William Walker and his wife, Rachel Stewart, arrived in the Western Reserve in 1802 from Virginia. Here is their story, according to the best available information.
They were married on October 30, 1799, in Hampshire County, Virginia, (now in West Virginia). Rachel was the daughter of Thomas Stewart and sister of Joshua Stewart, another family of early settlers in Stow. She was born in 1778 and died in 1860.
By 1802, the Walker family included a three-year-old and a baby. Together they waded across the Ohio River, since there were no bridges or dams then. They arrived in the late summer or early fall.
Known as the first white settler in Stow Township, William was a bear trapper. He is supposed to have caught sixteen bears with the trap that is on exhibit at the Heritage House Museum in Stow. He was also called a squatter, because he built his log cabin in Stow before it had been surveyed. Walker probably thought he was in the neighboring Hudson Township, near where his father, Robert, and four brothers had settled the year before.
William and Rachel and their children were the only white inhabitants of Stow for about two years.
Their daughter, Betsey, born in 1803, was the first white child born in Stow Township. She died before she was a year old.
The Walkers' other eight children were: Thomas (b. 1799); William (b. 1802); Samuel (b. 1806); Mary (b. 1807); John (b. 1811); Hannah (b. 1815); Elizabeth (b. 1816); and Charles (b. 1823).
They farmed the land they cleared, and William was also a chairmaker.
After Stow was surveyed in 1804, Walker bought his land (160 acres), becoming legal owner. The Walkers cut across country to the Wetmore cabin in the center of the Township so often, that the other settlers followed their example. The foot trail was given the name Diagonal Road, and is now called Stow Road.
Their cabin, the first one in Stow, doubled as the first schoolhouse in Stow. For three months during the winter of 1806-07, teacher Dennis Ryan taught about 15 students, some of them from Hudson. The cabin served a long time, as a home for other families, with several additions being made. The acreage was gradually sold off. In 1992, the house at 5369 Stow road, with remnants of the cabin inside, was torn down. The pine trees that stood in front of the home may still be seen on the southeast corner of Norton and Stow Roads.
William's brother George's house still stands on the northeast corner and brother John's house is on the northwest corner of Norton and Stow Roads. Both of them are in Hudson.
[Adapted from Genealogy of the Descendants of Robert Walker, by David Walker. Available in the Local History Room.]