Walker County’s name means nothing. It’s a lie.
Earlier this semester I asked my friend if we could drive by the back of The Walker County Courthouse so I could see the sign that ended up being the source for this article. When we got to the sign I read to him the following:
“The region was included in neighboring counties until Walker County was created by the First Legislature of the State of Texas in 1846; it was named for U.S. Senator Robert J. Walker, who introduced legislation for Texas’ annexation…When the Civil War began, R.J. Walker declined to support the Confederacy. The Texas Legislature renamed the county in 1863 for Texas Ranger Samuel H. Walker.”
The fact the name was never changed back is a shame that hangs on Walker County. Imagine if the same had been done to Sam Houston—who lost his governorship because he “declined to support the Confederacy.”
Imagine that every statue of him on campus was just some random dude; imagine that the school motto “The Measure of a Life is its Service” was something that some other “Sam Houston” said. All of these things would mean nothing. Walker County’s name means nothing. It’s a lie.
155 years ago, the Texas Legislature decided to keep the name and lose the meaning, so they wouldn’t have to change the stationary. They got “lucky” there was another semi-famous Texan named Walker, but more importantly for them, that Walker had no opinion on the Civil War because he died several years prior. All due respect to Samuel H. Walker, but I think even he would object to his name being used in such a petty way. It’s not an honor to give somebody something simply because they have the same name as somebody else.
Think what you will about statues and school names. This is different. This is something that nobody knows about, something that most people won’t care about, but I think they should— not because I’m some historical revisionist, but because Walker County is a place of justice and education, a place people should respect. That’s not so easy for me to say anymore.
I want you to go to the Courthouse in Downtown Huntsville for curiosity’s sake. Right across from the Democratic Headquarters you’ll find the sign I read right there in the open. It’s no secret. That sign is dated 1999, almost as if to say ‘hey look how petty and cheap we used to be but look at how much we’ve improved.’ I would agree with that statement, only I would like it to say: ‘Hey, look at how far Walker County has come, where there once was slavery there is now education and justice, isn’t it great how the changing back of the name symbolizes the change in Walker County?’
The name would mean so much more than Texan Annexation; it would be a symbol for “Texan change.” The name would mean something, rather than nothing. It wouldn’t be a lie.