Mary Emma Griffin
Mary Walker was born Mary Emma Griffin on September 18, 1855 in Rochester, New York. Her parents were Thomas F. Griffin, born in 1826, and Anne O’Ruark, born in 1830, both immigrants from Ireland. Mary was the fourth of six children with two brothers and three sisters. In 1872, when Mary was seventeen years old, her father decided to move the family to Detroit, Michigan to run the Michigan Car Co. along the Hudson River. However, in 1875, Thomas left the company to found his own, the Griffin Car Wheel Co, which made him hugely successful. Very little is known about Mary before her marriage to Edward Chandler Walker. Yet, it can be assumed Mary had a strong interest in art, and paintings in particular, because of her father. Thomas was a founding member of the Detroit Museum of Art, later the Detroit Institute of Art, and credited with having donated the original property on which the museum was located. Edward was also a founding member of the Museum, and it is probably within this social circle that Mary and Edward met in 1885.
On September 3, 1896 at the age of 41, Mary married Edward, age 45, at her father’s home at 381 Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. According to a marriage announcement from a Detroit newspaper, the wedding was performed by Reverend John S. Foley with Mr. William Aikman Jr. credited as the best man. Only immediate relatives attended, after which a wedding breakfast was served. While their ages may have been a factor in having a quiet wedding, it is probably more likely to have something to do with their religions as Mary was Catholic and Edward Anglican.