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Walter Sterling was born November 24, 1821, in Braintrim Township, Luzerne (now Wyoming) County. He was the second child of Daniel and Rahel Brooks Sterling. He died in Wilkes-Barre on April 14, 1889.
He came to Wilkes-Barre about 1835 when he was a boy fifteen years old, at a time when the town had a population of only a few thousand people, with no railroads or manufacturing activity of any kind.
He found employment in the office of George M. Hollenback. He was "clerk and "watchman" of The Wyoming Bank of Wilkes-Barre from November, 1844, till February, 1849.
During the gold excitement on the Pacific Coast he was one of the "49ers" who sailed around Cape Horn to California in an old-fashioned sail ship. He remained there about two years, and then returned to Wilkes-Barre.
In November, 1852, and again in November, 1853, he was elected a Director of The Wyoming Bank.
About a year or two later, with the cooperation of George M. Hollenback as a silent partner, he established a private banking business in a small one-story brick building on West Market street.
This banking business was carried on until January 1, 1865, when it was taken over by and merged in the Second National Bank of Wilkes-Barre. He was elected Vice President of the bank. This office he held continuously until 1870, and he was a member of the board of directors until 1874.
For a number of years he was Secretary and Treasurer of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge Company.
In 1870 he and S. L Thurlow of Wilkes-Barre erected Music Hall on the northeast corner of West Market and River streets, where now stands the Sterling Hotel. At that time it was the most pretentious building in Wilkes-Barre.
He died April 14, 1889, and was survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.
He was known as one of the leading citizens of Wilkes-Barre.