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Stephen Richard Eng: Tennessee Wild West: Joe Walker Pathfinder to the Pacific

Stephen Richard Eng: Tennessee Wild West: Joe Walker Pathfinder to the Pacific

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Published by stephen richard eng

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Published by: stephen richard eng on Sep 02, 2011
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09/02/2011

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[1-28-96]
JOEWALKER,
PATHFINDE~
TOTHE
PACIFIC
"JoeWalkerwasknowntonearlyalltheliterarytravelers.Hecampedwith,guided,savedtheskinsandscalpsofmanyofthem,butwasofalmostnohelpwhenitcarnetosupplyingrawmaterialforlegends...Walkerdidnotliketotellwildstretchersinwhichhebecameahalf-alligator,half-panther,brother-of-lightning,father-of-thunderchampion."--BilGilbert,WesteringMan:TheLifeofJosephWalker(1983)JoeWalkerwassix-feetfourinchestall,weighedaround220pounds,andinWashingtonIrving'ssecond-handreportwas"darkcomplexioned,braveinspirit."Heworeablacksombrero,andbuckskinstrimmedwithfurandwithwireofsilverandgoldinhislateryears--androdeaSpanishhorsewhichhegoadedwiththesix-inchrowelsofhisgold-embellishedspurs.HisparentscarnefromUlster."TheScotch-IrishwerebentontheWest,"exclaimshisbiographer,BilGilbert,"•.theNorthAmericanfrontierwasahard,brutalplace.OnitmanyoftheScotch-IrishtraitswhichgentlemanlyEuropeansregardedasweaknessesturnedouttobestrengthsandvirtues."Suchasinstinctiveresistancetoauthority--ferociousloyaltytokinandcomrades--andanappropriatedistrustofthecerebral,inthefrontierenvironmentwhichrewardedphysicalstrengthanddanger-honedreflexes.TheWalkerssettledinwhatisnowVirginia.Above_walker_CreekstoodthefirstpublicbuildingintheCreeknation--ablockhouse.After1750,atleastfifteenoftheprolificWalker
 
JOEWALKER,page2
1
-28-96clanwerekilledorcapturedbytheIndians.OneWalkerwasanotedgunsmith;anotherwasfamousforhisgun-stocks.ThencetoTennessee.OnDecember13,1798,JosephRutherford
*
WalkerwasborninRoaneCounty,fiftymileseastofKnoxville.Onceagain,hisfatherbuiltafortress-styledhome.HefoughttheCherokees--andbyagetwenty,hissonJosephWalkerwasaveteranoftheIndianwars.YethewouldtellanincredulousrelativefromAlabama,yearslater,thathepreferredlivingwiththeIndians"becausewhitepeoplearetoodamnedmean."BilGilbertcreditsEastTennesseeas"theseedbedofthenineteenth-centurywesteringmovement,"sendingcountlessfolksthroughAppalachia,sometimesasfarasthePacificCoast.ButoftenTennesseansmigratedthroughMissouri,suchasThomasHartBenton...andtheWalkerfamilyitself,arrivingatFortOsage,Missouriin1819.Andin1820(or1821),JoeWalkerleftonhisfirst_adven-ture.HesetoutonahuntingtriptoNewMexico--whereheandhispalslandedinaMexicanjail.Theyweresenthome,orinWashingtonIrving'smoreromanticversion,releasedonthepromisetheywouldfightIndians!BackinMissouri,hisbrotherJoel
(b.
1797,inVirginia)marriedMaryYoung,ofthefamilyofEwingYoung.Nowin1825,senatorThomasHartBentonwassponsoringthebilltomarktheSantaFetrail,andtreatwiththeIndians.Itpassed.SoJoeandJoel(andbrotherJohn)hitthenewiapproved'!
t.r
a
L]
*
Foroveracentury,historiansposthumouslycalledhimJosephReddefordWalker,tillbiographerBilGilbertreinstatedhiscorrectmiddlename.Walker'stombstoneconfirmshisbirthplace--yethisbrotherJoelclaimedthefamilydidn'tcometoTennesseetill1802,whichwouldgiveJoeWalkeraVirginiabirthplace.GilbertaffirmsTennessee.
 
JOEWALKER,page31-28-96
JOG
WalkGrQVQnsigned
one
oftheIndiantreaties.Joelsaid"ThiswasthefirsttripevermadefromMissouritoSantaFe."By1827,hewasbecomingimmersedinMissour:i:
po
Ld,tics,claimingtohavenotonlychosenthecountyseatofJacksonCounty--buteventohavenameditIndependence.Hewasitsfirstsheriff,enforcingthelawcalmlyandfairly,reinforcedbyhispretentioussize.Publicdrunkness,encouragedinpartbyunsafewaterandhigh-pricedcoffee,wasapopularlocalevent.Walkerknewhowtoroundupdrunksandtosstheminthelogjail.FinallyheletJacobGregg--brotherofSantaFetraderandauthorJosiah(CommerceofthePrairies)Gregg--replacehimassheriff.Inonewild,undocumentedstoryfromthisperiod(by"Englishauthor-spy"GeorgeRuxton),WalkerwasoffleadingtrappersontheGilaRiverwhentheysupposedlywipedoutsomehoveringIndians.Lasttodiewasagiganticchief,sinceWalker"succeededinthrowinghim,andplunginghisknifenolessthanseventimesintohisbody,toreoffhisscalp,andwentinpursuitoftheflyingsavages."(BilGilbertcallsRuxton"anonfictionnovelist.")WalkerreturnedtothetrailinFebruaryof1831,leadingapacktrainintotheSouthwest.Andhefellinwithcontro-versial--andenigmatic--Captain
B.L.E.
Bonneville.Whilehisbusinessventuresultimatelyfailed,Bonneville'sex-plorationswereofincalcuablevalue.Maybehewasaspy,scoutingouttheWestforthegovernmentundertheguiseof

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