HENRY SEELEY TAYLOR – Thirty-three years have passed since the death of Henry Seeley Taylor caused universal sorrow in the city of Pittsfield, yet many residents of the present day recall his fine face and distinguished figure, both in the clothing store of which he was long the head, and in his activities as a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. As a business man Mr. Taylor was above reproach, his kindly courtesy and considerate interest in his customers having been only the outgrowth and evidence of an integrity which governed every act of his life. Friend of all, benevolent in a marked degree, and open hearted toward every worthy cause or movement, Mr. Taylor won his successful position in the business world through his tireless endeavors and excellent judgment, and those most closely affiliated with him in his business interests were most sincere in their praise and commendation of the man.
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Henry Seeley Taylor was born in Bethel, Connecticut, August 18, 1828, and died in Pittsfield, September 6, 1891. His education was limited to the advantages of the common schools, and when only a young man he entered the business world. The family became residents of Monterey, Massachusetts, and he was seventeen years old when the family removed to Lenox. There he resided for a number of years, and it was in that community that he married. In 1855, Mr. Taylor became associated with his father-in-law, James S. Davis, in a business interest in Pittsfield, and together they opened a clothing store, which became even in the early years of its history a leading enterprise of its kind in this part of the State. Their location was on the site where now the England Block stands, and they continued active in partnership for twenty-one years. Mr. Davis then (1876) retired, and from that time until his death, Mr. Taylor was at the head of the business. With the retirement of his former partner Mr. Taylor received into the firm his two sons, Frank D. and Henry A. Taylor, who bore a worthy and constructive part in the progress of the enterprise. The death of Henry A. Taylor in 1885, left Frank D. Taylor the active head of the enterprise, for, although the father retained his interest in the business until his death, he practically retired from activity while his sons were associated together with him. The enterprise has now, for many years, been known under the title of H. S. Taylor & Sons, and in memory of its honored founder a standard of attainment is upheld which does credit to the history of the business. To the thousands of customers who have had satisfactory dealings with this concern in its various stages of progress, the firm name has become one of more than casual significance, for among all who know the present head of the firm or who recall its former members, their progressive attitude is honored and esteemed and the usefulness of the organization is universally recognized.
In the life of Henry Seeley Taylor two interests predominated, for among those who knew him best the importance of the one was equaled by his devotion to the other. While he was a business man of more than usual ability and was recognized as an able executive, his interest in the work of the local Methodist Episcopal Church was of equal significance in his life. His efforts for this organization were of the greatest importance to its progress, for he was a tireless worker in its advance.
Possessing a fine and flexible voice of unusual range and quality, Mr. Taylor sang in the choir of the Methodist Episcopal Church for more than a quarter of a century. He was long an officer of the church society, and his consistent Christian character was a wide influence for good among all with whom he came in contact. As a steward and the treasurer of the church for many years, Mr. Taylor worthily bore these burdens of official responsibility without remuneration of any kind whatsoever. For thirty years he never failed to attend Sunday school, except on two occasions. The death of his wife kept him at home on one Sunday, and his own serious illness the year before his death prevented his attendance. The death of Mr. Taylor was a great blow to the church organization, and in both his business circles and his church organization he was sadly missed. The record of his life, however, was one which cannot fail to inspire those who follow after to lofty achievement and unselfish endeavor. His name stands among those of the honored and revered citizens of Pittsfield.
Henry Seeley Taylor married Fannie M. Davis, daughter of James S. Davis, and they were the parents of two sons: Frank D., a biography of whom follows, and Henry A.