Source: Biographical Memoirs of Wabash County, Indiana (1901), pp. 414-418.


The Walter family has been represented in central Pennsylvania from an early day, and our subject's grandfather, Walter, was a merchant in Middleburgh, Snyder county, for many years.

George Walter, the father of our subject, was born in that town in 1798, and after attending school there until he had completed the course offered, he pursued his studies in a school of higher grade at Milton. He learned the weaver's trade in all its branches, including the weaving of stockings, but did not long continue it. When but little over twenty years old George Walter was married to his first wife. The young couple located in a tenement house and a few years later Mr. Walter bought the first land he ever owned, a farm in the southern part of the township in Union county, near a mountain. From there he moved to another farm in the same township, and remained there twenty-five years, when he disposed of it in a trade with a neighbor and moved to Lewisburg, the county seat, where he died in January, 1861.

George Walter had taken a keen interest in the issues of that time, leaving the Whig party to support the new Republican organization, and with prophetic vision he predicted the war, which broke out a few months after his removal from earthly scenes. He left an estate valued at $25,000, most of which had been accumulated through his own efforts. In addition to his work in farming, he engaged in hauling goods long distances. His six-horse team was known everywhere, and his control over them was remarkable. For some time he carried produce to Bellefonte and exchanged it for iron, which he would sell to blacksmiths along the road from that city to Philadelphia. He was prominent in local affairs, holding various township offices, and gave his influence to the Evangelical church, in which he was at one time an exhorter. His remains were interred in the Lewisburg cemetery beside those of his first wife.

By this union Mr. and Mrs. Walter became the parents of nine children, of whom three died in infancy. Those living to mature years were: Solomon, deceased; Rachel, widow of John Frederick; William, deceased; Susanna; Mrs. Peter Kline, who died in Pickaway county, Ohio; Caleb, deceased; and Thomas. George Walter was married a second time, this time with Lucy Hackenberg, nee Bossler, in 1848, by whom he had one son, Bossler Walter, the immediate subject of this biography. She was a daughter of John and Catharine (Weiser) Bossler and was born June 8, 1807, and was three times married, first with Samuel Hackenberg, second with George Walter and third with John Neiman. After the death of her third husband Mrs. Nieman came to live with her son, Bossler Walter, in Wabash, Ind., where she resided until her death, which occurred July 9, 1895, and the remains were interred in Falls cemetery at Wabash.

The maternal grandfather, John Bossler, was an old-time tavern-keeper in Pennsylvania, and his wife, Catharine Weiser, was a descendant of the famous pioneer, Conrad Weiser. This worthy couple had eight children: Lucy; Maria, widow of George Gundrum, died in Philadelphia over ninety years old; John W. (deceased), who in the latter years of his life was a merchant at Sunbury, Pa.; Edward; Sarah, who was a physician, married Henry App, and died near Bristol, Ind.; Simon J., joined the regular army in the west and all trace of him has been lost.

Bossler Walter, the subject of this review, is one of the leading manufacturers of Wabash and has contributed within the last ten years very much to the material prosperity of the city and demonstrated its great advantages as an important industrial center of northwestern Indiana.

Mr. Walter is a Pennsylvanian and dates his birth from the 8th day of June, 1849, the scene of his nativity being the town of Lewisburg, in Union county.

When quite young he was bereft of his father in consequence of which he was thrown upon his own resources much earlier than if his parents had been permitted to live some years longer. At the age of seventeen he accompanied his mother to Goshen, Ind., where in due time he entered upon an apprenticeship to learn the painter's trade, at which he served three years, and during the succeeding three years worked at his chosen calling with results that impelled him to plan for better things for the future.

In 1871, in partnership with Messrs. Rife and Powell, he established a hub and spoke factory in the town of North Manchester, which under the firm name of Rife, Powell & Walter being its superintendent and business manager. The enterprise was inaugurated under very encouraging circumstances and afforded employment to about twenty-five men, but for various reasons it did not prove a paying investment, in consequence of which the doors were closed and the partnership dissolved.

Subsequently Mr. Walter and Jesse Arnold took charge of the plant and for a period of two years conducted a very satisfactory business, paying off the old debts and putting the enterprise upon a sound financial basis. At the end of the second year Mr. Walter purchased his partner's interest and continued the business with satisfactory results until 1882, when he was elected sheriff of Wabash county, the duties of which office required him to withdraw temporarily from his manufacturing enterprises.

As sheriff Mr. Walter's record was replete with duty ably and satisfactorily performed and at the ensuing election, in 1884, he was chosen his own successor by a handsome majority, a fact attesting his great popularity with the people regardless of political affiliations.

Before the expiration of his second term he purchased a manufacturing plant in Huntington which had been operated for some years in that city, the output being table slides, for which there were great demands by the leading furniture factories throughout Indiana and other states of the middle west. Impressed with the superior advantages of Wabash as a manufacturing center Mr. Walter, shortly after taking possession of the plant, moved it here and locating in the Brunner & Sons manufacturing plant, near the central part of the city, and has since greatly enlarged its capacity in order to meet the demands of the trade, and as stated in the initial paragraph, has made it one of the important industrial enterprises in the northwestern part of the state.

 During the first years it was operated in partnership with Thomas B. Hennessey, of Huntington, but at the expiration of that period Mr. Walter became sole proprietor and has remained as such even under the organization of the B. Walter & Co., manufacturers of table slides, by which it has since been known. For some time the Brunner building was used, but as business grew and the necessity of enlarging the facilities became apparent, it was decided to erect a structure of enlarged capacity, accordingly in 1891 the present factory was built and occupied.

During the first years it was operated in partnership with Thomas B. Hennessey, of Huntington, but at the expiration of that period Mr. Walter became sole proprietor and has remained as such even under the organization of the B. Walter & Co., manufacturers of table slides, by which it has since been known. For some time the Brunner building was used, but as business grew and the necessity of enlarging the facilities became apparent, it was decided to erect a structure of enlarged capacity, accordingly in 1891 the present factory was built and occupied.

The B. Walter & Co.'s building is one of the handsomest and most substantially constructed factories in Wabash, the main structure being 100x50 feet, with an L 30x40 feet in area. In addition to this there is a boiler room 30x40 feet and a dry kiln 18x100 feet. The latter is of the most modern type with a capacity of sixty thousand feet. The entire structure is built of Wabash limestone, well laid in cement mortar, and with a metallic roof, is as nearly fireproof as any building in the city. The machinery embraces every device and convenience possible to apply successfully in the manufacture of high-grade table slides, the capacity being one million of these articles annually.

The timber used is soft maple and ash of the best quality obtainable; only high-grade slides are manufactured, and so rigidly is all work inspected before shipment that there never in the history of the establishment has any of its product been returned or failed to give the fullest satisfaction to purchasers. By unwavering adherence to the rule that no inferior stock shall be shipped to customers, Mr. Walter has created an immense demand for his goods.

He now makes shipments to nearly every state in the Union, the demand from New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati and other leading cities being exceptionally large. From twenty to twenty-five skilled laborers are employed in the factory, the payroll falling but little if any short of $10,000 annually. In addition to this amount, from $20,000 to $25,000 is paid out every year for stock used. By reference to these figures an adequate idea of the magnitude and success of the enterprise may be obtained.

The factory grounds originally included about five acres, but as this was more space than was required for factory purposes, a number of desirable building lots have been cut off. A special track of the Big Four Railroad leads to the factory and its lumber yards, affording exceptionally favorable shipping facilities, as the product of the plant can be loaded on cars at the factory doors, with an equally convenient feature at command in the yards where lumber used in the manufacture of slides is received and unloaded.

All in all, the enterprise is the result of well-founded effort on the part of its manager and leading spirit, who has proven himself a man of rare force and ability, possessing judgment of a high order and a comprehensive knowledge of business such as few attain. To his indefatigable industry and wise foresight is the plant indebted for its growth from a small, one room experiment to its present enlarged proportions and prominence in manufacturing circles, and taking the past as a criterion, it is safe to predict a still greater era of prosperity in years to come.

Like the majority of successful men, Mr. Walter has had his dark days, some of them very dark, but, animated by a spirit of determination, he came through the clouds of financial depression and by courageous struggling succeeded in placing his enterprise upon the firm footing it now enjoys. The business in its entirety now represents an outlay of about $35,000 and it is continually growing.

Mr. Walter was married in North Manchester in 1874 to Miss Esther E. Williams, of that town, who has borne him two daughters and one son: Myrtly B., an accomplished musician, who has achieved an enviable reputation as a teacher of music; Josephine V., one of the most successful teachers in the public schools of Wabash; Fred, a graduate of the city high school, enlisted on April 26, 1898, in Company D, One Hundred and Sixtieth Indiana Volunteers to serve in the late war with Spain and went direct to Indianapolis, thence to Chickamauga, and later to Newport News, where he was taken sick with typhoid fever and was in the hospital at Fortress Monroe; was honorably discharged, February 16, 1899, when he returned to his home in Wabash and is at the present time a student of Purdue University.

Mrs. Walter is a daughter of Clark and Eliza (Place) Williams and a granddaughter of Morris Place, an old-time Hicksite Quaker, and a great abolitionist, being one of the promoters of the underground railroad during ante-bellum days. He fed a great many slaves, kept them over night and in a great many ways helped them along. Mrs. Walter was born in North Manchester, Ind., April 19, 1847, and was educated in the old-time subscription schools and later became one of Wabash county's school teachers, having taught her first school in an old log building in a Quaker settlement in Huntington county, Ind. She followed this vocation for about nine years, and her last school was at Bloomington, Ill, in 1872. Her father was a carpenter and he went to California in 1849, returning two years later.

Her grandfather and family came to Wabash county, Ind., in a very early day and entered land from the government near North Manchester. The Williams family came from Ohio, and the Place family from North Carolina to Ohio and finally to Indiana.

Mrs. Walter was one of the organizers of the Wabash County Orphans' Home and has served as its president for nine years. She is also a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Wabash. Mrs. Walter is a lady of refinement and culture, possessing marked social gifts, and her home bespeaks her artistic taste by scrupulous neatness and order.

Additional to his career as a public official and successful business man, Mr. Walter also has a military record, having served for a period of thirteen months in the war of the Rebellion as a private in the One Hundred and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Infantry. He first enlisted for the hundred-days' service, joining his regiment when but fifteen years of age, and at the expiration of that time re-enlisted and joined the same company and regiment and served until the close of the war.

Fraternally he belongs to J.H. Emmett Post, G.A.R., and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is also a Mason, having joined Deming Lodge at North Manchester, Ind., in 1874, and has served two terms as worshipful master. Upon moving to Wabash he demitted from Deming Lodge to Hanna Lodge at Wabash, served one term as worshipful master. He was a charter member at the instituting of Wabash Commandery No. 37, and served three terms as its first eminent commander. He is also a thirty-second-degree Mason, belonging to Indiana Consistory, A.A.S.R., also A.A.O.N. of the Mystic Shrine.

Mr. Walter has discharged worthily important trusts and in every relation of life has proven himself a potent factor in the world's progress. His reputation is the property of the public, and as such it has been above criticism. His character is his own and submitted to the crucial test, it has been found pure gold.

Few men in Wabash have been as influential as he in promoting industrial and business interests, and none have surpassed him in the amount of personal endeavor in behalf of the city's general progress. In business circles his name has much more than local repute, while as a man he has done all within his power to discharge the duties of intelligent citizenship. The results of his labors have been the accumulation of a handsome competency, and he occupies today a conspicuous place among the successful financiers in a city and county long noted for the ability and high standing of their business men. He has discharged in an eminently fitting manner every responsibility thrown upon him, and in his life and character are found those elements of self-denial, determined perseverance and indomitable will, which, when properly directed, never fail to achieve marked success.