John Taylor, of Protection is widely known as one of the settlers of Comanche-co. His experiences in the early days have been unusual, coming here a fairly well to do man, losing all his property in the times of adversity and then regaining it and still more through his efforts as a ranch man and stockman. He has well earned the comfortable retirement he now enjoys.
Mr. Taylor was born in DeWitt-co., Illinois, October 10, 1838, so that the record of his life covers a span of fourscore, and he recalls when as a boy the advent of a railroad was as much talked about as are now the wonderful inventions and engines of air and land employed in the great war. His father, Joseph Taylor, came from the state of Maryland to Ohio and later to Illinois. He died in the fall of 1850, when about forty-five years old. The mother's maiden name was Letha Gardner, who died in 1865. The children of this worthy couple are briefly recorded as follows: Polly, who married R. H. Baker and died in McLean-co., Illinois; Andrew J., who served as lieutenant in the Twentieth Regiment of Illinois Infantry and died in Butler-co., Missouri; Margaret, who married Joseph Baker and now lives in McLean-co., Illinois; John and Thomas, twins, the latter of whom died at Oklahoma City on April 20, 1918; Joseph P. who was a soldier with his brother John and died at Shawnee, Okla.; Elizabeth died as the wife of D. W. Ellington in Chase-co., Kans.; George W., a soldier in the 3d Illinois Cavalry died at Bloomington, Ill.; Catherine died in young womanhood; and William, the youngest died at Coldwater, Kans., January 1, 1918.
The early life of John Taylor was spent on his father's farm in DeWitt-co., Illinois. His boyhood experiences were those of a rural district and rural life and its occupations have constituted his main experience in the world and he retired to Protection about ten years ago. In the 40s and 50s, while he was growing up to manhood, there was little opportunity in the country districts of Illinois to acquire an education beyond that imparted by the crude district schools. A few months each year he spent in such a school. He was only twelve years old when his father died and that event further abbreviated and shortened his opportunities. As already stated, he was one of several children, he and his twin brother were fond and bosom companions and their lives were spent much in the same way. On reaching his majority John Taylor continued to live at home with his mother until he entered the army.
His army record begins with enlisting in Company B of the One Hundred Seventh Illinois Infantry. His captain was James Turner, and the regiment was commanded for a time by Col. Thomas Snell and later by Col. Kelley. During the first winter the regiment did guard duty on the railroads in Kentucky against the Morgan band of raiders. After that the regiment went into the heart of the Confederacy, joining some of Gen. Schofield's troops under Gen. Sherman. But before that time Mr. Taylor was sent back to the rear for recuperation in a hospital and never rejoined his command. At Cincinnati he was detailed to help guard rebel prisoners and deliver them to Camp Chase, Columbus. After two months of invalidism in a hospital at Camp Madison, Ind., he was given his honorable discharge December 26, 1863. On leaving the army he returned home unfit for further military duty and it was over a year before he was sufficiently recovered to be of any practical use on the farm.
On September 10, 1864, he married Sarah J. VanValey. Mrs. Taylor was born in DeWitt-co., Illinois, August 19, 1840, and was one of the six children reared to maturity by her parents, Joseph and Theodaty (Akerson) VanValey. Mrs. Taylor has a sister and brother still living, Emeline Cunningham and Lorenzo VanValey, of McLean-co., Illinois.
After his marriage Mr. Taylor located in the neighborhood of his birth and there owned his first land. He came to be known in that community not so much for his public service as for hard working industry and all around good citizenship. He was being reasonably prospered as a farmer but the growing to maturity of a family of young sons caused him to leave and seek a region of greater opportunity as he supposed, at least a region where land was more plentiful and cheap. This is what brought him to Kansas. He joined with thousands of immigrants from the east and thus in March, 1886, arrived in Comanche-co. Here he brought a quarter section of deeded land four miles south of Protection. Early as it was, the first settlers had begun to abandon the country because of trying conditions, and thus exodus continued until only here and there was one found with the courage or perhaps chained down by circumstances, to remain. In the course of a few years, Protection was reduced from a village to less than a hamlet, and at one period, as Mr. Taylor says, "five thousand dollars would easily have bought the whole town site and everything in it." Mr. Taylor's condition on coming to Kansas was in decided contrast to many other home seekers of the time. He shipped out here a car of household goods, two mares and a span of mules, and had a cash capital of about $4,000. But in the course of a few years he was reduced to the same condition that many were who came less prepared to make a stand against adversity. The growing of crops was an impossibility so far as measured by the standards he had learned to expect back in the great corn belt of Illinois. His cash was rapidly paid out until at the end of three years he was reduced practically to nothing. His farm was mortgaged when he bought it and eventually the mortgage took it away altogether and it was sold at sheriff's sale. After that he remained on the farm as a tenant, and in the course of time was able to buy it back and had the satisfaction of selling it later with other accumulated lands amounting to 800 acres for $35 an acre.
With such old timers as Mr. Taylor there naturally came at different times tremendous problems and occasions when it was necessary to make a vital decision one way or another. One time he had before him the alternative of leaving the country if that could be arranged, or of diverting his energies and modest equipment from farming to stock raising. He made the decision to stay and after some difficulty secured wire enough to fence several quarter sections traded for a fine horse and a bunch of cows, and from that time forward there was a change in the fortunes. His farm and ranch produced many of the good horses raised in this district and at times he had as many as 114 head, while of cattle his herd numbered about 300. Though this period of his career was embarrassed with the accumulation of debts, his growing and increasing herd of livestock enabled him to carry such obligations without special worry, since his real resources were always ample to off set his liability. Gradually he paid off his debt, and in course of time had a modest ranch of five quarter sections. On retiring from active business he sold this and invested on property in Protection. Here he bought portions of eight blocks of land on the town site, and for several years has been selling lots, erecting houses for rent, and has given the town nine residences.
Mr. Taylor is a man of quiet demeanor, has attended strictly to his own affairs, and while an interesting citizen has seldom put himself in the way of an office. About the only office he ever held was a member of the school board in the country district. Politically his record as an old time democrat is worthy of special note. Back in 1860 he supported Gen. McClellend. There has never been an interruption in the democratic affiliation.
It remains now to briefly note the children of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor who are one of the oldest married couples in Comanche-co., having celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1914. Their children number three, William R., Charles F. and Laura. William R. is a resident of Protection and married Gertrude Thares. Charles is a Mesa, Ariz. farmer, and by his marriage to Leona Brittenham has a family of three children, Mabel, Carl and Helen. The daughter, Laura, is the wife of C. W. Moore, of Augusta, and their family numbers four, Arlo, who died in France while serving with the A. E. F., Eugene of Protection; John of the U. S. N.; and Kirby of Lamar, Colo.
Mr. Taylor is a Mason, belonging to Protection Lodge A. F & A. M., No. 384. He was made a Mason in Waynesville, Ill.; Wayne Lodge No. 172, taking his entered apprentice in August, 1875, and was raised during the fore part of 1876. He held his membership at Waynesville until about 1886 when he moved his membership to Coldwater Lodge, of which he was a charter member. On the organization of the Protection Masonic Lodge in 1909 he became a charter member and is now an active member. Mr. Taylor has been 46 years a loyal Mason.
Tuesday, October 2, 1928, at 6:00 a.m., Uncle John Taylor died at his home in Protection.
On last Wednesday, a week ago, when delivering a half bushel of sweet potatoes to Mrs. W. C. Monticue, he fell unconscious on the porch at the Monticue home. Help was summoned and Uncle John removed to his home but he never rallied and gradually sank to rest.
He was Protection's oldest citizen as he lacked only a few days of being 90 years old at the time of his death.
All that loving hands and attentive care could do lightened his last hours as his long span of earthly life drew to its close.
He leaves to mourn his passing his aged and faithful wife, his companion for more than 64 years, Mrs. Sarah Taylor, to whom the loss will come with poignant sorrow; two sons, Chas. F. Taylor and W. R. Taylor, both of Protection, and one daughter, Mrs. Laura Moore of Lincoln, Arkansas, several grandchildren and a host of other sorrowing relatives and friends.
The funeral preached by the Rev. Walter H. Dellinger, pastor of the local Methodist Church, assisted by the Rev. T. A. Searcy, pastor of the local baptist Church and Elder J. H. Lynch of the Christian Church was held at the Methodist Church Wednesday afternoon, October 3, at 2:30 and interment was in the local cemetery. Services at the grave were conducted by Protection Lodge No. 384, A. F. and A. M., with Past Worshipful Master, L. A. Peacock of the lodge in charge. Mr. Taylor had been a Mason for over 50 years.
Peacock mortuary in charge.
The following article is taken from the Wichita Daily Eagle of September 1, 1928.
Protection, Kan., Sept. 1. At the age of 90, John Taylor of Protection is still alive, and grows his own garden each year. At the age of 88, Mrs. Taylor does her own house work.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have been married for nearly 64 years. Of those years, they spent 42 in Comanche county - 20 on a farm three miles south of Protection and the past 22 in the city itself.
Mr. Taylor was born at Waynesville, Ill., on October 10, 1838. In August, 1863, he enlisted in Co. B. 107th Illinois infantry, and served under General Schofield in the Civil War. He campaigned in Tennessee and Kentucky against the "bushwhackers," and helped chase Morgan's famous raiders out of Ohio.
On September 10, 1864. Mr. Taylor married Miss Sarah Van Valey. They made their home in Illinois, on the farm, until they came to Kansas in 1886. Purchasing 160 acres 3 miles south of Protection, they lived there until 1906, when they loved to town.
During his residence in Illinois, Mr. Taylor was a breeder of fine horses, cattle and hogs, and took prizes at both county and state fairs with his stock. He continued this interest in Comanche county, and even today is known as a breeder of purebred Buff Orpington chickens, which he exhibits at every fair in this section.
When he moved to town, Mr. Taylor owned 800 acres of the best valley land in Comanche county. During his residence here, he has erected and sold many homes and business houses in the city.
"Uncle John," as his close friends know him, still maintains an active interest in community affairs. Since its installation, he has been a member of Protection Lodge A. F. and A. M. No. 384, and for many years served the lodge as tiler. He has been a Mason since 1878. He has been a Democrat all his life, and is an ardent baseball fan.
Uncle John smokes occasionally, but has never used intoxicants to any extent, he declares.
John Taylor, son of Thomas and Litha Taylor, was born at Waynesville, Ill., October 10, 1838. In August, 1863, he enlisted in Company B. 107th Illinois Infantry, and served under General Schofield in the Civil War. He campaigned in Tennessee and Kentucky against "Bush Whackers" and helped chase Morgan's famous raiders out of Ohio. He was honorably discharged in 1864 because of disability.
He was united in marriage, September 8, 1864, to Sarah Van Valey. They made their home on an Illinois farm until they came to Kansas in 1886. They came to Comanche county and settled on a farm three miles south of Protection where they made their home until 1906, when they moved to town.
Four children were born to this union, two sons and two daughters; William Riley, Cora May, Charles Francis and Laura Belle. He leaves to mourn his going, Mrs. Sarah Taylor, his wife and companion for over sixty four years; the two sons who reside in Protection, and one daughter, Mrs. Laura Belle Moore, of Lincoln, Arkansas, six grandchildren and ___ great grandchildren.
"Uncle John," as he was known to everyone in this community for these many years, was one of a family of ten children. He is the last one of the family to pass away. He had a twin brother, Thomas ____________________. It is told that the two brothers looked so much alike that the mother had to part their hair, one on the right side and the other on the left side, that she might readily tell them apart.
During his residence in Illinois, Mr. Taylor was a breeder of fine horses, cattle and hogs, and took prizes at both county and state fairs with his stock. He continued this interest in Comanche county, and even today is known as a breeder of pure bred Buff Orpington chickens, which he exhibits at the fairs in this section.
He was a very active man all through his life and even down to a week before his passing, he was very busy each day in his yard and garden. His residence was always spoken of and one of the neatest pieces of property in the town, and he did the work himself.
He passes away at his home at an early morning hour, October 2. Had he lived until the 10th he would have been 90 years old.
He made a Master Mason, January 19, 1878, in Wayne Lodge No. 172 at Waynesville, Ill. When the lodge was organized in Protection, he became a charter member here.
The Lord has blessed him with a long and active life. "The march of another soldier is over, his battles are all fought, his victories all won, and as in other days he lies down to rest a while under the arching sky awaiting the bugler's call."
The funeral conducted by the Rev. Walter H. Dellinger, pastor of the Protection Methodist Church, assisted by Rev. T. A. Searcy, pastor of the Protection Baptist Church, and Elder J. H. Lynch of the Christian Church, was held from the local Methodist Church in Protection, Wednesday, October 3, 1928, at 2:30 p.m. Masonic services in charge of Past Worshipful Master L. A. Peacock were conducted at the grave by Protection Lodge A. F. and A. M. No. 384. Members of Protection Legion Post fired the salute over the grave to the soldier dead and taps were sounded by Ben E. Schmoker as the flag draped bier was lowered to its eternal resting place.
Interment was in the family lot in the Protection cemetery.
John and Sarah Taylor are buried in the Protection Cemetery. He died in 1928; she died in 1930.
Laura Belle (Taylor) Moore, daughter of John & Sarah Taylor.
Civil War Veterans of Comanche County, Kansas.
James W. Dappert: Reminiscences of Early Days in Comanche-co.
The Western Star, January 15, 1926.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article and scan of the microfilmed newspaper photo to this web site!
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