Nancy B. Taylor was born in Angerona, Jackson County, West Virginia, on 26 March 1871 to James D. and Elizabeth Hill Taylor. At Nancy’s birth, James was 63 and Elizabeth Hill, his second wife, was 25. His first wife, Nancy Hewitt, whom he married in Bedford County, Virginia, on 14 December 1824, died in 1865. His seven children were grown or dead, and Elizabeth Hill was younger than his last daughter, Frances.
JAMES TAYLOR RECORD OF MARRIAGE LICENSE
James D. Taylor, born around 1808, was a school teacher in Angerona. Marriage records claim he was living in Mason County, Virginia, when he married Elizabeth Hill. These records claim he was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, to James and Elizabeth Taylor.. In 1810 James and John W. Taylor are listed side by side in the Prince Edward County census, but only the home of James, a man over 45, includes a male under 10. In 1820 neither Taylor is found in the County census, but a similar James is found in Bedford County where his son marries his first wife four years later.
JAMES TAYLOR MARRIAGE REGISTER
The widower, James D. Taylor, married 25 year old Elizabeth Hill on 26 December 1967, and the marriage register lists Laban Hill as Elizabeth’s father. Laban Hill was a transplanted New Yorker. Born in Jefferson County, New York, on 4 July 1809, he or his father migrated to the Ohio River at some point before marrying Rebecca Woodruff in Jackson County, Virginia, on 29 September 1831. He and Rebecca raised ten children.
LABAN HILL MARRIAGE REGISTER
Laban Hill received local notoriety in the Rock Castle area of Jackson County, West Virginia, by deciding one day to carve a castle out of the sandstone near Three Mile Creek. But when his pick broke he decided to stop. The sandstone still bares the impression, and the area still bares the name. Laban died there on 21 June 1886.
James D. and Elizabeth Taylor had at least two daughters in the next four year, and Nancy B. Taylor, or Nannie as she was called, was the youngest. The first daughter, Lucy, seems to have died before 1880. A third daughter Rachel was suggested, but there is no evidence.
In 1970 the Taylor family lived next door to Elizabeth’s younger brother, William Daniel Hill, in the town of Union in Jackson County, and in 1880 she is still in Union but living alone with 9 year old Nancy. There is no record found of the death of James D. Taylor, but on 5 April 1884 Elizabeth marries her second husband, George W. Whitney.
1870 CENSUS LISTING TAYLOR FAMILY
1880 CENSUS LISTING WIDOW ELIZABETH TAYLOR
MARRIAGE LICENSE FOR GEORGE W. WHITNEY
George Whitney was born in New York in 1832, and fought with Company L of the 137th New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Whitney enlisted as a private on 2 September 1864, and was discharged from Company L one year later. The regiment began recruiting on August 31, 1862, but in December 1864 fresh recruits mustered in for one year, became Company L and joined the 137th in Savannah, Georgia.
GEORGE W. WHITNEY WAR RECORD
Nannie Taylor applied for a pension after his death, and claimed George fought in Company K but there was no Whitney in that company. Nannie seems to have handled the claim for her stepsister, Georgia, who was born to George and Elizabeth on 12 December 1885. The application for Whitney’s minor seems to have been unsuccessful.
PENSION APPLICATION RECEIPT
NOTICE OF PENSION EXAMINATION
BIRTH REGISTER FOR GRACE “GEORGIA” L. WHITNEY
Elizabeth Hill Taylor Whitney died on 2 June 1894 of Phthisis Pulmonalis, an archaic term for consumption of the lungs, or tuberculosis. George died the following year on 14 April 1895 of acute Bronchitis. Nannie Taylor, 24, and Georgia Whitney, 9, were alone.
Nannie earned her Grade Two teacher’s certificate on 1 September 1891 at the age of 20. On August 4 1896 her scores improved significantly, and she earned a Grade One certificate good for the next four years. One month later, on 26 September 1896, Nannie married William Lamsdale Allen, the son of well known merchant Richard Joseph Allen.
MARRIAGE LICENSE FOR NANNIE TAYLOR
William and Nannie had two daughters:
1. Emma Lorna Allen was born in Hartford, Mason County, West Virginia, on 25 October 1897. Emma came to Charleston in August 1917, took a business course and worked for the State of West Virginia for 28 years. She married John Hamilton Linn on 10 January 1920, and had one son, George. After John died in 1928, Emma married George Harvey Draper on 7 October 1929, and had one son, William L. Draper. Harvey and Emma divorced on 14 May 1935, and Emma married Mehrel Anderson Bender on 7 October 1939. Bender died in 1942. Emma never remarried, and died in Charleston, West Virginia, on 4 May 1993.
2. Erma Mildred Allen was born in Hartford, Mason County, West Virginia, on 19 June 1902. She married Oscar George Kellenberger in Charleston on 16 August 1924, and had two children, Erma Nan and George Allen. Erma Nan died in 1934. George and Erma lived on the Kanawha River in Charleston until George died on 7 April 1992. Erma died on 2 June 1995.
William Lamsdale Allen, the youngest of seven children raised by Richard Joseph Allen and Emma Biggs, was born in Hartford City, Mason County, West Virginia, on 11 September 1905. His life would be interrupted constantly by alcohol, and it would be the death of him.
William had trouble holding onto jobs. At one point Nannie secretly used her connections with attorneys and judges to wrangle a position for William with the Hartford Post Office. “Say nothing at all about it,” wrote attorney Charles E. Hogg of Point Pleasant on 25 August 1897. “But I have seen Hon. Warren Miller in you behalf in reference to the Post Office appointment of your husband.”
Even though William’s father, Richard, had been Postmaster for 12 years, it does not seem to have been successful. Even after Richard set up his son with a general store of his own, William had problems. In 1903, he relocated his store to Seattle, Washington. The family lived on the upper floor of the frame store William owned and operated in Seattle.
"We had a big wood stove when we lived in Seattle,” Emma wrote later. “I lost my voice and had a doctor in. The doctor said I had bronchial pneumonia and to put a wash boiler on the stove and kept it going until sweat formed on the windows, mirrors and doors. He wrapped me up good. After this my voice returned."
Almost immediately Nannie began suffering pains. She consulted doctors, druggists, and collected flyers on cures like Ruterba, “The greatest spring remedy which makes rich blood.” She corresponded with the Institute of Physicians and Surgeons that diagnosed her problem by mail and promised to cure her ills with Vitaopathic treatments of $5.00 a month, “the very best course of magnetic healing on the market.”
It is not know which remedies she actually tried, or how each worked if at all. At some point Nannie knew she was dying. Pain was constant and unstoppable. But she was worried most about who would raise her daughters, Emma and Erma. She knew William would not be able to raise them without her.
“Aunt Emma wanted Erma and Aunt Annie wanted me, but we returned to Hartford to Grandpa and we were raised by our Aunt Sadie,” William’s daughter Emma remembered. The families of William’s sisters, Emma Allen and Annie McKee, also lived in Seattle at the time.
"My mother wrote Grandpa [Richard] Allen [in Hartford] to take the girls and not separate them,” Emma continued. “When she received a reply from Grandpa that he would take them, she died.” On 14 April 1904, Nannie B. Taylor Allen passed away at the age of 33 of what her daughter Emma called “TB of the bowels.” She was buried in Seattle, Washington.
Joe McKee already planned to take his wife Emma and two children to the spectacular 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, before Nannie died. “After mother died, father took us to the 1904 World’s Fair with Aunt Emma and Uncle Tom, and their children, Beatrice and Howard,” Emma wrote. She was seven years old, but the memories stayed with her. It was on the way back to West Virginia.
"Our father wanted to return to Hartford as well, but he didn’t have enough money for train fare so he pawned mother's watch to Uncle Joe and returned to Hartford.” William Lamsdale Allen was killed a year later on 11 September 1905 by a street car when it ran over one of his legs. It was amputated, but he died at the age of 37. He was buried near his parents at Letart Falls, Ohio.