William Wisner Taylor

William Wisner Taylor, one of the oldest and most experienced attorneys at law in Grand Rapids, was born in Geneva, Ontario county, N.Y., April 25, 1843, a son of Walter T. and Charlotte (Dobbin) Taylor, natives of the same state--the former a classical scholar and professor, and the latter a daughter of Gen. Hugh Dobbin, of the war of 1812.

Prof. Walter T. Taylor, in 1851, came to Michigan and established, under the auspices of the general synod of the Dutch Reformed church, the academy at Holland, Ottawa county, which afterward developed into Hope college. With the academy he maintained his connection until 1855, when he returned to Geneva, N.Y. He was a practical philologist, and had been a professor in Hobart college, N.Y., in 1857--his widow surviving until 1889. They were the parents of thirteen children--the subject, William W., being the twelfth--and of these there are eight still living.

William Wisner Taylor was under the instruction of his father at Geneva, N.Y., and Holland, Mich., until sixteen years of age; he then passed two years as a clerk in a bookstore in Geneva, then entered Hobart college, N.Y. and graduated in 1865 as second-honor man. For some time he taught school on Long Island, then entered Columbia College (New York City) Law school, under President Theodore W. Dwight, and was admitted to the bar in the city of New York in the fall of 1867. He was sent to Charleston, S.C., under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal church, as superintendent of a colored school, remained two years, and in June, 1869, came to Grand Rapids and engaged in the practice of his profession. As a democrat, Mr. Taylor served as city attorney from 1874 until 1879, inclusive, was next assistant city attorney for two years under James W. Ransom, and then again filled the office of city attorney from 1889 until 1893.

The marriage of Mr. Taylor took place at Oyster Bay, Long Island, N.Y., July 23, 1871, to Miss Olivia R. Burtis, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., January 8, 1848, a daughter of Oliver D. and Rachel Smith) Burtis. This happy union has been blessed with six children, viz: William Wisner, late sergeant of company H., Thirty-second Michigan N.G., but now serving in the Philippines as corporal of the Fourth infantry; Olivia, Louise R., Charlotte B., Elizabeth and Julia B. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal church, and the social standing of the family is most desirable.


Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 16 Feb 2009
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/bowen/rz/taylorWW.html