William Jackson Taylor, Sr.
Special appreciation goes to Linda Ward Meadows, 3rd great grand daughter of William Jackson Taylor, Sr. and Samantha Jane Rogers Taylor, and 2nd great grand daughter of Benjamin Thomas Cook and Samantha Jane Taylor Cook, for her avid research and contributions to this post.
William Jackson Taylor, Sr. (1801-1885) was a settler of that part Lowndes County, GA which was cut into Berrien County in 1856. He came to the area about 1851, first renting land from William J. Lamb and later establishing a homeplace on the Indian Ford Road (Upper Mud Creek Road).
Grave of William Jackson Taylor, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.
William Jackson Taylor was the subject of a biographical sketch compiled about 1927 by William H. Griffin, an early historian of Berrien County, GA. Griffin described how William J. Taylor came from South Carolina to settle in Georgia:
William J. Taylor
The subject of this sketch was born in Marion Township, South Carolina, January 4, 1801 and died at his home in Berrien county, Georgia, July 18, 1885.
In the year 1851 he decided to cast his fortunes in the state of Florida, consequently he set out by private conveyance to reach that state but for some cause halted at the village of Alapaha, later known as Milltown [now Lakeland, GA], and rented land from William Lamb remaining there a short period when he moved over into what is known as the Upper Tenth district and bought land, cleared up a farm and remained there until his death. The farm he cleared is a portion of the land [later] owned by E. B. Taylor, a grandson, on the Indian Ford or Upper Mud Creek road.
Mr. Taylor in addition to being a farmer was an expert blacksmith and maker of bells, trivets, etc. It was his custom to make a lot of these useful articles and take them on the old fashioned two-wheeled horse cart and peddle them out among the people of the surrounding country, often going into other counties in the sale of his wares. Among the stock raisers of South Georgia, and almost every resident in that day was engaged in stock raising, it was an easy matter to make a sale of one or more bells of different sizes at every house, while the housewife who did her cooking on the open fireplace never failed to barter with him for one or two trivets for use under her cooking utensils. A trivet, as its name implies, is a 3 legged utensil for use under the pots, spiders and ovens to raise the pot or oven up from the hearth so as to give room for building the fire underneath. It is formed by welding three legs on to an iron ring about eight inches in diameter, the legs being about four inches in length. It was a great help to the housewife in her primitive method of cooking. Other articles of Mr. Taylor’s man——- —— —— ———- —– fireplace and on which the pots and kettles were suspended while boiling. Mr. Taylor’s approach was always heralded by a ringing of his bells of different tones in unison and his quaint method of showing off the merits of his bells were always a source of great amusement to the children who would leave their tasks and gather about his cart while he was bartering with the father and mother.
South Carolina Beginnings
William Jackson Taylor was born January 14, 1801 in South Carolina. His lineage is uncertain, but his presence is well established in the Census records of Marion County, SC, along with others of the Taylor family connection.
William J. Taylor first married Samantha J. Rogers. She was born in South Carolina February 3, 1800. In the 1850 census of William Taylor’s household, his wife “Mantha” and eight children are enumerated by name, all of whom moved with their parents to Lowndes County, GA (now Berrien) in 1851.
1850 census enumeration of William J. Taylor and family in Marion County, South Carolina
In 1850 in Marion County, SC, William Taylor’s neighbors were Robert Taylor, age 75, and Thomas Taylor, age 50.
A William Taylor appears in the 1840 census of Marion County, SC, with the same neighbors Robert Taylor and Thomas Taylor. Although names of spouses and children were not recorded in the 1840 census or earlier, this enumeration shows three female children and one male child in William Taylor’s household, as would be expected from the ages given in the 1850 census. Despite some discrepancies in ages of William, his wife and children, it seems almost certain that the William Taylor in the 1850 and in the 1840 census of Marion County, SC are one and the same person.
William Taylor also appears as a head of household in the 1830 census of Marion County, SC , as do Robert Taylor and Thomas Taylor. In William Taylor’s household in 1830 there are his spouse and three children, two boys and one girl. But all of the children named in the 1850 census were born after 1830. If this is the same William Taylor, which seems most likely, then these three children all left their father’s household before 1850. Given their ages were at least twenty-something by then, it is entirely reasonably that they should have married and established their own households.
In 1820, William Taylor and Robert Taylor both appear as heads of households in Marion County, SC. William’s household includes his spouse and two children. William Jackson Taylor and Samantha J. Rogers in 1820 would have been 19 and 20 years old, respectively. If this was indeed their household, then their marriage must have occurred about 1817. Unfortunately, no documentation of their marriage date has been located.
From Federal Census records, though, it seems that by 1820 William Taylor and Samantha J. Rogers had established their household in Marion County, SC. The names of the three eldest Taylor children are not known, and it appears that they had left their father’s household by the time of the 1850 census, but the names of the known children of Samantha J. Rogers and William J. Taylor are listed below. All of these children were born in South Carolina. The reported dates of birth of the children show typical variances found in 19th century census records; where given below the dates of birth are taken from grave marker inscriptions.
- unknown male Taylor, born about 1818 in South Carolina
- unknown female Taylor, born about 1819 in South Carolina
- unknown male Taylor, born about 1826 in South Carolina
- Fannie R. Taylor, born January 21, 1832; died June 30, 1904; never married; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
- Mary Taylor, born 1833; at home with her parents in Berrien County, GA in 1860
- Thomas L. Taylor, born November 7, 1838; married Fairiby Cook (b. 1846), daughter of Elijah Cook; died June 18, 1922; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Berrien County, GA.
- Emeline Taylor, born about 1839, in South Carolina; married Joseph Lewis, January 28, 1866 in Berrien County, GA.
- Jemima Taylor, born January 22, 1842; married on December 25, 1856 to William Hill Boyett, who was born July 27, 1834 and died December 16, 1897; Jemima died June 28, 1926; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA
- Robert Lewis Taylor, born 1845; married 1st Nancy Tison, daughter of Henry Tison, on June 22, 1834; married 2nd Sallie Boyd, daughter of Aden Boyd; said to be buried in an unmarked grave at Empire Church Cemetery
- William Jackson Taylor, Jr. born 1847; married Eliza H. Boyd, daughter of Aden Boyd, on July 29, 1862.
- Samantha Jane Taylor, born December 28, 1848; married Benjamin Thomas Cook in Berrien County on December 14, 1865; Jane died June 7, 1888; Ben died October 5, 1924; buried Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.
The 1860 Federal Census of Berrien County, GA lists two other children living in William J. Taylor’s household. They were Martha, age 3, and Harriet, age 1. Both girls were born in South Carolina.
William Jackson Taylor and his wife, Samantha, joined with the Primitive Baptist congregation of Empire Church. Their future in-laws, Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, gave land in 1854 to establish Empire Church, located on Empire Road near Five Mile Creek, about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway.
The Sons of William Jackson Taylor
According to W. H. Griffin, all three sons saw service in the Confederate army. The sons were:
- Thomas Lang Taylor who married Ferraby Cook, a daughter of Elijah Cook, and they were the parents of George M., E.B., William J., Archie and Arthur, twins, and the three daughters. Thomas Lang Taylor enlisted in Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment on March 22, 1862, and mustered out on February 15, 1863 at Camp Winder, Richmond, VA. He was enumerated at age 23 in Berrien County, in the 1864 Census for Re-organizing the Georgia Militia. His profession as “shoemaker” was critical to the war effort; “keeping the troops adequately shod was a problem that plagued Confederate authorities from first to last.” Thomas L. Taylor later served as Justice of the Peace in Berrien County.
- Lewis Robert Taylor, who married first Nancy Tison and after her death Sallie Boyd, a daughter of Aiden Boyd. Pvt L. R. Taylor enlisted in Company E, 50th Georgia Regiment on January 28, 1863 at Coffee Bluff near Savannah, GA.
- William J. Taylor Jr. was too young for service when the Civil War started. He was enumerated at age 16 in Berrien County in the 1864 Census for Reorganization of the Georgia Militia. William J. Jr., [was] still living [in 1927] and was married to Eliza Boyd, another daughter of Aiden Boyd. William J. Jr., [was then] in his eightyeth year.
Widower and Groom in a Month
Samantha J. Rogers Taylor, scarcely survived the end of the Civil War. William J. Taylor was left a widower on November 6, 1865; Samantha was buried at Empire Church Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.
Grave of Samantha J. Taylor, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of Linda Ward Meadows.
William J. Taylor was not in mourning for long. Within days following the death of his first wife, Mr. Taylor married Mrs. Mary Ford. She was the young widow of William A. Ford, who apparently died at home in Berrien County, GA about 1864. Born Mary Patience Ellen Musselwhite, she was daughter of Asa Musslewhite, of Lowndes County. Mrs. Ford had four young children: Mary Ann E. Ford, age 7; Nancy E. Ford, age 5; John S. Ford, age 3; and Anna Ford, age 1.
|There seems to be some confusion of the military records of William A. Ford with those of William D. Ford.
William D. Ford (1839-1862)
William D. Ford, of Berrien County, GA was the husband of Lydia M. Baker. Military records show he served with The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment. He enlisted on March 4, 1862 at Nashville, GA and died on October 26, 1862 at Winchester, Frederick County, VA. Extensive research on the 50th Georgia Regiment by James W. Parrish, author of Wiregrass to Appomattox, indicates William D. Ford died of disease at Winchester Hospital and was buried at Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Winchester VA.
William A. Ford (abt 1825 -abt 1864)
William A. Ford, married Mary P. E. Musselwhite in 1851 in Dooly County, GA and moved to Berrien County, GA before 1860. He did not serve in the Civil War, claiming the equivalent of “conscientious objector” status. William A. Ford was enumerated in the 1864 Census for the Re-organization of the Georgia Militia at age 42 years and 7 months. His occupation was farming but he was also a preacher, which was the basis of his exemption from Confederate service. Apparently William A. Ford died shortly after the 1864 Georgia census; the date of death and place of burial is not known.
William J. Taylor, Sr. and Mary Musslewhite Ford were married in Berrien County on November 30, 1865. The groom was 64; The bride was exactly half his age, at 32.
William J. Taylor, Sr and Mary Ford, Certificate of Marriage, November 3, 1865, Berrien County, GA
The Taylor children’s position on their father’s remarriage so soon after the death of their mother, and to a much younger woman, is unknown. The wedding ceremony was performed by the widower’s son, Thomas L. Taylor, who was Justice of the Peace. On the other hand, William J. Taylor’s youngest daughter, Samantha J. Taylor, left the home of her father and new step-mother just two weeks later, to be married to Benjamin Thomas Cook.
On October 27, 1866 William J. Taylor was expelled from the Empire Primitive Baptist Church, presumably on account of his association with a Missionary Baptist church. According to W. H. Griffin, “Mr. Taylor was a member of the Missionary Baptist church and was a co-temporary and fellow worker with Moses G. Sutton and other pioneer citizens in the establishment of Poplar Springs church out ten miles east of Nashville…”
In 1867, William Taylor signed the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in order to have his national citizenship restored and to qualify for the right to vote. The Oath of Allegiance was required of all southern men whose national citizenship had been renounced by way of the Ordinance of Secession, oaths of abjuration of national citizenship, oaths of allegiance to Confederate states, or acceptance of Confederate citizenship.
In 1867 William J. Taylor signed an oath of allegiance to the United States and sought to have his civil rights restored.
William and Mary made their home in Berrien County in the 10th Land District. The children of William J. Taylor and Mary P. E. Musselwhite were:
- Moses A. Taylor, born about 1868
- Sarah Ann Taylor, born August, 1870
- Ephraim Taylor, born about 1872
The 1870 Census shows William J. Taylor and Mary PE Musselwhite Taylor were enumerated on their farm in the 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA. In their household were their children Moses and Sarah Ann, and Mary’s children by her former marriage, Mary A., Nancy, John and Ann. Their neighbors were the families of John Sapp, William Garrett, William Gaskins, and Emily Gaskins Newbern, widowed daughter-in-law of Etheldred Newbern.
In 1880, William and Mary were still in the 1148 th District of Berrien County. In their household were their minor children Moses , Sarah, and Ephriam, and Mary’s daughter, Nancy Ford. Enumerated at age 81, William Taylor was still working as a blacksmith. On neighboring farms were the families of his son, Thomas Taylor, and of James Sirmans.
William J. Taylor, Sr. is buried by his first wife Samantha in Empire Church Cemetery. Several of their children are buried nearby. His second wife Mary survived him by many years.
Griffin Papers, by William Henry Griffin; Taylor Family folder found in Huxford Library; 1820, 1830, 1840,1850 Federal Census for Marion County, SC; 1860, 1870, and 1880 Federal Census for Berrien County, GA; Tombstone inscriptions in Empire Cemetery; Berrien County marriage records.