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Biography of Walter Lee Taylor - McDowell Co. WV

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 292-293

WALTER LEE TAYLOR, one of the West Virginia leaders in the promulgation and development of corporation law, is one of the members of the profession who has always been identified with large affairs. His connection as counsel and official with a number of the largest companies of the state has brought to the realization of the public his masterly knowledge of the law, his deep penetration into its foundation principles, the broad and high qualities of his mind, and his ability to apply his knowledge to circumstances and affairs. A large part of Mr. Taylor's legal career of thirty-two years has been passed in McDowell County, but at present his offices are maintained at Huntington.

Mr. Taylor was born in Giles County, Virginia, November 15, 1866, a son of Thomas Samuel and Nichatie Cherokee Tennessee Floyd (French) Taylor. The Taylor family was founded in America during Colonial days, when the first Taylor, emigrating from Scotland, located in Virginia. In Henry County of that state was born the grandfather of Walter Lee Taylor, Robert Taylor, who was a planter in Henry, Pulaski and Giles counties, Virginia, and died in the latter county prior to the birth of his grandson. He married Martha Minter, who was also born in Henry County, and died in Giles County. The French family originated in England, whence the first American ancestor immigrated to Virginia prior to the Revolutionary war, in which struggle the great-great-grandfather of Mr. Taylor, John Clay French, held the rank of colonel in the forces of General Greene.

Thomas Samuel Taylor, father of Walter Lee Taylor, was born in Henry County, Virginia, November 21, 1838, and was nine years of age when taken by his parents to Pulaski County, that state, subsequently removing to Giles County, where he was married. At the outbreak of the war between the states he gave up his position as a teacher in the rural schools and enlisted in a Virginia infantry regiment in the Confederate service, which was attached to Picket's Division, Longstreet's Corps, with which he was connected throughout the war. Mr. Taylor participated in the memorable Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, through which he came safely, but three days before the surrender of General Lee, at Appomattox, he was captured at Sailor's Creek, near Petersburg, Virginia, and was a prisoner at Washington, D. C., on the night President Lincoln was assassinated. He was then sent to Johnson's Island and held there until July, 1865, when he was released. Mr. Taylor then returned to Giles County, where he resumed his school teaching and continued as an educator until 1876, when he became sheriff and deputy treasurer of Giles County. He served as sheriff for twelve years, during eight years of which he also acted in the deputy treasurer's capacity, and in 1900 was made deputy sheriff, a position in which he served eight years. He finally retired to his farm at Thessalia, and his death occurred at Lynchburg, January 22, 1914. Mr. Taylor was a democrat. He was a very active supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in which he was a Sunday school superintendent for thirty years. In Masonry he attained the thirty-second degree, was district deputy lecturer for the State of Virginia, and was considered one of the brightest and best informed Masons in the state, being called upon frequently to deliver the Masonic addresses at the laying of the cornerstones and other functions. Mr. Taylor married Miss Nichatie Cherokee Tennessee Floyd French, who was born April 16, 1845, in Giles County, Virginia, and died in that county in February, 1901. She was named by Governor John B. Floyd of Virginia for his sister. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor became the parents of the following children: Walter Lee, of this review; Albert Tyler Hicks, local attorney for the Norfolk & Western Railway Company and for several other large corporations and a well-known attorney of Giles County, where he died in 1897, at the age of twenty-eight years; Bertie A., who died at the age of twenty years; Mary A., the wife of Senator James A. Strother, a prominent attorney of Welch, West Virginia, and present representative to the State Legislature from McDowell County, this state; India P., the wife of Dr. Charles F. Shumate, of Lynchburg, Virginia, one of the leading osteopathic physicians of Virginia; Mattie N., who died at the age of two years; Marvin S., an attorney of Welch, West Virginia, and member of the firm of Taylor & Taylor, his partner being hia wife, formerly Miss Rosa Quisenberry; Bayard H., engaged in the insurance business at Welch, who during the World war was sent by the governor of Virginia as the representative of that state of the Young Men's Christian Association to France, where he spent eight months at the front and was on the firing line when the armistice was signed; and Vera, who died at Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1918, as the wife of Dr. Charles F. Dickens, a dental practitioner of that city.

In 1905 Mr. Taylor married at Thacker, West Virginia, Laura J. Stafford, who was a sister of his first wife and lived happily with her until his death, and his widow departed this life at Huntington, West Virginia, in 1921.

Walter Lee Taylor attended the rural schools of Giles County, Virginia, and at the early age of fifteen years began teaching school. During the following eight years he continued to work as an educator, having various schools in Giles, Bland and Tazewell counties, Virginia, and Sullivan County, Tennessee, and in the meantime applied himself to the study of law, being finally admitted to the bar in 1890. He immediately began practice in McDowell County, where he made rapid advancement in his calling, and where he still has a large and lucrative clientele. Mr. Taylor has risen to be known as one of the leading corporation lawyers of his state. He is attorney for the R. E. Wood Lumber Company and Montvale Lumber Company, both of Baltimore, Maryland; the Atlantic Fuel and Steamship  Company of Huntington, and several large coal companies in McDowell County. In June, 1921, he established an office at 309 Robson-Pritchard Building, Huntington. He belongs to the various organizations of his profession and occupies a place high in the esteem and regard of his fellow practitioners.

In politics Mr. Taylor is a stanch democrat and was prominent in the ranks of his party during his residence in McDowell County, although his only public office was that of councilman of Welch, in which he served one year. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and his fraternal affiliation is with McDowell Lodge No. 112, A. F. and A. M., of Welch, West Virginia. His business connections are numerous and important, he being president of the Torchlight Coal Company of Torchlight, Kentucky; vice president of the Pan Coal Company of Welch, West Virginia; president of the Southeastern Grain and Livestock Company of Jones County, North Carolina, owners of an 18,000-acre plantation; secretary of the Marvacar Mining Company, owning mines in Cherokee County, North Carolina; secretary of the New Garden Coal Land Company of Lockhaven, Pennsylvania; and a director in the R. E. Wood Lumber Company and the Montvale Lumber Company, both of Baltimore, Maryland. He owns the old Knabe homestead at Catonsville, Maryland, formerly the home of the well-known piano manufacturer of that name, and is interested also in farming land in Giles County, Virginia.

On September 9, 1891, Mr. Taylor was united in marriage in Giles County, Virginia, with Miss Ada Cecil, daughter of Daniel R. and Sophia (Anderson) Cecil, both of whom are deceased. Mr. Cecil was a substantial agriculturist of Giles County, and Mrs. Taylor is a graduate of the Wesleyan Female Institute of Staunton, Virginia. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. Nichatie Cecil, the elder, married Hon. Ryland G. Craft, of Gates City., Virginia, one of the five republican members of the Virginia Legislature of the session of 1922. He is a well-known attorney and agent for the Ford automobile in Scott county, Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Craft have one daughter, Ann Taylor, born November 24, 1921. Walter Lee Taylor, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, is a graduate of the Baltimore City College of Johns Hopkins University, degree of Bachelor of Arts, and was honor man in his senior class year. During the recent war, at the age of nineteen years, he volunteered for service, was accepted in the United States Navy, and attained the rank of ensign. During a part of his two years of service he was on the U. S. S. Saranac. He is now a student in the law department of the University of Baltimore, Maryland, but resides at Catonsville, Maryland, and is acting as private secretary to B. E. Wood, president of the R. E. Wood Lumber Company.

Submitted by Valerie Crook <>

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