In Search of John Taylor

John Taylor’s background is mysterious.  This page is intended as a repository of clues that might bear on his ancestry.

His brother Henry Taylor

In his 1871 deposition, Henry Taylor declared that he was John Taylor’s brother, gave his age as 54, and residence as DeKalb County, Alabama.  Given this information we can find Henry Taylor’s marriage to Sarah J. Bynum (daughter of John W. Bynum) in DeKalb County on 25 November 1855.  He and Sarah had no children.

The 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses of DeKalb County show Henry Taylor with a birthplace of South Carolina and aged 42, 52, and 62 respectively.  These censuses recorded age as of June 1 of the census year, but in the deposition of 19 August 1871 he gave his age as 54, thus we estimate his birth date in mid-1817.

In the 1850 census Henry Taylor, age 32, was counted in the Marshall County household of John Myrick (age 60), and Mary Myrick (age 50, born SC), and their son Richard G. Myrick (age 16).  (A fourth 20-year old Myrick with an uncertain name was listed after Henry Taylor. The name may be “Elizabeth M. A. Myrick” but the person is identified as male.)

His sister (mother?) Mary Taylor Myrick

Mary Myrick, wife of John Myrick, is said by a descendant to have been “Mary Taylor”, apparently from the Alabama death certificate of Richard G. Myrick (1834-1926).1 Her husband John Myrick evidently died sometime in the 1850s, but no probate records survive in either Marshall County or DeKalb County.

In 1850 Henry Taylor was enumerated in her household.  In 1860 Mary Myrick, now age 65, was enumerated in the DeKalb County household of her son Richard G. Myrick,  In 1870 she was apparently the Mary “Taylor”, age 78, enumerated in the DeKalb County household of Henry Taylor.  In all three censuses her birth state was listed as South Carolina.

Her son Richard G. Myrick initially enlisted in a Confederate unit, the DeKalb County Rifles, in January 1862 but the following year joined the Union Army in Company A of the 1st Alabama Vidette Cavalry  (the same regiment in which John Taylor and his sons James and William served).  (As Richard Grice Myrick he enlisted in Chattanooga in the DeKalb County Rifles on 5 January 1862.  As Richard G. Myrick he enlisted in September 1863 in Company A of the 1st Alabama Vidette Cavalry.  Muster rolls of that unit show him present through June of 1864 when he mustered out.)  His enlistment paper, dated 10 September 1863, gives his birthplace as Early County, Georgia and age as 30.  His gravestone gives his date of birth as 25 February 1834.

Was Mary Taylor an older sister of John and Henry Taylor or their mother?  The answer depends in part on which census recorded her age most accurately — was she born in 1792, 1795, or 1800?  If she were their mother, then of course she must have been widowed when she married John Myrick and her maiden name would not have been Taylor.

Unfortunately, I am unable to find a marriage record for John Myrick.  Nor could I find record of him in Early County other than the later record of the birth of his son Richard in 1834.  There are no deeds to or from anyone named Myrick in Early County.  The only possible John Myrick in the 1840 Georgia census was located in northwestern Georgia in Chattooga County, which is adjacent to Walker County.2  This person was not enumerated in 1850 in or near Chattooga County and, based on the household composition in 1840, seems likely to be the same John Myrick.

John Taylor married in Early County, Georgia

Our earliest record of John Taylor in Early County is his marriage to Sarah Ella Lemacks on 30 August 1838 by a license issued three weeks earlier.3 There was no third party mentioned in either record.  Sarah was surely under age and would have required the consent of a parent or guardian, but no such record has survived among the county records.

Mary Taylor Myrick’s son Richard, who was born four years earlier on 25 February 1834, gave his birthplace as Early County when he enlisted in the army in 1863.  As did James F. Taylor, who was born about 1839.

Thus it seems that Mary Taylor Myrick, John Taylor, and Henry Taylor were all living in Early County in the 1830s.  We have an indication that they may have lived in the part of Early County that later became central Calhoun County.4  But I could find no other record of them. (I note that , while court records exist, they are entirely unindexed.)

I find one oddity that appears to be a coincidence.  Mary Myrick’s son, born in 1834, was named Richard Grice Myrick. The 1840 census of Early County lists Wm. Taylor, Sereno Taylor, and Richard Grice consecutively, apparently in or near Fort Gaines.5.  As mentioned below, Sereno Taylor, a new Englander, had recently been named headmaster of the Fort Gaines Female Institute and William Taylor was his son, neither of whom seems to be related to our Taylors.  Fort Gaines fell into Clay County when it was formed in 1854, and was located nearly on the banks of the Chattahoochee River across from Henry County, Alabama.

Was the son named after Richard Grice? If so, was Richard Grice related in some way to John Myrick?   Or to his wife?  According to a 1959 manuscript of a Bryan family, Richard Grice married a woman named Mary B. Bryan in Early County in 1824.6 Internet postings claim that Richard Grice was born in 1802 and died in Early County in 1846. I found no probate record for him in Early County.

How did he meet his wife?

One wonders how John Taylor met Sarah Lemacks.  Persons almost always married where the bride lived, but there are no deeds to or from any Lemacks in Early County.  Presumably John Taylor lived there as well, long enough to meet and propose to Sarah.  However we don’t know how long Sarah had been in Early County, thus it is at least remotely possible that John Taylor met Sarah in Colleton County, South Carolina where we think her family was living as of 1830, and perhaps migrated along with her family.

John and Sarah moved across the county line into Randolph county (though they may not have left what is now Calhoun County, formed years later from northern Early and southern Randolph.) sometime during the next few years, although there does not seem to be evidence that they were following either Taylor or Lemacks relatives.  Their two oldest children declared in their Civil War army enlistment and pension documents that they were born, respectively, in Early County, Georgia in 1839 and in Randolph County, Georgia in early 1841.   At that time Early and Randolph counties adjoined one another in southwestern Georgia, separated from Alabama by the Chattahoochee River. (The modern counties of Clay and Calhoun were later formed from Early and Randolph.)

Origins in South Carolina — or Raleigh, North Carolina?

To add yet another element of confusion, the death certificate of John Taylor’s youngest child, Georgia Taylor Forbus, lists the birth place of John Taylor as Raleigh, North Carolina. However, John Taylor’s census records, and the 1880 and later census records of his children, all consistently record his birth state as South Carolina.  Why did his daughter think he was born in North Carolina?  Did his family migrate from that area to South Carolina?

John Taylor missing from the 1840 Census

There is no sign of John Taylor in the 1840 census.  If the two sons were accurate in listing their birthplaces, we should find John and Sarah in either Early County or adjacent Randolph County.  But he was either missed by the census Marshall or was living with another family.   There were no Lemacks or Myrick families in the vicinity, but there were several Taylor families.

Taylors in 1840 Early County and Randolph County

The only Taylors in either Early County or Randolph County were the following five, all of whom can be accounted for in the 1850 census:7  In Fort Gaines on  the Chattahoochee River, in Early County (but just south of the Randolph County line), were two Taylors listed consecutively in the 1840 census:

page 113:  Wm Taylor: 20001 – 00002 – 9 slaves, with one person counted in the “employed in learned profession and engineers” column, apparently the same William Taylor listed as a lawyer in the 1850 Randolph County census.  Apparently the son of Sereno Taylor, he appears to be unrelated to our Taylors.

page 113:  Serono Taylor: 1011201 – 0212001 –  4 slaves &  2 schools with a total of 120 students.  This is Professor Sereno Taylor, headmaster of the newly-established Fort Gaines Female Institute and an unrelated Taylor.

Elsewhere in Early County:

page 130:  Elias Taylor: 200001-01001 – obviously he had no males old enough to be Henry or John.

In adjacent Randolph County:

page 240:  Henry L. Taylor  10001 – 20001 – 28 slaves.  Our Taylors were not slave owners, so this person is probably unrelated.

page 255:  John Taylor  223001 – 110001  An obvious candidate, but this man was still in Randolph County for the 1850 census, so he is not “our” John Taylor.

page 259:  Jonathan Taylor  0000001 – 20001 — Ditto.

Unfortunately we can account for all five of these men in the 1850 census.  Worse, there is no John Taylor enumerated anywhere in Georgia who fits the household composition of “our” John Taylor.  He and his wife and child must have been in someone else’s household.  And apparently that someone was not a Taylor nor a Lemacks nor a Myrick.


  1. A single ancestry family tree gives her maiden name as Mary Taylor. The tree owner has not responded to a request for information as of this writing. []
  2. 1840 census, Chattooga County:  John Myrick 01110001 – 0010001.  Note that Henry Taylor was not in this household. []
  3. Early County Marriage Book 2, page 29. []
  4. See the discussion at Who Was Sarah Lemacks? []
  5. Consecutive entries in 1840 census of Early ounty, Georgia: Wm. Taylor 20001 – 0002; Sereno Taylor 1011201 – 212001; Richard Grice 000312 – 003101 []
  6. See Lindsey M. Brian, A Bryan Book (Typewritten manuscript dated 1959, courtesy of Allen County, Indiana Public Library), page 134. []
  7. The 1840 census counted the number of persons in each household who fell into the following age categories: 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-60,  and so on.  I have listed all males left of the dash and females to the right of the dash.  If there were no persons of a given age a zero appears in that column. []