William Taylor (1787-1839)
William Taylor, the eldest son of Joseph Taylor, Jr. and Sarah Best, was born 21
March 1787 in Martin County, North Carolina. Because of boundary changes, the
Taylor land holdings later became part of Tyrell, then Edgecombe County.
William's full name may be William Warren Taylor if entries in two separate LDS
records are correct. In the Harrisville Ward record Pleasant Green Taylor was
baptized by W. W. Taylor, his father; LDS Patriarchal Blessing for John Taylor
gives his parents' names as William Warren Taylor and Elizabeth Patrick.
Raised on the Taylor Plantation near Coneto Creek, William was surrounded with
loving parents, grandparents, and several aunts and uncles and cousins. As he
grew up, he served as a surveying chain carrier for his father and grandfather
William lived in North Carolina until he was 21 years of age, when he left that
beautiful state to carve out his destiny in Kentucky. The new home that he and
his parents chose was a lovely place 12 miles north of Bowling Green and just
west of Richardsville near the Barren River. Here his parents bought 276 acres
of fertile land. Wonderful springs provided a good water supply for the family.
the same time that the Taylors came to Kentucky, the John Patrick and Sarah
Kendrick family also settled there. They had left their home in Halifax County,
North Carolina, and prior to that had lived in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.
Bringing a large family of 11 children, the Patricks settled about eight miles
west of Bowling Green. William Taylor and Elizabeth Patrick met, fell in love,
and married on 22 March 1811 in Warren County, probably at the Taylor Family
cabin. A Baptist minister named Robert Daugherty, who was related to the Moses
Taylor family living near the Caspar River, crossed that river to perform the
marriage ceremony. No relationship between those two Taylor families has been
found to date.
According to Warren County Court records, William had important responsibilities
in Warren County concerning the roads. A farmer, he worked hard for his wife and
family. He and Elizabeth raised 11 children near Richardsville from 1812 until
1830. In 1830 or 1831 William and Elizabeth decided to leave Warren County,
Kentucky, and move to Missouri. This must have been a difficult decision for
them because of family circumstances. William's father had passed away on 22
March 1818, leaving his mother still living in the cabin he had built, with a
faithful slave Jake to help care for her. To leave meant that William probably
would never see his mother again. Elizabeth, too, had lost her father, John
Patrick, in November 1816 and probably wondered if she would ever see her mother
again. Contemplating a move of over 250 miles, both must have wondered if they
would ever see other members of their family circle they would leave behind.
William and Elizabeth made the difficult journey to eastern Missouri and settled
in Monroe County in 1830 or 1831. Their son Pleasant Green later described that
area in his autobiography as follows: "This part of Missouri at that time was a
wilderness, inhabited by the Red man, and numerous wild animals abounded here.
It was a beautiful country, consisting of prairie and timber land. William had a
home consisting of 640 acres of very valuable land." Ludson Green Patrick, one
of Elizabeth's brothers, had preceded them into Missouri, where he obtained a
grant of land, described as ''Half of Lot #l. Township 55 Range 10 West, dated
31 July 1831. Levi Turner, Elizabeth's brother-in-law, obtained the other half
of Lot #l on 19 October 1831. After their arrival, William and Elizabeth
obtained the east half of the North West Quarter of Section 22 Township 54 Range
8 West, on 3 November 1831.
Thus the three Patrick/Taylor families coming from Warren County, Kentucky, were
all established in Monroe County, Missouri during the year 1831. William and
Elizabeth Taylor sold their 1831 grant to John F. Grigsby on 3 April 1832. They
then obtained three other land grants, the first dated 9 May 1832, described as
"the East Quarter of Section #4, Township No. 53, Range 8 West." The second one
adjoining the previous two, was obtained 23 April 1834.
William Taylor, a strong man, standing over six feet tall, was purported to be
very pronounced in his views as a Democrat. Well acquainted with the Bible, he
and Elizabeth taught their children to love that book and its teachings.
After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized 6 April 1830
in the state of New York, its members encountered opposition and persecution
wherever they went in search of peace and safety.
Evidently some missionaries of the L.D.S. Church found the William Taylor family
in Monroe County sometime in 1832--probably springtime. William thought he was
the first person to be baptized into the Church in the State of Missouri.
Baptized after hearing only one sermon, he was soon ordained an Elder and became
an earnest expounder of the doctrines of the Church. He became a member of the
Salt River Branch, also known as the Bowling Green Branch which was organized in
Meanwhile a group of Latter-Day Saints had settled in Western Missouri--in
Jackson County. Commanded to live the Law of Consecration and to purchase the
land for an inheritance, they were soon plagued by the spirit of speculation and
feelings of disunity. Failing to heed the counsel of authority, they soon
aroused the hostility of the older settlers there, which led to mobbings and
severe persecution. Concerned for their welfare, the Prophet Joseph Smith
organized a group of men, Zion's Camp, to march from Ohio to give them aid.
Zion's Camp, traveling westward toward Jackson County, arrived at the Salt River
Settlement 7 June 1834. Next day, Sunday, after meetings had been held, Hyrum
Smith and Lyman Wight arrived with additional volunteers. At the Salt River
Branch Zion's Camp reached its maximum strength, 207 men. Remaining at the
settlement until the following Thursday, the Camp was engaged in repairing
wagons and harnesses, also refreshing and reorganizing the men. When they left
on June 12th, they had been joined by two of William and Elizabeth's
sons-in-law, Robert McCord and Isaac Allred, as well as Isaac's father James.
Family tradition also indicates that son John Taylor also joined the party.
Robert McCord died 24 June 1834 in Clay County, Missouri, of the cholera.
After reaching Jackson County, Missouri, the Camp disbanded, part of them
remaining in Missouri, while the rest made their way back to Kirtland, Ohio, in
William and Elizabeth settled next on the Fishing River in Ray County, Missouri.
There William bought two good farms. Remaining there until the fall of 1834,
they encountered such bitter persecution that they and other Saints in the area
had to leave their homes once again. William received nothing for his land; he
was also robbed of $500 in cash, 75 head of hogs, and considerable other
William's family next moved to Long Creek, eight miles south of Far West in Clay
County. There William bought 320 acres of land in October 1835. The family
remained in this location until the spring of 1839. By 1837 three more children
had been added to the Taylor family circle, making a total of 14--seven sons and
seven daughters. All members of the family witnessed the laying of the
cornerstone of the temple at Far West. They also moved into this city late in
the fall of 1838, where they were compelled to camp in the streets. So many
Saints had gathered there to escape mob violence that shelter could not be
obtained. Arriving at night, they made their beds upon the ground. Snow fell
during the night to the depth of ten inches, covering beds, clothing, shoes and
stockings, as they lay spread upon the ground.
They saw the Prophet Joseph surrrender himself to the mob, and they heard the
dreadful confusion made by the mob the following night. Elizabeth Taylor
prepared food and carried it to the brethren who were held as prisoners in the
After the surrender of the city, the Taylors returned to their home, a distance
of eight miles. There they found that about 7,000 of the mob had camped for two
nights at or near their place, turning their horses into the Taylor's cornfield.
The mob ate or destroyed about 300 bushels of potatoes, 75 geese, 100 chickens,
several head of cattle, 40 head of hogs, 20 stands of bees; too, they had burned
about one mile of rail fence in their campfires.
On 8 February 1839 they again moved from their home, leaving 1000 bushels of
corn in a crib, for which they received an old neck yoke, valued at $2.50. They
received nothing for their farm and improvements. Together with other faithful
Saints, they were expelled from their homes and from the State of Missouri by
order of Governor Boggs.
Their journey took them over 150 miles, across the Mississippi River, and into
Illinois. Much of the time the weather was very cold and stormy. Consequently,
the roads were muddy and miserable.
Along their route of travel the local residents were unkind, often turning the
hungry from their doors. Pleasant Green Taylor later recalled that once on that
journey, he watched a poor woman carrying a child in her arms. When the woman
stopped at a house by the roadside to ask for a morsel of bread for herself and
the child, the man called her a "damned Mormon" and ordered her to leave, giving
her nothing to eat.
Pleasant Green related another incident which portrays the Christ-like nature of
his father. When an aged couple named Singleton lost their only horse on the
exodus, they were powerless to move their wagon beyond the reach of the mob.
William Taylor unhitched one of his best horses and hitched it to the old
gentleman's wagon and told the couple to take the horse and go in peace. So much
for the blessings that come during adversity when willing hearts are in tune
with the Spirit!
While en route to their destination in Illinois, William became ill and died 9
September 1839 (probably from typhoid fever). Buried beside the main road, his
grave was five miles from Lima and eight miles from Warsaw, Illinois. (NOTE: As
of 1998 some Taylor cousins who are researching the possible location of William
Taylor's burial have found a pioneer cemetery which fits the distances from Lima
and Warsaw which are specified above. We will hear more about this later.) The
burial was made on land belonging to Col. Levi Williams, a bitter enemy of the
Church. A few years later this Col. Williams boasted of having helped to kill
the Prophet, and he threatened to dig up the body of William Taylor and give it
to the hogs. Elizabeth called on her sons to gather some logs or poles, make a
fence around the grave and insure that the body was not disturbed.
short time before his death, William called his children to his bedside and
counseled them to rally around the priesthood and the main body of the church.
He also secured a promise from each of them that they would not marry outside of
Throughout his life, William was industrious, progressive and resourceful. He
had a strong will, but was humble and God-fearing. He had great faith and
courage to withstand wealth or poverty, whichever was his lot. When he decided
to join the Church, his relatives pleaded with him not to join; however, he had
the courage of his convictionis; he was baptized. He lost all he owned of
worldly goods, but he had the wisdom to recognize that these could not compare
with the riches of eternity. Like the saints of old, he did not shrink from
giving his life for the right cause. His death was brought on by the hardship
endured through the forced journey and from the persecutions and mobbing of
lawless Missourians. All these trials weakened him so the resulting disease
could destroy his life.
The above biography is based upon the one prepared by Shari Humpheries Franke in
her book. Family History of the Joseph Taylor, Jr. and Sarah Best Family,
currently under revision for the second edition (1998). Used with her
While research was in progress to determine, if possible, the location of
William Taylor's grave in Illinois, our cousin James Calvin Taylor, a man of
action, determined that more cousins would be able to find a memorial to William
if it were located in the Old Nauvoo City Cemetery (where more tourists visit).
Accordingly, he purchased two lots there and at his own expense erected a lovely
memorial to our William Taylor and Elizabeth Patrick. Cal's son Craig had been
interested in this project, also. After Craig was killed in a tragic plane crash
at Malad, Idaho on 15 Jan 1996, his name was included on the memorial. How
deeply we appreciate the generosity and good judgment of Cal and his companion!