Walker family papers, 1804-1865

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection is open for research.
More about accessing and using these materials...


John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, Walker, William, 1757-1840, Walker, William B. B., 1806-1873, and Walker, William D., 1835-1918
Collection contains materials from the Walker Family of Cumberland County, Virginia, dating from the early 1800s through 1865. Items include slavery records from William Walker, a Revolutionary War soldier and plantation owner; William B.B. Walker, his son; and William D. Walker, his grandson. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.
0.25 Linear Feet (1 half-document box)
Materials in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Collection contains assorted letters, receipts, and transactional papers related to the sale and hire of enslaved people through several generations of the Walker family, owners of White Hall Plantation in Cumberland, Virginia.

Early material relates to William Walker, including letters from neighbors and associates with slave passes recorded on the item, agreements about hiring prices for different enslaved laborers, and a manuscript copy of his will (dated 1838-1839) that bequeathed numerous enslaved people to different members of his family.

Similar hire agreements and correspondence is present from the era of William B.B. Walker, as well as some bills for medical care of enslaved people. There are also tax receipts indicating how many enslaved people William B.B. Walker owed taxes on in the mid-1800s.

There are some materials alluding to the American Civil War, including correspondence from William D. Walker to his father and some Confederate property assessments. There are also receipts and invoices from William D. Walker for hiring and selling some enslaved people.

Biographical / historical:

William Walker (1757-1840) was a soldier in the American Revolution and later served as captain of the Cumberland County militia. He owned land and enslaved people in Cumberland County, Virginia, on a plantation he named "White Hall."

Walker married Mary Anne Smith (1768-1820) and the couple had at least nine children. One son, William Baker Burton Walker (1806-1873) also lived at White Hall, growing tobacco among other crops. William B.B. Walker married Mary Frances Ann Blanton, and the couple had at least seven children. The Walker and Blanton families were business partners as well as relatives.

One of William B.B. Walker's sons, William David Walker (1835-1918), enlisted in the Confederate Army and served in Virginia's 3rd Cavalry. He also owned enslaved people, as evidenced in this collection and through U.S. Census records. He continued to operate his plantation following the war.

Acquisition information:
The Walker Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase from James Cummins Booksellers in 2023. It was originally called White Hall Plantation Records.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, June 2023

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2023-0075


Arranged chronologically.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Plantations -- Records and correspondence
Slavery -- Virginia -- History -- 19th century
Inventories of decedents' estates -- Southern States
Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Correspondence
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the Rubenstein Library's Citations, Permissions, and Copyright guide.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Walker Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.