Sometime after 1903, William headed west, traveling to Panama, San Francisco, Mexico, El Paso, Flagstaff, and southern Arizona. He worked in carpentry and construction, among other jobs, and, in 1916, volunteered in the Punitive Expedition to Mexico, where Pancho Villa was active, as a civilian scout. In the ensuing years, he traveled and lived in southern and northern Arizona, Mexico, and El Paso, working as a law man and as a carpenter. On his 1920 passport, required for travel to Mexico by this time, he indicated his residence as the Weatherford Hotel, Flagstaff, and his birthplace as Dover, New Hampshire. From this time on, he never mentioned his parents or actual birthplace.
In 1922, William was living in the Tucson vicinity, where he befriended eastern author Harold Bell Wright. Walker worked on Wright’s home, and later took him on a wilderness pack trip during which Wright composed The Mine with the Iron Door.
William was back in Flagstaff early the following year, where he met Rosamund Hopkins Fox. Rosamund, a well-to-do New Yorker with deep eastern roots, and her father, Royal Fox, hired William as a tour guide. Rosamund and William married on September 16, 1923, in San Diego. Their daughter, Betty Juanita, was born in Syracuse, New York, where Rosamund owned property, on September 22, 1924. The family moved to Sarasota, Florida to take advantage of the building boom. On May 9, 1926, William Welles Walker was born.
The Walkers left Florida for Arizona after a fall, 1927 hurricane destroyed their home and business, settling in Tucson. Their last child, Royal Fox Walker, was born there on January 27, 1928. The family then moved to Phoenix, next to Williams, and finally back to Flagstaff. Rosamund was never fully able to cope with the poverty the family suffered during the Depression, having lost everything during the Florida hurricane. She became ill, and passed away on June 20, 1937.
When the war effort began in 1940, William found work as a carpenter at Camp Callen, California. Afterwards, the family moved to San Diego, where the children finished school. Betty joined the WAC, obtained a degree from San Diego State University, married Louis Hayward Quayle, and then moved to Tucson to do graduate work. Welles joined the Army, and was ultimately stationed in Germany and Vietnam. Royal, after working with the Coast Guard, became a theater manager, married, and had three daughters. William stayed active with the Carpenter’s Union, and enjoyed traveling to Arizona to visit old friends. He died on February 28, 1970. His ashes were placed next to Rosamund’s grave in Flagstaff.
For related information, see MS 293, the William Walker Collection, which includes a detailed biography of William Walker written by Betty Quayle.
Special Collections and Archives Department
Northern Arizona University
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