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Boundary work below Natchez opens doors for John Peter Walker

May 13, 2008
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Follow the expoits of land surveyor John Peter Walker as he works with Andrew Ellicott to mark the new Spanish-American boundary line east of the Mississippi River following the 1795 Treaty of San Lorenzo and then goes on to become one of the first to map the American Southwest.


(First in a Two-Part Series)
 
by Stanley Nelson

In Robert Dabney Calhoun's 1931 book on the history of Concordia Parish, a paragraph in Chapter 2, Page 15, revealed a riddle. In this space, Calhoun wrote about Concordia's first official land surveyor, a man named John Peter Walker, the son of a prominent early Natchez resident and the brother of a Louisiana governor.

At some point before Calhoun finished the book, he was visited by Louisiana Rep. G. P. Whittington of Alexandria, who was also an historian, and a descendant of the Walker family. During that visit, Whittington provided Calhoun a titillating piece of information on the Walkers.

He relayed the story that John Peter Walker, this early surveyor in Spanish Concordia, had joined the Spanish army in Mexico and Texas, ascended to the rank of lieutenant and was involved in the detention of Lt. Zebulon Pike during Pike's exploration of the southwest in the early 1800s. Calhoun also wrote that Walker had been involved briefly in a plan to drive wild horses, once tamed, from east Texas through Rapides and Concordia to market in Natchez country.

Rep. Whittington had in his possession a letter dated March 10, 1817, and sent by John Walker from Cadiz, Spain, which said: "I am at present in this City without any means, except a small quantity of purse money assigned to me by the Captain General until the determination of the Court for my existence."
 
 

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