The Walkers we'll be focusing on here trace their lineage back to Alexander Walker, who married Mary McIntire in 1770. The McIntires (or McIntyres) were prominent landowners just across the state line in New Garden Township, Chester County. Alexander and Mary had three sons: Andrew, John, and Alexander. When the boys were young, sometime before 1780, their father died; Mary moved back into her family's home, but soon remarried to Thomas Moore. Moore purchased three farms from the estate of Samuel Young, who had died in 1781. All three properties were along the road that ran westward from Limestone Road to New Garden, PA -- two on the north side and one on the south side.
Sometime not long after 1800, presumably as the boys were coming of age, Thomas Moore sold the farms to two of his step-sons, John and Andrew Walker (I thought I saw that Alexander moved away, but I can't confirm that now). John Walker (1773-1860) purchased the two western-most farms, one north of the road and one south. The eastern property went to Andrew. Since there were already Walkers established nearby at Mermaid, the locals needed a way to distinguish the new Walkers from the old ones (they apparently were not related). Although their father Alexander came from Chester County, it seems that either he or his father had lived for a time in Baltimore. Therefore, John and Andrew became "The Baltimore Walkers". Consequently, the area around their farms came to be called "Little Baltimore". The road going through it, of course, acquired the name of Little Baltimore Road.
|John and Andrew Walker's farms in Little Baltimore, 1849|
The last of the three Walker farms is the only one not to have a Walker-era house on it. This is the other of John's farms, located on the south side of Little Baltimore Road. John's son Thomas Moore Walker (1822-1906) took possesion of this farm after his 1847 marriage to Mary A. McCabe (1819-1895). Mary was the daughter of Dr. Robert McCabe, a prominent local physician who lived a short distance east, between Limestone Road and the Mitchell's Woodside Farm. (The McCabe House is still there, although it appears to have been heavily altered by later owners.) Thomas and Mary had seven children. Two of their sons, John M. and Thomas H., operated a kaolin clay mining company, the Walker Bros. Kaolin Company. I don't know if they did any of their mining on their own property, but they did lease other properties on which to mine, too.
Perhaps the most locally-notable child of Thomas and Mary was their oldest (in every sense), Francis M. Walker (1848-1950). Francis grew up on his father's farm, and later recalled seeing soldiers marching up Limestone Road in the summer of 1863. A few days later, he heard the rumbling of cannonfire from the Battle of Gettysburg. He studied law, and became a prominent lawyer in Wilmington. He continued to live in the Hockessin area his whole life, commuting by train to his office from 1872 to 1931. In fact, he was the only person to ride both the first Wilmington & Western train in 1872, and the last passenger train on the line in 1931. Here is a newspaper article on the occasion of his 101st birthday. He passed away in September of the following year, just shy of 102.
The original Thomas. M Walker House that Francis grew up in burned down around 1912 while owned by Roland Thompson, and was replaced with a new house. That house, owned in 1932 by Frank E. Hitchens, is no longer standing either, but it would have stood on the south side of Little Baltimore Road, between the Andrew and John Walker Houses. Taken together, these three homes and their owners gave the area its unlikely name of Little Baltimore, a moniker I'm sure still confuses people today.
Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
- Information on the McIntires is a bit thin, but Mary is certainly related to the McIntires who purchased the Simon Hadley estate adjoining this area. What exactly her relationship was I have not yet determined.
- William H. Walker was married to Anna P. Shortlidge (1834-1869), sister of Evan G. Shortlidge. Evan was a doctor in Wilmington, served a term as mayor, and was an important advocate for the public schools there. Shortlidge Elementary (now the Shortlidge Academy) was named for him.
- The Walkers were always involved in their community. John Walker and his nephew Robert each served terms on the New Castle County Levy Court. Thomas was a school commisioner, presumably for the nearby District 30 North Star School.