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James Walch


RKW initiated this file years ago. It covers James Walch and his daughter, Grace E. Gaines.
James Walch died Friday, October 7, 1932, and was buried in lot 22 of Union Cemetery.
He was a stone cutter and one of Winfield’s oldest and best known residents. So closely allied with the building of the city has been his life that from time to time accounts of his work have been recorded in the Winfield Courier.
At the age of 21, “Uncle Jimmie” finished his apprenticeship as a stone cutter in the east. In 1876, ‘Centennial year,’ he helped fit stones in the piers of the greatest engineering achievement of the time, the famous Brooklyn bridge. Later he worked on the capital of New York at Albany. When Winfield was still in swaddling clothes, in 1876, the young tradesman came west and made his home in this city.
If any one man may rightfully say he helped build this city, that man is ‘Uncle Jimmie’ Walch. With his own hands he placed stones in the First National bank, North hall at Southwestern, St. John’s administration building and the smokestack of the school, the old Catholic Church, old Grace church, Baptist church, Episcopal church, United Brethren church, virtually every school building and a hundred other stone structures too many to name. He helped cut the stone for the present building in which the Courier office is located. The last building upon which he worked was the nurses’ home at the state training school.
James Walch, son of Stephen Walch and Elizabeth Walch was born at Liverpool, England, on December 19, 1847, and came to America with his parents when a small child. He spent his childhood and young manhood at Yonkers, New York.
He was united in marriage to Mary Ann Hoare, November 1, 1875, and came to Winfield in 1878, where they have since made their home.
He is survived by his widow, two daughters, Mrs. J. W. Mendenhall of Las Animas, Colo., and Mrs. Grace Hickerson of the home.
Mary Ann Oar was born in New York, N. Y., October 13, 1854. Later the family moved to Yonkers, N. Y., where on November 1, 1875, she was united in marriage with James Walch, who preceded her in death October 7, 1932.
The young couple came to Kansas in 1878, arriving in Winfield on Mrs. Walch’s twenty-fourth birthday. They became charter members of the First Methodist church and retained their membership through life.
She died on July 19, 1937. She is survived by her two daughters, Mrs. Jessie Mendenhall of Las Animas, Colo., and Mrs. Grace Gaines of Wichita, Ks.
                                 Grace E. Walch Benkendorf Hickerson Gaines.
Grace E. Gaines was born June 4, 1885, in Winfield, KS. She was the daughter of James and Mary Ann Orr Walch. In 1908 she was married to Ernest Benkendorf and he died in 1912.
(The obituary does not mention that she married Pete Hickerson. They separated or divorced about 1921.)

In 1936 Grace was married to Charles Gaines. He died December 2, 1963. She had lived in Winfield all of her life with the exception of six years in Wichita. She worked as a saleslady and for 18 years owned and managed the Hickerson Studio. She had no children and died June 7, 1966. She is buried in Union cemetery in Lot 22, with her mother and father.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum