Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cornelius Taylor Part 4

The week we have been featuring a serialized story about Cornelius Taylor.  Published first in the Robinson Daily News on Oct 1, 2008 the story appears to be about events that transpired in Crawford County.  But remember that land  north of the mouth of the Embarrass River including what would become Petty, Bond, Russell, and the northern parts of Lawrence and Allison townships was included in the boundaries of  Crawford County between 1816 and 1821.   

Part 4:
“Lawrence County was split off from Crawford in 1821, which could explain why Taylor drops out of Crawford County court records about the same time. On the other hand, perhaps he was just keeping busy. The state had granted him the right to build a toll bridge over the Embarras and the new Lawrence County government had hired him to build its first jail for $625.

He never got the chance to finish the job, however. In early 1822, Taylor left the area following an incident involving counterfeiters operating in what is today Jasper County.

"Nettlesome counterfeiters, whose sideline was horse-thievery, infested Jasper County," James E. Davis wrote in "Frontier Illinois" (1998). "Victims followed the trail of Cornelius Taylor, a ferry operator in Lawrence County who made wagon trips to St. Louis, after which bogus coins and paper money circulated."

According to an older text, "Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, Illinois" (1884), observing Taylor's activities led suspicious area residents to a man named Acre Williams. Williams, who lived in a cabin northwest of modern-day Newton, agreed to tell all he knew "after being hung up by the neck two or three times until nearly dead..."

Williams named names but the suspects scattered. He also led vigilantes who called themselves "Regulators" to the molds, dies and other materials used in counterfeiting silver and paper money. These were taken to Lawrenceville and destroyed.

Taylor, meanwhile, headed south, pausing long enough in Gallatin County to legally arrange for his friend and brother-in-law, Isaac Fail, to have power of attorney over his affairs in Lawrence County. Fail completed construction of the Lawrence jail.

Taylor then traveled to Kentucky, "possibly to be with his mother's people," Pittsburgh historian, Edgar R. Taylor Jr., said in talking about his great-great grandfather.

He apparently stayed in Kentucky for a while after being joined by his wife, Mary Fail Taylor, and their children. The marriage broke up, however, and Mrs. Taylor and children returned to Lawrence County. She eventually died there.

While in Kentucky, Taylor may have been among those who settled in the Jackson Purchase, a section of western Kentucky bought from the Chickasaws by President Andrew Jackson in 1818. Volusia County, Fla., historian Lani Friend has a map that shows a settlement named "Industry" and she wonders if Taylor had a part in trying to establish it.

Eventually, Taylor made his way to Florida and a new life.”

You might want to read about Taylor’s adventures in Florida and how he died trying to get to the California Gold Rush.  Several sites on the internet have the story but it is perhaps best told on the Volusia County, Florida site.

Tomorrow: The conclusion of Cornelius Taylor and his Connection with Lawrence County.