Mary Emma Walker
Most of what is known about Mary and her relations with the Walker family come from Society newspaper articles. The first time Mary is mentioned alongside either of Edward’s brothers, Franklin Hiram Walker and James Harrington Walker, is at the dedication of the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain in 1897. The company of Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery Ltd. had commissioned the fountain to be erected to honour Queen Victoria. Mary, probably because her husband was in charge of the company at the time, laid the cornerstone. Later in 1900, Edward and Mary are listed as attending a society wedding in Detroit with James Harrington and his wife. At another official ceremony in 1905, both brothers and their wives attended the foundation ceremony of King Edward School in Walkerville during which Mary again laid the cornerstone. The last time Mary is mentioned socially with the Walker family is when she and Edward, along her sister, Elizabeth Brewster, accompanied Franklin Hiram and his wife to Naples in March of 1910. While it could be assumed that many of their family functions were not printed in the local newspapers, it seems more likely that Mary did not run in the same social circle as her sisters-in-law as they would be mentioned in the same newspapers but attending different events.
However, the most intriguing document about Mary’s relationship with the Walker family comes from a selection of personal letters she sent her caretaker’s wife, Mrs. Fox in 1921. Edward had died in 1915, and so Mary spent much of her time after his death either in Detroit or Washington with Elizabeth. Her decision to no longer live at Willistead Manor meant that the overseers of Edward’s Estate, at that point in 1921 the sons of Franklin Hiram and James Harrington, had the right to sell the property. The decision was to donate the manor to the town of Walkerville. However, two letters in particular seem to convey there were other reasons why Mary left Willistead, besides the fact she would be the only one living there.
Mary’s letters state that she believed she had made a great mistake in leaving Willistead so quickly. They also indicate she was rather unorganized in her parting as almost every letter in this collection states that she left something behind. This is rather odd for a woman who is understood to be relatively organized, especially in the documenting of her art collection. However, Mary also states she would have broken down if she had stayed any longer and does not believe she could return any time soon. While this could be understood that she was feeling sentimental over no longer living at Willistead Manor which she and Edward had constructed together, it is probably more an indication that there was some sort of tension between her and members of the family. In another letter a few days earlier she is firm in telling Mrs. Fox that no one “from any of the Mr. Walker’s” may enter the house or grounds until she gives them up. Mary tells her to threaten them by saying she is returning to the manor and she is afraid that her nephews may make trouble for her. While the exact reason for leaving Willistead Manor is not stated in this collection of letters, it would seem her decision to leave was made rather suddenly. Newspaper articles at the time indicate that after Edward’s death she did not stay at Willistead Manor for long periods of time. However, perhaps as little is known of the family's private socializing, Mary no longer felt connected to the family after Edward's death. This could explain perhaps why she feared any trouble arising regarding her departure or doing business with her nephews. Additionally, no sources have been found that indicate Mary received any members of the Walker family in Washington, indicating perhaps she and the family may have went their separate ways after her departure.