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Creed Taylor

28 Apr

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It is hard to imagine reading about any of the key events surrounding the Texas Revolution and the times surrounding it without encountering the name of Creed Taylor.  Taylor was the son of a family of early Texas settlers.  Despite his youth, he is thought to have taken part in the following battles: the “Come and Take It” battle in Gonzalez, the Battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight, the Siege of Bexar, the Battle of San Jacinto and others.

Taylor was born to Josiah and Hepzibeth (various alternate spellings Hapzibeth are seen) Luker Taylor in 1820 in Tennessee.  They were cousins to Gen. Zachary Taylor.  Creed’s father knew of Texas from having come to the area about nine years earlier in a military expedition to the La Bahia area.  Taylor’s family moved to Texas when he was four years old around 1824 and they settled in the general vicinity of present day Cuero as part of the relatively large DeWitt’s Colony, the boundaries of which would have included some or all of the following counties today:  DeWitt, Lovaca, Caldwell, Guadalupe and Gonzales plus small portions of four other counties.

Taylor was probably just old enough to have been a participant in the various events, his father Josiah having passed away when he was about 10 years old.  Creed was 15 when the Gonzalez battle took place.  Tall Men With Long Rifles by James T. DeShields was published in 1935 and is written as though it were a first person account of these events that had been related to DeShields by Taylor.  The book, still in print and available various editions, is the source often cited in biographical sketches of Taylor.  Before purchasing it though, potential buyers should consult In Search of Creed Taylor by Charles M. Yates.  Regardless of the criticisms of the book, in it are vivid accounts of the battles noted above.

Creed’s birthday has been noted to be April 20, 1820 which would have made him just over 16 on the day of the Battle of San Jacinto.  After San Jacinto, Taylor apparently rangered for a number of years under Jack Hayes and Matthew Caldwell, also familiar names in Texas history, many times involving battles with the Comanche tribe.  He remained in the Rangers during the Mexican-American War, serving with Samuel Walker in the 1840s.  During this long period, Taylor is known to have seen action in the Battle of Salado Creek and the Battle of Plum Creek which ended the Comanche dominance of the era.  Having survived all this action, though occasionally having been wounded, he is thought to have eventually retired from the Rangers to establish a ranch.  It is believed that he first settled in Kerr County and later relocated to Kimbell County where he lived the rest of his days.

Though it is hard to separate fact from legend in the following story, Taylor is associated with fellow Ranger Bigfoot Wallace in the El Muerto tale in which they surprised horse thieves led by the bandito Vidal, giving rise to Texas’ own headless horseman legend.

Another event in which he was involved was the Sutton-Taylor Feud, a long running disagreement between the two families in which many family members were killed.  This involved Creed’s family, at least one of his brothers and many of their children.  Taylor had previously served in the Confederate Army in the latter years of the Civil War.  The time period for the feud is roughly the twenty years following end of the war.  Post-war Texas was “wild and wooly” with Reconstruction policing and governance that was either strongly supported or strongly opposed, based on the pro- or anti-Union leanings of the residents.  The Sutton-Taylor Feud and the Reconstruction Era are too complex to deal with here other than by reference.  However, eventually the feud died out, or at least it settled down, with the amazing result that only one person was apparently ever convicted, despite roughly almost three dozen murders, according to some accounts.  As far as we know, Creed Taylor was not directly involved in the conflict, though his brother and both their sons were, and some of them were killed.

Though some of Taylor’s children died young and others were killed in the above feud, Taylor left a large number of children.  He had first married Nancy Matilda Goodbread in 1840 and they had at least four children.  They were married for about 27 years when Nancy died in 1867.  Six years later, he married Lavinia Amanda Spencer with whom he had at least six or seven more children.  Lavinia predeceased him by about three years and passed away in 1903 when Creed was 83.  Creed died when he was around 86 and he is interred at Noxville Cemetery near Junction in a rural part of Kimball County.  So ended the life of a participant in and a witness to many of the key events in the formation of the state of Texas.

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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in biography, history, texas, texas rangers, town names

 

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