History of Walkerton
In 1830, the area we now call Walkerton, was covered in dense thicket, swamps and marshes of the Kankakee. Deer roamed in great herds through the forests, wolves prowled and the shrill cries of the catamounts could be heard. Prairie chickens, Sandhill cranes and pheasants were plentiful with some Indians still inhabiting the area also.
The first known family to settle in Walkerton was Christain and Anna Fulmer, along with their children who came in 1835. Jacob Rupel also came to this county in 1835, which was at that time was still a wilderness, with but a few settlers who had just ventured in. He was one of the organizers of Liberty tp., and assisted in building its first churches and school houses. Oliver R. Fulmer came with his parents to this county in 1835, and settled in Lincoln township. No roads had yet been laid out so the settlers there who had stores would go out before breakfast, as they had leisure no other time of day, and chop and slash down the underbrush to make roads through which teams might pass.
In 1856 the wishes of the people were much gratified at the construction of the I., P. & 0. Railroad. Then the business prospects of Walkerton began to brighten. It continued to grow, and in 1873 the Baltimore & Ohio railroad was built, crossing the I., P. & 0. Railroad at West Troy, which formed the western part of Walkerton. The main street was Avenue F which ran parallel to the railroad. The town of Walkerton was named for John C. Walker, a prominent citizen and member of the State Senate. He was at the head of the building of the railroad in Walkerton.
As more settlers came into this area, Walkerton would be laid out in March, 1857, by one Mr. Allen. ” West Troy,” as it was formerly called, and which now forms a part of the town of Walkerton, was a village of only a few houses situated at the junction of the L, P. & C. with the B. & O. railroads, currently where the junction of US 6 and IN 23 is located. The village of West Troy was laid out in 1856. The post office was designated as “West York”, and was situated one-half mile south of Walkerton. It was kept by Mr. C. W. N. Stephens, who had established it in 1851, and was the first appointee. Walkerton was incorporated in 1876.
In 1870 the Baptist church was erected, and in 1876 the Roman Catholics, put up a church building. The first school building in Lincoln tp. was erected in 1858 in Walkerton. In 1880, Walkerton consisted of four dry-goods establishments, one clothing store, two hardware and implement stores, three drug stores, one large furniture store, two hotels, one a very fine house, of which Mr. J. M. B. Giberson was proprietor, also groceries and restaurants, and two railroad depots, one grain depot, two millinery stores, two printing offices; at one the St. Joseph County Republican is published, and was edited by J. F. & W. 0. Endly, and at the other the Walkerton Visitor is published and was edited by Henry S. Mintle. There were also two meat shops, two saloons, one town hall, owned by Jacob Bender, one school-house and three churches. In all there were about 50 business men engaged here. The first church in the township was the Methodist Episcopal at Walkerton, and was erected in 1859, during the pastorate of Rev. J. E. Newhouse and the administration of Presiding Elder James Johnson. The following named persons were the establishers of this church: H. Haskins, exhorter and leader; Emery Otwell, exhorter and steward; J. A. Lambert, exhorter and leader, and several others whose names could not be obtained. This society was long known as the West York Mission Church, but some years since was changed to the name of Walkerton Church.
History of St. Joseph County, Indiana Chas. C. Chapman & Co. 1880
“Reminiscences of Walkerton Pioneers” The Walkerton Independent, Marilyn Hiatt Sherland 2012
Partial map of St. Joseph County IN 1863: Library of Congress
“Entered accordingly to Act of Congress in the year 1863 by M.W. Stokes in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United States within & for the District of Indiana.”
More information: Walkerton Heritage Museum | Photos from the Past | Items on-sale at the Museum