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.