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“Pistol Nell” Walker


Nell Elizabeth Walker (February 7, 1889-March 5, 1962) was known as the “First Lady” of Fayette County, where she served 12 terms as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. First elected in 1936, she served continuously until 1962 except for two years in 1956-1957 when she was state banking commissioner during the Marland administration.

Walker was formerly vice-president and assistant cashier at the Winona National Bank, where she gained the nickname “Pistol Nell.” The bank was robbed three times during her time of employment. During one hold-up, she smuggled a pistol to a bank official, which he used to shoot and wound the robber.

Walker was born at Sewell Mountain, Fayette County. Her father, Dr. John Wallace Walker, practiced medicine in Winona for 50 years. In 1910 she married Dr. James Venable Walker of Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1913 he was killed in a railroad accident, and Walker never remarried. In World War I, Walker served as a Red Cross ambulance driver with the allied forces in France. She was educated at New River State College, now West Virginia University Institute of Technology, and at Columbia University. She was voted West Virginia Tech’s “Alumna of the Year” in 1955.

Walker died at her brother’s home in Baltimore while still serving as a Democratic member of the House from Fayette County. She is buried in White Cemetery at Clifftop, Fayette County.

Written by Cathy Hershberger Miller


  1. Fayette Tribune. , 8 March 1962.

  2. Charleston Gazette, 6-7 March 1962.