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Biography of William Taylor (1804-1890)

by Sally Knutson

(Paragraphs in italics are the exact words of William Taylor--spelling, punctuation and grammar as he wrote it.) (Return to Biography title page)

Page 1--Early years
Page 2--First journey to California
Page 3--Life in Nevada County
Page 4--Later years

Page 4

(Paragraphs in italics are the exact words of William Taylor--spelling, punctuation and grammar as he wrote it.)

Poor William did everything he could think of to make enough money to support his family. He tried to grow wheat and it had smut. He tried hauling timber and hay to Sacramento and had a horrid accident with one of his wagons. He bought a smaller wagon and peddled from Marysville to Nevada City. He liked being in the merchandise business. It was a lot of work and he was away from home much of the time. His son Robert took the wagons to Nevada to get in on the Comstock trade. William built a big barn on his ranch and after the terrible livery fire in Rough and Ready was offered the chance to become the stopping place for the stages.

“Well the stages were all “runing” and stopping with us as agreed on. The down stage from Nevada came down a little before day break. I got up in time to have a nice cup of hot coffee, cakes, and pies, etc. (you all know I had a large fireplace in the front room), built a rousing fire, there was some good eats of different kinds if wanted. Everything looked cheerful and comfortable! I often placed in the till four or five dollars in the morning, with the dinners at noon and other “travling” customers, now did not this look encouraging? I “cept” an “acurate” account at the time and was making over one hundred and fifty dollars clear of all expenses family included. We had finished our barn, built a large shed before the house for the stages and teamsters, to shelter under out of the rain and sun, but just as we had completed all this and “laid” by no money, the rail road flew by, changed the Sacramento “rout” and we lost the Sacramento “travil”. The Marysville stages “stopt” with us afterward, but never was profitable well here was a tumble again from anticipation!!”

“I never dreamed that my dear wife and mother would be the first to depart this life, for she was ten years “yonger”, had always been healthy, while at times I had been sick! but God in his providence ordered it “differant”! and I have left a long, long time to mourn her loss! She had been a faithful companion under trying as well as pleasant circumstances. Yes Mother drew her last breath surrounded by her children 10th of August 1869. I was sitting by her side, she breathed her last breath without a struggle! she fell a sleep! the long sleep! the eternal sleep!! and left her darling children and I to mourn her loss!!”

Dear, dear William was only 65 years old when this latest blow struck. He had lost two young sons, two wives and there was still another tragedy to come. In 1875, his son John, a student at the University of California at Berkeley came home for the summer and took some friends into the High Sierra and was shot to death. William managed to live to be 84. He spent his last days visiting his children and their families. He considered his life to have been a failure but when I think of all he did and the people he left, I consider him MY HERO.


This journal was hand written in 1884 when William Taylor was 80 years old. My mother, Katheryn June Barker Hoffman and I transcribed it over a period of 30 years. I have the original leather bound journal and will one day give it to the California State Historic Library in Sacramento. I have the entire journal on Word and can send all or part to anyone who would like to read it. SHK


Sally Barker Hoffman Knutson
March 2013
Nevada City, California


Here are William’s children.

Azalene Johns lived in Sacramento. She and Alfred Johns had seven daughters.

Gertrude Barker lived in Grass Valley. She married Charles Barker from New Hampshire. 
	She was my great grandmother. She had three sons.

Kate Obrien married a well to do Irish lawyer. Thomas Victor O’Brien and Kate had 5 sons
	 and lived in Belvedere and San Francisco.

Robert lived most of his life in Nevada. He had one son and 4 daughters.
	 He died in Alameda County, California.

William lived in the San Joaquin Valley and had two sons and two daughters.

Cornelius became a lawyer, married twice and had two daughters. He lived most of his life
	 in Nevada County. He died in Montana.

Edgar married twice and had three daughters and a son who became a noted Southern California artist.
	 (Edgar Dorsey Taylor) His oldest daughter married Robert McMurray Searls.

Thomas married and had two sons and three daughters. He settled in the Fresno area of California.

Franklin, the oldest son, stayed in Mississippi, married and had three sons and a daughter.

The three girls from his first family all stayed in Mississippi and married. Two of them had children.
	 The third raised a pair of children from her husbands’ former marriage.


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This page last updated: 4 July 2015

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