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  • Some Obadiah Walkers of Worcester County, Massachusetts

    Joy F. Peach

    Published Date : October-November 1990
     Some confusion exists regarding men named Obadiah Walker who lived in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in the eighteenth century. This article is an attempt to unravel the facts.

    George Alfred Cunningham’s massive typescript three-volume History of Lunenburg, Mass. (ca. 1866-76) states that one Obadiah Walker of that town was born at Marlborough, Mass. 8 June 1721, son of Obadiah and Hannah (Learned) Walker.  This information is followed by a question mark, suggesting that Cunningham was unsure of Obadiah’s birthdate, parentage, or both. Perhaps drawing on Cunningham, the DAR Patriot Index (1967 ed., p. 721) lists him as “b. 6-8-1721, d. about 1790, m. ABIGAIL GARY, Pvt. MA.”

    Cunningham was wise to question the birthdate and/or parentage of the Obadiah Walker of Lunenburg, because the Obadiah Walker born at Marlborough in 1721, and the Obadiah Walker of Lunenburg who married Abigail Gary, were two different men.  Whether either of them served in the Revolution is a matter for speculation.

    1. Obadiah Walker of Bradford and Lunenburg, Mass.

    Chronologically, Obadiah of Lunenburg comes first since he was born in Bradford (now Haverhill), Mass. 4 March 1719/20, son of NathanieB (Shubael2, Capt. Richard1) and Rebecca (Hazeltine) Walker (Bradford VRs, p. 162) and died at Westmoreland, Cheshire Co., N.H. 28 November 1807.  His will was written 29 August 1798 and filed 17 December 1807 (Cheshire Co. [N.H.] Probate #177).

    On 1 April 1743, Richard Hazeltine, Benjamin Carlton and David Wood, Jr., of Bradford, yeomen, sold to Obadiah Walker of Bradford for £225 old tenor, 49 acres in the northwesterly part of Lunenburg (Worcester Co. Deeds 53:456).  This Obadiah was called “of Lunenburg” when his intentions to marry Abigail Gary of Lynn were published 16 August 1745 (Lynn VRs, 2:384, Early Records of Lunenhurg, p. 240).  Abigail was baptized at Wakefield, Mass. 16 May 1725, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Damon) Gary (Wakefield VRs, p. 54), and died at Westmoreland 7 August 1798 (Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: The Cemeteries and Burial Records of... Westmoreland, N.H. [1989], p. 47).

    Benjamin Gary of Lynn, yeoman, had purchased 50 acres of land in Lunenburg from Josiah Willard of Boston on 22 June 1743 (Worcester Co. Deeds 18:467).  This transaction took place just a few weeks after Obadiah’s purchase; perhaps the men met while clearing their land.  In any case, Obadiah and Abigail settled in Lunenburg, as did Benjamin Gary and his family.  Obadiah and Abigail were admitted to the Lunenburg church, where they received baptism 18 May 1746. Obadiah purchased several more lots of land in Lunenburg over the years (Worcester Co. Deeds 53:457-459), and lastly, on 14 December 1772, he purchased from Benjamin Gary and the latter’s “now married wife Elizabeth” a 50-acre houselot (Worcester Co. Deeds 78:397).  Obadiah was chosen deacon 7 June 1770; he was constable and collector in 1767, on the school committee in 1755, 1774, 1775 and 1781, and a selectman in 1766, 1771 and 1781) (Cunningham 3:786).

    Cunningham does not mention service in the Revolution by this Obadiah Walker.  There are five references to service by Obadiah Walkers in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolution (vol. 16 [1907], pp. 470-71); four of these records relate to Lunenburg or neighboring towns, and one specifies Bane (see below).  The earliest Lunenburg reference to an Obadiah Walker is for “response to the alarm of April 19, 1775, service 3 days.”  Next, in October 1777, is “25 days service at Saratoga, including 7 days (140 miles) travel home” for an Obadiah Walker in Capt. Joseph Bellows’s cornpany (Joseph Bellows was from Lunenburg).  An Obadiah Walker provided “4 mos. service at Cambridge, July-Nov. 1778” plus another month from November to [149] December 1778, “rolls certified at Lancaster.”  Lastly, an Obadiah Walker was credited with “3 mos. 5 days service, including 10 days (200 miles) travel home in a regiment raised in Worcester Co. to reinforce Continental Army for 3 months” in the company of Capt. Timothy Boutell of Leominster, from July to October 1780.  These references may apply to Obadiah’s son, Obadiah Jr. (b. 1761) although certainly the elder Obadiah, still under 60 in 1778, was not too old to have participated in the war.  Some of the service may have been the father’s and some the son’s.  Since none of the documents cited refer to Obadiah as “Sr.” or “Jr.,” it is difficult to determine, after 200 years, which man (if either) is meant.  The 1790 census lists three Obadiah Walkers in Massachusetts - one residing in Lunenburg with one male over 16 and two females.  The will of Obadiah Walker Sr. mentions only his sons, Benjamin, Nathaniel and Obadiah Jr., and daughters Betsey and “Sary”.  The will is very difficult to read, and “Sary” may be Mary.

    Children of Obadiah and Abigail (Gary) Walker, all born at Lunenburg (Early Records of Lunenburg, pp. 335-36; Cunningham 3:786; Westmoreland History Committee, History of Westmoreland...N.H. 1741-1970 [1976], pp. 426, 474, 563-64, 592; Rev. War pension application [#R4707] of Asahel Hartwell):

                        i.           Rebecca5 Walker, b. 16 Aug., bp. 17 Aug. 1746; prob. Lunenburg 27 Dec. 1770, as his first wife, Josiah Hartwell, b. there 7 Aug. 1748, d. Sangerfield, Oneida Co., N.Y. 19 Nov. 1822, son of Joseph and Tabitha (Dodge) Hartwell.

                        ii.          Benjamin Walker, b. 20 Feb., bp. 26 Feb. 1749; m. perhaps Lunenburg 17 March 1779 Sarah Gilson, perhaps a dau. of Michael, Jr. and Sarah (___) of Groton, Mass. and Westmoreland, N.H.; they later rem. to Coventry, Vt.

                        iii.         Abigail Walker, b. 21 Jan., bp. 28 Jan. 1753, d. Saratoga, N.Y., 10 Feb. 1823; m. prob. Lunenburg 3 Feb. 1774 Asahel Hartwell (Cunningham, p. 360), b. Lunenburg 24 Aug. 1749, d. N.Y. (perhaps Stillwater or Northumberland) 3 Feb. 1844, son of Edward and Elizabeth (Kneeland) Hartwell of Lunenburg.

                        iv.         Betty/Betsey Walker, b. 6 July, bp. 7 July 1754, d. Westmoreland, N.H. 30 June 1811, ae. 57; m. prob. Lunenburg 22 Oct. 1778 Reuben Kendall, b. ca. 1749, bp. Leominster, Mass. 20 Nov. 1763, d. Westmoreland, N.H. 9 Jan. 1804, ae. 55, son of Amos and Mary Kendall of Leominster and Ashburnham, Mass., and Westmoreland, N.H.

                        v.          Sarah Walker, b. 12 Nov., bp. 20 Nov. 1758, d. Westmoreland 20 Oct. 1807; (int.) Fitchburg 12 May 1780 to James Wood of Fitchburg, b. there 24 March 1756, son of Capt. Jonathan, Jr. and Rachel (Wood) Wood.

                        vi.         Obadiah Walker (twin), b. 3 March, hp. 15 March 1761; m. Westmoreland 7 January 1788 Charlotte Kendall, b. Leominster 17 November 1768, dau. of Amos and Mary (___) Kendall and sister of Reuben above.

                        vii.        Nathaniel Walker (twin), b. 3 March, bp. 15 March 1761, d. Westmoreland 21 Jan. 1845, ae. 83; m. Elizabeth (Gary?), b. ca. 1764, d. Westmoreland 23 May 1803, ae. 39; (2) Cambridge, Mass. (int.) 15 June 1805 Martha Burbeck, b. ca. 1765, d. Westmoreland 13 Dcc. 1819, ae. 54, perhaps the Martha Hill who had m. Cambridge 1 February 1781 John Burbeck (Cemeteries...ofWeshnoreland, pp. 49, 315, Cambridge VRs).

                        viii.       Mary Walker, bp. 3 June 1763, d. 25 Sept. 1768.

                        ix.         Mehitable Walker, bp. 17 Nov. 1765, d. 20 Sept. 1768.

                        x.          Mary Walker, b. 9 Nov., bp. 16 Dec. 1770.

    2. Obadiah Walker(s) of Marlborough, Sutton, and Royalston, Mass.

    The Obadiah Walker born at Marlborough 8 June 1721 was the son of ObadiaB (Thomas2-1) and Hannah (Learned) Walker (Marlborough VRs, p. 185); he was probably the subject of a query by Alonzo Allen of Croydon, N.H.: “Obadiah Walker of the fourth gen. from Thomas Walker of Boston, Mass. 1650...born in Marlborough, Mass. June 8, 1721, came to this town about 1790, and died here August 29, 1810 in his 90th year.  What was the name of his wife, and what were the names and dates of birth of his children?” (NEHGR 35[1881]: 278).

    Obadiah’s family moved ca. 1724 to Sutton, Mass., while he was still a child.  His mother Hannah died there 6 July 1744 (Sutton VRs, p. 471); his father Obadiah remarried at Sutton 28 October 1745 Mrs. Eunice White of Uxbridge, by whom he had one son, Benjamm.  In his will (Worcester Co. Probate #A-6 1413), dated 14 June 1758 and proved 9 June 1760, the elder Obadiah Walker of Sutton names his childreii, viz:  oldest son Silas, son O badiah, son Asa, youngest son Benjamin, daughters Hannah Allen, Martha Shornway, Mary Ellis, and Sarah Chase.  This list (with the exception of Martha, whose birth evidently was never recorded) corresponds chronologically to the births of children of Obadiah and Hannah Walker in published VRs of Marlborough and Sutton.

    Obadiah, Jr. (Hodiah in the Sutton VRs) married, at Oxford, Mass. 12 November 1741, Hepzibah Shumway, b. there 6 April 1720, daughter of Peter and Mariah Shumway (Oxford VRs, p. 101, 232). Obadiah apparently lived on a 50-acre lot adjoining his father’s homestead, deeded to him in 1743 by his father (Worcester Co. Deeds 23:166).  In 1761 Obadiah Jr. purchased from Daniel Drury of Shrewsbury 300 acres in lot #9, “Royalshire” township [later Royalston] (Worcester Co. Deeds 48:130).  Since Obadiah Jr. moved from Sutton to Royalshire shortly after his father’s death, it is tempting to speculate that family conflicts played a part in his decision to leave Sutton.  In any case, Obadiah seems to have lived in Royalston at least until the 1790 census, when he was enumerated with two males over 16 and two females.

    Children of Obadiah and Hepzihah (Sliumway) Walker, all born at Sutton, Mass. (Sutton VRs):

                        i.           Reuben Walker, b. 27 May 1742, d. Royalston, Mass. 24 Feb. 1826 (Royalston VRs, [150] p. 193), m. Uxbridge, Mass. 28 Nov. 1764 Mary Read, b. Uxbridge 14 Oct. 1740, dau. of David and Thankful (Gurnsey) Read (Uxbridge VRs).

                        ii.          Thomas Walker, b. 19 July 1743; m. Lucy (perhaps the Thomas Walker who m. Upton Mass. 7 Feb. 1766 Lucy Rice).

                        iii.         Obadiah Walker, b. 2 Jan. 1745, d. Royalston in Nov. 1804 (Worcester Co. Probate #A-61414); m. Barre, Mass. 24 Aug. 1774 Nancy (“Agnes” in marriage rec.) McCullough, b. ca. 1752; d. Royalston 15 April 1831, ae. 79, prob. a dau. of the Joseph McCullock who d. Barre in 1823, ae. 85 (Barre VRs).  This Obadiah is, no doubt, the one from Barre listed in Mass. Soldiers and Sailors.., who responded to the alarm of 19 April 1775, and later served as a corporal for two months in Rhode Island.  He is listed on the 1790 census at Barre with 1 male over 16, 3 males under 16, and 4 females. Children, b. Barre (Barre VRs; Worcester Co. Probate #A-61414): 1. Elizabeth Walker, b. 19 Nov. 1776; m. Royalston 1 July 1798 Isaiah Stearns. 2. Sarah (Sally) Walker, b. 3 March 1777; m. Royalston 19 March 1797 James Peters. 3. Asa Walker, b. 17 Oct. 1778, d. Royalston 10 December 1860; m. Royalston 4 April 1821 Anstis Jacobs, b. 15 Aug. 1797, d. Templeton, Mass. 17 Dec. 1872, ae. 75:4:2, dau. of Joseph and Elizabeth Jacobs. 4. William Walker, b. 23 Aug. 1780. 5. Nancy Walker, prob. b. ca. 1784 as she was not 21 when her father wrote his will. 6. Nathaniel Walker, b. 16 March 1786, d. Royalston 3 Aug. 1813; m. there 4 Oct. 1807 Sally Grant. 7. Obadiah Walker, b. 19 Feb. 1789; m. Royalston 24 June 1818 (int. Winchendon, Mass. 6 June 1818) Abigail Reed, b. Royalston May 1795, dau. of Nathan and Lois (___) Reed.

                        iv.         Hepzibah Walker, b. 18 Oct. 1746.

                        v.          Jesurun Walker, b. 17 Sept. 1748; m. (1) (int.) Petersham, Mass. 16 Sept. 1772 Betty Scott; (2) Sturbridge, Mass. 4 Feb. 1781 Lydia Holbrook of Sturbridge, when he is “of Townsend” (Sturbridge VRs, p. 281).

                        vi.         Molly Walker, bp. Sutton 9 Aug. 1752, d. prob. by 29 June 1794, when her husband m. (2) Sukey Dudley at Petersham; m. (int. Petersham 9 January 1779) Erasmus Babbitt of Barre, b. prob. Berkley 6 July 1755, son of John and Elizabeth (Dean) Babbitt.

    Joy F. (Hartwell) Peach is the genealogist for the Hartwell Family Association. Interested readers may contact her at 74 Beach, Point Road, Lancaster, MA 01523.

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