Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 
 

Emzy Taylor 

Historical Marker
Georgetown, Texas

 


Emzy Taylor 
Serviced As Chief Of The
City's Volunteer Fire Department

1841-1895

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Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department
Emzy Taylor front row 2nd from right
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Fire Station and Old City Hall

as of 2010

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Marker Text
Arkansas native Emmy Taylor clerked in his father's merman tile store in Georgetown before serving as a confederate captain in the red river campaign of the civil war. he married Margaret corona Henderson in  1864 while on furlough. After the war he returned to Georgetown and took over the family business. At  the forefront of Georgetown’s early development, Taylor led efforts to establish the first college,  national bank, regional railroad line, and water utility service. He took special pride in his formation and service as chief of the city's volunteer fire department.

 



Georgetown Fire House and Old City Hall
view the Old Fire Station

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Fire House - and old City Hall



 

A special thanks to the Focuses magazine and Ellen Davis for this slice of history article on Emzy Taylor. view PDF

 


 

 
 
Captain Emzy Taylor narrative - 1841-1895

Progressive leadership influenced the early development of Georgetown and charted its course of history. When confronted by adversity or by the common transitional phases that all emerging communities must address, individuals came forth to provide the critical decision-making, the sound planning, and even the calculated risks essential for sustained growth. In that regard, no person was more instrumental in Georgetown's development than Captain Emzy Taylor. An active business leader and an unrelenting advocate of the city's promise and potential, he symbolized the spirit that characterized Georgetown's early history. His tireless efforts on behalf of his beloved community not only influenced its initial successes, but helped set the agenda for its future growth.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 7, 1841, Emzy Taylor was the son of Josiah and Catherine (Lee) Taylor. His family later lived in Missouri and in Texas counties east of Georgetown before moving to Williamson County in 1848. Near present Hutto, Josiah Taylor established a mercantile. About 1849, he moved the business to the new county seat of Georgetown and opened a store on the courthouse square where the M. B. Lockett Building is now located. (A marker application for the M. B. Lockett Building was submitted to the Texas Historical Commission in 1990.)1

Emzy Taylor clerked in his father's store until 1861 when, at the onset of the Civil War, he left to join the Confederate Army; He was first assigned to a regiment in Virginia headed by Colonel John Bell Hood. Taylor suffered from ill health, however, and was soon released because of a lung ailment thought to be "consumption." He returned to Texas and, after regaining his health, organized an infantry company with Georgetown attorney Alex Chalmers. Chalmers served as its captain and Taylor as its second lieutenant. Their unit, which became part of the 16th Texas Infantry under the command of Colonel George Flournoy, joined in the Confederate defense of the Red River valley in Louisiana. (2)

In an effort to disrupt Southern supply lines and to divide Texas from the rest of the Confederacy, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks led a massive invasion of the valley in 1864. Emzy Taylor participated in the decisive battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill that signaled an end to the Federal campaign. Following the death of Captain Chalmers at Mansfield, Taylor assumed the rank and unit command. In subsequent action he was taken prisoner and held at Grand Ecore, Louisiana, for ten days. (3)

After his service in the Red River Campaign, Captain Emzy Taylor received a furlough and returned to Williamson County, where he married Margaret Corinna Henderson (1842 -1922) of Round Rock on July 7, 1864. (4) Their correspondence, dating from the time of Taylor's initial military enlistment in 1861 and continuing throughout the duration of his service, provides a stirring account of a soldier's life, as Well as life on the Texas home front, during the Civil War. Writing from Natchitoches, Louisiana, on May 7, 1864, Taylor noted:

  Our loss is reported very severe, and I fear that my company has suffered a great deal. I have learned that its loss at Pleasant Hill was only five wounded, none dangerously, making our loss in the two days engagement one killed and nine wounded. Sergt T. S. Webb did not die as was reported but has had his leg amputated about his knee and is getting well. We have several Federal Prisoners and Jayhawkers under guard here at present and send off a lot every week for Tyler Texas. (5)  

Taylor's wartime correspondence also reveals his deep devotion to his wife, whom he called Cora. Late in 1864, he wrote -
 
I employ all my idle moments in writing to you and thinking about you. I dream of you when sleeping and think of you when waking; you are ever with me consoling and cheering me in my trials, and often am I restrained from doing wrong by the thought of you, who are so innocent pure and good, that no matter how angry I might be a smile from your lovely face is sufficient to restore me to good humor even when I can only see that face in memory's faithful glass. (6)
 

Less than six months after that letter, the Civil War ended and Captain Emzy Taylor returned to Williamson County. He continued in the family business, inheriting it upon his father's death In 1868. Despite the adversities of Reconstruction, Georgetown developed steadily and Taylor figured prominently in that important transformation. Indicative of his public service was his role as secretary of a local group organized to establish a college in the city. Known initially as Georgetown College, the institution later became Texas University before being chartered in the 1870s as Southwestern University. He also helped initiate the local Chautauqua organization, which brought renowned speakers and entertainers to Georgetown. Of his many civic contributions, Emzy Taylor was particularly proud of his role in organizing the town's volunteer fire department, which he directed for the first years of its existence. (7)

In business, Captain Taylor was in the forefront of economic development. A charter director, and later president, of the Georgetown Railroad Company, he oversaw establishment of the town's first rail line in the 1870s. Linking up with an existing line at Round Rock, the new commercial artery proved vital to Georgetown's continued growth. (8)

In the early 1880s, Taylor sold his mercantile business to the firm of Rucker and Montgomery and opened a private bank. In 1890, his financial institution became the First National Bank of Georgetown and he was named its first president. Taylor also initiated a water works, which he eventually sold to the city, and a nursery business that shipped locally grown produce to widespread markets. (9)

Emzy Taylor was active in real estate and, over the years, amassed sizeable holdings throughout the county, but particularly In the vicinity of Georgetown and Granger. Taylor believed Granger, like Georgetown, held great economic potential
and he planned eventually to link the two by rail. To aid in the development of Granger, he donated land for the construction of the community high school and also conveyed property to the Granger Methodist Episcopal Church. (10)

The Taylor family home, at 105 E. 5th Street in Georgetown, still stands. (1) There, Emzy and Cora raised two children: a son, Lee M. Taylor, and a daughter, Corinna, later the wife of R. T. Cooper. A third child born to the couple died in infancy. Both Lee Taylor and R. T. Cooper eventually joined Captain Taylor as officers of the First National Bank.12

By the 1890s, Captain Emzy Taylor was at the height of his business career. Successful in banking and real estate, he once again turned his attention to the development of a railroad venture, this time to construct his proposed tap line to Granger. The work stalled, however, and some of Taylor's key investors began pulling out of the project. Beset by the tremendous business pressures that followed and plagued by massive headaches, Emzy Taylor took his own life on June 29, 1895. His death was a shock to the community and to his many friends in neighboring towns and counties. In a fitting front-page tribute to the revered pioneer, the Williamson County Sun observed:
 
He has gone from among us, but the memory of his kindly heart and generous deeds will long remain. To the poor and needy he was a genuine friend, and his purse was always open to the call of distress. No deserving appeal was unheeded by him, and his benefactions knew not creed, race or sect. ... Many are the men in this town who declare he was their best friend, a friend who gave help when most needed. Many are the persons whose eyes will moisten with tears when they read this sketch, think of his untimely end, and recall the warm grasp of his hand, and his cheering word of sympathy. Few of her citizens could Georgetown have worse spared, for few of them possess his public spirit and daring genius that reeked not of
discouragement and obstacles.13
 

As a legacy to Captain Emzy Taylor, the Granger link line was completed, influencing even greater economic growth for Georgetown well into the twentieth century. His impact continues to be felt, almost a century after his death.

Researched and written by.
Dan K. Utley, Historian Austin, Texas
March 1991

ADDENDUM
On April 28, 1991, in a joint venture between Southwestern University and the Georgetown Heritage Society, Captain Emzy Taylor was formally entered into the school's Hall of Honor. Attending the ceremony were many of Taylor's descendants, some of whom still live and work in Georgetown. Special guests were members of the Georgetown Fire Department and the memorial history was read by City Fire Chief Les Bunte.

END NOT ES
1-Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water (Georgetown: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973), p. 114; Williamson County Sun, July 4, 1895; History of Texas Together With a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1893), p. 647. Note: Historical accounts differ on the date Josiah Taylor established his store near Hutto, but they agree that the Taylor family moved to Georgetown in 1849.
2-History of Texas, p. 647; Williamson County Sun, July 4, 1895; Walter Prescott Webb, ed., The Handbook of Texas, Vol. I (Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1952), p. 612.
3-Ludwell H. Johnson, Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1958, rpt. 1986), pp. 79-170 and p. 215; History of Texas, p. 647. Note: The Johnson book was used for background information on the Civil War battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.

4-History of Texas, p. 648; Genealogical information written in family Bible, now in possession of Emzy Taylor's descendant, Mrs. Katherine Stone of Georgetown.

5-Emzy Taylor papers. Correspondence and other papers now in possession of Mrs. Katherine Stone of Georgetown. Copies of some letters included with application.

6-Emzy Taylor papers.

7-Emzy Taylor papers. Note: Includes a stock certificate issued to Morrow and Price showing Emzy Taylor as secretary to the Board of Trustees for Georgetown College; History of Texas, pp. 647-648; Scarbrough, p. 243; Williamson County Sun, July 4, 1895.

8-Williamson County Deed Records, County Clerk's Office, Williamson County Courthouse, Georgetown, Texas: 20/81 (railroad charter), 20/248, and 51/284. Note: The legal records do not correspond exactly with historical accounts of the railroad included in newspaper articles and in Land of Good Water, although all records show the railroad developed in the 1870s. The company charter (Volume 20, page 81) was signed on May 16, 1878, and lists Emzy Taylor as a member of the Board of Directors. In a subsequent transaction that year, he is listed as president. He was also president in 1890 when the company sold several lots to the International and Great Northern Railroad.

9-Williamson County Deed Records: 43/544; Scarbrough, p. 234; History of Texas, p. 648; Williamson County Sun, July 5, 1895.

10-Williamson County Deed Records: 54/91 and 60/639.

11-The marker for Emzy Taylor, if approved, will be placed in front of his former home, which is known locally as the Taylor—Cooper House. Built ca. 1870, the home was remodeled to its present design in 1902.

12-Williamson County Sun, July 5,1895.

13-Williamson County Sun, July 5, 1 895.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Emzy Taylor papers. Correspondence, photographs, family Bible, and other memorabilia. In possession of Mrs. Katherine Stone of Georgetown.
History of Texas Together With a Biographical History of Milam , Williamson, Bastrop, Travis. Lee and Burleson Counties. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1893. Johnson, Ludwell H. Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1958 ( rpt. 1986).

Scarbrough, Clara Stearns. Land of Good Water. Georgetown: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973. Webb, Walter Prescott, ed. The Handbook of Texas, Vol. I. Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1952.
Williamson County Deed Records. County Clerk's Office. Williamson County Courthouse. Georgetown, Texas. Williamson County Sun (Georgetown, Texas), July 5, 1895.



from the History of Texas Book

 

CAPTAIN EMZY TAYLOR, president of the First National Bank of Georgetown, and one of the city's most prosperous and highly respected citizens, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, October 7, 1841, a son of Josiah and Catherine (Leo) Taylor. Emzy Taylor, the second child in order of birth, has resided in Georgetown since 1849. His education was received principally in Georgetown, where he clerked in his father's store for a time. In 1861 he en­listed for service in the late war, in Colonel, later in General, J. B. Hood's Regiment. He went from Texas to Virginia, and on account of failing health was discharged December 4, 1861. But he laid in the hospital at Dumfries until in March, 1862. When he entered the service he weighed 166 pounds, but at Dum­fries, Virginia, he was weighed and found he had lost eighty-four pounds. His disease was pronounced by the physicians to be consumption, and his papers were signed by General J. 13. Hood, with whom he was in­timately acquainted. The latter gentleman had that happy faculty of knowing all his men. He associated the name and the face, and his memory of persons and countenances was such that lie rarely ever lost sight of either. After leaving for home, in 1862, Mr. Taylor never saw General Hood until several years after the close of the war, when, as he was passing the hotel in Georgetown one day, the latter, who was a guest there, recognized and called hint by name, while he was more than twenty feet away. In May, 1862, Mr. Taylor enlisted in the Sixteenth Texas  Volunteer Infantry, known as Flourney's Regi­ment, was elected Second Senior Lieutenant of his company, later promoted to First Lieu­tenant, and subsequently, after the death of Captain Chalmers, at Mansfield, Louisiana, was made Captain of his company, serving in that capacity until the close of the war. He was in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, taken prisoner and confined ten days at Grand Ecore, and also took part in the battle of Milliken's Bend and many skirmishes.

 

After the close of the war Mr. Taylor be­gan merchandising in Georgetown, and later became a partner of J. L. Brittain. That partnership continued two years, and our subject then continued business alone until the latter part of 1881, when he sold his store to Rucker & Montgomery. In 1882 Mr. Taylor embarked in the banking business in Georgetown, conducting a private bank until June 2, 1890, when it was organized as a national bank, with a capital stock of $50,­000. The officers are: E. Taylor, president; Andrew J. Nelson, vice president; Lee M. Taylor, cashier; and F. W. Carothers, as­sistant cashier. In 1876 Mr. Taylor started the project of a railroad from Georgetown to Round Rock, which was built, operated one year, and then, in 1877, turned over to the International & Great Northern Railroad. They now have on hand a railroad from Georgetown to Granger had the right of way, depot and grounds, and fifteen miles of grading completed. Mr. Taylor was also instrumental in starting the water works of Georgetown, which were sold to the city at a later day was secretary. of a company who organized to have the Southwestern University located in this .city. The valuation of $150,000 was donated to the Southwestern University, and from $75,000 to 100,000 of this amount came from Georgetown. In company, with others, our subject organized the Texas. Chautauqua, located within one half a mile of .the city, giving $10,000 and 200 acres of land to have it placed in its present location. They have the finest lecturers in the United States during the college vacation. The grounds are beautiful, and ease of access from the city.

 

July 7, 1864, Mr. Taylor was united in marriage with Miss Margaret C. Henderson. Her parents died when she was a mere child, and she was reared in Tennessee by her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Martha Mayes, a widow. They came to Texas in 1856. Our subject and wife have two children living: Lee M., cashier of the First National Bank and Corinna, wife of R. T. Cooper, collector in the same bank. They have three children: Madge, Bessie Bell and Corinna. Lee M. Taylor married Fannie Talliferro, whose grandfather, Rev. Talliferro, preached the first sermon in Williamson County, at the residence of Freeman Smalley, on Brushy creek. Mr. and Mrs. Lee Taylor have one child, Mabel. Our subject and wife are members of the Baptist Church, in which the former holds the office of Treasurer. Politically, Mr. Taylor is a Democrat, and takes an interest in all home enterprises. He is of refinement and an estimable citizen Possesses superior business qualifications; and his integrity of character, honorable and upright, dealings and kind consideration of his fellow man, have won for him the highest regard of  the community and. the county in, which he lives.

 

 


 

 

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