This park is named for Mary Walton (ca.1726-1794). In 1749, Walton married Lewis Morris III (1726-1798), the only New Yorker to sign the Declaration of Independence. The couple had 10 children and lived in the southwest Bronx neighborhood of Morrisania. Their son Captain William Walton Morris (1760-1832) served as aide-de-camp to General Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) in the Revolutionary War. It is commonly thought that the adjacent Walton Avenue commemorates Gerard Walton Morris, a landowner and descendant of Mary and Lewis.
Lewis Morris III, who attended Yale University, had a reputation for morality and fine study habits. He earned the rank of major general in the Westchester militia, was a delegate of the Continental Congress (1775-77), and often served in the New York State legislature. Lewis worked on a committee with George Washington to develop means of supplying the colonies with military equipment and was appointed to persuade western Native Americans to cooperate with the Americans rather than the British.
In 1783 Lewis sent a letter to the Continental Congress recommending that Morrisania be made capital of the United States. The suggestion went unconsidered, but serves as a testament to his love of his family’s land. He was the last lord of the manor of Morrisania
In the colonial era, Lewis III’s grandfather, Lewis Morris I, served as the first governor of New Jersey; Morris County, NJ, honors him. Lewis III’s brother, Staats Long Morris (1728-1806), was a British officer and served in the British Parliament, dying an English resident. Gouverneur Morris (1751?-1816), Lewis’s half-brother, constructed much of the language used in the final draft of the US Constitution, and advocated a decimal currency that, with some modifications on the part of Thomas Jefferson, forms the basis of the system used in the U.S. today. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Gouverneur argued for a heavily centralized government, suggesting that the President serve a life term, and hold the power to nominate senators. As minister to France (1792), he supported the French monarchy and opposed the revolution.
The Morris family’s landholdings in The Bronx are some of the oldest in the state and date back to 1670. Morris Avenue is so named because it runs through much of the land once owned by the Morris family. New York City annexed the family’s property in 1874 and sections of Morrisania were used to create Crotona and St. Mary’s Parks, as well as other New York City parklands.
Parks obtained the property for Walton Park, located along East 181st Street between Jerome and Walton Avenues, on November 24, 1997. Commissioner Stern shortened the original name of the park, Walton Avenue AA Park, to its current, less awkward appellation. The park features trees, bushes, and basketball courts.