Biographical / Historical
A collection of the cutwork of itinerant John Brown Walker came to light in Geauga County, Ohio in the early 1960s. Walker had been making his living cutting fancy paper designs in rural areas of Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in the last decades of the 19th century.
Except for the record in Mason, Michigan, of his death on November 12, 1908 in the Ingham County Poor House, all information now known about Walker comes from his designs and his words in greetings he sent to friends in Geauga County, Ohio. In his last written letter of December 24, 1907, he said he was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1815.
Helen Hotchkiss Coats and her sister, Hilda Hotchkiss Hosmer, preserved more than 100 pieces of his work. These items were created for three generations of the Phillips Hotchkiss family of Burton Township in the years from 1880 1907. His letters indicated that, although an itinerant, Walker was a participant in the life of the areas where he worked by his inquiries about the community, crops, and individuals.
During his last 20 25 years, he traveled through Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana making and selling family records.
Eighty years after he had cut a greeting and written a verse for her, Nettie Shanower remembered Walker as "a medium large man with a long white beard" the only description of his appearance.