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June 4, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notable: Rev. William H. Taylor     

Rev. William Harris Taylor (4 August 1811-24 October 1889).

Courtesy George Cauble.

Rev. William Taylor, who preached at Buckingham Baptist Church and Mount Zion Baptist Church for over forty years, is one of Buckingham County’s best known ministers. One church history notes:

Rev. L. R. Thornhill delivered the address October 25, 1889 on the occasion of the burial of Rev. Taylor. At the time of his death, there were only 2 members still living that were there when he first came to Mt. Zion. A slate marker enclosed by an iron fence was erected at his grave [on church property at Mt. Zion] and his picture continues to hang in the church sanctuary.

Despite Rev. Taylor’s prominence, his parents and lineage remain a mystery, one his descendants would like to solve.

Rev. Taylor was born in Buckingham and genealogist Harry S. Holman believes that Taylor’s parents were also from Buckingham County.  In 1860, Tabby Taylor, eighty, was living with Rev. Taylor and his wife, Mary W. (Ferguson, a.k.a. Fergersen).  She is likely Rev. Taylor’s mother.

Census data reveals that Tabby (Tabitha?) Taylor was a widow by 1840, indicating that Rev. Taylor’s father died before that date, probably in Buckingham.

Notably, Rev. Taylor officiated at many weddings, including ceremonies for at least three of his daughters: Elizabeth Ann (Taylor) Putney in 1848, Mary F. (Taylor) Smith in 1862, and Pattie W. (Taylor) Gardner in 1866.

Can a Slate River Ramblings reader shed light on Rev. Taylor’s parents?

Also, does anyone have information about where his wife, Mary, is buried?


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  1. Maria / Nov 11 2018 4:10 am

    I stumbled in here looking for another Rev. William H. Taylor, an African American Baptist minister who is likely a distant relative/ancestor of mine. Given his age, and the fact they shared denominations, I would suspect that he was named after the Rev. William H. Taylor above.

    • Joanne Yeck / Nov 11 2018 7:11 am

      Maria, many thanks for stopping by at Slate River Ramblings. If you find that you have a connection to Buckingham County, please let us know. Joanne

  2. Diane Apperson / Jun 4 2018 8:48 pm

    My Aunt, Ruby Loving (1933-2018), was told by Miss Kate White of Gold Hill, that Preacher Taylor’s wife was buried on a farm near Gold Hill that belonged to Ayres Newton. I have no idea if this is true or not but Miss Kate was a well thought of schoolteacher that had an interest in local history, she was past 100 years old when she died. She was a lifelong member of Buckingham Baptist Church.
    Ayres Newton would have owned the farm years after Mrs. Taylor died and he’s dead now, also.

    George Cauble, wasn’t there a Ferron Ayres Putney that would have been Preacher Taylor’s great-grandson, your wife Nancy’s grandfather? I find it intriguing that the “Ayres” name is connected to William Harris Taylor and Mary F. Taylor’s great grandson and the man who once owned the farm where Mrs. Taylor may possibly be buried.

    Regarding the Rev. Taylor and Boatwright connection:

    Reuben Boatwright, Sr. (1762-1840) and his wife, Lucy Penick (1767-1841) married in 1785. They were both born and raised in Prince Edward County, VA. They moved to Buckingham, bought land , built a home known as Social Hall, and had a large family, twelve children! Six boys and six girls.

    Thomas Boatwright (1798-1891) was their third child. He married Elizabeth Anderson (1816-1860). They raised three children, one son and two daughters. Thomas Boatwright was one of the first two deacons at Mt. Zion Church which is near Social Hall. Thomas and Elizabeth are both buried in the Boatwright family cemetery at Social Hall.

    Their son, Walter Leake Boatwright (1853- April 1922) married Mary Alice Putney (1852-Nov. 1922). Mary Alice was a granddaughter of Rev. William Harris Taylor. Walter and Mary Alice had seven children, four girls and three sons.

    This information comes from “The Ancestry of the Cole and Boatwright Families” compiled by Marvin F. Cole in 2004. There is a copy in the Buckingham County Historical Society Museum, The Housewright House across from the Buckingham County Courthouse.

    Hope some of this information helps.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 6 2018 6:48 am

      Diane, Many thanks for adding this to our knowledge of the family. Your Aunt Ruby Loving was a treasure–Buckingham County gold. Joanne

  3. Karen Lucas Williams / Jun 4 2018 7:48 pm

    I found the entire statement from the Boatwright papers:

    “Deacon W. L. Boatwright, married Alice Putney, a granddaughter of Rev. Wm. H. Taylor of sacred memory and located on the same farm of his father, Thomas, and grandfather, Reuben.”

    I’m sorry I don’t have a more precise location of the source. Good luck and thanks for the additional information on your Taylor line.

  4. George H. Cauble / Jun 4 2018 10:12 am

    More information about the Taylor family:
    One of Rev Taylor’s daughters, Elizabeth Ann (1830-1892), married in 1848 a Samuel Fearn Putney (1816-1885). His father was Samuel Fearn Putney, Sr (1789-1830) and his mother was Sarah “Sally” Bryant. This Samuel Putney Sr. was 4th cousins to General Robert E. Lee. Putney and Lee shared the same GGGG Grandparents, Col. Richard Lee (1617-1664) and Anne Constable (1620/21-1706).

    Rev. Taylor’s wife, Mary Ferguson W. Ferguson (Fergersen) was born in 1801 and died in 1891, two years after her husband died. I’ve researched her burial place, unsuccessfully.

    I look forward to what else may be uncovered and shared about the Taylor family.

    George Cauble

    p.s. Thanks, Karen, for sharing some of your “clues”. I will continue my research using them.
    It appears that “your” Elizabeth Taylor lived in another century than mine.

    p.s.s. Thanks Joanne for your article in Slate River Ramblings. I hope more information is to come.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 4 2018 1:20 pm

      Thank you, George, for all your work on Rev. Taylor’s family. Joanne

  5. Joanne Yeck / Jun 4 2018 7:24 am

    Karen, Many Thanks. Clues, especially in Buckingham County, are golden nuggets. Joanne

  6. Karen Lucas Williams / Jun 4 2018 7:17 am

    I descend from Elizabeth Taylor (d. bef. 1806) of Buckingham Co. and Thomas Stephens (1730-ca 1806) of Buckingham Co., VA. It appears that they lived in the Bent Creek/David’s area. While I have not proven who Elizabeth’s parents were, I have a note regarding the lineage of Rev. William Harris Taylor found in the Boatwright family papers, as follows:

    “Rev. Wm. H. Taylor, father Thomas, grandfather, Reuben.”

    I cannot verify the accuracy of this but it might be used as a clue.

    • George H. Cauble / Jun 5 2018 11:28 am

      Hi Diane
      I tried to reply to your post last evening, but I think it got lost in cyberspace. I’ll try again.
      First, thanks for your message and information shared. I am so sorry to learn of your Aunt Ruby’s passing.

      You are correct about Ferron Ayres Putney being my wife’s (Nancy) maternal grandfather and him being Rev. Taylor’s Great-Grandson. The Ayres name goes back Col. Nathan Ayres (his wife was Mary Leake — daughter of Capt John Leake and grand-daughter of Walter Leake of Goochland). Nathan’s father was Mathias Ayres (d. 1782)

      Ferron Ayres Putney’s father was Samuel F. Putney (Jr) (1816-1885), who married Elizabeth Ann Taylor (Rev. Taylor’s and Mary W. Ferguson’s daughter). Samuel’s father was Samuel F. Putney (Sr) who married Sarah (Sally) Bryant. This same Samuel Putney Sr was 4th cousin to Gen. Robert E. Lee — both of whom shared GGG-Grandparents Col Richard Lee I (immigrant /1617-1664), and Anne Constable (1620/21-1706). Your mentioning Ayres Newton’s old farm property being the possible buriel grounds of Rev. Taylor’s wife, Mary W. Ferguson, is a great clue and one I’d like to pursue.

      Your Taylor/Boatwright connection is interesting; especially Mary Alice Putney marrying a Boatwright (Walter Leake Boatwright). I am assuming that Mary Alice Putney was the daughter of Samuel F. Putney Jr and Elizabeth Ann Taylor, thus making her Rev. Taylor’s grand-daughter. At your suggestion, I shall go to the Buckingham County Historical.

      Thanks again, George Cauble

    • D. Jenkins / Jan 8 2023 11:04 am

      Diane: I am trying to use mtDNA to solve a dead end on a female line, and this particular line goes back to Susanna Stephens (ca 1788-1850) who marries Wm Glover. Susanna Stephens was the daughter of William Stephens (1768-1845) and an unknown first wife. William Stephens’ second wife, who he married in 1798, was Anna D. Flood. William Stephens was the son of the Thomas Stephens (d. 1806 Buckingham Co) and his wife, Susanna Taylor that you mentioned above, In your research and knowledge of this family, is the first wife of William Stephens known?? Thank anyone for any help they can offer. D. Jenkins

      • George Cauble / Jan 8 2023 6:13 pm

        I don’t think I can help much, but I can share that the Elizabeth Taylor that is mentioned in the above comment thread “is not” the daughter of Rev. William Harris Taylor.
        Rev Taylor was born in 1811 and his daughter Elizabeth was born in 1830 and married Samuel Fearn Putney (Jr) in 1848. Samuel is my wife’s maternal GG Grandfather.
        Rev Taylor is my wife’s GGG Grandfather. All hail from Buckingham County, Virginia.
        George Cauble


  1. Buckingham Baptist Church, Part IV | slate river ramblings . . . .

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