Walker, Albert Gallatin (1807–1882)

By: Thomas Reckling

Type: Biography

Published: December 13, 2020

Updated: December 13, 2020


Albert Gallatin Walker, teacher, farmer, surveyor, editor, and state legislator, son of John William Walker, Jr., and Anna H. (Banks) Walker, was born in Madison County, Virginia, on August 25, 1807.Walker was educated in Virginia and as a young man moved to Henderson, Kentucky, where he taught school. He married Paulina Poole in Kentucky on September 1, 1831, with whom he had five children.

According to a memoir penned by one of his sons, Walker was a cavalry officer in a Kentucky militia regiment when the Mexican War began, but bad health prevented him from going to war; instead he came to Texas and, after walking 250 miles, arrived in the vicinity of the new town of Dallas in December 1845. He received land in the Peters Colony and settled on property seven miles north of Dallas. At some point Walker learned the surveyor’s trade, and he claimed to have surveyed much of the territory between present-day Dallas and Fort Worth. He laid out several of the towns in the area and surveyed the Dallas-Tarrant county line. In 1847 he married Louisa Elender “Polly” Cole, who eventually gave birth to five more of his children.

In 1849 Walker was elected a state senator to the Third Texas Legislature. He represented District 4, which included parts of Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Grayson, Henderson, Kaufman, and Van Zandt counties.He moved from Dallas County to Tarrant County in 1853.After a brief hiatus from state politics, he was elected to the Senate in the Seventh Texas Legislature in 1857—this time representing District 5, which included just Dallas, Ellis, and Tarrant counties. During his second term as state senator, Walker served on the following committees: Counties and County Boundaries; Education; Public Lands; and Roads, Bridges and Ferries.He introduced several bills in the Seventh legislature, including an act supplementing a previously-enacted bill to authorize the location, sale, and settlement of the Mississippi and Pacific Railroad Reserve and a bill to require the chief justice of Tarrant County to order an election to locate permanently the seat of justice in said county, among others.

In 1858 Walker became the editor of the recently-revived Birdville Union newspaper. He was re-elected to the legislature in 1859 and appointed chairman of the Public Lands Committee. In the Eighth legislature, he introduced similar laws regarding pre-emption settlers, as well as a petition authorizing the construction of a bridge across the Trinity River and a bill defining the Sixteenth Judicial District. Walker was known as a quarrelsome and litigious legislator, characteristics that carried over into other aspects of his life. Between 1858 and 1861 he was a principal antagonist in the bitter dispute between Birdville and Fort Worth to see which town would become the county seat of Tarrant County. Walker, the leader of the Birdville faction, killed J. Jeff Courtney. According to an account in the Fort Worth Democrat, “Courtney fired at Walker, and Walker returned the shot killing him instantly.” Walker also shot H. S. Johnson, and he shot a horse from under a man by the name of Brady. He was never convicted of any of these shootings. As one acquaintance recalled, Walker was “pertinacious even to stubbornness; he never surrendered nor yielded a point.”

Walker’s son characterized his father as a Sam Houston Unionist who nevertheless voted in favor of calling the secession convention, because his constituents were in favor of it. In September 1868 Walker was appointed by the military to the position of clerk of the county court of Tarrant County. He was appointed clerk of the district court in October 1869 and then removed in March 1870. By 1870 Walker worked as a farmer on his property in Tarrant County along with several of his children. According to an 1873 Fort Worth Democrat article, Walker had “filled many offices of trust and profit in Texas and has, we believe, always given satisfaction.” Albert Gallatin Walker died at the age of seventy-five in November 1882. His tombstone gives the date of November 7, while one of his sons stated the date of November 4. He was buried in Birdville Cemetery in Tarrant County.

Dallas Daily Herald, November 17, 1858. Flake’s Daily Bulletin (Galveston), September 12, 1868. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Albert Walker (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=5004&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=walker~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee= ), accessed December 9, 2020. “Letter from AG Walker's Son,” July 11, 1911, Heritage Room, Learning Resources Center, Tarrant County Community College, Northeast. Joseph C. Terrell, Reminiscences of the Early Days of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, 1906).

Categories:

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Exploration
  • Surveyors and Cartographers
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • Senate
  • State Legislators
  • Eighth Legislature (1859-1861)
  • Seventh Legislature (1857-1858)
  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)

Time Periods:

  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

Places:

  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas Reckling, “Walker, Albert Gallatin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/walker-albert-gallatin.

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December 13, 2020
December 13, 2020

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