JAMES FRANKLIN TAYLOR, one of the best known and influential native born attorneys of Washington county, first saw the light of day in South Strabane township, January 15, 1854.
The first of his family to come to Washington county was Henry Taylor, who moved hither from Cecil county, Md., some time prior to 1780. Washington county was erected in March, 1781, and Henry Taylor became the first judge or president of courts therein, his appointment, which was dated October 2, 1781, coming from the chief executive council of Pennsylvania. He served with much ability as judge some years, and after a short interval was reappointed September 30, 1788, to the same position. He married Jane White, who bore him eleven children, of whom Matthew was the grandfather of the subject of these lines. Henry Taylor took up a "tomahawk right" to over 1,200 acres of land in the Rich Hills, in this county, all of which, with the exception of the Matthew Taylor estate, of South Strabane township, has passed out of the family. This sturdy old pioneer passed away from the scenes of his busy and eventful life in 1800. In addition to his civil offices, he was a general in the militia, and his commission is still in the possession of the family.
Matthew Taylor, son of Henry, and a native of South Strabane township, this county, is claimed as having been the first white child born west of the mountains. He was a farmer by occupation, owning the old homestead, and traveled considerably all over the county, which, in those early days, was a matter of no small enterprise. He married Miss Nancy Hutchinson, a woman of strong character, powerful will, thrifty in the extreme, the antithesis, it is recorded, of her husband. Of this union were born eleven children: Matthew, James, Thomas, George and William H. H. (all of whom died in Washington county), Polly (Mrs. John MacFarland), Sarah Jane (Mrs. Oliver Lindsay), Eliza (Mrs. Van Eman, in the West, the only member of this family now living), Henry (killed by a falling chimney, at a fire in Washington), Nancy (Mrs. Hugh Reynolds) and Rachel (Mrs. Workman Hughes). The mother died at the patriarchal age of ninety-two years, leaving to her children the imprint of her resolute and startling character.
William Henry Harrison Taylor, son of Matthew and Nancy Jane (Hutchinson) Taylor, was born in 1830 in South Strabane township, Washington Co., Penn., educated at the schools of his district, attending also Washington and Jefferson College, several years, and on the old homestead was reared to the multiform duties of farm life. In 1850 he married Miss Jane E., daughter of Charles E. Jones, who was born in 1799 in England, where he followed the carpenter's trade, and where he married Susan Judson. In 1827 they came to America, settling in Washington, Penn., where he continued his trade in connection with contracting for house building. Mr. and Mrs. Jones had the following children: Mary, Sarah, two that died in infancy, Jane E., William, Susan, Sylvester F., James J. and George O. The mother died in 1871, aged seventy-one years, the father January 11, 1883.
To Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were born six children, of whom the following is a succinct record: Edward M., pastor of the Tremont M.E. Church at Boston, Mass. (in 1872 he graduated from Washington and Jefferson College, and afterward with first honors at Boston School of Divinity; was on the circuit for a time, prior to locating in Massachusetts; married Miss Mary Bradford, a descendant of a "May Flower" family); James Franklin, the subject proper of this sketch; Emma, wife of John A. Hall, assistant postmaster at Washington, Penn.; Alice who died at the age of eleven years; William Nelson, senior member of the firm of Taylor & Speer, in the iron commission business at Pittsburgh, and who married a daughter of Stephen Crump; Susan Jane, wife of Dr. Maurer, of Washington.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor remained on the farm until 1866, when they moved with their family into Washington, for the purpose of educating their children, where he opened a general fresh and salt meat business, including pork packing and stock buying, and formed a partnership with Robert Charlton, which continued till the latter's death, after which Mr. Taylor carried on the business alone till the time of his decease, February 9, 1884, he being then fifty-four years old. He is buried in Washington cemetery. A stanch Republican and a loyal American, he took a strong interest in all national matters, political or otherwise, but was no office seeker. During the war of the Rebellion he was a fearless, out-spoken Union man, frequently even to the extent of exciting the ire of some less loyal acquaintance. He was a consistent member of the M.E. Church, and one of the leaders in the congregation in building the new First M.E. church, at Washington, of which he was a trustee. He was a pronounced advocate of education, and gave his children every advantage possible in that line, sending his sons to college and his daughters to seminaries, and held the office of school director at different times. He was, physically, a strong, vigorous man, but succumbed to diabetes, from which he was a sufferer for several years. Honest in his dealings, a despiser of shams of all kinds, and a hater of deceit and mendacity, he made and kept hosts of warm friends, who respected and honored him for his many virtues. Since his departure, his widow, still hale and hearty, has continued to reside at the old town house on West Wheeling street.
James Franklin Taylor was about twelve years old when the family moved to Washington, at the public schools of which place he received a liberal English education. He then entered the preparatory department of Washington and Jefferson College, and continued until the end of the junior year, when he ceased study for a year for recuperation, intending to return the following year, but changed his mind when his old classmates had graduated and gone forth. Having decided to take up the legal profession, Mr. Taylor, in 1876, commenced the study of law in the office of Boyd Crumrine, and November 10, 1879, was admitted to the bar of the county. He at once opened an office in Washington and commenced practice; but later returned to Mr. Crumrine's office, where he remained until 1883, in which year he was elected district attorney, and after serving three years was re-elected for another term. There was no opposition to his nomination, as he was very popular with the people, having served with full satisfaction to his constituents in previous offices. In 1882 he was chairman of the Republican County Committee, prior to which he had served as secretary of the same; was also assistant burgess of the borough of Washington for one term. On January 1, 1891, our subject entered into the present partnership with Winfield McIlvaine, making a strong team in the general practice of law. Mr. Taylor's success as a lawyer has been such that has been prominently mentioned for the position of judge of the several courts of his native county, the position twice filled by his great-grandfather, the Hon. Henry Taylor.
In September 1884, Mr. Taylor married Annie Walton, eldest daughter of Rev. Richard L. Miller, D.D., pastor of an M.E. Church in Pittsburgh, and of this union have been born three children: Alice, Woodward and Virginia, all at the parental home on East Maiden street immediately outside the eastern limits of the borough, the house being of brick, comfortable and commodious. Mr. Taylor is a director (was one of the first directors) of the Citizens National Bank, of which he was an original stockholder; and was also one of the three serving as a committee on the erection of a building for the same bank. While a student at college he was a prominent member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
Text taken from page 292 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed May 1997 by Linda Carroll of So. Chicago Heights, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published May 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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