Rufus Walker

Rufus Walker, dealer in all kinds of heavy lumber at Reynolds, Edgington Township, is a native of the Green Mountain State, was born in Orange County, Dec. 10, 1839. His father, Rufus, was also a native of Vermont, of New England ancestry, and a shoemaker by occupation. Rufus, Sr., was married in his native State, to Miss Susanna Smith, a native of New England. They were both of English extraction, and after marriage the elder Rufus followed his trade, until the date of his death. Rufus Walker, Jr., the subject of this notice, was the youngest in order of birth of a family of 11 children,-seven sons and four daughters,-and was but 12 days old when his father died. He continued to reside with his mother, receiving the advantages afforded by the common schools until her death, which event occurred when he was in his 16th year. Prior to that event, Mr. Walker had engaged to learn the trade of shoemaker, and after the death of his mother he worked at the same, in his native state, until he was 20 years old. At this age in life he concluded to better his condition financially by coming West, and came to Edgington village, this county. He afterwards engaged to act as clerk in the mercantile establishment of C.R. Ainsworth at Moline, and remained with that gentleman three and a half years. He then became the successor in the business, and conducted the store at that place for eight and a half years, meeting with moderate success. Selling out his store there, he went to Rock Island city, and, in company with C.E. Dodge, opened a merchant-tailoring and gents' furnishing establishment, under the firm name of Walker & Dodge, which copartnership existed for three years. On dissolution, Mr. Dodge became sole proprietor, and Mr. Walker, in company with a Mr. M. Wait, engaged in the construction of a portion of the Rock Island and Mercer Co. Railroad. Mr. Walker acted as supply agent for the road while in process of construction, which was for some six months. During the time he and Mr. Wait were operating for the road, they purchased 160 acres of land on section 36, Edgington Township, and 80 acres adjoining the same, located in Mercer County. On the 160-acre purchase they platted the present village of Reynolds, the original plat and subsequent additions comprising the entire original purchase, and established a grain and hay market at that place. Mr. Walker started the first store at Reynolds, which he kept in the depot. He and Mr. Wait continued to purchase grain at that point for two years. It was about this time that Mr. Walker became connected with Weyerhaeuser & Denkmann, in the lumber business at Reynolds. After about three years Mr. Walker bought out the other two parties and became the sole proprietor of the business, which he has conducted with no small degree of success until the present time. Besides his various operations at Reynolds, Mr. Walker was for a time engaged with Mr. Wait in the live-stock business at Edgington, and has done considerable work in a commercial way, in different parts of the country. In 1879 Mr. Walker went to Iowa and Nebraska, and was engaged in furnishing supplies of food on a branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Burlington & Missouri River Railroads, and lately for the railroad located in the central and southern part of the State of Nebraska. The business lasted for nine months, during which time he had a store located on the railroad, which was burned, entailing a small loss. Mr. Walker has ten acres of village lots at Reynolds, on one of which stands his residence, a two-story frame building. He and Mr. Wait started the Reynolds Cemetery, which is located in proximity to the village, on a gentle elevation overlooking the same, and is one among the beautiful burying-grounds in Rock Island County. Mr. Walker was united in marriage Aug. 19, 1862, to Miss Jane Edgington, the accomplished daughter of John and Susannah (Crabs) Edgington, natives of Steubenville, Ohio. Her parents were married and came West about 1834, locating in Buffalo Prairie Township, this county, where they yet reside, and are classed as among the early settlers of the county. Mrs. Walker was born in that township, Sept. 8, 1842, and she was reared on the parental homestead, educated in the common schools, residing with her parents until her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Walker are the parents of four children: John E., born June 15, 1863, was educated at the schools of Rock Island city and at Morgan Park, near Chicago; he is at present the railroad agent at Reynolds, which position he has held since 1883. Frank B., born Nov. 26, 1865, received his education at Rock Island and Racine, and resides at home; Rufus, Jr., born Feb. 27, 1875, and Susan E., April 13, 1880, likewise resided at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker are both active members of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. W. having been Church Trustee and a liberal contributor to that denomination at Reynolds. He takes great interest in educational matters, and politically is identified with the Republican party.

- "Portrait and Biographical Album, Rock Island County, Illinois", Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, 1885

- Contributed by Kevin Martin