David Walton
Private, Company E

David R. Walton was born in Knox County, Ohio, on March 30, 1818. Prior to the Civil War, Walton farmed in Indiana and Illinois. He and his wife Christina had several children, the oldest being born around 1840. At the outbreak of the war, Walton was living in Blue Grass (now extinct), Middle Fork Township, Vermilion County, Illinois. He enrolled for service in the Fifty-First Illinois on November 14, 1861. At that time there were four children living at home; one or two of them were old enough to contribute to the family's economy.

[The stack of stones (picture at left) form the pyre of David and Christina Walton: a cement foundation, a Walton base, an intervening block, and an obelisk—plus Walton's standard military stone. Tumbled, they are watched over by a stubborn shrub.]

Walton was forty-four years old at enlistment, twice as old as the majority of his comrades. From his days in training at Camp Douglas, Chicago, he was troubled by ill health. On February 1, 1862, he was admitted to the post hospital for treatment for fever. Two weeks later the regiment left for the field, and Walton was with them, but on March 7, 1862, Walton was admitted to the general military hospital in Mound City, Illinois. This time the ailment was chronic diarrhea. He was sent home on medical furlough to see if he could recover under home circumstances. And, when the regiment moved into the South, Tennessee and Mississippi, Walton was with his company. On July 19, 1862, he was admitted to the military hospital at Farmington, Mississippi, playing roles of both patient and nurse. The regiment moved east across Mississippi and Alabama, guarding the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. From the regiment's camp at Decatur, Alabama, Walton was sent to federal hospital again. He never returned to the regiment again. March 1863 found him at the federal military hospital in Jackson, Tennessee. Finally, on May 13, 1863, the struggle for recovery and military service were conceded. Walton received his military discharge. The physician wrote that Walton was unfit for further service "because of old page; broken down constitution." The physician concluded that Walton was "unfit for any kind of duty, should not have been enlisted."

After the war, the Walton family settled in Warren County, Indiana (1870 United States census) and then moved on to Harrison County, in northern Missouri. The 1880 census listed Walton there as a retired farmer.

Walton died on July 20, 1880. He was sixty-three, not exactly a ripe old age. His constitution was "broken down" already in 1863 and didn't carry him even another twenty years. The physician who wrote Walton's discharge said he never should have been enlisted—too old and not in the best of health. But, Walton enlisted at a time of chaotic patriotic response to the breaking out of war. Walton was moved by his enthusiasms, and the regiment, like other regiments at the time, anxious to build themselves to completion and take the field, erred on the side of laxity in choosing its men. There were others, like Walton, who were actually too old and too infirm to be taking up a military career in the field.

[Military gravestone at right reads, "D R Walton, Co E, 51st Ill Inft".]

Miriam Cemetery, Bethany, Missouri & the Walton's Place on the Edge of It
Miriam IOOF Cemetery Entrance, Bethany, MO
view of Walton gravestone distant view of Walton gravestone
Top: near the entrance of Miriam Cemetery. Walton's grave is far to the left, the west.

Above left: a view from the Walton pyre across Miriam Cemetery to the east.

Right: toward the western boundary of the cemetery, where the Waltons lie in the foreground.

David Walton, Compiled Service Record, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Washington, D.C.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860, Washington, D.C.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870, Washington, D.C.

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880, Washington, D.C.