Cora Taylor Harvey
El Dorado , Kansas 1935
Transcribed by Marilyn Canfield - firstname.lastname@example.org
James Fuller Taylor was born in Oakfield, Geneseo Co. New York February 5, 1838. He died July 31, 1877 while visiting at the home of his sister, Mrs. Harry Slater, near Elba and was interred a that place, which was not far from the place of birth. He had grown to manhood in these communities and had received the major portion of his education-tho’ a part of the more advanced schooling may have been in Batavia, county seat of Geneseo Co. The valley of the Geneseo River in western New York is a beautiful portion of the state.
Presumably, during the autumn part or winter months of 1843 his father (Mark) had migrated to this part of New York from Alexandria, New Hampshire. Later when LeRoy, his oldest brother, was eighteen months old and the sister Elizabeth but three weeks, the mother Elizabeth (Betsy) Page Taylor, followed her husband, making the trip from New Hampshire in a sleigh with her fifteen year old brother , Benjamin for driver.
In the new home in the then "western" country, James was born in 1828 and Joshua Page , the youngest of the family in 1840.
Grandfather, Mark Taylor Jr. was a cooper by trade and grandmother, Betsy a tailoress. My father according to the customs of the day, learned his father’s "trade". LeRoy was a baker and a candy maker. Joshua (Dot) was a printer.
When I was sixteen and visited Aunt Elizabeth, she showed me the old home-a white frame dwelling standing close to the road that let to Oakfield. Nearby was a shop, very near the highway, where Grandfather and my father plied their trade. I think however, that my father did not follow this to any extent.
In appearance my father was of medium height, fair of complexion, hair auburn in hue, beard-reddish, and large very blue eyes. His hair was curled , a very great boon, in the fashion of the day and his hands were slender and finely modeled. He possessed a beautiful singing voice also, and aunt Elizabeth told me he was a popular entertainer in that way. She said the young people loved to have him "sing for their dances." I wish I had asked her what they sang.
They still danced to those old tunes sung by some good voice when I went to York State in 1886 and spent a year with my father’s people, attending church and Sunday school at a stone chapel crowing a long hill and attending the parties of a lively bunch of young Quaker folk.
I have a very clear remembrance of my father and of his forceful personality, though I was but seven and a half when he died. I sensed his sensitive spirit, his reserve and his refinement. Before he left me, he impressed me with many beautiful ideals, with an ambition to study and with his desire that I should be wholly honest and sincere. He was careful of what I ate and I remember how keen I was to please him with my table manners.
He read good books and enjoyed good poetry . I have a few of his books and regret losing his pocket edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Regained.
I remember him as affectionate and endearing although his temper was quick and he could be stern. I think he did not care for many people nor did he trouble himself to make friends, though he was a loyal friend to and much loved by the people he took into his heart.
I think he was never obsessed with what today we call "Money Madness. He came from a thrifty New England stock-careful of money , ambitious to provide well for his family, liked the things it took money to buy-nice clothes , good books and entertainment, travel.
From deductions I made, when in his old environment and amongst his people, I would presume his background and early influences were not deeply religious. His nearer relatives were either Sprititualists or Unitarian in faith. He, himself (at least after he came to the West) leaned to the Methodists.
He was but twenty –three when the Civil War broke out. At the time of his enlistment he must have been working for his brother LeRoy in Batavia, as he gave his occupation as baker.
His war service was from May first-1861 to Mary 17, 1863 when he was mustered out at Elmira, New York. His discharge paper states that he was a Sergeant of Charles E. Randall’s Company (K), Twelfth Reg. Of New York Volunteer Infantry. I note it gives his height as five feet eight and one-half inches, and his age as twenty two- a discrepancy between that and the birth record, tho’ I suppose the "Discharge" quoted his enlistment paper.As his commission , as such, was not issued until the 13 th day of July 1861, but cites him as Sergeant of Co "K" from May 13, 1861- I presume he was so placed by election of his company in the beginning.
In his sister’s possession were letters dated from battlefields, which she showed me and which I read in 1886. These she burned later in a fit of despondency- thus depriving his descendants of these rare and precious mementos. One of these written ( I think) after the second battle of Bull Run, was penciled on a fly-leaf from a note book (one side glazy and bright green) and told on one page how he (my father) had noticed ,in an advance thro’ a fusilade of exploding shells that men had twice fallen on either side of "Dot" = his baby brother- but both of them had come through uninjured. They were in the "Army of the Potomac" under Gen. Geo. Mcclelland’s command. The Slaters were northern Democrats – not at all in sympathy with "Lincoln’s cause" – and Aunt Elizabeth was always bitter over my father’s sacrifice of health to his army service. His discharge paper bears a stamp showing he had collected an additional bounty ($100) tho a line is drawn thro’ the amount which might have been changed under an act of July 28, 1866.
He applied for a pension , but here let the matter rest because it was his belief (Aunt Elizabeth said) that the country should be helped in that way by its ex-soldiery during the year of recovery. I collected this pension money in 1926 which with interest amounted to 1361.73 in July 1877 at the time of his death.
My father was a Mason – a member of Batavia Lodge No. 475 and later of King Solomon’s Lodge in Leavenworth Kansas.
There were two things in the Slater home which I should liked to have had after Aunt Lib’s death – two momentos of war which he sent home from battle-fields. They were a drawn "shell" which she used as a door weight, and a handsome volume of Longfellows poems which he rescued from the burning home of a Confederate.
Not long after his war service was over, perhaps because his health was not too robust, he turned to the new state of Kansas the Mecca of the young men at that time.
I think he reached Kansas and Leavenworth, where he had at least one cousin – perhaps others –in the early part of 1865. On August 2nd of that year he received from C.E. Pond’s Commercial College of Leavenworth "A Certificate of Tuition" to the amount of seventy-five dollars. "the stipulated price for a Complete
Course of Instruction in the Science of Accounts, including Book-Keeping, Lectures, Commercial Calculations and Practical Penmanship." The seems to have been a receipt of payment and a diploma in one.
He boarded at the home of Charles Calvert and married Alice E. Calvert in December 1866. At the time of his marriage he was a book-keeper for the "Conservative" a Leavenworth paper and I’ve been told he remained in that line of work until his health began to fail in 1872.
Hiram S. Sleeper , a cousin of my father was Surveyor General of Public Lands in Kansas. My father was commissioned a Notary Public in 1866 by Sam Crawford ,Gov. attached to the Commission is a bond in my father’s handwriting signed by himself and H.S. Sleeper on Sept 17, 1868.
In August of that year he was made Deputy Surveyor to H.S.Sleeper by appointment. It must have been during that summer of 1871 that my father returned to York State for a visit – probably especially to see his mother who had reached her 70th year and was not in the best of health and died in 1872.
Butler County claimed the attention of Grandfather Calvert, Uncle James Calvert and my father. They (" the boys chose their land in 1871 )and in 1872 the young men and their families came to this county, Grandmother and Grandfather Calvert came in the fall.
While building the rough houses on the claims they lived in a log cabin on the Little Walnut. My father’s house was better built than the others, as he had hauled the lumber from Emporia, built a stone foundation as a stay against the cyclones he so dreaded. Grandfather and Uncle James Calvert chose to build their claim houses of native lumber, which was walnut . My mother was a good pioneer-quite ready to make the best of the crude conditions, but my father had no taste for it and was not a farmer.
After "proving up" the claim, the Taylors returned to Leavenworth. The little cottage where they lived is the first house of which I have any memory..I can recall the three rooms: living room, bedroom and kitchen and remember my father in this house.
I think the family did not remain long in Leavenworth but went to Atchison where my father was a book-keeper for the A.B. Symmes Wholesale Grocery Co. Our home was a four roomed corner residence. I remember running to meet my father as he returned from work , of visiting the office and being lifted to a high stool that brought me up beside the desk on which the great ledgers lay. I remember, of his bringing home his medicine glass and dropping it on the doorsill to show me how unbreakable it was. At the table one day I found a box of round Sugar Plums and in the bottom of the box an exquisite coral pin. He had chosen that way of presentation.
It was in this house I "learned my letters." My father was my teacher and did not think me especially bright. I had difficulty mastering the alphabet but learned to read quite rapidly once I accomplished it. I remember his pleasure and my own great relief when I finally mastered my first hard task.
The cousins Charles and Martha Tolford, whom Aunt Lib speaks of in her letter of 1868, had come to Kansas and settled in Neosho Rapids , near Emporia. His old uncle Page, John Page, his mother’s brother, also lived there with this uncle. Sue McCloud or McLeod is also spoken of in this letter of 1868.
This old uncle had a son who was a physician- Dr. John Page , who lived on a farm not far from Neosho Rapids. He was stationed, as physician , with a regiment at some fort ( I do not know if it was Fort Scott or Fort Dodge) for some years but his family remained on the farm.
In the summer of 1875 ( I think this date is right) Dr. John asked my father to spend the winter with him at the fort where he hoped the climate might help him and where he might give him his personal supervision. It was arranged that my mother and I should reamain with his wife, Billi, and the two boys Onace and Joe at the farm. The doctor did everything in the world for my father but all to no purpose, and so advised him to try the mountains of Colorado.
There was a return to Atchison for a short time and I remember they had a large room in the down-town district. Then my father went away and my mother and I had a room near our old neighborhood and friends.
I do not know just when but I know my mother and I returned to Butler County and her people. Both Grandfather Calvert and Uncle Luther Calvert died in 1876 and my father camr from Colorado in the spring of ’77. The mountains had not benefited him. He remained at the claim home several months. Those were the days of my clearest memories of him.
That early summer he decided to return to his native state, there to spend the few days the dread "consumption" seemed to promise him.. We stopped in Leavenwroth where he made arrangements for the trip and amongst the Lyon county relatives for a brief visit at Dr. Page’s and Charles Tolfords.
There are but few memories that come to me of that journey. A part of the way my father was very ill and one day my beautiful and distracted mother must have lived with her heart in her mouth. He was so very ill, his berth had to remain made up for him. He had much difficulty in breathing and I think the train officials though he was too ill to travel. I presume it was through the lowlands along the Ohio River where he suffered so, for it was early July! How my mother worked over him! How I watched and waited – my concern for her as I realized her anxiety. However, when he reached his "native heath" he revived wonderfully and when we arrived in Batavia was amazingly improved , as was to be expected – tho’ few days lay before him..
For some reason, Uncle Henry came in a small "single carriage" probably for my fahter’s greater comfort – to take him to his home several miles to the north. My mother and I stayed at the home of Grandmother Taylor’s brother-Benjamin Pge – then mayor of Batavia. His home was a beautiful place presided over by Celia, his youngest daughter, a most beautiful young woman.
Uncle Henry returned for us in the afternoon but the day was a long one for my mother, tired from the journey and anxious about my father. I remember her nervous wanderings to door and windows and the drawn look on her face.
Many people came to see my father and incidentally my mother and myself. It seemed there was one place he wished to go – to see his old great-aunt Jane (in her nineties homeplace) and Mary the wife of his cousin John Sleeper.
John , Mary, my father and mother (Aunt Martha tells me)lived together for a short time in Leavenworth. The two women were fond of each other and my mother was very desirous of the visit to Aunt Jane’s home where poor Mary lay twisted and ill from rheumatism and where, also the old aunt was bed-fast.
My father called me into Aunt Jane’s room- kept very dark because of her eyes. She was almost blind but tried so to see if I "looked like Jim." What a wee shriveled mite of humanity she was! But tho’ I felt a sort of fear in all this strangeness, I was impressed with my father’s pleasure at seeing her and his great regard for her.
The cousin’s wife Mary died before my father, I think, leaving two little girls , Jane and Emily. Who were respectively a year older and a year younger than I.
My father lived out the month among his own people – passing away on the 31st of July 1877.
The funeral services were held in the Slater home and I was taken in charge by a young doctor from Albion, Sam Cochran by name- a distant cousin. I rode with them (he and his mother) and I was taken with them to some home for dinner. I had formed a liking to this young doctor and I presume the thought was to relieve my mother – how I longed for her!.
This closes what I know of my father’s life. A simple ordinary existence but a life of brave merit withal, too, too short.
For the times he left my mother well provided for with the prairie claim in Spring township and a life insurance policy of $5,000. With a portion of this my mother built a home in El Dorado. Near three thousand dollars of this money yet remained for me when I was wholly orphaned at age twelve.
I have often conjectured what life for me might have been had my parents lived, had my father made the back-ground for his family in a normal way. At any rate I did not miss his influence for industry, integrity and high aspirations – for these he left me in legacy.
Even as I finish this little story of my father it occurred to me that I should chronicle that with my generation the Taylor line is "snuffed out."
In 1886 when I was in York state my Aunt Elizabeth Slater told me that so far as she knew besides the Taylors of her own branch i.e. that Mark Taylor Jr. (my grandfather)there was only one other of this 8th generation from the first Taylors who came to America. This one was her cousin Sylvester Taylors daughter, Mary Emma, who was born Sept. 20, 1866.
A few years ago, Alta Culver (Lena Taylor’s daughter, Albion , New York) sent me what she had of the family history . She said she had been in correspondence with Miss Mary E. Taylor of Canterbury N.H. that she had provided her with much of the data so Amos Taylor’s line passes with Sylvesters daughter Mary emma. By the way, Mary E. Taylor is a D.A.R. her National number being 85520. She joined under her mother’s genealogical connection in the name "Pattu" but used the Taylor evidence as supplementary. This would be an wasy way to establish eligibility. – just prove one is of the same line.
Of my father’s generation I was his only child. His older brother LeRoy’s children were Clarence who never marriedd, and Lena (Culver) whose children now living, Alta and Byron, do not have the same name of course.
Elixabeth’s children were Orville and Henry Slater. Orville’s children are Howard and Ethel (De Lano). Henry died (killed by lightning ) and was never married.
The younger brothe Joshua (Dot) had one son Frand, killed in an automobile accident in Wichita Falls Texa, July 23 1933.
Frank was twice married , but left no children , so he was the last of his – our line of Taylors.
There is something sad in the the dying out of a people – in the passing of a name. Of course the blood remains. The eccentricities , the facieal featurees, the physical build, special indivualism, the weaknesses, the strong trends of character will live on – but the individuality of the name is gone. There is regret to me in that – for the Taylor ancestry in America has been recorded a simple , honorable, and loyal people, - wholly worthy of respect.
Cora Taylor Harvey - 1935
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