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Walker family papers

Call Number: WA MSS S-1295

Scope and Contents

The Walker Family Papers document the lives of William M. Walker, a farmer and businessman in Nebraska; his wife, Lydia M. Reed Walker; and the Reed and Walker families of Massachusetts and Nebraska. The papers span the dates 1848-1917, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1868-99.

The papers are arranged in four series. Series I, Correspondence, is housed in Box 1 and consists of chronologically arranged correspondence of William and Lydia Walker with members of their family. Dated correspondence can be found in folders 1-14, with undated correspondence in folders 15-17. Series II, Business and LegalPapers, (Box 2) consists primarily of papers pertaining to William Walker's real estate business. Series III, Family Papers, (Box 3, folders 51-69) is composed of papers concerning the Reed and Walker families. Oversize material is in Box 4.

The 1848-62 correspondence from Series I contains letters of the Walker and Reed families. An 1859 letter from Washington Reed to William Walker discusses William's education at Andover. An 1862 letter to Mercy Walker concerns a family member seeking refuge in Massachusetts from an attack by rebel forces. The correspondence of 1864 is mainly military in nature and consists of letters from M. B. Field, Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, and Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, and concerns William's orders to report for duty as a 3rd lieutenant on the U. S. Revenue Cutter Morris.

William married Lydia M. Reed on February 2, 1869 and the couple moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Lydia's letters of that year to her mother, Mrs. Theodore Reed, numbering about a dozen, describe their journey from Boston to Omaha, life on their farm, and their first Thanksgiving. Correspondence from 1870-71 concerns household news, the weather, and the progress of the farm. On January 30, 1872 Horace R. Walker was born and Lydia's letters to her mother chronicle the baby's development, as well as household and farm news. On April 5, 1874, a daughter, Lydia R. (Lida) Walker was born. By this time the Walkers had moved to Schuyler, Nebraska, where William was involved in real estate speculation.

The collection contains no correspondence for the years 1876-87 and correspondence from the years 1888-98 is sparse. Included are an 1894 letter to William T. Walker, the youngest child, from a schoolmate; a letter from Horace R. Walker to his mother concerning mortgages and and the monetary policy of the government; and an 1898 letter from Lydia to Lida describing Horace's funeral. The undated correspondence concerns housekeeping and farm news.

The Business and Legal Papers consist of business correspondence, deeds, mortgages, tax receipts, titles, wills, and other papers. The business correspondence begins in 1869, when William was appointed attorney and head of the Omaha branch of Alexander Strong and Company, a Boston footwear firm. The letters between William and the Boston office discuss the management of the Omaha store and poor profits. The 1883-87 correspondence concerns mortgages with the Corbin Banking Company in New York. Sometime in early 1889 William Walker died and Lydia Walker took over his business dealings. The later correspondence pertains to the payment of mortgages and notes.

Folder 28 houses a small group of contracts and agreements concerning Alexander Strong and Company, cattle raising, real estate mortgages, and hay bailing. Deeds for the lands of Thomas Reed in Massachusetts and the property of several Walkers in Nebraska are found in folders 29-33. Tax receipts, covering the period 1869-1902, are primarily for land in Colfax County, Nebraska.

The Family Papers series contains additional material pertaining to the Walker family, including William Walker's and Lydia Reed's wedding invitation, William Walker's certificate for membership in the Masons, and a booklet commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the First Congregational Church in Rockland, Massachusetts whose pastor was Horace Walker, William Walker's father. Also of interest is the folder of photographs of Horace Walker and his family. The military papers section houses William Walker's 1862 appointment as a corporal in the volunteer militia of Massachusetts and William T. Walker's 1901 discharge papers. The financial papers section is composed of receipts and an account book kept by Mrs. Theodore Reed. Newspapers and newspaper clippings include Lydia Walker's obituary and an account of the Reverend and Mrs. Horace Walker's silver wedding anniversary.


  • 1848-1917


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Walker Family Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated to The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Harriet Batchelder in 1984.


2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence, business and legal papers, and family papers concerning the Walker and Reed families of Massachusetts and Nebraska.

Guide to the Walker Family Papers
by Tina Evans
March 1987
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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