a large and influential family.

John Read Walker began his education in the common schools of his native town, was prepared for college at the Kemper Family School, Boonville, and entered Yale College in the class of 1868, but discontinued his studies when in his sophomore year.  In 1867 he engaged in farming and stock-raising in Bates County, Missouri, in which he continued until he entered professional life.  In 1870-2 he represented his county in the State Legislature, the youngest member of that body, and served as chairman of the committee on elections.  Meantime he had entered upon the study of law, and on being admitted to the bar began practice in Boonville. In November, 1888, he was elected prosecuting attorney for Cooper County, and made a record noteworthy for the ability and energy displayed and success attained.  In 1895 he removed to Kansas City, having been appointed by President Cleveland to the position of United States district attorney for the Western District of Missouri. In that important office he rendered distinguished services.  Among the notable cases in which he secured convictions was one in which he was opposed by W. H. H. Miller, a noted criminal lawyer of Indianapolis, Indiana, who was United States Attorney General under President Harrison.  After the expiration of his term of office, in which he was succeeded by Major William Warner, he was retained by the government as special counsel in two important cases which he had opened.  Upon retiring from office he entered upon law practice in Kansas City, continuing to serve as trustee in the United States bankruptcy court, a position which he held until his death. In the line of his profession he was undoubtedly one of the brightest ornaments of the Missouri bar.  He was conspicuously punctilious in mastering every detail of a case committed to him, devoting to it as close study as though it were without precedent or parallel.

In argument he was clear and discriminating, holding attention out of respect for his earnestness and sincerity, and commanding acquiescence in his conclusions through the symmetrical marshaling of his facts and the logical statement of his deductions.  The fact that out of 329 criminal cases which he prosecuted he failed of conviction in but three, in unanswerable attestation of his remarkable powers.  Politically, Mr. Walker was a Democrat. He rendered to his party faithful and distinguished service, and found recognition in various honorable positions other than those in the line of his profession.  In 1884 he was appointed by the Governor a special agent for Missouri to prosecute the war claims of the State against the general government.  He was appointed one of the first members of the Board of Managers of the Missouri State Reform School by Governor Moorehouse, was reappointed by Governor David R. Francis and again reappointed by Governor William J. Stone; during his occupancy of this position he served as secretary of the board.  In 1892 he was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Chicago, in which he gave earnest support to Mr. Cleveland, and he took an active part in the ensuing campaign. At various times he was prominently named for Governor, but never made an attempt to reach that office, nor even expressed a desire for it. A Southern Methodist in religion, he was devotedly attached to his church and advanced its interests earnestly and intelligently. For six years he was superintendent of the Sabbath school connected with the church at Boonville. On removing to Kansas City, he became connected with the Central Church, and was president of its board of stewards and of its board of trustees. In 1894 he was one of four delegates from Missouri to the General Conference at Memphis, Tennessee.  He was a distinguished Mason, and had attained to the chapter degree in the York Rite, and to the thirty-first degree in the Scottish Rite. He was married, October 13, 1880 to Miss Alice Brevard Ewing, of Jefferson City, a refined and accomplished lady of excellent family, daughter of Judge E. B. Ewing, at one time an associate judge of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and a sister-in-law of Senator Francis M. Cockrell. Through the services of distinguished ancestors she holds membership in the order of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was regent of the Missouri Chapter during the years 1899-1900. Four children were born of this marriage, of whom the oldest, Alice Ewing, died in 1897, when just entering upon young womanhood. She was radiantly beautiful and gifted and gave promise of a glorious womanhood. The living children are John Read, a graduate of Central High School, Kansas City, and class orator in a class of 247; and Anthony Ewing and Ephraim Brevard Walker, now receiving their education in the Kansas City Schools.  Mr. Walker died at his home January 27, 1900.  The large and deeply affected assemblage which attended his funeral attested the affection and admiration with which he was regarded.  Eloquent panegyrics were pronounced by divines who had sustained to him the relationship of pastor--the Rev. A. G. Dinwiddie, of Boonville, and the Rev. S. Halsey Werlein, of Kansas City--and the Kansas City Bar Association, through ex-Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, presented a fervent memorial.  In all these utterances, from the various standpoints of the minister of the gospel, the professional associate and the personal friend, was heard the tribute due the memory of the conscientious Christian, the manly citizen and the worthy member of an honorable profession. 

The bar memorial, representing one of the strongest professional bodies in the State, recognized in him one who stood in the front rank, having attained to a height reached by few. His was pronounced a well rounded character, marked by an unfaltering sense of duty and nobility of purpose, based upon the two lofty aims of his life--to serve God with an humble heart, and to do his duty to his fellow men.  The clergymen ascribed to him the high character of a Christian gentleman, a leader in church affairs, a true and steadfast friend, a loving husband and an honored father. All testified to the loveliness of his personal traits, which throughout his life moved him to greathearted sympathy and kindly interest in his fellows, which would not permit him to think or speak evil of another, nor to desert a friend or pursue an enemy. Sympathy for his bereaved family was tenderly expressed by all classes of the community, and in the funeral cortege were various representative bodies, including the Kansas City Bar Association, the Masonic organizations, and the Order of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

HON. JOHN R. WALKER, attorney. The Walker family, of this state, of whom Hon. John R. is a representative, came originally from Virginia, and all trace their lineage back to Samuel Walker, a native and resident of that state during the latter half of the last century, but who emigrated to North Carolina, and afterwards to Overton county, Tennessee, where he died at an advanced age in 1834. He reared a family of five sons and one daughter: Samuel, Winston, Armstead, John, Harrison and Ellen. These afterwards settled in Kentucky, where Samuel died, but his son, Charles, now lives in Pettis county, Missouri. Harrison moved from Kentucky to Indiana, where he died, leaving two sons and a daughter. John and Armstead settled in southwest Missouri, where they raised large families, and Winston, the grandfather of Hon. John R., came to Cooper county, Missouri, where he died, August 30, 1855, aged seventy-five years. He left three sons, Samuel, Henry R., and Anthony S. Anthony, after he grew up, married Miss Mary E., daughter of Judge Anthony F. Read, of this county, but originally of Kentucky. Judge Reads wife, formerly Miss Nelly C. Ewing, was a daughter of Urban Ewing, and niece of Rev. Finis Ewing. Anthony S. Walker and wife reared five children, viz.: James H., of Bunceton, this county; Hon. John R., of Boonville; Addison A., of Pleasant Green, this county; Mrs. Mary E. Hickman, of Columbia, Missouri; and Mrs. Florence Conkwright, of Sedalia. Anthony S. Walker, the father of these, was for many years a leading

citizen and large property holder of Cooper county, and was widely known and highly esteemed as a man of the most unquestioned purity of character and of superior intelligence. He was, in every better sense, an upright citizen and a kind, intelligence, and of more than ordinary culture. She died in June, 1872. John R., the son, was born in Cooper county, Missouri, March 18th, 1846, and, after taking the usual course in the neighborhood schools in early youth, in 1861 entered Kemper's well known school in Boonville, where he continued two year. After this lie was admitted to Yale college, and

spent three years of hard study in that great institution of learning. Returning home in 1866, the following year he went to Bates county, and was occupied there several years with business connected with the landed interests of his father's estate. While there, in 1870, he was elected to the legislature, and proved one of the ablest and most popular members of the house. In 1873 he came back to his old home in Cooper county, and began the study of law under Hon. John Cosgrove, being afterwards admitted to the bar in 1874, whereupon he entered vigorously upon the practice of his profession. In 1880 he was elected prosecuting attorney of the county, and filled that position for two years with more than ordinary ability. He is now one of the prominent attorneys of Boonville, and in the coming years will doubtless be called upon to serve the people in various positions of distinction and public trust. He was married October 13th, 1880, to Miss Alice Ewing, a refined and accomplished daughter of Judge E. P. Ewing, the eminent jurist, who for many years ornamented the supreme bench of Missouri. Mr. and Mr. Walker have two children, Alice E. and John R. Mr. Walker is a member of the Masonic order.

    History of Howard and Cooper Counties, Missouri, written and compiled from the most authentic official and private sources, including a history of its townships, towns and villages, together with a condensed history of Missouri,
    Publication: St. Louis: National Historical Company, 1883 or:



John R. Walker was born in Pleasant Green, Mo., March 18, 1846, and was prepared for college by F. T. Kemper at Booneville, Mo. He left the class at the close of the second term of Sophomore year.

In 1867 he removed to Bates County, Mo., bought a large farm and engaged in stock raising. From 1870 to 1872 he represented Bates County in the Missouri Legislature, and was Chairman of the Committee on Elections. He was then only twenty-four years of age, and the youngest member of the Legislature. He subsequently studied law and settled as an attorney in Booneville.

In November, 1880, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Cooper County, and held the position for two years, during which time he prosecuted three hundred and twenty-nine criminal cases and secured conviction in all but three. The Fund Commissioners appointed him, in 1884. Special Agent for the State to secure the Missouri war claims from the United States Government. December 5, 1888, he was appointed one of the Board of Managers of the Missouri State Reform School for Boys, and was made Secretary of the Board. He was reappointed December 1, 1892, for four years. In May, 1886, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and was one of the Board of Trustees; also a member of the Board of Stewards, being President of both Boards. For six years he was Superintendent of the Booneville M. E. Sunday School. In October, 1893, he was elected by the annual conference of the M. E. Church South one of the four delegates to the general conference which met at Memphis, Tenn., in May, 1894. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention which was held at Chicago in June, 1892, and was earnest in the support of Mr. Cleveland for renomination. He took an active part in the canvass of 1892 and contributed much to the success of his party in his district. February 20, 1894, he was appointed by President Cleveland United States District Attorney for the western district of Missouri. He served in this office until the expiration of Mr. Cleveland's second term in 1897. After his retirement, he took up the practice of law in Kansas City, Mo., and was retained by the United States Government as special counsel to argue in the Supreme Court of the United States, on behalf of the Government, an important case involving the question of Interstate Commerce. After that he received from the Attorney General of the United States two special appointments to try cases on behalf of the Government, one case in Iowa and the other in Missouri. Senator Cockrell savs of him: "He was a man of the highest character and of most decided ability, and obtained a high position in his profession.

JRS_Walker_Pic3He was married, October 13, 1880, at Jefferson City, Mo., to Alice B. Ewing, daughter of Judge Ephraim B. Ewing of the Missouri Supreme Court, and had four children: Alice Ewing, born July 29, 1881, at Jefferson City, died September 14, 1897; John Read, Jr., born December 31, 1882, at Booneville; Ewing Addison, born December 16, 1885, at Booneville; Ephraim Brevard, born at Booneville, November 17, 1893.

John Read, Jr., is President of the Lumberman's Bureau, and lives in Washington, D. C. Ewing Addison and Ephraim Brevard are engaged in the lumber business in Hattiesburg, Miss.

John Read Walker died in January, 1899, in Kansas City, Mo., as a result of some heart affection caused by overwork.

Mrs. Walker died in Kansas City, January 10, 1914

    --History of the Class of 1868: Yale College, 1864-1914, Yale University, Class of 1868 Henry Parks Wright.

He entered Kemper in 1861 and then entered Yale for 3 years of study.  He returned home in 1866 and in 1867 went to Bates County and “was occupied there several years with business connected with the landed interests of his father’s estate……in 1873 he came back to his old home in Cooper county.

    -- History of Boonville Township, Part B. Cooper County, Missouri


Following are Excerpts from The History of Cass and Bates Counties, Missouri; St. Joseph Publishing Company, 1883

Page 950
“John Walker, from Cooper County, Missouri, opened a farm among the earliest.  He now resides in St. Louis.  He was at one time one of the prominent citizens of Bates County and represented her people in the general assembly of the state some ten years ago.”

P. 1010-1014
Bates County Agricultural and Mechanical Society…incorporated May 4, 1869. First fair held 1870.  Directors for First year…..John R. Walker
John R. Walker - second best mule, two years old and under three
                       - second best single harness horse or mare

P. 1087
On April 17, 1869, a mass meeting was held at Austin, Cass County, Missouri in the interest of the Pleasant Hill, Butler and Fort Scott road, which was attended by many leading citizens of Butler.  It was resolved to build the road by organizing at once. D. S. Fairchild, John R. Walker, R. J. DeJarnett, G. J Dembaugh and A. L. Betx were recommended as the directors for Bates County….


Newspaper References

Official abstract of the votes cast in Bates County, Tuesday Nov 8, 1870 gives votes by townships.  Walker ran against Page for state representation. Walker had total 1047 votes to Page’s 839.

    Bates County Record
    Butler, Missouri
    Sat, Nov 12, 1870



We believe that justice should be done though the heavens fall and consequently publish the following extract taken from the Missouri Republican of the 17th.  It has been reported that our member, Hon John R. Walker, was seldom at Jefferson and complaints have been made that when there he has done nothing. We therefore give place to the following to correct such an erroneous idea, and ask our neighbor of the Democrat to copy; as it plainly show that he is doing something for himself, if not for his constituents:

Holiday Mileage

Hon John R. Walker of Bates, it is reported, will go before the Supreme Court with a test cast, asking for a mandamus compelling the state auditor to audit the amount of mileage and per diem claimed to be due members for the holiday recess, when 14 days and numerous turkeys were consumed.

By a letter received a few days since from Hon John R. Walker; from Jefferson City, we are pleased to learn that he is taking a decided stand against the proposed new county of Atlas.  In short, he says he is opposed to all new county projects and had not only presented the remonstrances forwarded to him, but had a special meeting of the committee on county boundaries called that he might appear before it and oppose the project. He has published in the Record some time since which was referred to the committee on Judiciary, as is the usual custom.

While we never believed that Mr. Walker was in favor of any changes in county boundaries we are glad to know from him that such is the case, as it has been currently reported that he had pledged himself to the Atlas county scheme. We believe in giving Mr. Walker his due, consequently publish the above.

    Bates County Record
    Butler, Missouri
    Saturday, Jan 20, 1872



Forest Hill Cemetery
Kansas City, Missouri








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