Walker, Ephraim
Letters and Documents of farmer Ephraim Walker, of West Becket, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, primarily addressed to his son, honey dealer Ephraim Addison Walker, 1828-1858

The collection consists of the following: 8 letters, 23 pp., dated 26 February 1828 to 6 May 1858; 1 letter not dated; of the 8 letters, 1 is dated 1828, 1 1832, the other 6 date from the 1850s; 4 of the letters have either stains, or small holes, some lacking portions of text; but can be understood in context; all have old fold marks, and are worn at edges, as follows:

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1. “Much Respected Friend” [Louisa Rice] from Ephraim Walker, dated “W. Becket, Feb 26th, 1828.”

2. “Dear Brother” [Ephraim Walker, West Becket, Mass] from “Josiah Smith,” dated “Volney 8th of Feb 1832.” Josiah Smith appears to have been the husband of Ephraim Walker’s sister Matilda Walker (1795 - 1845).

3. “Dear Beloved Son” [Jerimiah W. Hedges] from “Mother” [Sarah Hedges], dated “January 7th 1851.” Also includes notes from his father and sister. It is unclear how this Hedges family letter relates, if it indeed does, to the Walker family. Jeremiah W. Hedges and Amelia Hedges were the children of Stephen O. Hedges and Sarah Hedges.

4. “Respected Child” [Ephraim A. Walker] from “Ephraim Walker,” dated “West Becket April 23, 1854.”

            5. “Dear Child Addison” [Ephraim A. Walker] from “Ephraim Walker,” dated “West Becket Oct 8, 1855.”

6. “Dear Child Addison” [Ephraim A. Walker] from “Ephraim Walker,” dated “West Becket April 10 [& 12], 1856.”

7. “Dear Sons” [Ephraim A. & Wayland Walker] from “Ephraim Walker,” dated “West Becket May 6, 1858.” Wayland Walker (1835-1870) was the brother of Ephraim Addison Walker.

8. “Dear Absent Son” from [not signed], [not dated]; judging from the other letters in collection, this would appear to be written by Ephraim Walker to his son Ephraim A. Walker.

With: 11 documents and papers, 21 pp., dated 1839 to 1854; including warranty deeds, agreement, religious testimony, page of verse, miscellaneous notes, accounts, report of county commissioners, etc. These documents all deal with the Walker family, the transfer of the elder Ephraim Walker’s farm to his son Ephraim, Jr, with the stipulation that Ephraim, the father, would still be allowed to live there, etc.

    The letters center upon Ephraim Walker who writes to his son who has moved out of the house to start his own life. The father relates fatherly advice to his son about life, work, etc., and keeps him posted about life at home. It appears the father would like to have his son return home, he relates the difficulties of getting the work done on the farm, his declining health. In one letter, the father finally states he is ready to sell out because of all the “wickedness” that is taking place in West Becket, Massachusetts.

      Ephraim Walker (1798-1859) and Ephraim Addison Walker (1830-1917)

    Ephraim Walker was born in 1798, the son of James Walker (1762-1849), of Becket, Berkshire Co. Massachusetts, and his wife Sarah F. Flint (1760-1844), the daughter of Deacon Benjamin Rice. James Walker was originally from Ashford, Windham Co., Connecticut and moved to West Becket, Massachusetts, about 1795. Their son Ephraim Walker was born at West Becket and was a farmer. He married Louisa Rice (1806-1844) and together they appear to have had several children, of which one of them was Ephraim Addison Walker (1830-1917).

    Ephraim Addison Walker was born on 2 January 1830 at Becket, Massachusetts. In 1852 he went to Boston and engaged in the honey business and five years later established himself in New York City as a wholesale dealer in honey. He eventually went into banking after he moved to Brooklyn, New York, and is first identified in the banking business as an elected trustee of the Greenpoint Savings Bank in 1878. In 1881 he became the 2nd Vice President. He retired from the honey business in 1888 and a few years later, in 1892, was one of the organizers of the Seventeenth Ward Bank of Brooklyn, where he became President in 1895. In 1909 he was elected President of the Greenpoint Savings Bank and remained at this position until he died in 1917 at Brooklyn.  Ephraim Jr married Jane S. Gove (1832-) and together they had a daughter Jennie Walker (1873-).

       Sample Quotations from the Letters:

“My Beloved Son

As Mother and Amelia have written three sides of a long letter, they have left but little room for me, though probably amply sufficient for all I have to say. I have sold my hogs at $4.20 per hundred and a premium of 30 cts per head for slaughtering which price is freely paid by the butchers at present and 40 cents has been paid by some. I shall have the money $700.00 ready in a few days, I think. I have $400.00 on hand and the prospect for obtaining the balance soon is good. I hope you will look about very carefully and be fully satisfied before you think of laying out money for land either in Iowa or Illinois. I can’t advise you to choose any particular location being totally unacquainted with the country except by report.

You should be governed in the choice of a place by the advice of your Uncle’s in Iowa, or of your Uncle Isaac in Illinois. If the hundred acres you speak of near Bunker Hill is good land and twenty of it good timber, the balance rich prairie and in a good neighborhood, I think you should prefer that if I could see it I could tell better what to say; probably you can get it for $900.00 or a little over by paying $700.00 down if you can get an opportunity of farming on the Shares I think you will do better than to come here, it appears to me that Illinois would be the best. I should think grain would sell better at Bunker Hill than at Oskaloosa. Write again when you get this.

Respectfully yours, Stephen O. Hedges

Jeremiah W. Hedges”

 

“West Becket, April 23, 1854

Respected Child,

While your absence still continues and the solicitude for your best welfare yet continues to occupy my mind and it may be this will reach you before you start for home and at the same time hoping that you have entirely recovered from you illness and that you may arrive safely to the place of your nativity, and escape the perils of the present day.

I have a selection of books which I desire to obtain from the Herald office in Chardon street No. 8 Boston which are these, Benedictions or the Blessed Life by John Cumming and the Voices of the Night & Voice of the Day by the same, Morning of Joy by H. [Banor], Night of Weeping and the Story of Grace, Promises Concerning the Second Advent and if you visit the office and make yourself known they may be willing to bestow gratuitously to you some tracts and papers for free distribution and whatever the bill is I will settle when you arrive.

I wrote you about a week since hoping you have received the same ere this…The harness maker over Eldridge’s store was found dead on the stairs in the morning a few days since, supposed to be murdered, his head broken in. Snow fell here to the depths of 12 inches a week since it has most all disappeared now, our spring work will be late. I have sold 31 sheep for $122.00 on the 21st. I expect to buy after shearing if not before. Mr. Gear tells me that he is sustaining a heavy loss in his sheep by dying. I wish to have [you] satisfy yourself what position to occupy to work by the month and meet all the liabilities in being from home or else occupy a position whereby you can more easily and readily place yourself in as comfortable circumstances as may be expected by following up the path of duty not withstanding the elements are in a great commotion and dashing its numberless rocks upon the shore of time and under those circumstances unless persons abide in the ship (If they have one to get aboard) they will most likely be lot therefore  feel it my duty to give a word of warning and if heeded all will be well…

This from you friend and father, Ephraim Walker

Ephraim A. Walker”

“West Becket Oct 8, 1855

Dear Child Addison,

I received yours of Sept 30 dated Providence, R.I. on the 6inst with much gratification after so long time since your departure. You may be assured that I have felt a deep solicitude for you since your leaving not knowing what might befall you or what success you might have in your undertaking.

However, you have given me to understand something about that and that you expected to start for Boston on the morrow. I am sorry to inform you that my health is not good at present I have been attended with a great deal of pain in my breast and side more or less every day since finishing haying which was a hard job to finish out the meadow for me and put the hay in to the barn. There was six large loads to be filled together with sickness…

Emily is now able to be about the house and do some work. We have a hired woman at 62 cts per week. She does very well. She is Irish. Sarah Hines left the next Tuesday after you left all the rest of the family have been well. Malona came down in company with Franklin in about 1 week after you left staid a few days to gather some business. She lock up her home for a little while…She expects to leave for Wisconsin I think it is in 5 or 6 weeks in company with Franklin. Heman has gone already. Mr. [Warden] went out last week to make her a visit and carried out his two daughters and left Monday to stay awhile. We are getting along but slowly in our work as I am not able to work much. I hired an Irishman half month for 7 ½ dollars, kept him ditching most the time, cut a ditch on the back side and some besides, swapped the steers for a pair of stages, 4 years old, well broke, worth $100 dollars. I had twenty dollars boot money. I could do nothing with the steers.

I send Philemon with the horses to draw wood. I see lately our potatoes are out undug most of them. The corn is not brought in being in the shock it got principally…damaged by the frost. Mr. Smith the paper maker has gone into assignment owing me eighteen dollars. I had called upon him often until…expect to receive 50 percent.

It has been very rainy here. Buckwheat greatly damaged by [xxxxing] after it was cut. We got ours in before the rains. Nothing of great importance has transpired here since you left but what is before us we cannot tell, therefore it stands us in hand to manage as wisely as we can while being surrounded with all manner of dangers in a world like this that is full of its upheaving’s and over estimating and devastating strokes of calamity that is broad cast all over the world and the wickedness of the wicked is on the increase and are waxing worse & worse everywhere as you will most steadily see as you pass from place to place, therefore take special care of yourself as you very will know that this world is but a short stopping place for us at the longest, therefore it will be wise for us to be ready for our exit to a world of more sublime joys where the wicked will cease from troubling and to meet with those that have gone before and to receive an inheritance that is incompatible and undefiled by ruthless sinners. So, finally farewell. Write often our best regards for you interest hoping to see you as soon as may be convenient no more at present,

Yours truly, Ephraim Walker

E.A.W.”

“West Becket May 6, 1858

Dear Sons,

Addison & Wayland,

Duty once more impels me to address a few lines to you. I have had no return from you for a long time. I wrote you a long letter while at New York. I heard by the way of Malona that you proposed to return to Boston. I have been waiting a long time to her from you and I am anxious to know what the reason that you do not write, how you are getting along, and where your post office address is and when you are coming home. My health has been poor this winter and am not able to do a great deal at present. We have passed through the winter comfortable while others have been sick and great numbers have died and a general complaint of the want of money.  I have not been able to collect any funds of any that is owing me. I have not secured the land damage money although it has been due since November. They paid Mr. Baird at an early period two hundred & fifty he called out a jury. I don’t expect to have mine until July. We have suffered a great damage by the hay coming out greatly hurt being put in to damp bins, obliged to buy great deal of meal in consequence, one of the oxen have been sick…We have kept from running into debt and paid some. I intended to clean up all the money matters this winter, price of wood fallen, and have [have made] hard to sell any for money which throws me under the necessity to want some under short time perhaps until fall and to buy some stock to fill the pastures. Stock is low what it has been we have lost two huffers on last fall with disease one the other night supposed to be killed it will alleviate the present necessity if you would send me some if you do not intend to come home this spring, let Wayland come and fetch it has we shall need his help on the farm and I want likewise to paint the house because I want to sell out as quick as possible in order to get out of this place for the wicked are waxing worse & worse in the place quarreling and fightings have ensued and gregious lawsuits and snares being laid. A serious affair took place at Nathan Chaffee’s sawmill eight men in company fell afoul of Chaffee knock him down with a handspike, and bruised him shockingly. He was under the doctor’s care sometime, blood came from his body. 3 of the Brogans and Mama Thomas his property is all attached three lawsuits is made out of it already. There is an outrageous attract made on me in consequence of a woman that came a long on foot in the summer of 1855 which stopped here in order to work her name was Sarah Hine. After I found out what her character was, I settled with her and offered her one dollar in money over and above what she claimed for a what time she was here. She refused to take the dollar and said that she was paid already. You and Wayland were here at this time. I think and you probably know this thing to be a fact. She went away and kept a house of ill fame on one Kinglsey’s land in Becket the house was taken down while she was in it. She married a Philips moved into West Becket. Phillips has been kept in jail all winter and another suit is after him. HE cleared out this is the report this Sarah came to Bairds how long she staid I don’t know. Baird carried her to Lee Depot to go West and was went off. A short time after I received line from Wilcox the lawyer, a claim was left for 2 months service for work for me for ten dollars. The Lawyer admits that it is strange that she had never called for any for the pay during this time. It is well known who started this and you can readily think Shaw said money was getting scare he advised me not to go near it, so has others said it is the vilest plot of extortion that can be and worse than piracy in the minds of all. Strange to tell revivals and religious meetings are growing on almost all around this place while it is left to confusion and every evil work. From here down through at every house more or less to Lee, a great interest at the school house at Ingrahams the interest is the greatest men, women, and children have experienced religion. Philemon takes a great interest in the meetings, six have joined the Baptist Church…

Yours truly with heart felt sympathy, Ephraim Walker”