Joseph Walton & Drusilla Musick

Joseph Walton was a farmer with business interests in south-central Missouri's lumber production. He became one of Texas County's  first state legislators. Joseph and his wife, Drusilla (Musick), had five children.

Joseph was born in 1794, eighth son and youngest of eleven children of Revolutionary War soldier William Walton and his wife, Mary Hunt, formerly of  Virginia. The boy, his brothers and three sisters grew up and were educated at home and in primitive schools of the time in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri Territory.

Early in the nineteenth century, the Walton family settled in a rural area northwest of St. Louis, former capital of Spanish Upper Louisiana. President Thomas Jefferson's 1804 Louisiana Purchase had touched off a tidal wave of American migrants, sweeping across the Mississippi River to seek new beginnings in a place where abundant open land was to be had at reasonable prices.

Joseph Walton was married about 1813, to Drusilla Musick, daughter of Reverend Thomas Roy Musick and his wife, Polly Neville, then residing in Barren County, Kentucky. Drusilla's father, a preacher, had been credited with founding Fee Fee Church--first Baptist church west of the Mississippi.

Drusilla and Joseph's two oldest children, Lewis Hunt Walton and David H.(awkins) Walton, were born in St. Ferdinand Township of St. Louis County. Other youngsters William, Caroline, Alexander and Marion, were born along the way West to what ultimately became Texas County.

Whether others accompanied them at that time or at another time, some played significant roles in their move West.

Washington G. Walton and his sister, Mary, nephew and niece of Joseph, were among those others. They were children of Joseph's deceased older brother, William Walton, Jr. and his wife, Nancy Griffith. In 1828, Washington Walton purchased Truesdale's pioneer sawmill, seven miles north of Houston in what became Texas County.

Mary Walton, usually, called "Polly", was married at Fee Fee Baptist Church by Reverend Musick on September 18, 1827, to Wilson A. Bell, an ambitious and accomplished young man who would establish a landmark sawmill in virgin forests of the Ozark foothills.

Three other nieces of Joseph Walton, daughters of his youngest sister, the late Elizabeth (Walton) Lunsford, were in Gasconade County. They were Narcissa Lunsford, wife of Archibald McDonald; John Baldridge's wife, Mary, and Malinda Lunsford, who was married on March 13, 1825, to Colonel Daniel Waldo. When Gasconade was formed, November 25, 1820, Waldo became it's first sheriff. For nearly eight years thereafter, court sessions were held in the Waldo home at Hermann, Missouri. In 1836, Narcissa and Archibald McDonald entered an 80 acre tract in Pulaski County. McDonald, however, died just three years later. Executor and Administratrix was his widow, Narcissa. They had six children, James, Elizabeth Harbison, Margaret, Archibald, Malinda and Samuel P. McDonald, all of Pulaski County. Baldride's sawmill was six miles below the one bought by Washington Walton from a pioneer named Truesdale. Baldridge sold it in the 30's and moved on.

Joseph Walton's family may have been living in Franklin or Crawford County as creation of Missouri's counties continued after achieving statehood.

(Pulaski County was formed January 19, 1833, from Crawford. A group of Waltons settled in the area two or three years later. A couple of David Walton's children were born there or in Wright County, created in 1841, before organization of Texas County, February 13, 1845, from Wright and Shannon Counties. The new jurisdiction was to be called Ashley but was changed to Texas before final approval. The Courthouse at Houston, seat of Texas County, burned in 1903 with all records, except Probate matters. There have been efforts to reconstruct some records.)

The region's topography consisted of rolling hills and shallow valley's blanketed with virgin forests of pine and oak trees against a background on the horizon of the sharp peaks of the Ozark Mountains.

The Walton's wasted no time in locating home sites.

On December 23, 1833, Joseph Walton appeared at the Land District office at Jackson (Cape Girardeau County). He paid $50 for 40 acres ($1.25 per acre) northeast of Arthur's Creek, in Section 6 of Roubidoux Township (Township 31 North Range 9 West). Arthur's Creek is a tributary of Piney River.

Earlier, on October 14th, Joseph's oldest son, Lewis Walton, acquired 40 acres of his own in Section 4 of the same township.

Joseph's son, David, however, was too young at 14 years of age to be buying land.

On December 10, 1836, Wilson A. Bell purchased properties of both Joseph and Lewis H. Walton for the site of his sawmill. Pristine forests of the area supplied pine and other varieties of timber which the mill converted into lumber. In June, 1841, Wilson doubled size of his property by buying more than 80 acres in Section 15 of the same township. At the time, Bell was considering sale of the Walton's previous interests to one John E.N. Williams.

These pine woods, covering rolling hills and shallow valleys of the Piney River valley, had been known to Spanish explorers and French hunters and trappers for half a century. It was not, however, until American ingenuity and capital came along to develop the lumber industry in the region.

At one time, Texas County could boast of having ten sawmills within its boundaries. Timber, logging and milling of lumber into a marketable product became a way of life. It was almost inevitable that neat lumber would become an ingredient of bartering, a substitute for lack of real money in the frontier community.

The operator of the sawmill, 41 year old Wilson Bell died suddenly December 7, 1841. He was survived by his 35 year old wife, Polly, and five children, George, Lewis, Mary Ann, Warren and Roseltha Irvine Bell. Administration of the Bell estate took years as succeeding counties, Wright and Texas, took up the process.

A year or so later, Bell's widow was married to John Stephens. On November 29, 1844, she was referred to as "Mary Stephens" by her mother, Nancy (Griffith) Walton, who was residing in Texas County. Mrs. Walton deeded her slave boy, Dave, to heirs of Wilson Bell.

Joseph Walton and his son, David, now 25 years of age, witnessed the conveyance, which was the only time David's name appeared in a deed of record.

Joseph Walton and his son replaced their former lands with new entries. In fall of 1837, Lewis Walton bought another 40 acres in Section 32 of T32NR11W, while his father acquired another 40 acres in Section 9, T31NRSW.

Meantime, Joseph Walton helped to settle Bell's estate. He and his wife, Drusilla, provided documents verifying sale of mill property to John Williams.

Joseph Walton was elected to represent Texas County in the Missouri legislature, soon after organization of the county. He served from 1846 to 1848, when he was succeeded by C.H. Frost, who had been Recorder of Deeds in the new county.

Virtually every young man in the community worked for a sawmill at one time or another. After replacing their original entries, however, the Bells and Waltons turned to farming.

By mid-century, three of Joseph and Drusilla's five sons, Lewis, David and William were married.

Walton's own household included his wife, Drusilla, their 17 year old daughter, Caroline; son William Walton and his 20 year old wife, Matilda, and the young couple's three month old son, James.

Lewis Hunt Walton (named for his grandmother's family) was born in 1814. As a young man, he moved West with his family and was married about 1835 at Waynesville, seat of newly established Pulaski County. A farmer, he and his wife, Louisa, had three children, George, born 1836; Ellen (1843) and Mary Louisa (1846).

Lewis Walton died in January, 1856, at his home near Plato, across the road from his parents' house in Roubidoux Township. On January 14th, Widow Louisa Walton purchased William Moore's 40 acre land entry in Section 31, Township 32 North Range 11 West. Two years later, she sold this land to Z.M.P. Burkhart for $300. Only two teenage daughters remained home with their mother in 1860.

David H. Walton, a sawmill worker and farmer, and his wife, Susanna 'Annie' (Knight), had eight children, Martha, Joseph, Caroline, John, Nancy, Mary, Louisa Roseltha Walton, who was born April 24, 1857, and William Siegel Walton. Annie's father, Jonathan Knight, lived nearby with other members of his family.

Alexander & Marion Walton, Drusilla and Joseph's youngest sons, as well as the late Washington Walton's sons, Wilson and William, were working as laborers at the sawmill and boarding on mill property.

Alexander also later became a farmer. He was married about 1854, and he and his wife, Nancy, had two sons, Francis and Henry, while residing in his father's Roubidoux Township home.

George & Lewis Bell, sons of the late Wilson Bell, both became farmers. Their widowed mother, Polly (Walton), married John Stephens, a 33 year old miller, about 1844, and George, Lewis, their brother, Warren Walton, and two sisters lived in the Stephens household. A census taker erroneously listed Polly as "Nancy". In fact, however, John and Polly, also had a six year old daughter of their own, named Nancy.

Contributed by Kerma (Neal) Breedlove

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2007-2008 Rhonda Darnell