From Madame LeVert – by Frances Gibson Satterfield
With Memories from his Daughter Octavia Walton La Vert

George Walton, Jr. and Sally Minge Walker Walton lived the first of their married years at “Meadow Garden” in Augusta, Georgia. Their daughter Octavia was born at nearby ‘Bellevue’ – the home of her maternal grandmother Elizabeth Talbot Walker on August 22, 1811.

George Walton, Jr. had served several terms in the Georgia General Assembly and was practicing law in Augusta in 1821 when Sally’s uncle Freeman Walker, a senator from Georgia, recommended to the Secretary of State that Walton be appointed secretary of the West Florida Territory. He received his commission from President Monroe on June 27, and was to serve under General Andrew Jackson, the appointed commissioner to receive the Florida from Spain, and to serve as Governor of East and West Florida until a civil government could be established.

George Walton, Jr. arrived in Pensacola August 5, 1821. The Pensacola of 1823 consisted of 200 dilapidated houses and less than a thousand persons (this number did not include the soldiers and government officials). There were no schools, one doctor, one innkeeper, and inexplicably – 22 shoemakers. Walton sent for his family, no doubt aware their presence would help him maintain the image of acting head and secretary of Territorial Florida. He must have known the sacrifices such a move would mean: giving up “Meadow Garden” with all its memories and comforts would be especially hard for his mother, Dorothy Walton.

“Meadow Garden” was a diminishing property. One of the times when George Walton (Sr.) was in financial difficulties, apparently from poor investments and unsecured loans, he sold part of the land. Later, he was about to lose “Meadow Garden” when his brother-in-law, Thomas Watkins, bought the property and deeded it to Thomas and George Walton, Jr. with the stipulation that their father could live there the rest of his life, if he desired. Later George Jr. (the official owner) in difficulties had sold still more of the land. He inherited his father’s lack of financial acumen along with his political ambition.”

In 1835, George and his family moved to Mobile. “George Walton had charmed his fellow townsmen into electing him Mayor of Mobile in 1839, and he and Sally moved to a house on St. Anthony at the corner of North Conception.”

In 1849, Sally and George Walton separated. George moved to Washington, perhaps still hoping for an opportunity to receive some type of political recognition. Sally died in Mobile in 1861. George Walton was in Petersburg, Virginia at the time, as he wrote Octavia a letter from there on February 22nd.

In 1857 Colonel Walton was living in Virginia with his companion, Andrew [never identified, and no last name was ever mentioned]. He was very proud of Octavia, and wrote several letters to her about the publication of her book ‘Souvenirs..’ Colonel Walton was extremely proud of her achievement, and never failed to pass on things acquaintances remarked about the book. About this time he wrote that he was going to Washington, saying:  “If I cannot get board, fire, and candles for $60 a month for Andrew and myself I will at once leave Washington and go where we can live on $60 comfortably. We can get along with the clothes we have this winter. Andrew has become absolutely necessary to me. I cannot part from him. I have had no occasion to ask the smallest favor. Consequently all with whom I have had any intercourse respect me. Should I be fortunately enough to make money the coming session of Congress I shall certainly take better care of it than I have ever done. My sojourn in these mountains has proved to me that I can do without a thousand things which I have heretofore considered absolutely necessary. Since Andrew has been with me I have not been outside my room a single night. His company is all that I require.”

Octavia mentioned her father’s death in a letter to her brother-in-law, John LeVert, in early 1863. She wrote: “My beloved Papa died at Petersburg of congestion of the brain on the 3rd of January. It is a bitter, bitter anguish to me that I was not near him in his last moments. But his disease only lasted 48 hours. Thus am I left more desolate still, the being remaining on earth who loved me best, appreciated me most, has passed away from my love and my care.”

There are frequent mentions of a “Mrs. Robinson” who was an aunt of Octavia Walton LeVert. On February 2, 1867, Octavia wrote Brother John LeVert that they had been at “Belle Vue” six weeks with her aunt Mrs. Robinson, and she further wrote: “My Aunt lives very near the spot where she was born, and she is the only person I have met in America who still resides where they first saw the light. This is also my birth place. A portion of the city of Augusta, with fine dwellings, and great manufactories, now occupies the lands owned by my dear Papa when I was born. When my darling Mama married Papa he was a millionaire, and she was also very rich. Papa was young and generous, and noble, and pretended friends induced him to become their security, and they failed, and his splendid fortune melted away like snow in the sunshine, and only Mama’s property remained to us.”

I (Frances Gibson Satterfield) believe Octavia was looking back fondly, but not at reality. Our Walton family – while influential and well-thought-of, was never truly one of great wealth. Her grandfather, George Walton, lost a great deal of money, and left very little for his son George, Jr. Their home “Meadow Garden,” was only saved through the devices of his Watkins’ nephews. Numerous writers mention the lack of business acumen for both George Walton and George Walton, Jr. •