27 June 2010

Obituary--George E. Taylor

This is a fine example of the obituaries from the early 1900's. Full of juicy details, and as a recent commenter noted, a great read when there wasn't much else to write about. I do like the historical details you can pick up in these early obituaries, especially those of veterans. And you gotta just love the way these old writers could turn a phrase.

From the 8 April 1909 Newaygo Republican:

George E Taylor

A man of noble impulse, of generous and broad character was George E Taylor, who was stricken by apoplexy on Monday last, and dying from the effects Tuesday forenoon. He was well known throughout the county and highly respected for his sterling qualities of mind and heart.
Mr. Taylor was born March 22, 1844 at Quincy Mich. He was raised on a farm and educated mainly in country schools. His life was without special incident until the breaking out of the civil war, and being intensely patriotic he enlisted as a member of the 8th Michigan infantry. Being only a few months past his 17th birthday, his parents interfered and caused his rejection. He again enlisted in February, 1862 and again was parental authority asserted to baffle hiis intentions, but August 9th following, as Mr. Taylor often expressed it, the third time was the charm, and he became a member of Co. B, 21st Mich. Inf. and this time he was permitted to remain in the service. That he was a good soldier is attested to his comrades, Lyman R. Meeker, who resides in Newaygo, being one of them. He participated in the battles of Perryville and Stone River, and was a prisoner of war for 11 months, but fortunately was paroled soon after his capture and escaped the horrors of the southern prison pens. While engaged on a long, forced, march he received a sunstroke which affected his sighe and gradually the trouble became worse and he was totally blind for many years.
He was mustered out of the service in June, 1865 and returned to Grand Rapids where he attended the public schools and took a course in a business college. For several years Mr. Taylor taught school in this county with much success. In 1878 he was elected Register of Deeds of Newaygo county and the year following started the compilation of the titles of the county which was the beginning of the abstract business which is now owned by F. W. Riblet.
Although entirely blind Mr Taylor never lost his interest in the affairs of life and for a man so afflicted was wonderfully informed. His memory was perfect and once a fact was fixed in his mind it never escaped him. He was prominent in Grand Army affairs and has made many addresses at soldier's reunions, post meetings and on Memorial days. He was elected president of the reunion association of his regiment last fall and had prepared an address which he expected to deliver at Grand haven on Memorial Day. He never spent any time in mourning over his great affliction but was always cheerful and light hearted and contributed in many ways to the happiness of those who surrounded him. His list of friends can only be counted by his acquaintances. Those who knew him best loved him most.
The funeral of Mr. Taylor will be held at the opera house at 10:30 a.m. Friday. The remains will lie in state at the opera house from 8:00 to 10:00 o'clock a.m., giving all his friends an opportunity to look upon the face of one who lived a life of unselfishness and devotion to the truth, whose life was full of generous deeds, and whose death brings sadness to many hearts. The funeral will be conducted by Rev. H. C. Chamberlin, under the auspices of the I. O. O. F., of which organization he was a faithful member. The relatives who will be present are: his daughter, Mrs. Cora McFarland to Grand Rapids, who came Tuesday afternoon and will remain for the funeral, and Mrs. Francis Higley, a cousin, resides here. Hon. Walter R. Taylor, of Kalamazoo, brother of the deceased, came to Newaygo Tuesday, but much as he regretted it, was compelled to go to Lansing to look after some important pending legislation and he and his wife are expected to arrive this afternoon and will remain until after the funeral.

Such rich details, about both the Civil War and the time after. I wonder what the important pending legislation was?


  1. Woohoo...that was great! I have a few that are similarly detailed. Opera House funeral....that's a bit unusual...great place to have one though!

  2. What an awesome obituary! It would be very interesting to know what that pending legislation was.


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