Charles L. Walker
Charles L. Walker was a poet and hymn writer. He wrote the hymn "Dearest Children, God Is Near You,” which is included in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Charles Lowell Walker was born in Leek, Staffordshire, England on November 17, 1832. When he was a young boy, Walker and his family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and eventually immigrated to the Salt Lake Valley.
Walker left England in 1849 bound for Utah Territory. He traveled as far as St. Louis that year, but many in the group suffered from cholera. Walker moved to Kentucky and began to work to earn money to bring his parents to America. In 1855, Walker obtained a job as a teamster transporting merchandise to Salt Lake City. His sister Ann Agatha was married to Parley P. Pratt and so Walker was able to get a job working for Pratt. Walker then became a blacksmith.
He was also a pioneer to southern Utah by accepting a call from Brigham Young to move to St. George, Utah, and help with the Cotton Mission. Charles took with him his bride, Abigail Middlemass Walker. They arrived on December 9, 1862.
While in St. George, Walker also helped construct the St. George Temple from 1871 to 1877. He also kept journals during the construction and witnessed the first baptism for the dead performed in there in January 1877. Walker joined Orson Pratt, Jr., Joseph Orton, and George A. Burgon to publish the first newspaper in St. George.
In St. George, Walker’s hymn writing skills were used frequently. According to J. Spencer Cornwall, many said that Utah's Dixie was settled with "faith, toil, and Charley's songs". In times of death or other distress, Erastus Snow, the presiding church authority in Southern Utah, would come to Walker and ask, "Charley, write a song to lift our sadness”. He was considered the “Poet Laureate” of the Cotton Country Mission.
Walker took a second wife, Sarah Smith, on January 12, 1877, in St. George. She bore him eight children. His first wife, Abigail, also bore him eight children. Walker died at age 72 on January 11, 1904, in St. George, Utah.