Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Walker Bridge: An Old Bridge Spanning the Tombigbee River

Walker Levee Bridge has connected the rich flatlands of northwestern Itawamba County with the rugged hills of Ryan’s Well community for generations.. The Tombigbee River runs the length of the county north and south forming a natural barrier for travel during the 19th Century. The whole length of the county had but a handful of crossings for horse and wagon travel. Walker Bridge was one of those crossings which included the Fulton Ferry, Beans Ferry, Ironwood Bluff crossing and Barr’s Ferry. The iron bridge at Walker Levee replaced an older wooden bridge in 1923 and that same 1923 bridge spans the Tombigbee today.

Walker Levee Bridge, or as locals call it - Walker’s Bridge was named for the John Walker family who owned a plantation west of the river. John Walker and his wife Catherine moved from Alabama to Itawamba County during 1839 where he had been purchasing property since 1836. They brought their slaves and children - Frances, Martha, Benjamin F.., George B., John, Nancy Ann and Moses L., with them to Itawamba County and another child, Mary Katherine, was born after arriving in Itawamba County.

By 1850 Walker had acquired 3,000 acres of rich Donnivan Creek bottom land near the headwaters of the Tombigbee River. The Walker House, which was built well before the Civil War was a combination plantation home, grocery and ordinary that was operated by the Widow Walker until well past Reconstruction days. The old home is still standing less than a mile west of Walker Levee Bridge. John Walker, who was born June 19, 1799, died on his plantation in Itawamba County on March 15, 1860, and Catherine, his widow, died on August 18, 1885. Both are buried in the old nearby Gilmore Chapel Cemetery.

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