Cyrus Walker, Esquire

Cyrus Walker was born in 1791 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.  He moved with his parents to Adair County, Kentucky. Said to have considered the ministry, he became an attorney. He served terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives (1817, 1825, 1826). About 1833, along with a large group of extended family, he migrated to McDonough County, Illinois. “He was a clear, forcible, racy, ready and eloquent speaker, exercising a powerful control over an audience. He was remarkable for his quickness of perception, as well as the breadth of his comprehension. His arguments were clear, forcible, logical and convincing.” (from Walkers of Wigton…)

Walker is well known as a prominent and successful attorney in western Illinois.  He litigated at times against the future President, Abraham Lincoln, and in courts where Stephen Douglas was seated as the judge.  He acted as attorney for the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith and was soundly defeated in a state election through the efforts of Hiram Smith. In 1851, he defended Rev. Michael Hammer in Keokuk, Iowa.

Samuel Clemens’ (Mark Twain) father John Clemens studied law with Cyrus Walker in Columbia, Kentucky. Samuel’s mother Jane Lampton Clemens was a cousin of Cyrus’ wife Flora Montgomery Walker.

The family genealogy (Genealogy of the descendants of John Walker of Wigton) claims that Cyrus had emancipated  “which were twice as much in value at the time as all his other property amounted to”. The The African Repository and Colonial Journal, volumes 9 and 10, report that Cyrus Walker of Adair County, Kentucky had emancipated 6 people who sailed for Liberia by way of New Orleans with Brig Ajax’s Company by the Colonization Society of Kentucky. Their passage was estimated to cost $35 per person. They arrived in Monrovia on July 1833 where they settled in Caldwell. The roll of those sent to Liberia ( names these 6 people with Walker as surname as: Spencer (age 22), Mary (age 23), Hardin (age 1), John (age 15), Franklin (age 14), and Robert (age 25). Spencer was a farmer by trade and died of consumption in 1842. Robert died of fever in 1833.

“When Mr. Walker made a profession of religion, he, for a time, contemplated quitting the law and turning his attention to the ministry. He was educated to believe that slavery was a sin, and when he joined the church he freed all of his negroes and paid their passage to Liberia. Amongst the number was a sprightly boy who has since risen to distinction in Liberia. This boy had a young and handsome wife, who was the property of the pastor of the Presbyterian Church to which Mr. Walker belonged. When Mr. Walker set his slaves free, he urged the minister to free the wife of the boy he had set free, but the minister refused to do so, saying that he was not able to lose the value of the woman, although he had himself got her by marriage. Mr. Walker sent off his freed people, fully believing that the minister would not separate man and wife when the time for separation came, but he still refused, and Mr. Walker bought and paid for her and sent her on after her husband to Louisville.” (from Walkers of Wigton)

Cyrus Walker’s brother, Joseph Gilmer Walker, in December 1828, emancipated Lucinda, and her two children, Lucilla and Cornelius Arthur, the wife and children of a free man of color named Thomas Malone, who appears to have paid the court fees.
The letter dated July 18, 1820 requesting free papers was written at the request of Cyrus Walker, the Commonwealth Attorney for Adair County, Kentucky, on behalf of Demon (no surname is given). Demon came to Kentucky with William Glenn, the letter explains. He then discovered Glenn “was about to sell him for a slave and send him to Orleans.” He escaped from Glenn to Walker, the letter continues, and Walker brought a suit against Glenn. “I must beg you in Demon’s stead,” Neel writes, “as he confides much in your friendship and says he paid you for recording it.”

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