by Wyvonne Putman|
Reprinted from the Navarro
Volume XIX - 1974
Printed with permission of the Navarro County Historical
Everett Taylor was born on July 19, 1891, one mile east of Dawson in
Navarro County. He was the second child of Mr. and Mrs. James
Lewis Taylor. He died on December 8, 1965 of a heart attack in
Corsicana at the Palace Theater, while taking pictures. The
members of his family are: Mrs. Taylor, wife (still living in their home
at 645 West 6th Ave.); Coy Taylor -- a son born February 8, 1916 in
Corsicana, Ollin Taylor -- another son born September 8, 1917; Verlene
Taylor Ellis -- a daughter born on May 20, 1922.
Mr. Taylor attended a one-room
school in Dawson that was a mile from his home and "in the winter
you could hardly travel." By the standards of education
today we would term Alva Taylor as a self-educated man.
In 1911, Mr. Taylor went to
Baylor University in Waco to study art for three years. He met
Miss Maud Stockard in 1913 and they were married on December 12, 1914 at
the bride's home.
Mr. Taylor farmed land around
Dawson until 1921. That year he moved his family to
Corsicana. In 1923, there was an oil boom in Corsicana. Men
became millionaires or lost every dime they owned overnight.
Mr. Taylor teamed up with W. A. Green and drilled for oil. He as
later to recall, he lost $14,000 in ninety days. Mr. Taylor bought
the Prest-O-Lite Battery Company in 1921, so that when the oil venture
failed, he continued to make batteries and later changed the name to the
Taylor Electric Company.
He later sold the shop to Rob
Battery and Electric, who continued in the same location, in the fall of
1935 and worked for the company until 1936. He then went into
business as a lock-smith. Mr. Taylor was a member of the First
Baptist Church, Mason Lodge, IOOF and Chamber of Commerce. In
1940, he sold the key business and opened a studio.
Mr. Taylor was always interested
in photography. He took pictures and collected paintings of
the men from Dawson. In 1921, he printed five hundred copies of
"Dawson's Part in the World War." One can see how Mr.
Taylor's interest grew as the years went by and how this interest in
later years became a livelihood.
As early as 1946, the Taylors
would take drives to the towns of Navarro County and visit the people.
He would talk to them about the first settlers who came to Navarro
County, who they were and how they lived. When they returned home,
Alva would record this information. He later compiled this
information into a book.
When Corsicana celebrated its
centennial, Mr. Taylor was the official photographer. He later
said that "I picked up several historical items and clippings and,
in 1951, I put together several pages of information on 'Corsicana and
Navarro County' which I published in 1952."
Some of the papers and books
Alva Taylor published include a History of the First Baptist Church,
in 1952; Jose Antonio Navarro's Life in 1953; Short Stories of
Navarro County and My Boys Play Ball in 1954; The Big
House, The Roaring Eighties of Corsicana and The Lost
Towns of Navarro County in 1956; Dawson's 75th Anniversary in
1957; and in 1959, Taylor's History of Navarro County.
By the year 1954, Mr. Taylor had
collected a great deal of History. One day he and Mr. Joe Daniel
(1880-1968) were having coffee in the Navarro Hotel. From this
meeting, the Navarro County Historical Society had its beginning.
"In the summer of 1955, Alva Taylor and I met frequently and
weighed the possibilities of success for a historical association for
Navarro County. At each meeting, Alva's enthusiasm grew.
Finally, we sent out notices to all persons interested in our history to
meet at the Corsicana Public Library. Eleven persons responded.
But from this nucleus, the association was formed. It was Alva's
optimism and skillful and dedicated guidance that brought ultimate
success to the various activities in which the association has
Alva Taylor gave the inspiration
which helped each of us to delve into the historical facts, human
anecdotes, manners of life in the decades, past, and the hopes, sorrows
and accomplishments of Navarro Countians during its one hundred and
fifty year history. Much that has been recorded would have been
lost to posterity had it not been for Alva Taylor's leadership.
All that is to be recorded in future scrolls can be contributed to the
foundation he lay."
The Historical Society was
organized on the first Monday in January of 1956 at the Chamber of
Commerce building in Corsicana. The organization was as follows:
By-laws written by a lawyer, Mr. Matt Dawson, of Corsicana; Joe Daniel,
President; Alva Taylor, Vice-President; Lewis Hodge, Second
Vice-President; Mrs. Kirke Steele, Third Vice President; Mrs. E. D.
McCormick, Secretary; Mrs. Edward Hale, Treasurer. There were one
hundred and seventeen charter members. A paper was to be
published each year entitled the Scroll. The Society was to
meet four times a year on the first Monday in each quarter.
Village, under the
leadership of Alva Taylor, had its beginning in 1958. Joe Daniel
and Mr. Taylor discussed the idea of a county museum at the Navarro
Hotel coffee shop and, from these two men, one can see a plan take shape
-- a plan to build a Navarro County Frontier Home in Jester Park in
Rev. Carlos Love (1898 - 1966),
an independent minister in Corsicana, was the official log cabin
builder. The first log house was a dog-run type of house
from Chatfield. IT was the home of Dr. James K. Cooksey, built in
1854 by the slaves of Capt. Robert Hodge. The cedar logs
were torn down and hauled to Jester Park and reconstructed by numbering
each log. After the Cooksey double cabin was completed, the
members of the Society, under Alva Taylor's leadership, outfitted this
home with furniture of that era. All of the logs, furniture,
artifacts, etc. in the Pioneer Village are from Navarro County and
almost all were donated by the people of Navarro County.
In 1959, the second cabin was
built known as the Melton
Kitchen. The logs were moved from
Dresden and were given by the heirs of Ethan
Melton, the first post
master of Navarro County, built in 1843. The fire place is five
feet wide and made of native rock. This kitchen contains all
hand-made furniture: a big table, the first cook stove of Navarro
County, old pots and iron and tin plates, cowhide covered chairs.
Also, Ethan Melton's old rocker and his straight chair. Mr. Love
put these logs together and built this cabin.
The third building is a
blacksmith shop. These logs were donated by Mr. Wallace
Pryor and came from Pursley, Texas. This shop contains an
old bellows type forge, anvils, horse collars, all type of plows,
blacksmith tools and a buggy. Mr. Carlos Love constructed this
shop in 1960.
In 1960, the fourth log building
was donated. The logs are cedar and it is a General Store.
This store has a post office and all the different types of medicines
and clothing of that day. This building is filled with the history
of our early southern way of living -- the things they used and would
buy at the only store they had. This building was donated by
Ordway Ferrell and it came from Dresden. It was built in 1851 by
Jacob Hartzell. Mr. Love reconstructed it at the present location
in Jester Park.
The fifth building was donated
by Mrs. Lillie Thomas, entitled the "old barn". These
logs were hauled from near Corsicana and was one time the home of John
Pickett of 1865. Mr. Love rebuilt this log barn in 1961 and it
contains over 100 pictures of the men who were instrumental in creating
and developing Navarro County. Alva Taylor did all the research
and making of these pictures. One can see how Corsicana looked in
the late 1800's and early 1900's. There is also a very valuable
collection of war guns, swords, gun powder and flags. A replica of
a Confederate soldier stands in a glass case.
In 1961, the old cedar logs for
the slave cabin were donated by Mrs. Oletha Pillans of Winkler (Navarro
County). Mr. Love rebuilt this in 1961 and it contains all the
bare necessities the slaves had at that time. Included is a
bed, a slave boy in chains, and a leather bench used to make
shoes. The replica slave boy is life size and very old.
This building still has its original fireplace.
The seventh building is the
trading post built in 1838 by George Washington Hill. This
building has a historical marker beside it of the State of Texas.
This trading post tells the story in pictures of the Battle Creek Fight
between the white Surveyors and the Indians in 1838. Alva Taylor
performed a work of art in restoring the old Indian pictures in this
cabin. There are also all types of Indian artifacts and an Indian
skeleton found at Lake Navarro Mills. These logs were
donated by Mr. Matthews ( a descendant of George Washington Hill) in
In the beginning years, all the
cabins had dirt floors. These cabins were built by Rev. Carlos
Love. The dream was Alva Taylor's and this dream was made into
reality by Mr. Love.
Since 1971, there have been many
improvements in the Pioneer Village. The Navarro County Historical
Society has been blessed with the help of the City of Corsicana -- the
mayor, Sue Youngblood; the city manager, Dick Ballenger, and the park
superintendent, James Phelps, and the Navarro County Action Committee,
headed by Jerome Vocek. The City of Corsicana furnished the
materials for improvements and the Navarro County Action Committee
furnished the free labor.
The office building has been
covered with treated boards to look old. This building was donated
by the Mackee family. During World War I, it was used to sell war
bonds and stamps.
The floors in all the cabins
that originally were dirt were covered with concrete in 1972, side walks
were added in 1972 also.
The Pioneer Village is under the
auspices of the Navarro County Historical Society and the City of
The Navarro County Historical
Society has placed a historical marker in Pioneer Village in the memory
of Alva Everett Taylor because of the historic village and the years of
research he did for Navarro County.
Alva Taylor Rites Friday
Funeral services for Alva Taylor, 74, retired photographer, 654 West
Sixth avenue, who died of a heart attack Wednesday morning, will be held Friday
at 2 p.m. from the chapel of the First Baptist church. Burial will be in the
The rites will be conducted by Rev. Robert J. Potts, pastor of the First Baptist
church, of which he was a long-time member and deacon.
Taylor was the author of a history of Navarro county and is generally
credited with the establishment of the Pioneer Village at the Jester City Park
on West Park avenue. He had been one of the officials and leaders of the Navarro
County Historical Society and was a member of a historical panel appointed
several years ago by the Navarro county commissioners court.
Native of Dawson, Taylor moved to Corsicana in 1923 and operated a generator and
battery business until World War II when he established the Taylor Studio from
which he retired last year, although he still made photographs. He was at the
Palace Theatre Wednesday morning to make some photos when he was stricken and
rushed to Memorial hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Maude Stockard Taylor, Corsicana; two sons, Olin
Taylor, Quincy, Mass., and Coy Taylor, Corsicana; a daughter, Mrs. Atlas Ellis,
Corsicana; seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, a sister, Mrs. Doc
Sykes, Dawson; two brothers, Melvin Taylor, Denton, and Lewis Taylor, El Paso,
and other relatives.
Pallbearers will be A. S. Fulton, Frank V. Williams, Paul Moore, Hoyte Moore,
Marvin Tekell, J. R. Howell, L. B. Dawson, and Roy Bristow.