Biography of William Taylor
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For twenty-eight years William Taylor has resided in Latah County, and is therefore one of the honored pioneer farmers of the locality. He has not only witnessed the entire growth and development of this section of the state, but has ever borne his part in the work of progress, and his name should be enduringly inscribed on the pages of its history. A native of the Emerald Isle, he was born in county Armagh, Ireland, April 15, 1820, his parents being Joseph and Elizabeth (Rankin) Taylor. In 1840 the father came to America, bringing with him his wife and seven children. They made the voyage on the sailing vessel Fairfield, and were five weeks on the passage. They took up their residence on Bonus prairie, Boone county, Illinois, near where the city of Belvidere now stands, the father purchasing forty acres of land, from which he developed a fine farm. The city of Chicago was then but a little muddy village and the country was largely unimproved. Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church, were highly respected people, and each lived to the age of seventy-three rears.
William Taylor, their eldest child, was educated in his native land, and learned the mason’s trade, serving a five years’ apprenticeship. After becoming a resident of Illinois he followed that pursuit, doing much of the work in his line in that early day both in Belvidere and Rockford. Many of the substantial structures of those towns still stand in evidence of his excellent handiwork. He was married, in Illinois, to Miss Priscilla Mitchell, a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of Thomas Mitchell of that state.
In 1871 Mr. Taylor determined to seek a location in the new and undeveloped west. He first made his way to California, later traveled through Oregon and then came to Idaho. Here he believed he had found the richest farming land in the United States, and the unsettled condition of the country made it possible for him to take his choice of a claim in the vast region. He selected the farm upon which he now resides, it being then covered with rich verdure. With 1 spade he turned the sod in several places and found a rich black loam, from four to five feet deep. There was also a little stream on the place and several good springs, and he believed that everything could be grown in abundance here. Time has proved the wisdom of his judgment, as his labors have resulted in making this one of the finest and richest farming properties in the state. He built a log house and then wrote for his wife to join him in the new home. With her children she traveled to Ogden, Utah, where Mr. Taylor met them with a team, thus conveying them to the new farm in the wilds of Idaho.
During those first years he had very little money. He had to go to Walla Walla for supplies, and for four years Mr. Silcott, who ran the ferry at Lewiston, trusted him for his ferry bill, but after a time he was able to do some building for the kind ferryman, and thus discharged his indebtedness and received twenty-five dollars additional for his labor. Mr. Taylor is a man of great industry, energy, diligence and practical common sense, and in his undertaking. he prospered. He improved the place and added to it until he has six hundred and forty acres of the splendid farming land of the district. His son, Thomas J., grew up to be a capable young business man and became associated with W. A. Lauder, a son-in-law of our subject, in the manufacture of brick. They met with splendid success in the business, did contracting and building and furnished all the brick used in Moscow. They erected many of the finest public buildings, including the State University. In order to help his son and son-in-law in their business reverses, he sold a portion of the old homestead, but still has left one hundred acres of the old homestead and three hundred and twenty acres of timber land in the mountains, not far distant. In addition to the fine springs of pure water which he has on his homestead, there is a rich mineral spring which has fine medicinal properties, being a curative for a number of diseases. Charles W. McCurdy, of the chemical department of the University of Idaho, has made a most careful analysis of this mineral earth showing its elements and properties, and in the hands of an enterprising man the spring might be made a most profitable business undertaking, but Mr. Taylor is now too far advanced in years to under-take a new work of this character.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are Thomas J., now sheriff of Lemhi County, Idaho, and a prominent young man; Edward, who was graduated from West Point Military Academy and is now an officer in the regular army, serving his country in Manila; Elizabeth, wife of Mr. Clayton, of Moscow; and Minnie, wife of W. A. Lauder. The other children are now deceased.
In early life Mr. Taylor became a Master Mason, in Illinois. In politics he was formerly a Republican, but differing with the party on the money question, he now gives his support to the men and measures that, in his judgment, stand for the best interests of the country. He is a gentleman of broad intelligence, of sterling worth and unassailable reputation, and he and his estimable wife are numbered among the honored pioneers of northern Idaho, pioneers to whose-unselfish efforts this section of the state largely owes its prosperity and progress.