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John H. Walker Papers

Identifier: AC-241

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes hundreds of photographs collected for Walker's book, Beaumont: A Pictorial History. The photographs focus on the Beaumont area, with many images of important people and places. The genealogy files include correspondence, newspaper clippings, family group sheets, pedigree charts, funeral programs, family association newsletters, transcriptions of tombstones, photocopies of pages from books, Bible records, deeds, wills, and marriage records. The genealogy records document the families of John H. Walker and his wife, Esther Hooks Walker. Their research was primarily in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Virginia. The collection also includes the personal papers of John H. Walker and some of his family members, including Ben F. Shipley, E.J. Hogan, and Homer Walker. The local history files contain records on Beaumont history.


  • Creation: 1863-1994


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Restrictions

Some restrictions may apply.


The Tyrrell Historical Library does not hold copyright for most of its collections. The researcher must secure permission to publish. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. The researcher assumes full responsibility for complying with copyright, literary property rights, and libel laws.

Biographical Note

John Harrell Pruitt "Johnnie" Walker was born at Rosedale, Texas, then north of Beaumont, on December 12, 1909. He was a direct descendant of early day merchant, John Jay French and Acadian cattle drover, Joseph Peveto. His parents were Avie French and Homer Franklin Walker. In his youth, his father was a rice farmer in Chambers County, Texas. Homer Walker also worked in the oil fields in Arkansas.

Walker graduated from South Park High School in 1927. There he met his future wife, Esther Orlou Hooks, in a chemistry class. He graduated from South Park Junior College in 1929 with an associate of arts degree. After graduation he was active in the alumni association, serving as its president, and chairing Lamar University's 60th anniversary celebration. He was awarded the Golden Cardinal Award in 1987, and awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Lamar University in 1980.

He attended Southern Methodist School of Law from 1929-1930, but he then withdrew to help his family during the Depression.

From 1931 to 1935, John transported gasoline from East Texas oil fields, and acquired several gas stations with his father. He became a journeyman welder working on pipelines and barges at the Pennsylvania Shipyard. In the 1930s, with his lifelong friend, Clarence Crenshaw, he ran workboats and barges around the waterways near Beaumont.

In 1935 he went to work as a welding specialist with the P.H. Harnishchfeger Corporation of Dallas, traveling throughout Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. From 1935 to 1940 he was a partner in the Marine Depot, and he worked for Harnischfeger as a welding instructor traveling in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma in 1940.

During World War II, he served in the Civil Air Patrol Base 10 Anti-Sub Patrol, searching for U-Boats off the Gulf Coast of Texas. He was also a member of the Wingover Club of Beaumont.

He founded Oil City Tractors, Inc in 1946. He sold the business in 1964 and devoted the next years of his life to real estate development.

In his retirement, he refined his interest in history and genealogy. He co-authored, with Gwendolyn Wingate, a book, Beaumont: A Pictorial History, which was published in 1983. He also wrote articles for publications including Metropolitan Beaumont and Texas Highways.

Walker was active in a wealth of business, civic, and historical organizations. He was a member of the Southeast Texas Genealogical and Historical Society, the Jefferson County Historical Commission, and was President of the Texas Hardware and Implement Association, and the Ford Tractor Dealers' Council of Texas. Walker served on the board of directors of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the March of Dimes, and the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. He was active in Trinity United Methodist Church where he served many offices, including chairman of the official board.

In 1984 the Exchange Club awarded Walker with its annual Golden Deeds Award.

Walker took great delight in his family. He met the love of his life, Esther Hooks, in a chemistry class at South Park High School. They were married on December 12, 1935. He was the father of two daughters, Ellen Walker Rienstra and Judith Walker Linsley, and a son, Homer Franklin Walker II.

Walker died on February 13, 2001 and is buried in the Hooks Family Cemetery in Hardin County.


40.5 Cubic Feet (40.5 cubic feet in 47 boxes)


John H. Walker (1909-2001) was born in Beaumont, Texas, and held a deep interest in Beaumont history. This interest culminated in the publication of his book, Beaumont: A Pictorial History.


This collection contains many photographs of the Beaumont area which Walker had compiled for his book, Beaumont: A Pictorial History. It also contains the personal papers of Walker and his family, including his genealogy research and his collection of local history files.

Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into 12 series.

  1. Photographs
  2. Draft of Beaumont: A Pictorial History
  3. Slides
  4. Negatives Taken by C. S. Sherrell
  5. Ben F. Shipley Papers
  6. Personal Papers
  7. Local History Files
  8. Genealogy
  9. Records of Land Transactions
  10. Plaques
  11. Oversize Materials
  12. Newspaper Columns

Acquisition Information

Initial donation made by John H. Walker on 1995 October 26. Later donations were made by Ellen Walker Rienstra and Judith Walker Linsley on 2002 August 20 and 2009 August 19.


Further accruals are expected.

Related Material

General Photographic Archives

Processing Information

Finding aid revised and encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2012 August.

Finding Aid for the John H. Walker Papers, 1863-1994
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Tyrrell Historical Library Archives Repository