Online sources help uncover history

Paul McNeil from the Hancock County Public Library tells us that 11 online sites exist on the National Register of Historic Places for Hancock County. They can be found at

He also wrote about SHAARD, the Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database. To use, log in as guest. This site has more in-depth information on each property; e.g., original assessments, grade, photographs. If can be found at

Then, of course, the Hancock County Interim Report, which was the basis of the National Register in Hancock County, to my knowledge. It can be found at This should be helpful for those doing historical research.

Thanks, Paul,

In June 1993, I had the opportunity to interview John Ward Walker of Greenfield. John is no longer with us, but he told some very interesting stories of his family and Greenfield. His great grandfather, J. Ward Walker, came to Greenfield in 1858 and opened a general store in which he conducted business to his death in 1904.

Up to 1864, the mercantile business was conducted under the name of G.H. & J Ward Walker; from 1864 to 1868, the firm’s name was G.H. & J. Ward Walker; from 1868 to 1871, it was called Walker & Edwards, Dr. D.M. Edwards having been admitted to the partnership.

In 1871, he helped with Nelson Bradley to organize the Greenfield Banking Co. Nelson Bradley was the president, and J. Ward Walker was the cashier. Mr. Walker stayed with the bank until 1876, having sold out the store in the meantime. In the later years, he started a furnishing and clothing store under the firm name of J. Ward Walker & Company.

In 1882, he located his business in the Randall block, remaining there until 1892, when he occupied nearly all of the Dudding Moore block. In September of 1896, he moved to the Masonic Building, where he remained. This business was very successful. He employed 16 to 20 employees. He was the leading merchant in the county.

Annual sales were 80 to 85,000, which would be worth five to six million today. Walker’s occupied the first and basement floor of the Masonic Building. As you went in the front door, there was a huge staircase to the basement. It is now covered up but still there.

All business was conducted through baskets, which took cash upstairs to the office. When Walker’s went out of business, these baskets went to Stout’s Shoe Company in Indianapolis and are being used today. Some say that the baskets still have nameplate, which reads “J. Ward Walker.”

Go downtown in Greenfield to look at some on the names of the buildings. Of course, the Masonic Building is the Creative Arts and Event Center, also known as the Walker block. By the way, John’s mother, Marjorie Walker, was the first president of the Hancock County Historical Society.

Enough. I have told you everything I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.