Taylor County, Texas

Taylor County is considered to be in West Texas and many feel that it is where West Texas begins.  It is located northwest of the geographic center of the State.  Its county seat from 1878 to 1883 was Buffalo Gap, but since then has been Abilene.

The county is named for three brothers, Edward, George and James Taylor who all died at the Alamo, it is generally thought.  All three were privates in the army of Alamo defenders.  Their parents were Anson and Elizabeth Taylor.  The town of Anson is also located nearby in Jones County just to the north, but it is not named for their father.  Most accounts state that immediately before they joined the Army, they were employed picking cotton on the farm of a Captain Dorsett in Liberty, Texas when news circulated of revolution.  Once they had completed the job, they joined the Army of the Texas Revolution.

Edward was the oldest of the trio and was 24 years old when the siege of the Alamo began. There is some support for the brothers having died at the Battle of Goliad or having fought at Goliad and escaped to fight at the Alamo.  Some confusion may also have resulted from there having been a Goliad victim named Edward Taylor Wingate, but the majority of sources follow the account that the brothers died March 6, 1836 at the Alamo and their remains, like the other defenders, are interred in the nearby San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio.

They were all three awarded Land Bounties and Donations as having been Alamo casualties. Quoting from the website of the Texas Historical Association, “Both the republic and state granted lands for military service in the form of bounty and donation grants. An act of December 21, 1837, provided for donation certificates of 640 acres each to all persons who had engaged in the battle of San Jacinto, to all who were wounded the day before, and to all who were detailed to guard the baggage at Harrisburg; by the same act bounty warrants were granted to those who had participated in the siege of Bexar, the Goliad campaigns of 1835 and 1836, and the battle of the Alamo, or to their survivors.”  It is unknown at this point who might have claimed or benefited from the grants awarded to the Taylor brothers.

There is an account in Zachary Taylor Fulmore’s 1915 book entitled “The History and Geography of Texas as Told in County Names” of an Indian attack on the residence of Edward Taylor and his family.  The attack had been going for a while and just as Edward Taylor was at the point of surrendering, his wife reportedly put out a fire in the cabin with a supply of milk and homemade vinegar after their water supply was exhausted.  The family was able to drive off the attackers and they all survived.  At this writing, we have not been able to find another source for this story, though it is occasionally repeated in some newspaper articles about the origin of the names of Texas counties.

In film, the role of Edward Taylor was portrayed by Ethan Wayne, son of John Wayne, in “The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory” released in 1987.  The part of George Taylor was played by Tony Becker.  None of the brothers are directly named as characters in either the 1960 film directed by John Wayne or the 2004 release directed by John Lee Hancock.


 (image credit: Jeannie Wesley)

Above is the bronze sculpture mounted in the center of a large pink granite block that sits on the grounds of the old county court house near 4th and Oak in downtown Abilene.  It depicts the Taylor brothers and was created by sculptor Lincoln Borglum of Beeville, Texas.  Lincoln was the son of Gutzon Borglum, who designed and constructed Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.  The elder Borglum died in 1941, near the end of the project.  Since Lincoln was also a sculptor and had been involved with the work from the beginning, he was chosen to complete it, which he did in 1944, remaining on the job until a few months before the dedication.

The Abilene sculpture was commissioned by the U. S. Daughters of 1812 in 1955 to be unveiled at the 75th Anniversary of the founding of Abilene the following year.  On Monday April 9, 1956, the monument was unveiled in a ceremony on the court house grounds, bearing the famous words of William Travis, “I Shall Never Surrender or Retreat.”

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