Rudolph Schiller Walton
December 28, 1826 - November 10, 1900
Rudolph Schiller Walton was born in the Northern Liberties
section of Philadelphia . He was educated in private schools
in the area and entered the workforce at the age of 13 as an
In 1843, he became an apprentice to a wholesale merchant
and manufacturer, where he learned the trade of hatmaking. About
two years later, following his mother's advice, Rudolph began
his own hatmaking business. Using a few hundred dollars he had
saved, he set up shop at 360 Market street (under the old numbering
system. Under the current numbering system, the address is 1024
Market street). He proved to be a very successful hatmaker, as
in 1871 he purchased several more buildings on the same block
and moved his store.
Five years later, he joined his interests with a local merchant
named John Wanamaker, and became the first merchant to sell his
wares in the Wanamaker department store. Mr. Walton continued
to run his own business until he retired in 1896, but remained
involved in an advisory capacity for the rest of his life.
Rudolph Walton was very involved in the Presbyterian Church,
serving at various times as Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent,
trustee and elder of the first Independent Church, later known
as the Chambers Presbyterian Church. It was at this church, in
1850, where he married Mary Elizabeth WRiggins, whom he remained
married to until his death. The couple had no children. He later
became a member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church, and still
later helped found the Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr. In later
years, he moved to a house on Green Lane in Roxborough, and took
an active interest in the Leverington Presbyterian Church.
Rudolph Walton was deeply interested in educational work.
He was one of the managers of the Walton Private School at 21st
and Spruce Streets, and of other private institutions. He was
also a member of the Board of Managers of St. Timothy's Hospital
and of the Lying-in Charity and Nurse's School. For many years
he was a member of the Board of Education of the Presbyterian
Church of the United States.
In May, 1892. Rudolph Walton was appointed a member of the
Philadelphia Board of Education, where he remained unitl his
death. He was a member of many of the leading committees of the
In the summer of 1900, Mr. Walton entered St. Timothy's Hospital
and was operated on for "internal problems." He never
fully regained his health and was readmitted in serious condition
in late October of the same year. Two weeks later, Rudolph S.
Walton died of uraemic poisoning and pneumonia.