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History

January 24, 2009

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Take a historic look at Guy Morrison Walker

TERRE HAUTE — During 1909 — 100 years ago — former Terre Haute resident Guy Morrison Walker made national headlines.

An 1890 graduate of DePauw University, Walker was on President William Howard Taft’s short list of candidates to succeed William Woodville Rockhill as U.S. Minister to China, a position then titled, “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.”

Born Jan. 24, 1870 in Fort Wayne, Guy was the eldest of the Rev. Wilbur Fisk and Mary Florence (Morrison) Walker’s children. Rev. Walker had been a Methodist missionary in China for 33 years.

In 1873, while still an infant, Guy went to Beijing with his parents, spending about ten years. During those years, he used both Chinese and English as primary languages. He returned to the U.S. to attend DePauw, where his father had earned a degree in 1868.

He maintained his interest in Chinese politics and economics and put his expertise to good use.

Not only was Guy an outstanding student and campus leader at the Greencastle college but he helped organize, and was captain of, the 1889 DePauw football team, arguably the school’s first.

Following college graduation, which included a L.L.B., Walker moved to Terre Haute, was admitted to the Vigo and Indiana bars and, on Dec. 15, 1891, wed Minnie L. Royse of 517 N. Seventh St., who also received a degree from DePauw in 1890.

Minnie was a daughter of prominent Terre Haute lawyer Isaac Henry Clay Royse.

In 1892, Walker founded the Terre Haute Trust Co., in a storefront near the southwest corner of Sixth and Ohio streets.

The financial institution grew and, in 1907-08, it erected an eight-story skyscraper — Terre Haute first — at the southeast corner of Seventh and Wabash. That historic structure survives after acquisitions by Merchants National Bank of Terre Haute and Old National Corp.

The Walkers relocated to Toledo in 1897, where Guy founded the Security Trust Co. of Toledo. He then moved to New York City, ostensibly to open a law office at 15 Wall Street. The Walkers resided at 301 W. 106th St. and raised two sons, Merle and Ray.

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