Friday, May 9, 2014

Estill Bowen "Doc" Walker (1909-1994) "52 Ancestors"

Hi again, this is week 19 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. This last week has been very productive in my research. I have met several people online and received a pile of information that I need to begin adding to my Bruns, Schulze, and Schwartz lines. I received nearly 300 pages of information, several dozen photographs and scans of original land grants from the 1830s. Between all that and the upcoming move it has been a real busy time.

This week I decided to write a story about my wife's grandfather Estill Bowen "Doc" Walker (1909-1994). Why did I decide to write about him? I don't know, it just seemed to be the thing to do and I guess that is the only reason that I need. Before I start to write I figured I would explain how I do these blogs. After many years of research I have built up a database of over 42,000 names. Many of these have pages of transcribed records that I have found to describe the life of the individual. By reading through these records in chronological order I can build a profile of the person's life. My favorite records are newspaper articles because they usually provide some interesting facts that are not included in the vital records. Once I choose an individual to focus on I then make sure that I have all the necessary records to fill in the details and then I start writing. All of my writing is done in one sitting and usually in about two hours. I have noticed that my stories are averaging around 1,000 words per post. Then I proof read the post several times hoping to find any errors. I don't know if everyone writes the way I do but it seems to work for me. If you have read my first blog post, way back on 29 November 2009, you would see that I was originally inspired to write because of a poem titled "The Dash" by Linda Ellis. After reading that poem I decided that it was my responsibility to fill in the details symbolized by the dash between the birth and death dates. Occasionally I get lucky and will have someone read one of my blogs and discover that they are related. If you are one of those people please feel free to contact me and I will see what I can do to help you in your research.

Estill Bowen Walker
Now, on to the story of Estill Bowen Walker. Estill was born on 13 June 1909 in Jacksonville, Florida and was the son of Ernest Albert Walker (1886-1966) and Minnie Lacy Hall (1886-1967). Ernest and Minnie were married on 6 November 1905 in St. Mathews Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Estill had three sisters; Viloet Alberta (1906-2001), Dorothy Louise (1912-1999), and Marjorie Elizabeth (1916-1974) and one brother; William Maurice (1913-1915). His father was born in Leesburg, Florida (the son of James Albert Walker) and his mother was born in Paris, Kentucky. The family lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Estill first shows up in the 1910 census for Jacksonville, Florida. The family consisted of Ernest A (age 24), Minnie L (age 24), Violet (age 3) and Estill (age 11  months). His father Ernest was employed as a plumber.

In 1920, the family is living at 137 West 21st in Jacksonville and consisted of Ernest A (age 34), Minnie (age 33), Violet (age 13), Estill (age 10), Louisa (age 7) and Marjorie (age 3). Estill's name is incorrect on this census. He is listed as Estell and as a daughter. I wonder if he got teased in school because of his name.

Estill married Alita Lexow, the daughter of Frederick Henry Lexow and Mary A Truesdale, about 1926. They had two sons, Estill Herbert (1927-1972) and John Norwood (1934-1991). In 1930 he was living at 1837 Clarkson Street with his wife Alita (age 23) and son Estill Herbert (age 3). The location of their home was only two houses down from Frederick Lexow and today is located within a warehouse area near the Tallyrand shipyards in Jacksonville. Estill was renting this house for $18/month and was employed as a laborer at the Ford Motor Company. One of his first jobs at the Ford plant was in the first aid unit where he acquired the nickname "Doc".

The Ford Motor Company assembly plant was constructed near the shipyards in 1923 and was designed so that Ford's fleet of oceangoing ships could dock nearby and railcars could enter on one side with parts to unload and would leave on the other side with finished vehicles.

In 1931, the family was living at 901 Parker and Estill was employed as an inspector at the Ford Motor Company. The assembly plant was operational until 1932 and was then converted to a parts warehouse that was used until 1968. By 1935 Estill had been promoted to the position of foreman at the plant and was now living at 1930 Wambolt, apartment 1. This apartment is located one block north of his previous location on Clarkson Street and still near the Tallyrand shipyards. The family consisted of Estill B (age 26), Alita (age 26), Estill H (age 8), John N (infant), and Mary Lexow (age 53) his mother-in-law. In 1940 the apartment on Wambolt Street was renting for $16/month and Estill had an annual income of $2200 working as the foreman in the auto parts warehouse.

Lt. E B Walker
Estill served with the Army during WW II where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant. After returning from service he again went to work for the Ford Company. The family is listed as living at 241 East 2nd in the 1944 Jacksonville city directory. His career with Ford continued to improve and he was promoted to district zone manager and service manager. In 1954 he and Alita were divorced and Estill remarried Ruth Hamm (1927-2008). Estill and Ruth were living at 2224 Southhampton Road in Jacksonville in 1954 and Estill was employed as a field manager for Ford. In December 1957 he was given a Ford franchise dealership in Treasure Island, Florida. This location was not the best and he would comment that customers had to seek them out and cross a toll bridge to get to it. His Ford dealership was moved 25 miles to Clearwater a decade later. He was able to expand his dealership at this location and was repeatedly honored with achievement awards. In 1981, the St. Petersburg Motor Club selected Walker Ford as their first approved repair shop.

Estill died of congestive heart failure at the age of 85 in St. Petersburg on 9 August 1994. He had been a nursing home resident for eight years prior to his death. He was buried on 12 August 1994 in Woodlawn Memory Gardens in St. Petersburg

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