Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Old Taylor City Hall
Historical Marker,
Taylor Texas


468 Texas Hwy 95 - Main Street


Taylor Old  City Hall Jail inside


click on thumbnail image for enlarged view

Taylor Old City
Hall and Jail Plaque

  Marker Text:
When the International & Great Northern Railroad built across Williamson County in 1876, one of the towns created along its route was "Taylorsville", named for railroad executive Moses Taylor. Lots were sold in June, and the post office opened on August 9, 1876. the earliest settlers included railroad officials such as I.&G.N. president John R. Hoxie and agent Henry Dickson, and merchants such as C. P. Vance, who moved his general store from Circleville. John McMurray started a private school, and Moritmer R. Hoxie donated land for a cemetery. Methodist and Presbyterian churches were organized in 1876, and other congregations the following year. Located on a cattle trail, the new community soon became a major shipping point for cattle. A second rail line, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, was extended to Taylorsville in 1882, spurring further growth. The town was incorporated in 1882 with Daniel Moody, father of Texas governor Dan Moody (1893-1966), as its first mayor. In 1892 the city's name was shortened to "Taylor". By that time, cotton had joined cattle and the railroad as an important element in the local economy. Today light industry and diversified farming contribute to Taylor's prosperity.
 
 


 
     
  A Brief History of 'Taylor, Williamson County'
by A. M. Ablgreen and Clara S. Scarborough

Taylor, originally called Taylorsville, was established on prairie land in eastern Williamson County. Two streams, Bull Branch and Mustang Creek, flow through the townsite. Although there were very early settlements on Brushy Creek to the south, and on the San Gabriel River to the north, there is no record of any habitation on the site of Taylor until 1876.

Taylorsville was the result of the building of the county's first railroad, the International and Great Northern, in 1876, across the southern part of the county. This line joined Rockdale and Austin, creating several new towns, including Taylor, that year.

The railroad laid lines to Flag Springs, now known as Allison's Lake, at the edge (east) of present Taylor, and proposed a town site there. C. P. Vance, who ran a store at Circleville on the San Gabriel, five miles to the north, started a store at Flag Springs. But the Texas Land Company bought land for a townsite a short distance west of Flag Springs and sold lots in June 1876 before the railroad was completed and the first train pulled into Taylorsville. This site was from the James C. Eaves Survey (2511 acres) and the John Winsett Survey (2511 acres), which the Land Company bought from N. W. Hunter. Hunter received $2505.00 for approximately 500 acres.

Six years later, a second rail line--the Missouri Pacific (later the Missouri-Kansas & Texas)--extended its line southward from Fort Worth, reaching Taylor in the spring of 1882. Taylor remained the terminus of that line until 1887. With the facilities of the two lines, the village grew rapidly, and the railroads contributed considerably to the economy of the area.

The early settlers were largely of two groups s those connected with the railroad, and merchants who came to the new town to set up their businesses. The town was named for a railroad official of International & Great Northern, Moses Taylor. John R. Hoxie, president of the company, and a former mayor of Chicago, was active in developing the area, and was so impressed with it, he purchased 9,000 acres of land in 1878 between Taylorsville and the San Gabriel River to the north, where he built a fine home and estate. H. M. Hoxie of Palestine, also bought and was built. W. W. Mumford of the Moxies, lived at flag Springs, and managed the huge Hoxie Ranch. Mortimer R. Hoxie, general superintendent of the rail line, had purchased large tracts of land, which he resold at from five to fifty cents an acre. Another railroad man, Col. H. C. Fowzer, owned land south of town, and became a permanent citizen of the community. Henry Dickson bought ten acres of land at Taylorsville, built a residence, believed to have been the first in town, and became the first agent for I. & G. N. He also opened the Dickson Addition.

Among the early merchants was C. P. Vance, who moved his store from Circleville to Flag Springs, and then into Taylorsville, and built his home on Main Street. He joined James A. Simons in a general store. Within a few months, the town had hotels run by James Sledge, T. J. Kamp and by Mr. and Mrs. Waggoner; stores run by R. M. Wiley and Raymond S. Porter, and another by Joseph "Jack" Melasky; and a lumber yard by John 0. Frink. By 1877, the list had quadrupled in number of businesses. These included grocery, hardware, saddlery, newspaper, drug, shoemaker, lumber, furniture, livery, restaurant, photo, saloon, barber, and general store and rooming facilities; several doctors had arrived to practice; a man was on hand to drill wells, and by this time the railroad had solved the mud problem of the black land by macadamizing a strip around the depot.

A feeder cattle trail went through the new town, the drovers often stopping for supplies; and a favorite watering place was at Bull Branch, north of town, site of the present Murphy Park. As farms were fenced and cattle drives diminished, the railroads at Taylor served as shipping points for the cattle.

The first cotton gin is believed to have been built in 1877 in a Taylorsville and located on the site of the present Taylor Bedding Manufacturing Company. Taylor was soon to become an important cotton center in the blackland farming section of east Williamson County.

Major Ira H. Evans of Palestine, of the I. & G. N. Company, superintended the sale of lots, which were marked out by Mr. Talbot. Col. Wm. Elliott, a civil engineer of the I. & G. N., auctioned the lots. The Galveston News for June 4, 1876, reported that the rail¬road was on a great cattle trail, the company was building sub¬stantial stock yards: "people are rushing in, and the new town of Taylor is all the talk.

The Texas Land Company which owned the townsite encouraged the building of churches by naming a nominal consideration in selling land to those which organized within a few years after the town was founded. No park land was provided at this early date. but early fairs were held south of the town. M. R. Hoxie, the railroad official who owned land east and northeast of town, donated land for a cemetery. The story is told of a cattle rustler who operated on the Olive Ranch near Lawrence Chapel who bragged in Taylor that he would ride into Tom Bishop's Saloon on Main Street in Taylor. On Christmas Day 1877, he attempted it, and Bishop was prepared. He shot and killed the rustler, who became the first burial in the new cemetery. Taylor people say that the town was so healthy, they had to shoot a man to start a cemetery.

According to postal records, the town was called Taylorsville from 1876 until 1892, at which time the name on the post office was changed to Taylor. The Taylorsville Post Office opened August 9, 1876, with J. B. Loper, postmaster. James B. Simons was appointed to that post in 1877, and J. O. Frink in 1880.

Taylor was incorporated in 1882 when Dan'l. (as he wrote it) Moody, father of the future Governor of Texas Dan Moody, was the first Mayor of Taylor. Minutes for the City are on record since 1887.

The businesses established in 1876 have been mentioned. In 1877, the list was quadrupled: Wiley & Porter, C. P. Vance & James A. Simons, Jack Melasky, J. W. Womack & John P. Sturgis, all with general stores; hotels and boarding houses--Napier House, International Hotel (T. J. Kamp Hotel), Minor House, James Meldrum rooming house; M. P. Collins, grocery & hardware; Newton & Porter, Saddlery; the Taylorsville Reflector edited by W. K. Foster; Gabe Hamilton, who drilled for water; Drs. John Threadgill, Anderson, G. M. Schultz,
H. C. Morris, John S. Brown, who were also in the drug store business Albert Bisang, shoemaker; Thompson & Tucker Lumber; H. Dickson Furniture; Sebastian Riley Livery and Weatherford Libery; Julius A. Kroschewsky Restaurant; Cannon & Keller Saddlery and Buggies; a Photo Shop; Bud Saul's Saloon and Golden Rule Saloon; two barber shops; a gin.
Both Presbyterians and Methodists organized their churches in 1876, and several more denominations did so the next year. In 1878, the Presbyterian, Christian, and Roman Catholic churches bought land to erect churches, and the Methodists followed in 1879, the Baptists in 1882. Official boards of these churches were largely composed of leading railway officials and businessmen of the new town.

Professor John McMurray built a schoolhouse and operated a private school beginning in 1876, and held the first Sunday School in town there. Within the next six years, several other private schools appeared. In 1883, the City bought Block 4 of the Dickson Addition where a city school house was built in 1884. It was a frame, weather-boarded structure, 24 x 110 feet, with porch on the south, and the three rooms housed the high school, the grammar school, and the primary department.

Jesse W. Womack and John P. Sturgis built a second store in 1879 (after the first was destroyed by fire), this structure at the northwest corner of Main and Second Streets. It was a sub¬stantial two-story brick building, with the mercantile business on the first floor, the upper floor providing an assembly hall and stage for entertainments and civic events. When the Taylor City Hall was built about two decades later, it housed a floor known as the Opera House. In 1890, Dr. A. V. Doak, who had been a surgeon in the Confederate Army, built a trolley line out to a pavilion in the west part of town, the line leading to and from downtown Taylor. The pavilion was used for dramas, speeches, skating, Concerts, socials and other affairs. The trolley was drawn by Spanish mules that walked a track made of two boards. In a few years, the line was abandoned.

The coming of the railroads, one in 1876, another in 1882, was largely responsible for the economic base of the community for several years. Land transfers were lively; the railroads brought and created business; this beehive of activity attracted merchants and professional people to town. Eight years after it was established, Taylorsville had 1127 population; in 1889, it totaled 2,547, according to city records. Cattle were still plentiful along Brushy Creek to the south when the town was built, and the cattle business also contributed heavily to the economic base. The I. & C. N. line built stockyards to handle cattle traffic; and after fences began closing the trails, much cattle was. shipped, through Taylor. Feeding stations were built in 1881 t feed cattle between San Antonio and Palestine. The railroad also had repair shops and a round house, which employed men for many years. In 1921 a strike closed the shops, which then employed 300. The shops were moved to Valley Junction in 1929. A third economic influence in Taylor was cotton, which was just coming into its own in Texas about the time Taylor was established. The black lands surrounding Taylor, among the finest in the state, were being settled by thrifty German, Swiss, Wendish, Swedish, and Czech farmers in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, and Taylor served as a center for their needs. By 1900, Taylor was the largest inland cotton market in the world. The town had a number of gins, a compress, and a number of cotton graders.

Thus, to summarize, the railroads, cattle, and cotton were vital to Taylor's growth, and were the important bases of its economy.

Two political figures and two superlative athletes entertainers have been among Taylor's most memorable citizens.

Dan Moody, born in Taylor in 1893, was the son of Dan'l Moody, who drove cattle in Missouri and was a Baptist preacher before coming to Texas, and moved to Taylor in 1876 where he was claims agent for I. & G. N. He became justice of peace, then mayor, of Taylor. Dan Moody's mother was Nancy "Nanny" Elizabeth Robertson Moody, a school teacher. Dan Moody studied law, was elected County Attorney, then District Attorney of Williamson County, and during the latter term, led the prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan persons involved in the beating and tarring of a young salesman (1923-24). Moody's success in this trial gained him national prominence. He was then elected Attorney General of Texas in 1924; then won two terms as Governor of Texas, being inaugurated in 1927 as the youngest governor, age 33, ever elected up to that time in this country. He instituted reforms to correct scandals in state prisons and in the highway department, backed penal and banking reforms, supported prohibition and labor unions. He increased support of public education, but reduced taxes. He died in Austin in 1966.

Richard Critz, son of George Edward and Ella (Richardson) Critz, was born in Starkville, Miss., in 1877, and came to Texas with his family as a young man. He read law in Granger and was Granger City Attorney 1906-10; was elected County Judge of Williamson County 1910, serving until 1918 while living in Taylor.




 

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