Gilbert Carlton Walker

Gilbert Carlton Walker (August 1, 1833 – May 11, 1885) was a United States political figure. He served as the 36th Governor of Virginia, first as a Republican provisional governor between 1869 and 1870, and again as a Democrat elected governor from 1870 to 1874. He was the last Republican governor of Virginia until Linwood Holton took office in 1970.

Gilbert Carlton Walker
Harper's Weekly, July 24, 1869
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1875  March 3, 1879
Preceded byJohn A. Smith
Succeeded byJoseph E. Johnston
Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor
In office
March 4, 1875 March 3, 1877
Preceded byJames Monroe
Succeeded byJohn Goode, Jr.
36th Governor of Virginia
In office
September 21, 1869  January 1, 1874
Provisional Governor from September 21, 1869 – January 1, 1870
LieutenantJohn F. Lewis
John Lawrence Marye Jr.
Preceded byHenry H. Wells (as Provisional Governor)
Succeeded byJames L. Kemper
Personal details
BornAugust 1, 1833
Binghamton, New York
DiedMay 11, 1885(1885-05-11) (aged 51)
New York, New York
Resting placeSpring Forest Cemetery, Binghamton, New York
Political partyRepublican (before 1870)
Other political
Democratic (after 1870)
SpouseOlive E. Evans (m. 1857-1855, his death)
Alma materHamilton College

Early and family life

Walker was born in Binghamton, New York[1] on August 1, 1833,[2] the son of Sabinus Walker and Matilda (Galloway) Walker.[2][lower-alpha 1] Walker's parents separated when he was young, and his mother married Donald Grant of Chenango, New York.[7][8] He attended academies in Delaware, New York and Binghamton, New York, then attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts from 1851 to 1852.[2]

In 1854, Walker received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.[2] While in college, he became a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity, and he won the college's first prize for declamation during his junior year.[1] He studied law with Judge Horace S. Griswold of Binghamton and was admitted to the bar in 1855.[2] In 1857 he received his Master of Arts degree from Hamilton.[2]

Walker practiced in Owego, New York, from 1855 to 1859 and in Chicago from 1859 to 1864.[2] He moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1864 and practiced law.[2] Walker also became involved in finance, and served as president of Norfolk's Exchange National Bank.[2] His other business ventures included serving on the board of directors of the American Fire Insurance Company of Norfolk.[2] In 1866, he was an original incorporator of the Norfolk Insurance and Trust Company.[9] Walker was also a director of the Atlantic Iron Works and Dock Company, and served as its president from 1866 to 1869.[2] Walker was president of Richmond, Virginia's Granite Insurance Company from 1874 to 1878 and editor and publisher of the Richmond Enquirer from 1874 to 1875.[1]

Political career

Walker served as Governor of Virginia from 1869 to 1874.[3] He also served as a Democrat in the Forty-fourth and Forty-fifth Congresses (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1879).[3] In the Forty-fourth Congress he was chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor.[10] He did not stand for reelection in 1878.[3]

Later years

Walker resettled in Binghamton, New York, in 1879 and resumed his legal practice.[2] He moved to New York City in 1881, where he continued practicing law.[2] Walker remained active in business ventures, including serving as president of the New York Underground Railroad Company.[3]

Death and burial

Walker died in New York City on May 11, 1885.[2] He was buried at Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton.[3]


In 1857, Walker married Olive E. Evans of Binghamton.[2]

Electoral history

  • 1869; Walker was elected Governor of Virginia with 54.15% of the vote, defeating fellow Republican Henry H. Wells.
  • 1874; Walker was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 55.33% of the vote, defeating Republican Rush Bargess and Independent R.A. Paul.
  • 1876; Walker was re-elected with 53.64% of the vote, defeating Republican Charles S. Mills.


  1. Several editions of the Congressional Biographical Directory indicate Walker was born in South Gibson, Pennsylvania.[3] Primary source documents including U.S. and state census entries[4] and U.S. passport applications[5] indicate that Walker was born in New York state. The 1855 New York State Census indicates he was born in Broome County, New York, which includes Binghamton.[6] Most secondary sources indicate that he was born in Binghamton.[1] One indicates he was born in Cuba, New York.[2] These details indicate a definite birth in New York state, with the most likely locale being Binghamton.


  1. Sigma Phi Fraternity (1891). Catalogue of the Sigma Phi. Boston, MA: T. R. Marvin & Son. p. 161 via Google Books.
  2. Johnson, Rossiter, ed. (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans. Vol. X: Steb-Zueb. Boston, MA: The Biographical Society. p. Walker-Walker via Google Books.
  3. Joint Committee on Printing, United States Congress (1928). Biographical Directory of the American Congress. 1774-1927. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 1658 via Google Books.
  4. "1850 United States Federal Census, Entry for Gilbert C. Walker". Lehi, UT: LLC. 1850. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  5. "U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, Entry for Gilbert C. Walker". Lehi, UT: LLC. August 18, 1868. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  6. "1855 New York State Census, Entry for Gilbert C. Walker". Lehi, UT: LLC. 1855. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  7. "Governor Walker". Wyoming Democrat. Tunkhannock, PA. August 4, 1869. p. 3 via
  8. "1850 U.S. Federal Census, Entry for Donald Grant Family". Lehi, UT: LLC. 1850. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  9. Virginia General Assembly (1867). Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia Passed in 1866-67. Richmond, VA: James E. Goode. p. 664 via Google Books.
  10. U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor. "Past Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members". EdLabor.House.Gov. Washington, DC: U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
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