With the distinction of being one of the few children born to an ex-president; Elizabeth Harrison Walker's life straddled the Gilded Age of her father, President Benjamin Harrison, and the Television Age.
Elizabeth Harrison was born in the spacious Indianapolis home of her father, four years after he had left office. A widower with two grown children, Harrison had married his first wife's niece, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick a year earlier. Elizabeth was the couple’s only child. She was just 4 and a half when her father passed away 1901.
Although Elizabeth knew her father for a short time, they enjoyed a close companionship. They spent many hours playing in the yard and famously taking long walks around the city. Mary and Elizabeth sailed for France with The General when he represented Venezuela in a border dispute with British Guiana. The ex-president declined generous offers of all-expense paid trips to Europe and Japan when his family could not accompany him. Family vacations were usually spent in the Adirondacks or along the New Jersey shore. It was noted in the book, All the President's Children*, that Elizabeth claimed she could recall several memories of her doting father, including one of her proudly bearing a small apple pie to his bedside the day he died (March 13, 1901). She remembered that he opened his eyes and smiled.
Elizabeth completed her sophomore year at Tudor Hall, Indianapolis, before moving east with her mother in 1913. After attending Westover School in Middlebury, CT, she accompanied her mother on a tour of Europe before entering New York University.
If Elizabeth’s marriage to James Blaine Walker (Jan 20, 1889 - Jan 15, 1978) - grandnephew of her father’s secretary of state and onetime Republican presidential nominee James G. Blaine - was conventional, much of the rest of her life was not. Inheriting her father's keen and logical mind, by the time of her 1921 wedding, she had received several academic degrees, including a law degree from New York University Law School, and was admitted to both the Indiana and New York state bars at the age of 22.
Elizabeth founded and was the editor and publisher of "Cues On the News", a monthly news service for women investors that was distributed by banks throughout the country. Earlier, she had been Secretary for the Commission for Economic Development and its only female member. Her economic expertise led to frequent and popular appearances on radio and later, television, where she spoke specifically on economic issues pertaining to women.
She died in their New York City apartment on Christmas day 1955 at the age of 58.
A Continuing Heritage:
The Walkers had two children, Benjamin Harrison Walker and Mary Jane Walker. The children first visited the Harrison Memorial Home when in Indianapolis for their grandmother's funeral in 1948. Their daughter, Dr. Jane Harrison Walker was educated at Westover School, Bryn Mawr, and Cornell. She became one of the most noted chest specialists in New York. She married Newell Garfield, great-grandson of President James A. Garfield. Their son, Benjamin Harrison Walker graduated from Princeton and the Harvard Law Schools. He served in WWII as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He later became chief Counsel for Equitable Life Assurance and married socialite Elizabeth Sillcocks. Mr. Walker had two sons, James Harrison Walker and Benjamin Harrison Walker II.** Dr. Walker is a medical doctor now living in Rhode Island.
James and Benjamin Walker are the great grandsons of President Benjamin Harrison; great great great grandsons of President William Henry Harrison and great great great great grandsons to Benjamin Harrison V who signed the Declaration of Independence. They are also the great great grandnephews of James G. Blaine.
* Page 150
** In July, 2008, Dr. Walker II was asked to plant an Indiana Tulip Poplar tree on the shores of Glen Miller Lake in Glen Miller Park, Richmond, IN. It was commemorating the 113th Anniversary of his great-grandfather, then a former President, planting a white Ash tree there on August 6, 1895. The Tulip Poplar was planted near the Harrison Ash.
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