About Walker Cranberry County (Our History)
Our quaint, yet proud history goes back all the way back to our town’s namesake, Herbert and Maude Walker, who in 1848, bought a little spread in the country to begin a cranberry farm. Herbert’s family traced their roots back to the original Mayflower Compact signers.
In 1621, John Walker was the first inhabitant of the new world to try his hand at cranberry farming. Thus, began a long lineage of cranberry growers and cranberry lovers.
John quickly married after arriving to the New World and he and his bride Patience soon had a growing family of 14 along with a thriving cranberry business. With a dozen Walker children and the cranberry in great supply, it soon became a staple at the Walker household. Children could expect to eat cranberry oatmeal, cranberry jelly, cranberry bread, and even drink cranberry tea.
Walker Cranberry Grows
In the span of a few decades, John Walker held the market on cranberries. This monopoly allowed him to amass a vast sum of money.
With his new-found riches, Walker began transporting his “charming little, bright red, nuggets of horticultural gold” to England with the aid of the Dutch West India Company. It has even been rumored that the money received from the 1st sale of cranberries was used by Peter Minuit to purchase New Amsterdam (aka New York) in 1626.
As the years flew by, John’s oldest children took over the family business. Richard, Thomas, James, and Edward, the four eldest Walker sons, banded together to run the now vast business
Edward Walker, Jr., a notable scholar and inventor, began to experiment with other uses for the cranberry. Some of his notable attempts included Puritan pucker balm, cranberry flavored milk, and cranberry musket pellets.
Edwards’ eldest daughter, Susanna, also dabbled in experimenting with the cranberry, but unfortunately, when she discovered that cranberries could help women with pelvic pain and improve their overall general health, she was put to death as a witch in the spring of 1693.
Other notable events in the Walker family tree include:
- 1752 – Jedidiah Walker uses his knowledge of the cranberry to aide Benjamin Franklin in treating his gout which led to the discovery of electricity.
- 1773 – George Walker single handedly spurred a rebellion at Boston Harbor
- 1776 – George Walker, Jr. aided Washington’s troops by supplying much needed cranberries at Valley Forge which directly led to the British defeat.
- 1804 – Otto Walker provides Lewis and Clark the cranberries for their pemmican which the Corps of Discovery used to survive their two-year long trip.
By 1848, Otto and Deborah Walker’s son, Herbert, had purchased land and began Cranberry County. The Walker’s lived a modest, yet comfortable life and enjoyed the company of their 16 children.
One of these children, William Walker, took over the company with Otto’s passing in 1885. William was an inventor and thinker, like his ancestors before him. He soon found new and exciting ways to harvest cranberries.
His quick thinking and keen business sense allowed Walker Cranberry to become the largest cranberry company in the United States. This corner on the cranberry market soon led to “The Great Cranberry Monopoly,” which ultimately led to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
After the great drought of 1892, Grandfather William Walker nearly lost the entire cranberry empire. He swore that he would never let that happen again and promptly began the Walker Cranberry Insurance Company. He remained the only insurer dedicated solely to cranberry coverage until his death in 1934.
Years ticked by in Cranberry County with the Walker’s continuing the family tradition of growing cranberries and providing top quality insurance news.
Walker Cranberry in the 20th Century
In the summer of 1948, Walker Cranberry celebrated its 100th birthday. In honor of the event, the entire town was treated to cranberry delights hand made by the women of the Walker Cranberry Service League.
Herbert’s son, Harvey Walker, was Walker Cranberry’s first astronaut. Captain Walker proudly took cranberries with him into space in the 1970s.
Herbert and Maude’s love of cranberries led to towns in Cranberry County such as Crimson, Harvest, Thanksgiving, Pemmican, and our beloved county seat, Walker.
As Walker Cranberry’s family continues to grow, we invite you to join us in celebrating our heritage, our town, and our cranberry.
Just remember what Grandfather Walker always said, “Like is like a cranberry: sometimes tart, sometimes sweet, but always good for you.”