Sunday, October 2, 2022

William Franklin Taylor (1855-1925)



 William Franklin Taylor

 William Franklin Taylor was born on August 2, 1854 or 1855 in Covington, Tennessee, depending on your source.  Some of the details of his birth are sketchy and not verified by government record and come from various sources.  One census record indicates that he was born in Mississippi. Those sources may include, but not be limited to his own handwriting, family legend, and gravestone dates.

Family legend says that he was the son of a riverboat employee, possibly the captain, but this has no other source for verification.  When William was young his father's riverboat was docked somewhere on the Mississippi River.  William and his mother, and possibly a sibling went ashore for the night.  During the night the ship boilers exploded and William's father died in the explosion.

William's mother remarried soon and the family lived in Forrest City, Arkansas, but young William and his stepfather did not have a good relationship.  William's mother died when he was about 12. Soon afterwards his stepfather refused to give him his mother's belongings. As a result William left to be on his own around the age of 15.  William worked in a Forrest City pharmacy where he worked for his room and board.  Around the age of 16 he joined a wagon train bound for Texas working as a driver for a widow and her children.  The wagon train made it's way to Texas using a route as yet undetermined and William settled in the Hillsboro area.  He worked for a rancher where he met and married the rancher's daughter, Elizabeth Jenny Hunt, on January 1, 1879.


Titus/Franklin County

Since Elizabeth's father, Wadsworth Thompson Hunt, thoroughly disliked William he and Elizabeth made their way to Titus County.  Titus County and Franklin County were once a single county known as Titus County.  William and Elizabeth first appear in the 1880 US Census in Titus County. However, the land purchases by William and Elizabeth are clearly in present day Franklin County.

William and Elizabeth first settled in Grey Rock, Texas purchasing 48 acres on November 25, 1887. The tract of land was north and east of the intersection of the southern access road of I-30 where County Road SE 4130 crosses.  The metes and bounds read like this: 

"The largest tract of land begins on the NB line of a survey made for T J Councill and 397 yds West of Martha Wallen's N.W. Corner, a stake for a corner. Thence W 295 yds a stake. Thence S 505 yds to the center of the Gray Rock and Sulphur Springs road, Thence East 295 yds. Thence N 505 yds to the place of beginning. Containing 35 acres, more or less."   I have learned from an older resident of Grey Rock that the Grey Rock and Sulphur Springs road is what became the I-30 Frontage road on the south side of the freeway.

The June, 1880 agriculture report lists William Franklin Taylor as farming 21 acres of land and having livestock worth $15, namely a milk cow and calf, with 12 chickens.

William and Elizabeth then purchased an additional tract of land adjoining the first on February 9, 1888. The metes and bounds appear as this:

"The small tract of land joins the above on the West and is a part of the John Humphrey's headright survey and a part of the homestead of B. L. Blake and begins on the WB line of W.F. Taylor and the East B line of B. L Blake 200 yds S of W. F. Taylor NW Corner, a sand rock for a corner. Thence N 395 1/2 yds a rock. Thence W 175 yds a sand rock for a corner. Thence S 395 1/2 yds a rock. Thence E 131 yds to the place of beginning containing 13 acres more or less making a total sum of both tracts of 48 acres, more or less."

After a bit of research I have pinpointed the property and outlined it on a Google Map:

 On November 23, 1891 William and Elizabeth purchased 148 acres of land in the William McNeece survey about 6 miles to the south and situated to the southeast of present day Cypress Creek Park and on the banks of Andy's Creek (not identified on present day maps, but a historian in the Franklin County Historical Society pointed me to an old plat of the area showing the creek.)  The unnamed creek that runs from the northwest to southeast passing by Cypress Creek Park and in the northeast corner of the Wm. McNeece survey is Andy's Creek.



Leon County

 William and Elizabeth brought 3 children to Leon County;  Robert (1884-1969), Annie (1888-1973), and Maude (1891-1977), and having three more in Leon County, Fannie (1896-1972), Rosa Lee and Tegie.   In the Taylor Cemetery are headstones for Rosa Lee and Teagie, who I am told are children of William F. Taylor, but the birth mother is not quite clear.  Ancestry trees from others identify Elizabeth as their mother so I can deduce that they were both born in the years between 1896-1899.

On June 30, 1896 William and Elizabeth purchased their first tract of land In Leon County purchasing a 160 acre tract of land in the S. Pate survey north of The Bodine. (This is the property owned by Roy Lynn Taylor near the intersection of CR 284 and Pvt Rd 2230.) They sold the property in Titus County keeping a note and lien up until 1909 when he sold the note to Ida Pasquay.

On May 23, 1899 William and Elizabeth  purchased another 160 tract of land in the A. G. Rose survey, also north of The Bodine on CR 277 near Bethel Lane (just south of CR 282.).  It was likely that it was one of these two tracts where William and Elizabeth lived that their home caught fire.  Elizabeth tried to fight the fire but was unsuccessful.  She lost her life as a result of smoke inhalation several days later, on August 9, 1899.  Elizabeth is buried in the Taylor Cemetery.

On November 1, 1899 William purchased 100 acres in the Ferguson survey near Brushy (Cemetery?) Road and Wheelock Creek.

William married Mary Lee House in late January or early February of 1900.  On the 1900 Census dated 4-5 June, 1900 there appears to be 5/12 written over by a 0 in the years married column.

In October of 1900 William and Mary purchased 183.5 acres in the A. Willis survey near FM 831 and CR 225.

Their first child O. K. Taylor was born on November 22, 1900. William and Mary had a total of 8 children that I could find.

William and Mary purchased many other tracts of land including tracts in the T. Peale Survey (300a.), A. Thomas Survey (150a.), J. Whitfield Survey (234a.), J.T. Cotton Survey (405a.), G&BN Survey (190a.), BBB & CR Survey (52a. the Gray homestead), R.M. Mason (80a.), and another 80 acres in the G&BN survey.  The Galveston and Brazos Navigation Company did several surveys in Leon County. It is one of these Surveys that later became the J. Bodine Survey which is still in the family today.

One tract of land in the G&BN Survey contained a cotton gin and grist mill. William purchased the mill from GW Yarborough in 1907, and it was operated by his son Robert L. Taylor. William sold the gin and mill back to GW Yarborough in 1910. However, the account by the Yarborough family below in the link below differs slightly.

 Most of the properties in Leon County purchased by WF Taylor can be found on this Google map. However, the pins only represent approximate locations as some of the property descriptions reference landmarks that are no longer in use today.  i.e. "The Jordan Place."


Dr. William Franklin Taylor

William Franklin Taylor became a physician because he wanted to learn why so many children died so young.  Family legend has it that it is because he wanted to learn why HIS children died so young, but I cannot find any children other than Rosa Lee and Teagie that died young.  Rosa Lee and Teagie are buried in the Taylor Cemetery in Leon County, and since W.F. Taylor was a doctor prior to coming to Leon County this must be a reference to other peoples your children, or W.F Taylor and Elizabeth had children we do not know of.  There is no doubt in my mind that William and Elizabeth may have lost other children that may be buried in unknown graves in Franklin or Titus county but I can find no evidence of such.

William actually earned his license to practice medicine two times. The first was on June 6, 1893 by appointment of the 20th Judicial Court and the Medical Board of Examiners in Clarksville, Red River County, Texas. He again earned a license to practice medicine on February 8, 1908 by standing before the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners which had just been established the previous year.  It is on this license that he writes that his birth year is 1854.  "Doc" Taylor again writes his birth year as 1854 on his Registration to Practice Medicine filed in Leon County in 1908.

Doc Taylor was a compassionate doctor. He would travel from house to house providing medical care to the residents of Leon County spending days, even weeks, with the very ill.  One notable story I found particularly interesting. I'll copy the paragraph here and you can take the credits from the link.

Cannie, in the story above refers to Cannie Jones Moore who lived from 1872 to 1953 and is buried next to her husband, Henry Watson Moore in the Parker Cemetery, Leon County, Texas.

Dr. Taylor served as the area physician and dentist until his death in 1925



Family Legend: Mrs. Winnie Taylor, Mrs. Edith Gray, Wendel Taylor

Publications:  A history of Leon County, ISBN 0-88107-050-5 (1986)

Web:, Texas Online, Texas Historical Commission, County Clerks of various counties including Hill, Bosque,Titus, Franklin, Leon,, and many others.

This post is subject to editing. The last time this page was edited was October 22, 2023.

Copyright, 2022. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without advanced written authorization from both the author and Google.

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Battle of San Diego

The Battle Of San Diego


 As many of you know, our father Wendel Taylor, served in the US Navy near the end of World War II.  He had registered for the draft on his birthday, July 12, 1943 in Centerville like many young men at the time.  He then enlisted in the Navy on October 11, 1943 in Houston at the age of 18 .  

The first written record I could find was where he was received on board the USS American Legion on August 2, 1944 from Training Division 36.  So far I can find no record of Training Division 36 in 1943-1944, but can only assume that it included basic training plus some additional specialist training. His rank at the time he boarded the USS American Legion as shown on the Muster Report was S1C(SM), SV-6.  Since dad was trained as a signalman I assume that the rank is Seaman First Class (S1C) with training as a Signalman (SM).  SV-6 may refer to a code used to further identify a reservists volunteer status. SV may refer to Selective Volunteer, and the 6 for General and Specialists.

The description of the Signalman's duties on board the USS Enterprise is shown as "Stand signal watch on bridge. Identify flags. Use blinker, searchlight and semaphore. Use range finder, searchlights, signal apparatus."  (Note: Semaphore is the skill of using flags by hand for communications.)  Assuming the Navy keeps a standard throughout the service for job descriptions then I assume that dad's duty station on board the USS American Legion was on the bridge of the ship.

Dad had always told us the during his time in the service he "fought the battle of San Diego" and never left the harbor. It wasn't until after he was gone that I was able to discover more details about his time in the service, and the outcome of, The Battle of San Diego.

Most of the available records found that one might consider the ship's log are called War Diaries.  Under normal circumstances a ship's War Diary covers a period of one calendar month. During a specific exercise or battle a War Diary might be limited to that specific exercise or battle. Below are the chronological War Diaries that mention the USS American Legion, beginning with a period prior to dad being assign to the ship.  Here is an example of the USS American Legion for the month dad boarded the ship.

July, 1943, War Diary of USS Stanly shows the USS American Legion as the flagship of COMTASKUNIT 34.4.7 consisting of 5 ships, plus 5 additional escort ships. Destination Guadalcanal. (Note: The famous Battle of Guadalcanal was fought between August, 1942 and February, 1943.)

December 10, 1943 USS American Legion arrives at United Engineering Company, Alameda, California.

January 10, 1944 the USS American Legion arrives at Hunter's Point (San Francisco), California, departing on January 18th.

April 14-26, 1944 the USS American Legion participates in the training of the 81st Infantry Division on the beaches of California. 

August, 1944 the USS American Legion docked in San Diego on the 1st and 2nd.

August 2, 1944 dad is assigned to the USS American Legion. 

Underway at 1842 on the 2nd for San Pedro, California to unload ammunition.

August 4th the ship proceeded to Los Angeles Shipbuilding, San Pedro, California for general overhaul.

August 20th ship relocated to load ammunition, then proceeded to San Diego.

September, 1944.  It appears that the ship merely relocated to several different moorings in San Diego.

October, 1944 the ship conducted training exercises in Coronado Strand, San Clemente Island, and Alisa Canyon, Oceanside, California, returning to San Diego on the 30th.

November, 1944, from the 1st to the 13th in the US Naval Repair Base, San Diego getting underway on the 14-30th to conduct training exercises in San Clemente, Alisa Canyon, and setting anchor in Oceanside, California on the 30th.

December, 1944, War Diary of the USS American Legion as flagship of Task Group 13.9 Amphibious Training Group, Pacific Fleet, and training for amphibious operations for Army and Navy personnel in the area of San Diego, California.  From December 1 to December 8th, the ship conducted training exercises which involved the firing of machine guns and small deck guns (3 inches or less) towards shore targets on San Clemente Island.

January, 1945, Commander Dona J. Houle assumes command of USS American Legion on the 8th. The ship conducts landing and air support exercises around San Clemente Island returning to San Diego on the 18th.

February, 1945 USS American Legion conducts a series of exercises including landing, air support, and tactical training in the usual practice areas of Oceanside, San Clemente, and Coronado Strand, and set anchor in Santa Barbara on the 27th.

March, 1945, the USS American legion conducted a series of landing exercises from Santa Barbara, to San Clemente Island and back to San Diego. 

April, 1945, War Diary of the USS Fillmore identifies the USS American Legion as the flagship of the Training Group 13.9, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet.

April 26 - May 31, 1945  the USS American Legion participates in a series of landing exercises from San Diego, to Coronado Strand, to Pyramid Cove (San Clemente Island) and back to San Diego. 

May, 1945 the USS American Legion conducted a series of training exercises in Coronado Strand, Oceanside, and San Clemente Island.

May 4-7, 1945 the USS American Legion being repaired in San Diego shipyard. 

June, 1945 the ship conducted a series of landing exercises in Coronado and San Clemente Island, returning to San Diego on the 28th.

July, 1945 USS American Legion conducts a series of landing and gunnery exercises off the coast of Coronado Strand and San Clemente Island, returning to San Diego on the 27th.

July, 1945 the ship conducts a series of training exercises in landing, surface fire, and air support in the areas of San Clemente Island and Coronado Strand, returning to San Diego on the 27th.

August, 1945 the USS American Legion is flagship of Commander Training Group, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, and conducted exercises including anti-aircraft fire, surface fire, and landing at the usual practice areas of Coronado Strand and San Diego, and spent the 22-26th in dry dock for repairs.

Note: On 15 August 1945, Japan surrenders, with the surrender documents finally signed at Tokyo Bay on the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on 2 September 1945, ending the war.


September, 1945 USS American Legion is assigned to Operation Magic Carpet and in San Diego Shipyard for reconfiguring and preparing to get under way. 

September 7th ship is underway to San Francisco, arriving on the 8th. 

September 11th, ship is underway to Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.

Arrived in Pearl Harbor on the 17th.

September 20th ship is underway to Apra Harbor, Guam, Marianas.

September 30th, arrived in Apra Harbor, Guam, Marianas.

October-December, 1945.  I found no records of the USS American legion during this period.

*UPDATE* Wikipedia shows that the USS American Legion returned from Guam arriving in San Pedro on 24 October, 1945.  On 8 November, 1945 the USS American Legion departed for a second cruise to the Pacific with orders for the Philippines. After stopping at Manilla and Tacloban the ship returned to San Francisco on 12 December, 1945.  

January 1, 1946 dad is shown in the ships muster report with the rank of S2C(SM) SV-6.

March, 1946, the USS American Legion is placed on inactive duty and scheduled for de-commissioning.

The Navy Historical Center confirms dates above as the final two trans-Pacific cruises and Dad was aboard during that time. These two cruises as a part of Operation Magic Carpet would be the last cruises of the USS American Legion prior to decommissioning.

Operation Magic Carpet.  A veteran at the Pacific War Museum tipped us off to the operation that dad's ship was assigned on and after September, 1945. This operation was a full on effort to bring American troops home from overseas.  The operation officially began with the ships returning from Japan following the signing of the surrender document in Tokyo Bay.  Every available ship was quickly re-purposed to bring home over 8 million servicemen deployed around the world. The missing logs from October-December, 1945 could indicate that the USS American Legion made more than one trip to carry troops home, but I have not found the logs for those months yet.


So, my assumptions are, that the USS American Legion returned from active battles in the Pacific to become a flagship of the Pacific Fleet Amphibious Training Group. Every month, or several times a month, his ship would take on sailors or soldiers from other branches of the service to train them in various operations from landings to air support to surface and ship to shore gunnery.

Dad was likely utilized in not only the communication from ship to ship, but also to assist in the training of other signalmen that would be transferred to other ships destined for the Pacific theater of operations under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz.

So The Battle of San Diego did happen. The battle was fought time and time again.  Every month from August of 1944 until commencement of Operation Magic Carpet.  Training our servicemen and preparing them to serve our country, and finally participating in the massive effort to bring the troops home.  Yes, The Battle of San Diego was real.  And the winner was all the American sailors and soldiers that benefited from their time with our dad on board the USS American Legion.

On Father's Day, 2022, a flag was flown in his honor and a plaque was placed in the Pacific War Museum honoring dad's time in the service and aboard the USS American Legion.

A series of YouTube videos by Frank Zalot, Jr. have been found online that can give you some idea of life aboard the USS American Legion during World War II.  Frank Zalot was assigned to the USS American Legion much earlier than dad and saw action prior to the ship returning stateside in December, 1943.  After the USS American Legion was assigned to the training fleet, Frank then switched from guns to signalman, and completed his service as a signalman several months after dad boarded the ship.  He includes many still photographs of the sailors on the ship, including dad.

You can view the movie and others prior to dad's assignment to the ship by going to YouTube.


Copyright, 2022. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without advanced written authorization from both the author and Google.