BY JENNY GOLDSBERRY
Among the earliest recorded weddings in Syracuse, known at the time as Hooper, was that of Catherine Russell Kerr and Ephraim William Walker, on September 13, 1888. Ephraim was the son of James John Walker, one of the founding settlers that came in the second wave of settlers to the area. He bought his first 120 acres in Syracuse while his family lived in Kaysville. Ephraim was born in Morgan County but attended school from preschool until the fifth grade in Kaysville, while his father worked the land during the week. He would come to Kaysville to be with his family on Sundays.
Ephraim was seventeen years old when Syracuse established its first school. So, he went back to school to master reading and arithmetic, his two passions. Then, he met and married Catherine, who was born in Riverdale but moved to South Hooper soon afterwards. Her middle name, Russell, was her mother’s maiden name. Ephraim and Catherine had three children together. Unfortunately, their second daughter died at 16 months of diphtheria. There wasn’t even a funeral for her, because her older sister and both her parents were also ill. So, they placed her body in a box and passed it out the window of their home to the Kaysville Cemetery groundskeeper to have her buried. At that time, the Syracuse Cemetery hadn’t been established yet, so that was their only option.
On June 29, 1892, they made the trip up to the Logan Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were sealed to each other and their three children. Then, they preceded to have six more children, making nine in total. Their children were born in a time when the church gave out certificates after a baby was blessed during the service, and the family kept them. Ephraim kept up his love of reading and passed it on to his children, reading to them every night. His third daughter, Retta Walker Steed, continued to love reading all of her adult life because of his influence.
Together with his brothers Daniel and James Thomas, Ephraim ran various local stores. He would go on to sell his shares so he could farm beets, tomatoes, potatoes, grains, and more. His youngest son, James Cecil Walker, would take over the farm and be a farmer his whole life too. In contrast, Catherine was an excellent seamstress, sewing every article of clothing for her children. She could put together an outfit just as good as an expensive store-bought one. In addition, she was always well-dressed herself. She made that effort despite not having much as a farmer’s wife.
The couple got along very well. Retta remembers how they spoke to each other.
“He was always so kind to Mother and I don’t think I can remember a cross word,” she wrote in their biographies. “She didn’t believe in saying an unkind word about anyone.” Retta lived until 1977. Catherine would have celebrated her 153rd birthday last month, and Ephraim would be celebrating his 156 this month.
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