William Thomas (Billie) Walker was the first of Alfred Jack Walker’s children and the only child born to him and Sarah Jane (Speir) Walker. Sarah Jane died June 6, 1891. Billie married Pearle Lea Jordon in South Carolina the day before Christmas in 1909.
Written by Mrs. I. B. Williams and Mrs. E. C. Branch (1983)
William Thomas Walker, oldest son of Alfred Andrew Jackson Walker Sr. and Sarah Spier Walker. was born in Richland Springs January 30, 1885. His grandmother, Sarah, lived in their home and when Billy’s mother died of pneumonia when he was six years old, Sarah took care of him. Soon after this, they moved to San Saba and lived north of the present Baptist parsonage just across Brown Street.
In 1891, they moved to Pecan Grove where Billie attended school in a one-room school building, taught by Miss Bessie Williams. He attended high school in San Saba and graduated from Texas A. & M. College in 1906, majoring in textile engineering, after which he went to Langley, South Carolina to observe and work in the cotton mills. While there he met and fell in love with Pearle Jordan who also worked there. After a time, he came back to Texas, promising to return for her. He began work on a new house on land his father gave him between the slough and the river in the Pecan Grove Community, and he continued working with his father in irrigating a field on the river and raising hogs and cattle. December 1909 found him back in Langley and on December 24, 1909, he and Pearle were married in the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Jordan. To this union a daughter, Opal Avis was born June 20, 1911.
Billy began raising a special breed of wolf and fox hounds, improving the breed which later became known as Walker fox hounds. He very often took his dogs hunting to the extent that Pearle was jealous of the dogs. When Opal was about eighteen months old, Pearle took her back to South Carolina to visit her grandparents. When they returned, Pearle found one of Billie’s prize dogs sick with distemper in the bedroom wrapped in her best quilt!
A second daughter, Garnet Rose, was born August 1, 1914. Somewhere around 1916 Billie had the dealership for the first Brisco car in the county.
In the fall of 1917 his father bought a ranch, seven miles east of San Saba, and three miles west of the Colorado bridge just south of the Lometa Highway. Then Billie moved his family, dogs, and several hundred head of angora goats onto this property.
Billy and family lived for a short while in a tent. Due to the fact that the place was fenced for cattle and not goats, Billie had to make a large corral of cedar brush to keep his goats in until he could make the fence “goat proof.” Opal has happy memories of camping and the fun she and little sister, Garnet, had dressing a new litter of Daddy’s prize pups in doll clothes, to the extent that Daddy was afraid they would die from being handled so much.
In 1919, a son was born. Pearle wanted to name him “W. T. Jr but Billie wouldn’t have it. They finally compromised on “Billie T.” When Billie T. went into the Navy it was changed to W. T. Jr.
Beside raising hounds, two other hobbies of Billie’s were: first was attending county sings and conventions. He even taught a number of singing schools using shaped notes. The other was boxing in which he was very active in while at Texas A & M. He encouraged and helped train some young fellows in the county. He even refereed some “Golden Glove” tournaments. Billie became a Christian and a member of Pecan Grove Baptist Church after he married, and the remainder of his life, he was active in his church. He was ordained as a deacon, taught the Men’s Bible Class, was Sunday School Superintendent some of the time as well as holding other positions in the church. After his children were married and moved away, he donated much of his time to doing the brick laying and plastering on a number of churches and missions.
Pearle was a church member when she married and was always active in her church: teaching in Sunday School, both children’s and Woman’s Bible classes. She helped organize Woman’s Missionary organizations, served as President of the Associational W.M.U. a number of years and served as leader of the Girl’s Auxiliary. She was elected as Texas Baptist Mother of the Year in 1960. When they retired, Billie and Pearle lived for a number of years in a trailer home in Carrizo Springs that was located in their son Bill’s back yard. Billie passed away at the ranch home September 2, 1972, at the age of 87. He is buried in the Harmony Ridge Cemetery.
Pearle lived alone in the trailer home in Carrizo Springs until she passed away July 8, 1979 at age 89, and is buried beside Billie.
Opal married I. B. Williams Jr., son of I. B. (Ben) Williams, and Bessie O’Bannon in 1942. To this union was born two sons; Thomas B. and Martin Walker Williams, and one daughter, Mavis G. Pust. Thomas has a son, Douglas, and a daughter Tamara. Martin has three daughters: Tracie, Renee, Michelle and a son, Thomas Eugene. Mavis has two daughters; Melissa and Tiffany. I. B. and Opal are retired and living on the family ranch.
Garnet married Eugene (Gene) Charles Branch, son of Charles Branch and Beulah Robinson Wells in April 1933. To this union was born Carlos Eugene, who passed away in 1977, and Terrance (Terry) L. Branch. Carlos had a daughter, Carla Beth (Branch) Armstrong, and a son Douglas Wynn Branch. Carla Beth has a daughter, Crista Joy, and a son Nikolas, (Billie and Pearl’s first great-great grandchildren); Douglas is still at home. Terry has three daughters: Mrs. Linda Bauch who has a daughter, Michelle and a son Justin. (Two more great-greats) and Mrs. Dianna Delft and Ruth Ann, still at home. Garnet and Gene adopted an Apache baby girl, Geneva (Altaha) Maria, who has two boys: Jerome and Brandon and a daughter, Gretchen. (Three more great-greats). Garnet and Gene are now retired and live at Tow on the Buchanan Lake.
Bill (W. T. Jr.) married Viola Mae (Ola Mae) Rutledge, daughter of Donald and Viola Rutledge. They have two daughters; Donna Elizabeth (Donna Beth) Campbell, and Jackie Lane (Walker) Nussbaum, and one son, W. T. Walker III (Billy). He and his wife, Cathy have one son, William Shane. Bill is a rancher and crop duster and he and Ola Mae own their home in Carrizo Springs.
Editor’s Note – It is interesting to note the explanation for the names of Billie and Pearle’s son. Throughout this article the name was spelled variously “Billie” and “Billy”. It is my recollection and also that of Jackie Nussbaum that Pearle always spelled her husband’s informal name as “Billie” and her son’s name as “Billy T.” and that is the convention I have tried to follow throughout these various Walker stories. For more information about the Billie Walker Family e-mail Eldon Pierce at [email protected].