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John Walter


Posted By: Bruce L. Pearson (email)
Date: 7/28/2010 at 13:21:03

John B. Walter

John B. Walter (sometimes spelled Walters) was born circa 3 July 1821, according to his tombstone in Zoar Cemetery, near Exline, Appanoose County, Iowa (see final paragraph, below). His middle name is unknown. His place of birth is also not known. In several U.S. censuses, John and his children sometimes claimed that John was born in Germany, sometimes in Prussia, and sometimes in France.

Our John B. Walter may have been the same person as one Johan Georg Walter, who was born on 3 July 1821 and was baptized a Catholic on the following day, 4 July 1821, in Ichenheim, Offenburg, Baden, Germany. (His name was also written, following the Latin form, as Johannes Georgius Walter, in accordance with Catholic record-keeping practice at that time). His parents were Georg Walter and Katharine Kuhne (or Kiene). (Source: Familysearch.org, indexing project (batch) no. C94915-2, system origin: Germany-EAsy, source film no. 901780). Also please note that Offenburg is just a few miles from Strasbourg, Alsace-Loraine , France. This border area has alternated between French and German control over the years. However, according to the German source cited at the end of this paragraph, the Johan Georg Walter who was born on 3 July 1821 in Ichenheim died as a child on 19 April 1823. (Source: "Ortsfippenbuch Ichenheim Gemeinde Neuried Ortenaukreis in Baden", by Albert Kobele and Hans Scheer, 1978, which contains transcriptions of various Catholic vital statistics for the area of Ichenheim).

There are several possible explanations for the above. First, some little boy other than our Johan Walter may have died as a toddler, but the people who kept the records mistakenly entered the wrong name of the deceased. Second, there simply may have been two baby boys named Johan Walter, born the same day in Ichenheim. One died, and the other grew up and emigrated from Germany to the U.S., and in the process Anglicized his name to John B. Walter or Walters. Third, Johan Georg Walter really did die at less than two years of age, in 1823, but for some reason, our ancestor assumed the dead child's name when he left for the U.S. around 1840. Our ancestor may have left Germany under the assumed name and identity of Johan Walter -- possibly in order to avoid serving in the German Army. Thousands of young German men left Germany and went to the U.S. for that very reason. The foregoing, is, however, mere speculation. Unfortunately, we may never know the true explanation.

At any rate, our John Walter married Barbara Spack (sometimes spelled Barbry or Barbra Spach), born on 6 March 1821, also probably in the same region of Germany. (See separate write-up on Barbara Walter). The above-cited German sources have no records of the surname "Spack" or "Spach". It is not known when or where they married. It also not known when they immigrated to the U.S., but their first child, Emeline (or Emaline), was born somewhere in New York State on 8 October 1844, possibly in Lyons, Wayne County. (See info below on Caroline Walter). Likewise, it is not known how long they lived in New York, but the 1850 U.S. Census for Lyons, Wayne County, New York, lists the following residents:

John Walters, age 29, head of household, occ: cabinet maker, value of real estate $300, born in Germany;

Barbara, wife, age 29, born in Germany;

Emeline, age five, born in New York;

John, age four, born in New York;

Caroline, age one year, born in New York.

There is also the following tantalizingly brief article which appeared in the Wayne "Democratic Press", a newspaper in Lyons, New York, on 24 March 1858:

"John Walters, a German furniture dealer of this village, failed and absconded on Thursday last. His liabilities greatly exceeded his assets."

That's the entire article. If this John Walters was our ancestor, this financial problem could explain when and why he left New York State for Iowa.
We do know that they must have moved to Iowa sometime between 1857, when their seventh child, Charles, was born in New York, and 18 November 1860, when their eighth child, Hiram Leesta Walter, was born in Iowa.

The Iowa State census of 1895 lists John Walter, farmer, born c. 1822 in Germany, and his wife, Barbara Walter, born c. 1822 in Germany, as living in Caldwell, Appanoose County, Iowa in 1895. It also lists Hiram, Hiram's wife, Elizabeth J., Minnie, Lity, Edward R., Harley and Mamie Walter in the same household.

According to the U.S. Census of 1910, John Walters, born in July 1821 in Germany, and his wife, Barbara Walters (note the "s"), were residing in Caldwell, Appanoose County, as of 1910. The census also states that they immigrated to the U.S. in 1840. This is obviously in error, because our John Walter died in 1902 and Barbara died in 1907. This may have actually been the U.S. Census for 1900, or there may have been another couple, John and Barbara Walters, living in Appanoose County in 1910, although the latter possibility seems very unlikely.

John and Barbara Walter had the following children:

Emeline (or Emaline) Walter; born 8 October 1844, probably in Lyons, New York; married William P. Denning on 21 January 1875 in Appanoose County, Iowa; Denning was born 21 March 1835 in Ohio. Emeline had one
daughter, Ida E. Walter (possibly illegitimate), born 2 May 1869 in Appanoose, Iowa; and Charles H. Denning, son of William P. Denning, born March 1877 in Appanoose, Iowa. William P. Denning died 14 April 1878 in Winchester, Van Buren County, Iowa; Emeline died 29 April 1907 in Exline, Appanoose County, Iowa; Ida later married Nicholas Withrow; Charles was an inmate of the Washington State Prison as of 1910.

John Walter, born 1 February 1846, probably in Lyons, New York; married Sarah T. Mackey 4 October 1866 in Appanoose County, Iowa; Sarah was the daughter of John Mackey and Sarah Sinclair; Sarah Mackey was born 26 June 1844 in North Carolina; John and Sarah had one daughter, Mattie Walter Moore, born 25 February 1871 in Union, Powashiek County, Iowa; died 27 July 1975 in Clovis, Calif. (see separate write-up on Mattie Moore, which also contains considerable information on her father, John). John Walter died 29 December 1904 in Prairie, Mataska County, Iowa; Sarah Walter died 25 May 1900 in Prairie, Iowa.

Caroline Walter, was born on 21 July 1847 in Lyons, Wayne County, New York. She married Albert Cooke Peckham on 1 July 1869 in Appanoose County, Iowa. He was born 18 November 1845 in Ohio, the son of Frederick Peckham and Nancy Denning. Albert died 23 April 1888 in Kennekuk, Brown County, Kansas. Caroline and Albert had eight children: William Collier Peckham, born 2 May 1867, Caldwell, Appanoose County; died in Willis, Brown County, Kansas; Margaret Peckham, born about June 1870, Caldwell, Appanoose County; Mary H. Peckham, born about January 1872, Caldwell, Appanoose County; Helen Peckham, born about 1873, place unknown; married Jack Levick; Luther G. Peckham, born 4 November 1878, Appanoose County; died October 1968, Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas; Roy Peckham, born 7 July 1883; died November 1974, Wichita, Kansas; May B. Peckham, born November 1884 in Kansas; and Ida Peckham, born about December 1885; married one Tip Daniels in Wetmore, Kansas.

Per 1870 U.S. census, Caroline was living next to her brother John in Appanoose County; Per 1880 census, Caroline was in Orange Township, Lincoln County, Kansas. Per 1900 census, Caroline was in Adams Township, Nemaha County, Kansas.

About 1889, Caroline married William Seitz, born 17 March 1849 in Swartzenburg, Germany. Caroline and William had two children: Lena E. Seitz, born January 1890, Nemaha, Kansas; and Lillie M. Seitz, born January 1893, Nemaha, Kansas. Caroline died 14 February 1908 in Seneca, Nemaha County, Kansas. Caroline is buried in Ford Cemetery, southeast of Seneca. The information on her date and place of birth and death is in her obituary from the Seneca Tribune newspaper, dated 27 February 1908. Her death certificate in the Nemaha County Courthouse has her correct date of birth but incorrectly listed the place as "Lynn County", New York. There is no such place.

William Walter, born 22 January 1852, probably in Lyons, New York; married Diora (sometimes misspelled Dora) Withrow on 17 August 1880 in Appanoose County; Diora was born on 17 August 1858 in Exline, Appanoose County, the daughter of James Ross Withrow and Rebecca Ann Hutchinson. William was a farmer. According to the death certificates in Appanoose County, William died on 3 January 1934 in Appanoose County at the age of 81 years, 11 months and 11 days. Diora, who resided at 1010 W. Washington, Centerville, Iowa, died on 28 December 1946, aged 88 years, four months, 11 days. William and Diora Walter are buried in Zoar Cemetery, near Exline, Appanoose County. William and Diora had two daughters, Cora E. Walter, born on 20 May 1881 in Caldwell, Appanoose County, and Gladys Latitia Walter, born 12 July 1888 in Caldwell Township, Appanoose County. Cora died in August 1948 in Centerville, Iowa. Gladys Latitia Walter died on 17 August 1961 in Centerville, Iowa.

Mary E. Walter was born on 17 August 1853, probably in Lyons, New York. She died on 25 October 1931 in Long Beach, Calif. See separate write-up on Nathan Tower Aldridge and Mary Walter Aldridge.

Sarah H. Walter was born in March 1856., probably in Lyons, New York; she died on 15 June 1861 in Appanoose County; she is buried in the Zoar Cemetery but is listed erroneously in the cemetery index as "Sarah Walier."

Charles Walter was born circa 1857, probably in Lyons, New York; he married Clara A. Payne on 24 January 1883 in Appanoose County; the 1880 U.S. census lists Charles and his sister Caroline as living in Orange, Lincoln County, Kansas; Clara's mother, Mary Payne, age 53, born in Pennsylvania, is also listed. Charles died circa 1885.

Hiram Leesta Walter was born on 18 November 1860 in Appanoose County, Iowa. Thus he was the first child of John and Barbara born in Iowa. He died in Olympia, Washington, on 24 February 1950. See separate write up on Hiram L. Walter and his wife, Elizabeth Deahl Walter;

James Walter was born circa 1863 in Iowa (probably in Appanoose County). James was apparently mentally ill and living in an insane asylum in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa, per the Iowa state census of 1895. James was listed as one of John B. Walter's surviving heirs as of August 1902 (see below), and as one of Barbara Walter's surviving heirs as of December 1907, at which time he was listed as being 40 years old and living in Santa Rosa, California. According to the U.S. census of 1920, James Walter was living in Fullerton, California, at that time. and

Edward C. Walter, born 27 February 1865 in Iowa; he married Louisa Letita Withrow on 16 May 1886 in Appanoose County; Louisa, born on 19 January 1866 in Missouri, was the daughter of James Ross Withrow and Rebecca Hutchinson. Edward died 2 October 1901 in Exline, Appanoose County. Edward is buried in the Zoar Cemetery in Exline. Louisa died on 23 May 1934, place unknown but probably Appanoose County. Louisa is also buried in Zoar Cemetery. (Note: see separate write-up on Withrow-Walter Families. The information on Louisa came from her granddaughter, Mrs. Louise Enger, who lived in Fresno, Calif., in the 1960's.)

Getting back to John and Barbara Walter -- they lived in Caldwell Township, Appanoose County, for many years. John was a farmer and Barbara was a housewife. According to the probate records of Appanoose County, John Walter died on or about 12 July 1902. There is no death certificate on file at the Appanoose County Court House. However, the following article, quoted below in its entirety, appeared in the Centerville "Daily Citizen" newspaper, 12 July 1902:

"Word comes from Caldwell Township that "Uncle John" Walters (sic)
is very low with sickness and his death is expected at any time. He is 82 years
of age. Sunday evening he fell while attempting to mount his horse and broke his collar bone. His lung was also injured and later inflammation set in. Mr. Walter is one of the oldest settlers in the county, having come here in an early day, about 1848 (sic) we understand. He is well known and many will hear of his unfortunate accident with deep regret. He has been living with Mrs. Walters (sic) on the old homestead. There are seven children living, one of whom resides in this county while the others are scattered in various parts of the country. Two of them will arrive home today. Mrs. N.A. Withrow of this city is Mr. Walter's neice. She left yesterday for his bedside, accompanied by her husband and children."

Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate an obituary or any other document regarding his exact date of death, his place of birth, or the names of his parents.

Interestingly, on 4 June 1903, Barbara Walter presented a claim
against John's estate for $44.57, for John's burial clothes and the hearse.
She filed the claim in Mahaska County, Iowa -- not Appanoose County. J.T. Snare, undertaker, filed a separate claim in Appanoose County on 15 August 1903 for the undertaking and filing fee. One of his sons, also named John, who was living in Prairie, Mahaska County, at that time, and his granddaughter, Mattie Walter Moore, was living in Oskaloosa, Mahaska County.

What we do know is that John died without a will, and that his widow Barbara and his son William filed a joint petition on 18 August 1902 with the District Court of Iowa, in and for Appanoose County. The purpose of the petition was to settle John's estate and divide it among the heirs, who were listed as follow: Barbara Walter, his widow; William Walter; Emaline Denning; John Walter; Caroline Seitz; Mary Aldridge; James Walter; H.L. Walter (obviously Hiram); "the heirs of Charles Walter"; and "the heirs of Edward Walter". Note: This means that two sons, Charles and Edward Walter, were already deceased as of 2 September 1902. According to the Appanoose County death records, Edward C. Walter, born in Caldwell Township, Appanoose County, age 36, a farmer, married, died on 2 October 1901 and was buried at Zoar Cemetery. Thus the "heirs of Edward Walter" probably included his widow, Louisa L. Walter, and their children. According to the Appanoose County death records, Lawrence E. Walters (sic), born 17 January 1900 in Caldwell Township, the son of Edward C. Walter and Louisa L. Withrow, died on 8 February 1924; Lawrence was not married.

The court appointed one Harvey Cochran, an attorney, as the administrator of John Walter's estate. John Walter's estate was worth an estimated $200 at the time of his death, including clothing, $25; two cows and two calves, $80; one horse vehicle and harness, $30; six tons of hay, $24; four acres of corn, $28; household and kitchen furniture, $100; and one bed and bedding, $25. After paying all outstanding debts, there was only $27.96 in cash left, which Cochran turned over to the Court. In June 1904, the Court turned over this sum to the Appanoose County Treasurer. In January 1908, William Walter submitted a petition to the Appanoose County District Court requesting that the Treasurer return the money to the Walter family to be divided among the surviving heirs. .

John Walter is buried next to his wife, Barbara, in Zoar Cemetery, near Exline, Iowa. His tombstone reads "John Walter, died 12 July 1902, aged 81 years, nine days." If correct, that would mean that he was born on 3 July 1821.


Appanoose Biographies maintained by Renee L. Rimmert.
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