Thompson and Martilia Walker
This is the site of a romance between Thompson L.
Walker, a Confederate soldier, and Martilia Walker,
the daughter of a staunch Unionist. Pvt. Thompson Walker enlisted in Company B, 23rd Virginia
Infantry Battalion, on July 12, 1862, and fought in
several engagements in the Greenbrier Valley and
in the Battle of Droop Mountain. In the summer
of 1863, while with his unit in the Shenandoah
Valley, Walker was captured and confined at Point
Lookout, Maryland. Overcrowding, poor sanitation,
food shortages, and bad
drinking water made
On May 15, 1865,
Walker signed the oath
of allegiance to the United
States and was soon
paroled. Ill and weary,
he began the long journey
home to Mercer County
in the new state of West
Virginia, trekking through
rugged terrain and being threatened by Unionists
seeking revenge on former Confederates.
By mid-June, Walker reached the ridge just
across the road from here, and Martilia Walker
(no relation), the youngest daughter of Unionist
William Walker, found him hungry and exhausted.
Sympathizing with his plight, she concealed
Walker near her home, which stood at the bottom
of the ridge. On the pretext of feeding the family
cattle, she covertly
brought him food, medicine, and blankets, and
nursed him back to health.
the area, and the couple
fell in love and married
on December 11, 1866.
They had sixteen children.
They built a house half a
mile south of here on Bear
Branch, and Walker never
reached his former home
in Mercer County.
William Walker was an attorney and fervent
Unionist who served as a captain in the
U.S. Army. He served as Wyoming
County's only delegate to the Wheeling
constitutional convention, November
26, 1861-February 18, 1862, and
favored the name of West Virginia
for the new state. He was an advocate of free public education. He is
buried in Oceana. According to local
tradition, this area was so divided
in its loyalties during the war that
for years thereafter, fistfights erupted
between proponents of each side.