We tend to think of geographic mobility as a phenomenon of post-World War II America, but many of us can think of someone in our family trees who hit the road much earlier than that.
Sharpless Moore Walton (1863-1951), shown here in a childhood carte de visite photograph by Benjamin E. Lodore (b. abt. 1830, New Jersey) of Elkton, Maryland, was born on a farm in Avondale, New Garden Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and died in Spokane, Washington.
Along the way, Walton studied veterinary medicine at New York University (1881), married his first wife, Jennie Louise Campe, in Blackfoot, Bingham County, Idaho (1886), and then, under the name Frank M. Walton, turned to real estate and insurance sales in Spokane County, Washington state.
Sharpless Moore Walton was named for his maternal grandfather Sharpless Moore (b. abt. 1810, Pennsylvania). Young Walton’s father, Nathan P. Walton (1835-1869), was a physician and a farmer. They were Quakers, and might have been members of New Garden Meeting of Friends in Chester County.
Walton was still using the name Sharpless when he married Swedish immigrant Jennie Louise (Eugenia Lovisa) Campe in 1886, but what brought him to Idaho, I don’t know (Source: Western States Marriage Records Index at Brigham Young University-Idaho).
He surfaces in the 1900 census in Spokane as an insurance agent, under the name Frank M. Walton.
Thanks to Washington State Archives’ excellent vital records digital archiving and indexing, we know that in 1918, Sharpless was married for a second time, to Irish immigrant Mollie Ryan. The fate of his first wife is unknown–there is neither a death record nor a divorce record for Jennie.
The Washington State Archives also provided Frank M. Walton’s death certificate, which confirmed his parentage and indicated where he is buried.
Sharpless is buried under the name Frank M. Walton, along with his second wife, Mollie, at St. Joseph Cemetery (aka Trentwood Cemetery) Spokane Valley, Washington. Since a rosary was said for him after his death, he must have converted to Catholicism.
Walton’s father, Nathan P. Walton, is buried in Fallowfield Cemetery, Coatesville, Chester County, Pa. His mother, Elma Moore Walton (1837-1921), married for a second time merchant Levi Preston, and although a Moore family history says she is buried in New Garden Friends Burial Ground, I haven’t been able to confirm this.
When this photograph was taken in Elkton, Sharpless may have been on a visit to some of his mother’s Moore relations. Her uncle William Moore (1796-1859) a teacher and farmer, had settled in Cecil County, near Rising Sun, with his wife Mary Miller Way Moore, where they raised five children.
Why did Sharpless Walton abandon his distinctive first name? What drove him across the country from the land of his ancestors to Washington State? Why did he give up veterinary practice? If you know the answers to any of these questions, get in touch.
Records on photographer Benjamin E. Lodore (b. abt. 1830, New Jersey) are sketchy. He shows up as a photographer in the mid-1860s via IRS tax lists, and with his wife, Amanda, and their children Mary J., William, John, Alice, and Sallie, lived in Elkton in 1870.
In 1880, He and his family were living in Volusia County, Florida, planting orange trees. An 1885 land record for an additional land purchase by Amanda Lodore says that she was a widow.
Their son William E. Lodore (b. Nov 1863, Elkton, Md.) joined the US Army and spent the rest of his life as a career soldier. He was stationed for a time in Cuba. The last record I’ve found for him says he was discharged from the Army in June 1901 at Washington, DC, for disability. There is a Washington, DC death record that gives his death as 12 Jan 1906. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
I am grateful to St. Joseph Cemetery, Trentwood, Spokane Valley, Washington, for kindly confirming the whereabouts of Frank and Mollie (Ryan) Walton’s graves, and to the Spokane Public Library for providing Frank Walton’s death notice from the Spokane Spokesman Review.