William Wisner Taylor

Page 188-190 - William Wisner Taylor, who is now living virtually retired, is one of the veteran, honored and venerable members of the Kent county bar, he having engaged in the practice of law in the city of Grand Rapids more than half a century ago and having long continued as one of the able and representative active practitioners of law in this city, besides having given ten years of effective service as city attorney. In his profession and as a citizen Mr. Taylor thus has pioneer honors, and his sterling character, his ability and his worthy achievement have marked him for an enviable place in popular confidence and esteem. Mr. Taylor was born in Geneva, Ontario County, New York, April 25, 1843, and is a son of Walter T. and Charlotte (Dobbin) Taylor, who likewise were born in the Old Empire State, the latter having been a daughter of General Hugh Dobbin, who was a gallant soldier and commanding officer in the War of 1812. Walter T. Taylor, a man of classical education and high general scholarship, came to Michigan in 1851 and under the auspices of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed church, established and assumed supervision of the academy at Holland, Ottawa County, that has eventually developed into the present Hope College in that city. In 1855 Professor Walter T. Taylor returned to Geneva, New York, where his death occurred in 1857. Under the able and careful preceptorship of his father William W. Taylor continued his studies until he was sixteen years of age; then attended Hobart College, at Geneva, New York, until he was graduated in 1865, with second honors of his class. Thereafter he was for a time engaged in teaching school at Oyster Bay, Long Island, and in preparation for the work of his chosen profession, he attended the law department of Columbia University, New York, City, where he was admitted to the bar in the year 1867.In the period of 1867-69 Mr. Taylor was superintendent of a large Freedman school that was maintained at Charleston, South Carolina, under the auspices of the domestic-mission department of the Protestant Episcopal church. This service by Mr. Taylor having been rendered during the so-called Southern reconstruction period that followed the close of the Civil War. In 1869 Mr. Taylor established himself in the practice of law at Grand Rapids, Michigan and he now has the distinction of being dean (oldest in place) of the Bar Association of Kent, Ottawa and Ionia counties. In his professional activities during the course of many years Mr. Taylor ever upheld the highest ethics of the science of jurisprudence, and he long was one of the representative members of the bar of western Michigan, his practice having involved his appearance in many important cases tried in the various courts of this section of the state. He was city attorney in the period of 1874-79, and in 1889 he was again appointed to this office, of which he continued the incumbent until 1894, so that his total service as city attorney covered a period of ten years. He has been a stalwart advocate of the principles of the Democratic party since his coming of age. He and his wife are communicants of the Protestant Episcopal church, and active members of the parish of St. Markís church, which is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Western Michigan. In this parish Mr. Taylor served as superintendent of the Sunday school out of which was eventually developed the new parish of Grace church, and both he and his wife continued active in the various departments of church work until their advanced years compelled them to abate this service in a measure. Mrs. Taylor, an accomplished musician, also took a prominent part in the advancing of musical interests in the city, and has been a gracious and popular figure in the representative social and cultural circles of Michiganís fair "Valley City." During the long period of forty-six years the Taylor family home in Grand Rapids was maintained at 113 Livingston avenue, and from this dwelling, with its gracious memories and associations, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor removed in 1921, into the attractive and modern residence at 1855 Lake drive. At Oyster Bay, Long Island, on July 27, 1871, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Taylor to Miss Olivia Rachel Burtis, a daughter of Oliver D. and Rachel (Smith) Burtis. Mr. Burtis, whose impaired health made a change of residence imperative, purchased a large tract of land in the Oyster Bay district of Long Island, including a fine old house that had been erected prior to 1700, this ancient homestead being now owned by Commodore Todd and the estate being known as Meadowbrook Hunt, Commodore Todd there having his home and having made the same one of the show places of Long Island. He has, so far as possible, restored the fine old house to its original colonial condition. Of the six children of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor four are living: William Wisner II is now a lieutenant-colonel in the United States Army. He was an honor graduate of the School of the Staff at Fort Leavenworth. Colonel Taylor was in active and important service in connection with the nationís participation in the World war. In this connection it is interesting to record that the Taylor family has been represented in every war in which the nation has been involved. Walter Taylor, grandfather of the subject of this review, was a gallant young patriot soldier in the Revolution, and later served as a major in the war of 1812. Lodovick Dobbin, maternal great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, came to America from the north of Ireland and was a patriot soldier in the Revolution. His son, Hugh W., was a colonel in the war of 1812 and received the brevet rank of brigadier general. Walter Taylor, eldest brother of William W. of this review, was in service in the Mexican war and was mustered out as sergeant Ėmajor. Another brother, Edward Henry Taylor, was a member of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil war. William W. Taylor II, son and namesake of him to whom this sketch is dedicated, was in service in the Philippines, the Spanish-American war and the World war and in the last he was chief of staff. As previously noted, he is now a lieutenant-colonel in the regular army of the United States. He married Miss Ethel Naill, of El Reno, Oklahoma, and they have two sons, William Naill and Oliver Burtis. Olivia R., eldest daughter of the subject of this sketch, is the wife of Frank J. Fess, of Detroit, and they have one son and one daughter. Louise R. Taylor, the next younger daughter, is one of the most prominent business women of Grand Rapids, where is president and manager of the Taylor Typewriter Company. Charlotte Dobbin Taylor became the wife of Andrew J. Peterson and they maintain their home in Grand Rapids, they being the parents of one son and one daughter. Elizabeth Taylor became the wife of Major William F. Hoyt, an officer in the United States Army. Her death occurred in 1923, the one surviving child being a son. Julia Taylor, wife of Irving E. Quimby, died in 1921 and is survived by one child a daughter.


Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 22 March 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/taylorww.html