Saturday, December 20, 2008

Taylor Migration Stories

The Taylors began their westward migration march from Yarmouth MA on Cape Cod, first to central Connecticut; see the Richard Taylor Central blog link on rrcentral-taylor (below), then look at the Taylor-Bray Farm wiki. The largest migration, with 60 people, was led by Lemuel Taylor II from Auburn NY to Oakland Co. MI; see the Lemuel Taylor Pioneer to Oakland Co. MI blog. This blog describes the personal experiences and adventures encountered by the various Taylors on other trips. The stories come from family papers and some orally transmitted stories.

Lester Taylor left Hartland CT in Spring 1819 when he was twenty years old to follow his older brother Horace to Claridon, OH, after getting engaged to Mary Wilder. He bought the property where he was to live for the rest of his life, then forested, began to clear it, and built a log cabin on it, surrounding it with rose trees. He came back by horseback to Hartland, married Mary Wilder May 2, 1821, and took her on a six hundred mile wedding journey by covered wagon drawn by two horses to Claridon; they arrived July 4. Childs Taylor Jr., a shoemaker by trade, followed his older brother Horace and younger brother Lester in 1830 and moved to Claridon Ohio with his family. His family consisted of his wife, Althea Beach Taylor, his eleven children (including two pairs of twins), and his widowed mother Rhoda Bates Taylor. They traveled via the newly-opened Erie Canal all the way to Buffalo. At Buffalo they took a sailing vessel for a trip of three days on Lake Erie to Fairport Harbor, OH. After buying milk from the lighthouse keeper for the baby and youngest child, they unloaded their luggage from the ship, packed the wagons, and headed 17 miles overland to Claridon. The approach of the wagons broke up a church service being held at the schoolhouse at Kellogg's Corners. Childs Taylor Jr. did not like the 500 acres he had purchased when he found it had Lake Aquilla on it-he wanted plowable land, so he traded the parcel for the next 500 acre parcel north of the original parcel. See Lester Taylor blog link on Richard Taylor Central for more information.

This westward move began in 1849 when brother-in-law Gay Hayden left Berlin WI and joined an ox team wagon train to Walla Walla, stayed briefly, then went on Vancouver WA. In 1883, the Poortland (OR) Chamber of Commerce got him interested in taking a trainload of produce (fruits and vegetables) east to boost the Northwest and attract settlers; on the way he visited the family in Minnesota and started to persuade them that they ought to move west. In 1886, Gay Hayden again came east and visited the family. Actually, the final decision in 1891 to move was mostly caused by the desire to move Spencer Allen Taylor to a warmer climate that would be easier on his crippling rheumatism and partly the result of a land sales pitch by Gay Hayden to Alpheus Taylor (age 90) and Spencer A. (son, age 60) that this land that grew big beautiful Douglass Firs would big beautiful apple trees with big beautiful apples. Unfortunately, not true, even though Edward Elmore Taylor (grandson) and Uncle Albert had gone west by train in 1891 to find such a suitable place, a fruit ranch, where they settled in May 1892. Alpheus and wife (who outlived him for years) lived with Edward E. and family, while Spencer A. and wife lived with them also until Uncle George Taylor finished his house in Portland and they could join him. Finally, Edward E. and his immediate family sold out and moved to Pullman WA in 1899. See Alpheus Taylor blog link on Richard Taylor Central for more information.

My favorite tale is about how Edward E. moved in 1921 from Salem OR to San Jose CA. He had never driven an auto before, even though he was about 57 years old at the time. So he bought a Model T Ford and decided to learn to drive by doing it. He may have bought a trailer or had one made to transport their possessions. So his wife and son got in and off the went. Now bear in mind, there was no four lane I-5 or UHaul trailers to rent, and no Game Boy to keep the teenager occupied. They traveled on old U.S. 99, and most of it was still unpaved (Old U.S. 101 was still unpaved north of Ukiah CA in 1944.). Edward E. had probably bought some extra tires and lashed them on the car roof, because flats and blowouts were common. Also common was the radiator boiling over, so they carried containers of water. The teenager's job was to refill these containers at the next creek, often at the bottom of a canyon. He may have helped start the car: he or his Dad turned the crank while the other switched on the ignition (the car had no starter motor). He may have also changed the flat tires or put new tires on the rim. I don't think the teenager needed a GameBoy to keep him occupied. There were almost no garages or service stations then, and gasoline was usually bought at a general store. It may have taken them a week or so to make the trip.

Another favorite story, a reverse migration, was about Dad moving us (Mom, my brother, me) in late Winter 1944 from Bolinas CA to Long Island NY. A moving van took our furniture and possessions, and we drove in a 1933 Chevrolet (It did have an automatic starter.). After saying goodby to family in Gridley and San Jose (My uncle was in Boston then-wartime assignment), we went down old U.S. 101 to Paso Robles, then took old U.S. 466 via Bakersfield, over the Tehachapi Pass and over the Mohave Desert to Barstow CA, where we picked up old U.S. 66. I've always loved the Mohave vegetation, especially the Joshua Trees. We continued on old U.S. 66, and detoured to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; there I saw my first snow-ever. Then the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert and 66 into New Mexico; I saw Navajos. I always had fried eggs and bacon for breakfast, and in Grants NM the restaurant cook peppered my eggs with red pepper; what a nasty surprise when I started to eat them! Then through Amarillo TX on 66 to Oklahoma City, where they even had towering oil derricks on the lawn of the State Capitol. Then over a sizeable stretch of dirt road (first U.S. 62, then U.S. 64) via Fort Smith and Conway Ark. to Memphis. Then on from Memphis across Tennessee and up the Shenadoah Valley, across the Blue Ridge to Washington DC and up U.S. 1 to New York City. This trip was entirely on two-lane, usually asphalt, roads.

See the Richard Taylor Central blog for other Taylor family blogs, including a blog giving other Taylor family stories.

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