From Huntington County Biographical Memoirs, 1901
Recurrence to the past, with recollections and associations which make it appear in life-like review before our mental vision, will continue as of yore to be a source of much satisfaction; but especially so when our personality and former friends, happily interwoven in some pleasant incident, will the picture thus reflected be most pleasing.
These reminders, however, often vanish and pass away with the life of the participants when no landmarks remain to serve as a background for the picture engraved on the tablets of memory, the impressions of which are but remodlings of others. To preserve these from forgetfulness before they have lost their distinguishing originality is the work devolved upon the writer of local history and biography. These both fail in their mission when they fail to preserve the life features connected with their trust.
Biography, more than anything else, commands the most interested attention for the reason that it is a record of those who, in times gone by, traveled the thorny pathway of life as companions, acquaintances, friends or relatives. To preserve from forgetfulness the simple story of their experiences and record their acts, however uneventful, is a task attended with much pleasure to the writer and fraught with great good to humanity. Expecially is this the case when the subject has passed the alloted three-score-and-ten and--like some grand old forest tree, its companions all gone--stand alone, crowned with the weight and honors of years, calmy (sic) awaiting the change that soon will cause its once proud form to lie as low as its fellows.
William Taylor, retired farmer, was born in Burlington county, New Jersey, October 18, 1812. When nine months old he was deprived by death of his father, and at the age of five he began earning small sums for his mother by hiring out to take care of small children in the neighborhood. At the age of sixteen he entered upon a six years' apprenticeship to learn the shoemaker's trade, and after completing the same and working for two or three years in his native place, removed to New Carlisle, Ohio, in 1837, where he operated a shop with fair success for a period of three years. At the end of that time, January, 1841, he came to Huntington, and in partnership with a brother, conducted a shop for one year. Not meeting with the financial results he expected, Mr. Taylor borrowed fifty dollars, and with this sum in his pocket walked to Dayton, Ohio, for the purpose of buying an outfit of his own, believing he saw a favorable opportunity for opening a shop at the new county seat. After purchasing his tools he returned to Huntington, and taking possession of an old vacant cabin on the canal began working at his trade, and within a short time was rewarded with a remunerative patronage. In due time he repaid the sum borrowed and within two years succeeded in saving from his earnings sufficient capital to lay in a stock of boots and shoes, which he handled in connection with his trade until 1865.
Mr. Taylor states that when he first located in Huntington the place consisted of only a few insignificant cabins along the canal, one or two general stores, a stone tavern and one frame building. That part of the city now occupied by stately business blocks was a dense forest, interspersed with thickets of underbrush, while the portions where now stand the beautiful and costly modern residences were the abodes of wild animals that roamed the forests with little molestation. He witnessed the gradual influx of population which changed the little canal village into a town of enlarged dimensions, and bore his part in bringing about the rapid growth which, after the completion of the Wabash Railway, made it one of the finest and most progressive cities in the northern part of the state.
In 1865 Mr. Taylor, with judicious foresight, purchased a tract of land adjoining the town limits, realizing that in time it would increase in value with the growth of the place. This land he still owns, and it is among the most valuable and desirable real estate in Huntington county, representing many thousands of dollars in excess of the original cost. He also made other wise investments, which subsequently returned him handsome financial profits, in the meantime carrying on his business until a handsome fortune enabled him to retire from active life. From an exceedingly small beginning he gradually but surely forged his way to the front, and by the exercise of superior judgment, directed and controlled by an energy that hesitated at no obstacle, finally became one of the able financiers of Huntington, and for years has been recognized as one of the well-to-do men of the city.
Mr. Taylor's first marriage was to Miss Mary Carpathite, in 1834, who bore him six children, three of whom are living, as follows: Charles H., deceased; (sic) Enos, a banker of Huntington; and George, who resides in Wisconsin. His second marriage was solmenized in 1853 with Miss Agnes Klingel, of Stark county, Ohio, who came to Huntington county with her mother in the year 1849. Two children were born to this union: Leona and Elmer, both deceased.
In politics Mr. Taylor was originally a Whig, but since the dissolution of that party he has given his allegiance to its successor, the Republican party. His religious belief is embodied in the Baptist creed, and he is a consistent member of the Huntington congregation. He was a prime mover in the organization of this body, and has ever been one of its most active workers and liberal supporters. Although firm in his political and religious views, he has always been liberal minded, and invariably expressed his ideas with becoming courtesy.
Throughout his long and useful life Mr. Taylor has ever been governed by high moral principles, and the rectitude of his intentions has never been questioned. Financially he has met with success beyond the average of his calling; socially he has always been kind, affable and obliging, and as a result he enjoys the confidence and esteem of a large circle of warm friends in Huntington and elsewhere. Such in brief are the outlines of the life of a self-made and self-educated man, whose strong will and unblemished moral character deserve the success that has attended him and the honor with which his career has been crowned.