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The tie that binds…An appreciation of Edward Walker

On the east wall of the dining room of the Mather Homestead hangs a portrait of Edward Walker. Edward Walker is the maternal grand-father of Stephen Tyng Mather. He was the father of Stephen’s mother, Bertha Jemima Walker.

As noted in an earlier Memento, Edward Walker was a congregant at St. George’s Church where Stephen Tyng was pastor. Three of Edward’s children, including Bertha, were married at St. George’s.

Edward Walker was born 30 October 1803 in England and died 15 January 1879 and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Edward married Sophia Ann Shedell (1 April 1802-6 Jun 1871) on 16 November 1823.

Edward emigrated to New York in 1832 and in 1836 established his own bookbinding concern, the New York Bookbindery. He later renamed the business, E. Walker & Sons, having trained his two sons, Joseph and James, in the business.

His was regarded as the largest bookbindery in New York City in the mid-nineteenth century and produced edition binding services for institutional libraries and custom bindings for collectors.

In the attic of the Homestead there is a photograph that includes the five children mentioned in the obituary. The photograph, taken from a daguerreotype, is from about 1854. Edward’s wife Sophia (in the picture) died in 1871. The widow mentioned in the obituary was Emily Hogg Walker whom Edward married 6 July 1872.

Stephen T. Mather’s mother, Bertha, is at the left in the photograph. By 1854 the two sons were married. Elizabeth (center) married Samuel Turner in 1860 and Sophia (right) married Charles Taylor in 1880. An accompanying note indicates that the grandchildren are blurred because of the exposure time required for the daguerreotype.

Edward Walker was born just 25 years after the Homestead was built by Deacon Joseph Mather in 1778. Less than a century later, with the marriage of his daughter, Bertha, to Joseph Wakeman Mather, his enriching contribution to the cultural foundations of the nation would become an enduring part of the history of the Mather Homestead.

Note regarding photo 3: Bound by Edward Walker, Bound for Queen Victoria, Sermon Preached before the St. George Society In New York

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