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The Martin WALTER family came from Pennsylvania to Sugar Creek Township in Stark County, Ohio, around the year 1820. The family later re-settled approximately twenty years later in Lucas County, Ohio. Martin WALTER died a widower at the age of seventy years on March 29, 1849. He was laid to rest at the Swan Creek Cemetery near Maumee in Lucas County, Ohio.


In the older section of Swan Creek Cemetery stands a gravestone engraved:

"Martin Walter
Died March 29, 1849
Aged 70 years, 8 months, 16 days"

The family believes that this is the gravestone of the patriarch Martin WALTER. The gravestone is an indication that the WALTER family was doing quite well in Lucas County, Ohio. Several family members were interred around Martin's grave site with the exception of family members where were interred in earlier years, such as the Rev. Christian GNAGY who died at the age of 68 years on August 4, 1841.

The WALTER family continued to reside in Lucas County, then they decided to move West to Lott's Creek Township in Ringgold County, Iowa. Following is the story of the WALTER family migration to Iowa, as recorded by Dora SWIGART BENNETT in her book From Swan Creek to Lotts Creek: A Family History and Genealogy.

Before dawn in the morning of an early summer day in the year of 1854 in the Swan Creek community, south of Toledo, Ohio, a large group of people were making ready for a trip to the far off land of Iowa. According to the late Caroline Grant ANDREWS, there were probably around 40 outfits in the caravan. Most of the vehicles were heavy lumber wagons with canvas tops pulled by yokes of oxen. Some of the younger generations may have been riding horses. There may have been a buggy or a carriage in the lineup and perhaps a small herd of cattle.

Who were these people?

They were the WALTER Clan - four sons and one daughter of Martin WALTER, together with their children, many of which were married and had families of their own. Also included were relation of relation.

The older generation and some of the younger ones had been born in Pennsylvania. They worked at clearing land and building their homes in Wood, Lucas and Stark Counties in Ohio. Several were community leaders and had obviously acquired considerable wealth.

Why then did they turn their backs on this and head west?

To understand the motives behind this exodus we must remember that Ohio was a woodland of heavy timber. Each acre cleared for crop production involved weeks of the hardest type of labor.

From time to time they heard of a marvelous land in the Middle West where the valleys were filled with beautiful timber while the ridges and hillsides were prairie land ready for the plow. Why labor longer among the stumps?

The family needed land, a lot of land, for the younger members of the clan who were not ready to establish themselves in farming. They had however been warned to avoid the "worthless" soil of central and northern Iowa where the land did not drain well and where there was not much better timber.

So, on this day of long-ago, these families bade good-bye to relatives and friends and joined the mighty pilgrimage of western expansion.

Their route seems to have taken them across Indiana and Illinois to Keokuck, Iowa. From there they traveled across northern Missouri to Daviess County, Missouri.

It is probable that some of the family had been to this area before on an inspection trip. Evidence indicates that David BEALS was one of these since he settled there at once after he arrived.

The next year the rest of the family moved north about 40 or more miles near Lotts Creek, in Ringgold County, Iowa with Martin WALTER, Jr., and his family going further north and east to What Cheer, Iowa, in Keokuk County.

It may be assumed that during the fall and winter of 1854 and 1855 some of the time was spent in locating land and making arrangements for purchasing it at the Government Land Office in Chariton, [Lucas County] Iowa.

Quoting from the notes made by the late Carolina Grant ANDREWS in 1932 - as told to her by her mother Elizabeth (WALTER) ANDREWS, [the 2nd wife of Rev. Peter ANDREWS: "Our mother, Elizabeth WALTER ANDREWS drove old Fan while she and her sister Anna rode in the carriage. They stopped at nights in Inns along the way and for meals the landlords allowed them the use of the kitchen stove which was never empty - when one fry pan was taken off another one was put in its place. The girls had a hard trip with much rains and crossing the Mississippi River at Keokuk, Iowa and they went across the line into Missouri for the winter living in a log cabin in the timber. In the spring they returned to Iowa and settled in Ringgold County where there was a river and much timber for they had to have fuel and water. Everywhere there was prairie grass for miles and miles. There was no houses and the wind blew in gales all the time. The nearest town was Mount Ayr and it was 12 miles away. The Government had taken 600 Indians across the Missouri River into Kansas the day before but some of them came back and lived along Lotts Creek. They would come up to the cabins and beg for food, especially molasses. One squaw had a calico dress on just like mothers, only it was made wrong side out. They were a greasy lot, but friendly - too much so at times. Grandfather WALTER was disappointed with the county so he and his daughter Anna and son Christian returned east settling in Three Rivers, Michigan where he died and is buried in the cemetery there,"

Those who participated in this Pilgrimage to Iowa and Missouri in 1854 and 1855 consisted of the following five family groups:

Group 1 John WALTER, widowed oldest son of Martin WALTER, approximately 57-years-old. This group included John's extended family: his children Peter, Christian, Elizabeth, and Anna, all unmarried; his son John G. WALTER, John's wife and two daughters; his married daughters Frances "Fanny" (WALTER) and her husband Isaac SWIGART and Catherine (WALTER) and her husband Edward STUCK with their children; Edward STUCK's brother Jonathan STUCK with his wife Ann and their young sons Henry and Franklin STUCK.

Group 2 Abraham WALTER, brother of John and Martin WALTER's son, with his wife Martha (FREED) WALTER and their two married sons and nine unmarried children.

Group 3 Martin WALTER, Jr., brother of John, with his wife Sarah (ZOOK) WALTER and their children. Martin, Jr. and Sarah settled near What Cheer, Iowa, and may have taken the northern route through Iowa City.

Group 4 David BALES and his wife Sarah (WALTER) BALES, John's sister, and their six children. Family historians believe that some of David and Sarah's family had made a prior trip to Missouri, selecting land in Daviess County.

* Sarah WALTERS and David BALES were married November 5th, 1837, Lucas County, Ohio, by Daniel STRAYER, Justice of the Peace [Vol. 1, pg. 9, Lucas Co. OH Marriage Books]. In the marriage record, Sarah's maiden name is listed as "WALTERS" and David's surname is listed as "BALIS." They later changed the spelling of their surname from "BALES" to "BEALS." Sarah and David's children:

1. Catherine BEALS, b. 1838, OH
2. William BEALS, b. 1841, OH; d. 22 Mar 1919
3. Mary Jane BEALS, b. 13 Dec 1843, OH
4. Sarah Margaret BEALS, b. 22 Oct 1846, OH; d. 25 Jan 1939, MO
5. Martin V. BEALS, b. 11 Aug 1848, OH; d. 25 Aug 1928, AR
    married 1867 America HIX/HICKS
6. Lydia Anne BEALS, b. 05 Aug 1853, OH; d. 19 Mar 1901
7. Anne ELizabeth BEALS, b. 21 May 1856
8. James David BEALS, b. MO; died young

In the 1870 census, James David BEALS, son of Martin V. & America (HIX/HICKS) BEALS, was living with his grandparents, Sarah (Walter) and David BEALS. He was born April 17, 1868 and had a younger brother, Jn. William BEALS, born November 15, 1869. America died shortly after giving birth to Jn. William.

Group 5 George WALTER, youngest son of Martin WALTER and John's brother, with his wife Catherine and their two children.

Dora SWIGART BENNETT wrote From Swan Creek to Lotts Creek: The Saga of the German American "WALTER Clan": A Family History and Genealogy" in 1981.

Dora was born June 4, 1904, the daughter of Grant and Eva (McANINCH) SWIGART. Grant SWIGART was born in 1866, and died in 1953. Eva (McANINCH) SWIGART was born in 1872, and died in 1964. Grant and Eva were interred at Tingley Cemetery, Tingley, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Grant SWIGART's parents were Isaac and Frances "Fanny" (WALTER) SWIGART left Ohio, traveling with Fanny's father John WALTER and his group (1).

Isaac SWIGART was born October 9, 1826 in either Tuscarawas or Stark County, Ohio. Family legend is that Isaac's parents originated from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was orphaned at an early age and grew up with a limited formal education. Through determination and diligent self-study, Isaac acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to be an active member of the pioneer life of his time.

Isaac was a woodsman and a naturalist, appplying his knowledge of the woods and pioneer methods of constructing buildings and farm equipment. He possessed veterinary knowledge which he shared with his neighbors later in his life.

Isaac SWIGART married Frances "Fanny" WALTER in December 14, 1851 in Lucas County, Ohio. Two sons were born to this union in Ohio. Upon their arrival in Ringgold County, the family settled in Lott's Creek Township when it was in a primitive and uncultivated state. Isaac and Fanny later moved to Kansas for a while but soon returned, residing in Decatur County, Iowa.

Isaac died of diabetes on February 7, 1888 in Athens Township of Ringgold County, Iowa, with interment at Caledonia Cemetery. Fanny died on December 27, 1921 in Shenandoah, Page County, Iowa, with interment at Maple Row Cemetery, Kellerton, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Isaac and Frances "Fanny" (WALTER) SWIGART were the parents of twelve children: Samuel SWIGART, Peter SWIGART, Catherine Eveline "Eve" (SWIGART) EDWARDS, John Thomas SWIGART, Elizabeth "Lizzie" (SWIGART) EDWARDS, Jeremiah "Jerry" SWIGART, Lydia (SWIGART) SULLIVAN, Mary (SWIGART) SULLIVAN, Grant (SWIGART), Eddie SWIGART (1868-1870), Hiram SWIGART, and Sarah SWIGART (1874-1874).

Grant SWIGART, son of Isaac and Frances "Fanny" (WALTER) SWIGART, was born in Iowa on February 7, 1866, and died in Tingley, Ringgold County, Iowa, on July 12, 1953. Grant married in Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa on April 13, 1902, to Eva McANINCH (1872-1964). Grant and Eva were the parents of eight children: Cleta SWIGART, Dora SWIGART, Donna SWIGART, Francis G. SWIGART, Merritt A. SWIGART, Weldon C. SWIGART, Ruth SWIGART, and Paul J. SWIGART.

Dora SWIGART, the daughter of Grant and Eva (McANINCH) SWIGART and the author of the book From Swan Creek to Lotts Creek was born in Ringgold County, Iowa on June 4, 1904, and died in Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa, on November 28, 1998. She was married on December 10, 1933 to Charles Phineas BENNETT. Charles was born in 1906, Liberty Township of Ringgold County, Iowa. Dora and Charles were the parents of three children:

1) Warren Thayer BENNETT, born in Liberty Township of Ringgold County, Iowa, in 1935; married in 1969 to Elizabeth Ann ABARR; parents of three daughters.

2) Robert Maurice "Bob" BENNETT, born in Liberty Township of Ringgold County, Iowa, in 1938; married in 1956 to Wanda Fern JONES; children: two daughters.

3) Marian Kay BENNETT, born in 1940; married in 1961 to James Merrill ENGLAND; children: one daughter and three sons.

Lois Martin has provided the following information:

For many years researchers have believed that Martin Walter was the father of Abraham, Sarah, George, John and Martin. I have not found anything to document that. While Dora Swigart Bennet's book is very informative, no documentation was given on the early Walter family, as it appears to be based on speculation and theory.

In the 1820-1830 census for Stark County, Ohio, Martin is found living alone-no wife or children. I have not found any indication that he was ever married.

The evidence I have seen so far, points to Abraham Walter as being the father of those mentioned above, and other children that have never been included in the family history. In 1820, in Sugar Creek twp. of Stark County, Ohio, the census reveals there are 4 male children and 7 female children in the home of Abraham Walter.

Marriage records found in Stark County, Ohio regarding the Walter children are as follows:

1. Mary Walter-Peter Strayer, married April 3, 1821
*Mary died in 1834 in Lucas County, Ohio and is buried in the Swan Creek cemetery with the inscription that she was the daughter of Abraham Walter. Peter then married Elizabeth Borouff in 1834.

2. Catherine "Walden"-Andrew Fisher married July 8, 1823

3. Margaret "Walters"- John "Siglar" on Sept. 18, 1827

4. Barbara "Walters"-Michael Strayer on October 23, 1828

5. Elizabeth "Walters"-Henry Deardorff onDecember 19, 1830

6. Abraham "Walters"-Mattie Fried on December 21, 1830

7. "Dena Walters" -Isaac Fisher on June 30, 1833

8. George Walter-Catherine Swigart on February 24, 1842

In neighboring Tuscarawas County, Ohio is a marriage record for John Walter and Sarah "Giraga" on February 10, 1822.

It was after the family moved to Lucas County, Ohio that "Sally" Walters and David Bates were married. Martin Walters and Sarah Zook were married there also on April 6, 1841.

In Lucas County, Ohio there is a deed record transaction recorded May 1842, Vol. 7, pages 243-245 - Quit Claim Deed that bears the names previously mentioned above with the exception of Mary Strayer, who was already deceased. Since Mary and Peter had children, the names of Peter and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth appear on the document. This document involves the children of Abraham Walter, as his wife, Barbara also signs the document and it is witnessed by Martin Walter.

So the 1820 census record, marriage records, and deed record all tie into the same family.

The family record in the Bible belonging to John Walter states he was born March 5, 1796 and was the son of Abraham and Barbara Walter. Early church records (Bindnagel Evangelical Lutheran church) have been found in Lebanon County, PA that also give the exact date for birth and names of parents.

Also found in Stark County, Ohio is the will of George Walter. It was proven in Westmoreland County, PA and probated in Stark county, Ohio. According to that will, George had these brothers: Abraham, Martin, Henry, John, Joseph, Peter, and _____ (I couldn't make the last name out).

Abraham inherited the land on which he was living in Sugarcreek twp. Stark County, Ohio from George. Martin was given no more than $100.00 The will goes on to further state which brother was to get what. George lived in Unity twp. Westmoreland County, PA and died abt. 1821.

Peter lived in Dover twp. Tuscarawas County, Ohio and also had a son, Martin. Peter died abt. 1822 and left a will. In this will he mentions his inheritance from brother, George.

For those who are descended from Abraham Walter, Jr. and Martha Freed, I have this info ----- Martha also went by the names of Mattie, Mary, Maddy, and Magdalena. She was abt. 12 years of age when her father died (approx. 1830). During that time period, if their parent(s) died before the children reached the age of majority, they were called orphans. There are deed records in Tuscarawas County, Ohio that pertain to the estate of Henry Freed. Both records were recorded on February 17, 1853. One record is signed by Abraham Walter and Magdalena Walter of Lucas County, Ohio, while the other record is signed by (siblings of Martha) Ann, William, Susannah, Mary, and John, along with their spouses.

I am posting this information with the hopes it will help the serious researcher who is looking for documentation and to further their research.

Lois Martin included the following additional information on Abraham Walter, Sr.' family:

The wills of George Walter and John Walter, brothers of Abraham Walter, that lived in Westmoreland County, PA may be found on the FHL film # 1316410. There is also a will of Jacob Walter, but I have not determined whether this is one of the brothers or not.

John Walter had a daughter that married Daniel Armel, as Daniel is mentioned in the wills of John and George.

Deed records pertaining to the estate of George Walter are found thru Westmoreland County, PA on the FHL # 929113, Vol. 18 microfilm on pages 305, 412, 413 and others. These deeds involve various members of the Walter family. Page 412 is regarding Abraham Walter and wife Barbary, page 413 deals with George Walter, Est./Henry Tranger (?). In one record of release regarding Joseph Walter/Henry Tranger (?) it states "Joseph Walter of Silver Spring township, Cumberland county, (brother of George Walter, late of Unity township, Westmoreland county and state of Pennsylvania, deceased)". So that tells us where to look next.

Upon doing minimal research in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, I found a fair amount of information on Joseph and his family. In a bio, I gleaned this data: the father of Abraham, Joseph, George, John, Martin, etc. was born in Germany and emigrated to America in 1740. He was in the Revolutionary war and lived in Cumberland county, PA for a time. Unfortunately, the biography did not give his Christian name.

BENNETT, Dora (SWIGART) From Swan Creek to Lotts Creek - The Saga of the German American "WALTER Clan": A Family History and Genealogy, 58 pages. D.S.BENNETT Pub. Mount Ayr IA. 1981.

Lois Martin's messages #1371 and #1407 at Walter Family GenForum

*Updated information courtesy of Jean Beals Whiteneck

Compiled and submitted by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2009; updated July of 2009 & April of 2010

To contribut to Ringgold County's family pages, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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