Baptist History Homepage

      (This is the first installment of The Life of H. Boyce Taylor, of which we have made previous announcement. The author was first a student under Brother Taylor, and then an associate with him in the West Kentucky Bible School and an intimate friend. He has now been elected to succeed Brother Taylor as president of the school. The Lord willing, Brother Beaman is to write the complete life history of Brother Taylor for the Baptist Examiner. We expect to carry an installment in each issue from now until his entire lice has been covered. The life story of this great man of God should appeal strongly to his many friends and admirers. We invite them to read it as it shall appear, the Lord willing, in this paper. We urge pastors that can do so conscientiously to make announcement concerning this feature of the Baptist Examiner, and seek to get subscriptions from their people. Pastors may also well mention the series of articles presenting a systematic study of Bile doctrine, the first of which appears in this issue. T. P. Simmons, Editor)

The Life of H. Boyce Taylor
by Elder Roy O. Beaman, Murray, Ky.
Installment No. 1


      The Taylor family is one of the most prominent and numerous in both England and this country. The name Taylor is worn, according to expert genealogists, by over a half million. Over fifty places in the United States bear this name. More than twenty-six hundred Taylors were enrolled in the Revolutionary War. Biographical sketches of ninety-seven Taylors appear in "Who's Who in America." Brother Taylor once said there were more Baptist preachers in Kentucky by the name of Taylor than any other name. Among them all none was greater than H. B. Taylor.

      Since our brother was related on both the paternal and maternal side to the Taylors, it seems peculiarly fitting that we trace the Taylor history.

      The line is traceable to the year 58 B. C., at which time Julius Caesar was surrounded by murderous barbarians while he was inspecting his camp at twilight. The courage and bravery of the Roman elicited the support of one of the barbarians. In return for this life-saving act, the barbarian was made a personal attendant of Caesar. He was allowed to bear arms (a sword and dart), from which his name Taliaferro originated. Compounded from the Latin "tatum" (a dart) and "ferro" (I bear), the name signifies "one who carries the dart."

      A branch of the family descended from the heroic Taliaferro wandered to the ancient French province. Normandy, and, centuries later, the Norman Baron Taillefer accompanied William the Conqueror across the English Channel to England and fell in his presence in the van of his army at the battle of Hastings, England. October 14, 1066.

      The death of the gallant Taillefer received vivid description in "The Last of the Saxon Kings," by Bulwer Lytton. The bold warrior of gigantic height rode in front of the cohort and seemed beside himself with the joy of battle as he chanted. He wildly threw his sword into the air and, catching it as it fell, he proudly flourished it. He spurred his horse to the front and challenged someone to a single combat. The fiery young soldier who choose to match swords with him was soon pierced through by Taillefer's sword and trampled under foot by his fiery steed. A second shared the same fate at the hands of the laughing and shouting Norman.

      But Taillefer must meet his death. Then Leofivine, the brother of the Saxon king, came forth with his spear over his head and covered by his shield. The daring Taillefer rushed forward, shivered his sword on the Saxon shield, and fell a corpse under the hoofs of the steed of his slayer, transfixed by the Saxon's spear William the Conqueror led the wail of woe that came from the Norman ranks. Such is war which his noble descendant held to be unchristian!

      The Conqueror rewarded the family of Taillefer with large landed estates in Kent County, England. Hanger TayIcier, his descendant, held lands in the tenure of Ospringe, County of Kent, in 1256, and from him comes the paternal progenitors of H. B. Taylor. Edward Taylor, of this line, came to New Jersey from London, England, in 1692. Richard Taylor, a maternal forbear, came to this country from Kent County, England, in 1608.

      Through French influence the spelling of Taliaferro became Taillefer, later Taylefer, and then merged with Taylor. One part of the name tells a' story of heroism; the other the story of a trade. Taylor is from the Latin "talea" (a rod or stick) used by the cutter and maker of clothes. "Tailor" became the spelling of the trade-name and "Taylor" of the surname. Stories in a name!

      The Taylor Coat of Arms bears this motto in Latin: "Consequitur quodqunque petit," that is, "He obtains what he seeks," or "He accomplishes what he undertakes." The motto was exemplified in the descendant, H. B. Taylor.

      Edward Taylor, mentioned above, came to this country to receive land bequeathed to him by Matthew Taylor, his brother. The Taylor family was related by marriage to Sir George Carteret, proprietor of East New Jersey. A deed dated November 19, 1681, conveyed from Poward and other Indians to the Lady Carteret, in trust for Matthew Taylor and others, a large tract of land in Somerset County, New Jersey. The grandsons of Edward and his wife, Catherine, settled in New York, Ohio, and the West and South .

      Two brothers, Moses and Zachary. direct descendants of Edward Taylor, went south. Zachary (1707-1768) settled in Orange County, Virginia, and became the father of Col. Richard Taylor (1741-1826) and the grandfather of Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), the twelfth President of the United States. Moses settled in North Carolina in an adjoining county to his brother. MOSES TAYLOR (1729-1819) married Elizabeth Pervat, a French woman, who died March 3, 1333, and raised a large family of boys on a farm.

      About the time the boys were grown and most of them married, Moses and his sons, falling in with the great rush of that day from North Carolina, moved west. At the headwater of the Cumberland River, they with some of their friends and relatives built thirteen flatboats and came to their first disembarkment, then an Indian fort, now Nashville, Tennessee, where the company began to separate. One son and a Mr. Nash located there and started the city of Nashville, about 1783. One son went to Georgia, another to Alabama, and the other three came down the Cumberland to. the Ohio River, thence up the Ohio. One went to Indiana, another near Lexington, Kentucky, and the other, the great grand-father of Brother Taylor, we shall now follow.

      JOSEPH TAYLOR, Sr., son of Moses Taylor, was born in North Carolina April 21, 1765, and died in Kentucky January 25, 1853. The family of his wife "gained some political distinction in North Carolina." Going up the Ohio River, as related above, when Joseph reached the mouth of Green River, he went upstream about one hundred miles. He first settled on the south side of Green River in what is now Butler County and later on its opposite in what is now Ohio County, Kentucky. He removed to Warren County, Kentucky, around 1800.

      The parents of Joseph were Methodists, and he and his wife had become Methodists in early life. In this connection Joseph began the ministry. Later he and his wife became Baptists and were baptized by Nathan Arnette of Tennessee. In September, 1804, they became charter members of Providence Baptist Church, Warren County, Kentucky. He moved in 1811 to Butler County, was licensed by Sandy Creek Church, joined Monticello Church and was her pastor until 1837. "He was a cooper by trade and a Baptist minister by profession and of course was poor." J. H. Spencer, Kentucky Baptist historian, says, "He was a preacher of small gifts." His grandson, Elder W. C. Taylor. Sr., says, "He was a good man, lived above reproach, and did some good as a minister of Jesus Christ."

      But perhaps the most notable feature of Joseph Taylor is that there have been at least fourteen Baptist preachers among his direct descendants. From three of his four sons these preachers have come. The first son, John S. (1793-1829), moved to Graves County around 1820. His two sons, Stephen and Burrell, were Baptist preachers for many years in West Kentucky and Texas. The second son, Joseph, Jr., (1800-1885), had six sons, three of whom were Baptist preachers: Richard P. (1825-1899) preached more than forty-five years; Alfred S. (1836-1909) more than fifty years; and T. R., born 1841, many years in Oklahoma. Richard P. had seven sons, three of whom have been Baptist preachers: Ed, Kelly, Hardy.

      The fourth son of Joseph Taylor. Sr., was Elder Alfred Taylor, grandfather of H. B. Taylor. Alfred's three preacher sons were Judson S., James Pendleton, and William C. Brethren H. B. and W. C. are preacher sons of William C. Taylor.

      We now turn aside to consider the ancestors of Brother Taylor on his mother's side, and his ancestry is here none the less remarkable. His mother is a descendant of the Stevenses of Maryland and the Taylors of Virginia. This Taylor line is traceable to Kent County, England, and to the daring Taillefer of 1066 and to the brave Taliaferro of 58 B. C. Since history claims that the tribes of Gaul were Japhetic, we may say that Brother H. B. Taylor was through both of his parents a son of Japheth, son of Noah, line of Seth, and son of Adam.

      Richard Taylor came to this country in 1608 from Kent County, England. Simon Taylor was his son and John Taylor his grandson, who married Hannah Harrison of Virginia in 1726. Harrison Taylor, commonly known as "Old Harrison Taylor," was a son of John Taylor. John Taylor died without a will, and, under the feudal laws of that day, the eldest son inherited the property, which was said to be large, and Harrison was left shareless. Because he would be a "pensioner on his brother's bounty," he went to the frontier of Virginia, locating at Winchester, then but a village.

      Here Harrison "took up the trade of a house carpenter." The following story of the mild and reticent Harrison's ill temper is said to be the only instance of such. A British recruiting officer often tried to enlist young Taylor. He would gather a crowd at the tavern at night and hope to force men into the service of King George while they were drunk, or nearly so. Harrison Taylor was strictly temperate and could not be caught thus, but fatigue from labor gave the wily officer his opportunity. While young Taylor slept in a quiet corner of the tavern, the sly officer slipped the regular bounty (the amount given to induce men into the army) into the pocket of the sleeper. Upon awaking he heard the officer demand that he go to the barracks. The recruiter haughtily thought to overcome Taylor's objection by reference to the coin in his pocket as proof that he has accepted the bounty and was therefore a soldier of King George. When the coin whizzed by the head of the officer and the young man flew upon him with rage, the King's representative went home to bother Harrison Taylor no more.

      After a short while in Winchester Harrison, born August 11, 1735, married Jane Curlet, born September 5, 1742, and settled far back into the woods of Frederick County, "where, with a single horse, he commenced clearing the forest and cultivating the land." Taking along his gun, like all frontiersmen, Harrison went one morning to hunt his belled horse. Apparently drawn by the report of his fire that killed a deer, turkey gobblers soon almost surrounded him and his unmounted horse. Amidst this danger with unloaded gull, Taylor's quick thought led him to slap his horse and dart into the undergrowth. The gobbling ring saw only the speeding horse. Upon arriving home Taylor found his horse standing ready to bear him and his young wife to the nearest fort to escape an Indian raid.

      Later, on a stream by which passed the main road from the East across the Alleghenies to the then unsettled West, Harrison built a mill and, because of honest milling, became known as "Honest Old Taylor at the Mill." Tradition quotes a wagoner thus, "We wagoners would drive for miles to get feed from him rather than buy elsewhere. We were always sure of honest measure and fair prices."

      Old Mrs. Harrison Taylor was a unique woman. Her kindheartedness comes out in this story of an orphan boy, named Stackhouse. It was her custom to take bread to the mill "for the hungry turn-awaiting urchins." She took Stackhouse her home for a full meal and gave him clothes that belonged to her boys. This lad soon became, as the tool of hardened villians, a horse thief, a prevalent and annoying crime in Frederick and adjoining counties in Virginia. When the governor ordered the thieves brought dead or alive, the catching of Stackhouse fell to the two oldest sons of Mrs. Taylor. One of them, Thomas, found the victim in a wood eating a stolen mutton, but the noise of breaking a stick on which he stepped warned Stackhouse. A chase ensued. Just as Thomas decided to fire, a vine entangled his foot until he fell. Though Stackhouse thus escaped, he was finally caught and imprisoned. Thomas, on visiting the prisoner, inquired how he escaped. When Thomas fell, Stackhouse darted into his den and would have fired at Thomas had not a thought of Mrs. Taylor made his finger fall from the trigger. As tears trickled down the face of the outcast, he said to Thomas, ''Ah, had I been raised by such a mother as yours, I would never have been the wretched outcast that I am."

      These stories further picture Mrs. Taylor, Tradition says her home became "an orphan asylum during the ravages of the Revolutionary War," in which Harrison served, She became the "principal surgeon and physician of the then back woods settlement" and could "replace dislocated limbs, set broken bones, and lance or bleed as required." The shrewd and witty old lady once tried to engage in conversation a modest, aspiring lawyer, named Moses, who was in her home. Meeting with no success, she exclaimed, "Well! well! They say your name is Moses, and you are a young lawyer. Have you a brother Aaron to do your talking?" She, like her mother who lived into the nineties, had such a remarkable memory that she could accurately relate history as far back as the days of Cromwell.

      While the Taylors lived at the mill, they acquired considerable property and reared a large family of eight sons and four daughters. Induced by the visits of several of the sons to Kentucky, they sold the mill and located on a farm in Ohio County. Kentucky, three miles east of Hartford, near 1800. Here Harrison Taylor died and was buried November 22, 1811, and his wife August 5, 1812.

      Brother Taylor's mother is the great-granddaughter of two of Harrison Taylor's sons, Richard and William, the first and the fourth. Richard's daughter, Susan, married Richard Stevens, and their son, Blackstone Stevens, was the father of Brother Taylor's mother. William's son, Septimus, married Althea Leach, and their daughter, Hannah Ann Taylor, married Blackstone Stevens. Their daughter, Mrs. F. A. Taylor, now in her eight-third year, is the mother of Elder H. B. Taylor, recently gone to heaven.

[From: T. P. Simmons, editor, The Baptist Examiner, August 1, 1932, pp. 1-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Second Installment
Baptist History Homepage