©Barlow Genealogy 1998-2005


Thomas Barlow Walker, son of Platt Bayliss Walker and Antis Keziah Barlow

Men of 1913    page 475

Walker, Thomas Barlow was born February 01, 1840, in Xenia, Ohio. He taught school for a while; and later was a traveling salesman.

In 1862 he went to Minneapolis and was engaged on government surveys; and later on the survey for the cities of St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota.

He has large lumber, pine land and building interests in Minnesota and on the Pacific coast; and was the projector and builder of St.Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. Through his instrumentality, the old Athnaeum Library Association was developed into the Minneapolis public library and he has been annually re-elected its president for the past twenty eight years.

He owns a large private gallery of fine paintings by the best masters, ancient and modern; porcelains, bronzes, jades, miniatures, ancient glass, carved ivories, and precious stones.

He is a member of the National Arts Society and was largely the originator & patron of the Minneapolis Fine Arts Society and of the Minnesota Academy of Sciences of which he is and has been for many years president. He was the builder of the Minneapolis Central City Market and the Commission District, that stands foremost among the wholesale and retail markets in the country, and has placed Minneapolis third in the country as a commission center.

He was the originator of the Business Men's union; is an ardent patron of the Young Men's Christian Association, and is the Northwestern Member of the International Committee.

He is president of the Church Extension and Methodist Social Union of Minneapolis, and has been very extensively engaged in the building of churches and missions.

He has written many articles for publication and delivered numerous addresses.

He has one of the largest and most comprehensive private libraries in the city.   Address: 803 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This was sent by an anonymous source, and without source reference source

Thomas Barlow Walker is one of the most honored names in the city of Minneapolis, where he is known not so much for his large fortune as for his numerous philanthropies, public and private.

Mr. Walker was born February 01, 1840, at Xenia, Ohio, the second son of Platt Bayless and Anstis K. Barlow Walker. His maternal grandfather was Hon. Thomas Barlow, of New York. When the subject of this sketch was a child his father fitted out a train for the newly discovered gold fields in California, investing all his means in that enterprise. While on his way to California he fell a victim to the cholera scourge. This threw the lad upon his own resources and the remainder of his boyhood was a hard struggle with poverty. He had a natural aptitude for study however, and notwithstanding the adversity which he suffered managed to acquire an excellent education. From his ninth to his sixteenth year he attended only short terms in the public schools. At that time his family removed to Berea, Ohio, for the better educational advantages to be attained at Baldwin University. Here he was obliged to devote most of his time to a clerkship in a country store in order to support himself, so that he was able to attend the university only one term of each year. His industry and capacity were such, however, that he soon outstripped many of the regular students.

At nineteen he was employed as traveling salesman by Fletcher Hulet, manufacturer of the Berea grindstones. His travels brought young Walker to Paris, Illinois, where he became engaged in the purchase of timber land and in cutting cross ties for the Terre Haute & St. Louis Railroad. Unfortunately, after eighteen months of successful work, he was robbed of nearly all his earnings through the failure of the railroad company. He then returned to Ohio and during the next winter taught a district school with much success and was subsequently elected to the assistant professorship of mathematics in the Wisconsin State University. This position he was obliged to decline, however, because of arrangements already made to enter the service of the government survey.

While at McGregor, Iowa, Mr. Walker chanced to meet J.M. Robinson, a citizen of the then young but thriving town of Minneapolis. Mr. Robinson presented the attractions and prospects of the young city with such persuasive eloquence that Mr. Walker determined at once to settle there, taking passage on the first steamboat for St.Paul and bringing with him a consignment of grindstones. There he met an unusually intelligent and energetic young man employed by the transportation company as clerk and workman on the wharf, of whom he has bee a firm and trusted friend ever since. That young man was James J. Hill. From St. Paul Mr. Walker came over the only railroad in the state, to Minneapolis, and within an hour after his arrival entered the service of George B. Wright, who had a contract to survey government lands. The surveying expedition was soon abandoned owing to an Indian outbreak, & returning to Minneapolis Mr. Walker devoted the winter to his books having desk room in the office of L.M. Stewart, an attorney. The following summer was occupied in examining the lands for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. In the fall he returned to his Ohio home at Berea, where he was married December 01, 1863, to Harriet G., the youngest daughter of Honorable Fletcher Hulet, a lady whose name is a synonym in Minneapolis for good works.

Returning to Minneapolis, Mr. Walker entered upon an active career which made him not only a participant in but the chief promoter of many good works and enterprises in this city. In the summer of 1864 he ran the first trial line of the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad, after which he gave attention for years to the government survey. In 1868 he began to invest in pine lands and thus laid the foundation for the large fortune which he subsequently acquired. His first partners in the business were L. Butler and Howard W. Mills under the firm name of Butler, Mills & Walker, the first two furnishing the capital while Mr. Walker supplied the labor and experience. This led also to the extensive manufacture of lumber by the old firm of Butler, Mills & Walker, afterwards L. Butler & Co., and later Butler & Walker. Of later years his most important operations in this regard have been his large lumber mills, Crookston and Grand Forks, both of which have been leading factors in the development of the Northwest. Mr. Walker's business career has been characterized by strict integrity and honorable dealing, but he has not been content to acquire money simply. At the time of the grasshopper visitation he not only labored for the immediate relief of the starving but organized a plan for the raising of late crops which were of inestimable value. One of the most creditable examples of his public spirit and munificent influence was his organization of the public library. It was due to his effort that this institution became a public instead of a private collection and was made available to the public without even so much as a deposit for the privilege of using the books. To him also the city owes more than to any one else the possession of the magnificent library building which it now owns. As would seem right and proper under the circumstances, Mr. Walker has been continuously president of the library board since its organization in 1885, to the present time. To him also is due the credit for the inception and principal support of the School of Fine Arts, of which society he is president. Mr. Walker's love for art is fully exemplified in the splendid collection of pictures in his own private gallery, a collection which has few if any equals in this country, among private individuals. His home library is also an evidence of the scholarly taste and studious habits of its owner. The Minnesota Academy of Natural Sciences is another institution much indebted to him for its part support and present fortunate situation. Not the least important of the services rendered by him to Minneapolis is his devotion to the building up of the material interest of the city in the line of manufactures, jobbing, etc. It was through his instrumentality that there was organized the Business Men's Union, which has accomplished a great deal for the material interests of the city. The Minneapolis Land and Investment Company is another institution at the head of which Mr. Walker stands and upon which he has expended much time and money. This enterprise is located a short distance West of the city, where a company organized by Mr. Walker purchased a large tract of land and established a number of important industries.

This manufacturing center is directly tributary to Minneapolis and will no doubt in the course of a few years become a part of the city. The Flour City National Bank was organized in 1887, and a year later Mr. Walker was elected, without his knowledge or consent, to the office of president. He accepted the duties and responsibilities of his position, against his protest, and discharged them until January 01, 1894, when he peremptorily resigned. Three years ago Mr. Walker also organized a company of which he is president for the construction of the Central City Market, probably one of the finest market buildings in the United States.

This necessarily brief sketch but imperfectly outlines the numerous activities and beneficent public services of a man who has been identified very largely with nearly every good work and public enterprise in the city of Minneapolis. No man was ever more favored in the marriage relation. Mrs. Walker has been the inspiration and participant of her husband's useful and successful life, and as a leader in every philanthropic effort had brought honor to his name.

The Biographical Cyclopaedia of American Women: Volume I    Walker, Harriet Granger Hulet    Educational Work    page 313

When Harriet Hulet was six years old, her parents moved to Berea, Ohio. She received her early education in the Berea schools, and later studied at Baldwin University. On December 19, 1863, she married Thomas B. Walker, whom she had known since her school days. Mr. Walker was of English ancestry. 

His father, Platt Bayliss Walker, was a native of New Jersey, and later located in New York City. His mother, Anstis "Barlow" Walker, was a daughter of Thomas Barlow of New York City.

Platt B. Walker and his wife located in Xenia, Ohio, where their son, Thomas, was born, February 01, 1840.

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