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Sunday, April 7, 2024

Esther Walker - Civil War Wife? - Civil War Nurse

Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Evergreen Chapel, Evergreen Cemetery,
Colorado Springs, CO.
Photo(C) Doris McCraw

This post is unique to the Civil War Veterans/Civil War Wives buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. Her story also has many blank places that may never be filled, but I hold out hope.

Like the story of many women from this time period, their lives were not documented. Many of their efforts and events weren't written about. Of course, there are exceptions, unfortunately, Esther's story is not the exception.

She came to my attention as the only female amongst the headstones in the GAR section of the cemetery, however, her stone is removed from the cluster of Civil War Veterans. This set up an intriguing puzzle and one that started this journey of her life. As with most of the stories I research it begins with the death and moves around from there.

Esther's birth is sometime between 1837 and 1844 in Ireland according to census records. She immigrated to the United States around 1853 but her name at that time is still hiding.

Next, according to the GAR/s records, Esther was a nurse with the New York 18th Army Corps enlisted on April 23, 1861, and was discharged on December 3, 1864. 

From here the trail gets murky and even more winding. 

In the 1880 census, we find Esther Dayton, the surname of her children, living on Saginaw St. in Flint, Michigan. Her occupation is listed as a dressmaker. She is also a widow. This record was found by backtracking her sons who were living here in Colorado at the time of her death.

Now, here comes the interesting pieces.

In the 1895 census, Esther is in Ireton, Iowa, and has the surname Walker. 1900 census she is living with James Walker in Iowa. According to the census they married in 1871. James was about twenty years older than Esther. 

As you can see, she was in Michigan with her children in 1880 and the name Dayton. Yet, all records indicate Dayton and Walker are both the same person.

I'll continue the story on the Western Fictioneers blog as she is a veteran also.

Other posts in this series: 

Alpheus R. Eastman - Western Fictioneers Blog

Helen Rood Dillon - Prairie Rose Publications Blog

Virginia Strickler - Prairie Rose Publications Blog

Henry C. Davis - Western Fictioneers Blog

Chester H. Dillon - Western Fictioneers Blog

For anyone interested, I have a monthly substack newsletter: Thoughts and Tips on History

Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy. 



  1. I'll look forward to the next instalment. It sounds like she had an interesting life. I wonder if the 20 year age gap marriage was love or necessity.

    1. I'm hoping to find out more with the latest information I've found. She is fascinating. Doris

  2. So many women served their country as nurses, but were never recognized. Thank you for sharing her story

    1. You are welcome. It is a passion of mine, find the 'forgotten' and bring them back to life. I keep hearing the Disturb song, "Hold on to Memories" which is a mantra of mine. Doris

  3. This is fascinating. It's so sad when you think about all the stories of people's lives have been lost to history. Even now, how many of us keep journals or diaries or write notes of highlights of our lives for future generations to read?

  4. That is something I think about a great deal. I worked with a teacher who kept journals but wants them burned before he passes so no one can see what he wrote. I found that so sad. Even the book "Meditations' was a personal diary of sorts by Marcus Aurelius. Think what so many people have learned from what survived of his writings. The historian in me wants to know, and sometimes we just can't. Doris