Submitted by Louisa Emmons; Edited by Cheri Todd Molter
(Contains both the family’s oral traditions and results of research)
John Murphy Walton, son of Col. Thomas George Walton and Eliza Murphy Walton, was born at the family’s home, “Creekside,” in Morganton in 1844. When war was declared in 1861, he left military training at Hillsborough Academy to enlist in the 6th Regiment, North Carolina Troops. He served under Col. Samuel McDowell Tate. John was wounded at the Battle of Appomattox. Unable to fight, he lay in the hospital at the time of General Lee’s surrender. Neither he nor his surgeon wished to surrender to the Union, so he crawled from his bed, and together they made their escape. Family legend says they ate blackberries to stay alive on the journey home. At one point, the two stopped for the night at a house on the Dan River in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The occupants took the men in and fed them. At the table, the lady of the house overheard her guest being called “Walton” and said, “That is my maiden name. Where are your ancestors from?” When John told her his people were originally from neighboring Amherst County, Virginia, she replied, “Why, you are my cousin!” The next morning, as John Walton and his surgeon were about to resume their journey south, the lady insisted he take a horse the family owned rather than the mule he was riding. John continued traveling toward Creekside, and when he arrived it was daybreak. He sent an enslaved person into the house to wake his mother, so she could come outside to greet him. He requested that water and clean clothing be brought to him so his sisters would not see him in his unkempt state. After bathing and dressing, he burned his ragged clothes and went into the house to see his family.
John Murphy Walton is my ancestor; his father, Col. Thomas George Walton, was my great-great-grandfather. This story was passed down through the family and appears in my book, Tales from a Civil War Plantation: Creekside. John Walton’s Civil War diary is housed in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.