Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Esther Walker - Civil War Veteran

Post (C) Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

This is the second part of a two-part post about the only female Civil War Veteran buried in the Civil War section of Evergreen Cemetery. Although Esther is buried in the Civil War GAR section, her headstone when she was buried was some distance from the other veterans.

The first part can be found on the link at the bottom of this post.

Esther Walker was a nurse with the New York 18th Army Corp according to her GAR burial record. This same record has her time of service as April 23, 1861, to December 3, 1864.  We learn from this record that she was born in Ireland in 1837.

Additional records offer the following information: 

On March 3, 1891, she applied for compensation as an invalid. This record also states she was a nurse with the Medical Department, U.S. Volunteers.  

Another record states: Esther Walker (formerly Dayton) Nurse, Medical Department U.S. Army.

The joys of research lead to so many pieces of information that you dig through. Still, some nuggets keep you going. 

One news article contained the following information about her time just before and during the war:

Mrs. Walker, who was formerly Mrs. Dayton, was engaged as a nurse at Bellevue Hospital, N. Y., When she answered the call of Secretary Stanton for nurses, leaving New York in June 1862, with a Christian commission. She reported at Beaufort, S. C., where a summer resort had been turned into a hospital. From there she was specially detailed for duty at General J. G. Foster's headquarters at Newberg, as a bullet, which that officer carried from the Mexican war, made the services of a nurse necessary. At the close of the war, she returned to Boston.A wikipedia summary of John Gray Foster)

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

In 1880, according to the census from that year, she was widowed and living in Michigan with four children: John Dayton, Joseph Dayton, George F. Dayton, and Esther Dayton. What is interesting, she also according to the 1900 census, when she was 61 and dealing with cancer, married James Walker in 1871. She had five children and James was about twenty years older than she. Her year of immigration was 1853. His was 1820.

She ended up in Colorado in 1900 and moved in with her son John 'Hugh' Dayton, a bookkeeper. Her other son, George F. Dayton was a police officer who had some renown in Colorado. However, she did travel to this area in the 1890s to visit her sons. She lived her approximately six months before succumbing to cancer.

She appears to have been active with the W.R.C. (Women's Relief Corp) an auxiliary to the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic). This organization worked to provide post-war relief to the Union Veterans. 

In the Sioux County Herald (an Iowa newspaper) of Nov. 15, 1899, the following was posted:

The following piece appeared in the Le Mars Sentinel of December 10, 1900:

There is more to find on this fascinating Civil War Veteran. What was her life like in the South during this conflict? Why didn't she continue as a nurse after the war? So many questions worth trying to find answers for.

For those who may have missed the earlier posts:

Esther Walker - Prairie Rose Publications

Alpheus R. Eastman - Western Fictioneers


  1. Thanks for the story. Look forward to hearing more, if possible, about Esther's life. Love history and its many twists and turns. Jim Williams (aka Big Jim Williams).

    1. Jim,
      She will be on my radar as I go through this year long journey of Civil War Veterans and Civil War Wives who are buried in a local cemetery. (the photo is from the GAR section of the cemetery)
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Doris

  2. I love this so much! Thank you for bringing Esther's story to life. Now we know who she was!

    1. Dianne, I try. So many stories to find, and sometimes you get lucky.
      Thanks for stopping by and spending time with people I love writing about. Doris

  3. In merely reading the highlights that you share about these people, I'm curious to know more about them. I'd guess that through the in-depth research you're doing into their lives, that these people take on an almost familial, or at least close friendship, status with you.

    1. Kaye, the more I find out, the more I want to know. Yes, these people become very important to me. I was talking in writer's group tonight I said, if I didn't make myself writer my fiction, which I enjoy -most of the timer- I would just immerse myself in this research.
      If people want to know more, that's what I hope. In a way I want others to love their stories as much as I do.
      Thanks for your comments. They mean a lot. Doris