Jesse Walling, soldier and legislator, was born in White County, (Hawkins County, according to one source) Tennessee, on June 17, 1794, the son of John and Anna (Chisum) Walling, and the cousin of Elisha Walling. In 1816 he served under Gen. William Henry Harrison during his campaign against the Indians of the White River region of Indiana. In 1818 Walling married Sarah Parker in White County, Tennessee, and later that year moved with his family to Covington County, Mississippi. There in 1820 he was elected colonel of the county militia regiment, and in 1822 he was elected county sheriff. He also served as assessor and tax collector until 1825 when the family moved to west Tennessee, settling in Fayette or Haywood County, where he served for seven year as justice of the peace. Walling immigrated to Texas in December 1834, residing for one year in San Augustine County before joining his brothers Thomas Jefferson Walling and John Walling in Nacogdoches in 1835. On March 6, 1836, Walling enlisted as a private in Capt. Hayden S. Arnold's First Company in Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, and took part in the battle of San Jacinto. His son Jonathan C. Walling was also a member of Sam Houston's army but was ill during the battle of San Jacinto and so remained with the baggage wagons at Harrisburg.
Walling mustered out of the army on June 22 and returned to Nacogdoches, where on March 26, 1838, he married Mrs. Ann Wheelock. On December 22, 1838, Walling was elected justice of the peace of Nacogdoches County, and in 1839 he erected a profitable cotton gin. He and his sons Jonathan C. and Preston served under Gen. Thomas J. Rusk in the Cherokee War of 1839. In 1840 he was living near the Strickland Settlement in Shelby County, where he owned 13,464 acres, two slaves, nine cattle, and five horses. Walling represented Nacogdoches County in the House of Representatives of the Seventh Congress, 1842–43. Thereafter Walling lived for a number of years in the Rusk County community of Millville and in 1857 was elected to the House of Representatives from Rusk County. In 1858 he was elected president of the board of trustees of the Millville Male and Female Academy. He later moved to the Hill County community of Whitney. He died in Millville on August 11, 1867, and was buried in the Walling Bend Cemetery in Bosque County, some six miles from Whitney. The gravesite was inundated with the impoundment of Lake Whitney, and all the graves were moved to the Whitney city cemetery. Walling was the father of seventeen children.