Serviced As Chief Of
City's Volunteer Fire
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Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department
Emzy Taylor front row 2nd from right
(click to enlarge image)
Fire Station and Old City Hall
as of 2010
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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,
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.
A special thanks to the Focuses
magazine and Ellen Davis for this slice of history
article on Emzy Taylor.
Captain Emzy Taylor
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
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,
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
Researched and written by.
Dan K. Utley, Historian Austin, Texas
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
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.
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
Markers in Georgetown
Historical Markers in Williamson County