On June 26, 1876, the International & Great Northern Railway reached a point in the vast open cattle ranges of Central Texas called Taylor Station. This station was named for a railroad official and was later called Taylorsville and finally Taylor. In anticipation of the railroad, the Texas Land Company laid out streets, public parks, a square, and sold lots for prices ranging from $20 to $350.
Taylor Station was situated on one of the major cattle trails and by August, 1876, it was reported that 146 carloads of cattle had been shipped. With the railroad, came a colonization of farmers and businessmen, mainly from Midwestern and Southern states. The rich pastureland was soon cultivated and began to produce an abundance of cotton. The first cotton gin was built in 1877.
Gradually, civilization developed. Early accounts describe quite a “bloody” place with shoot-outs and lawlessness; but, as more and more people arrived, churches and private schools were established and businesses flourished. A fire in February, 1879, destroyed most of the frame buildings and they were replaced with brick structures.
In 1882, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was extended to Taylorsville: the first city election was held, and the Railroad was joined with the Missouri-Pacific to link East and West. A ceremony took place between Taylor and Hutto to celebrate this event, with speeches and an abundance of champagne and beer. The Honorable John R. Hoxie, ex-mayor of Chicago, drove the last spike. Mr. Hoxie became a wealthy cattleman whose ranch north of Taylorsville was described as quite a showplace.
In 1883, public schools were established and the Taylor Water Works pumped water from the springs in Murphy Park as well as from the San Gabriel River to a 75-foot high water tower. Water had previously been hauled into town in barrels and sold door-to-door.As testimony of the favorable economic climate of the times, the First National Bank was organized that year and capital stock of $50,000 sold in less than an hour! On March 17, 1884, the city fathers changed the charter and the township of Taylorsville became officially known as the City of Taylor.
In the summer of 1884, a dog pound was initiated on the public square. A small boy was paid 25 cents for each stray dog he could round up. The City Marshall then sold them back to the owners for $1, along with a numbered brass dog tag. The revenue was used for completion of a sewer system.
The Taylor Fair had its origins in the sheep ranchers who brought their flocks together on a common meeting ground to be sheared. While waiting for their flocks to be sheared, they entertained themselves with foot races, roping contests, and wagers of various natures. As they looked forward to meeting old friends and engaging in friendly rivalry, the idea of a yearly fair took root. The fair, held on July 4, 5, & 6 grew to include a parade, judging of livestock, baked goods, handiwork and horse races.
In 1889, Dr. A.V. Doak started a streetcar system that went form the I&GN depot on Main Street to Seventh Street, west to the pavilion on Sloan Street and south to Second Street, then east back to the depot. The dirt streets were often too muddy for any other method of transportation. Two Spanish mules drew each car and two boards were placed between the tracks for the mules to walk on.
The 1890 census showed Taylor having a population of 2,584. By the turn of the century, Taylor was well established as a trade and transportation center. Over 200 Taylor residents owned telephones in 1902. In 1913, a 3,260-foot deep artesian well was drilled. It was the deepest water well in the world at that time and was in use until 1994. The discovery of oil in nearby Thrall in 1915 only served to boost the already booming economy. The Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1925. The census had continued to show an increase in population each decade, even though the county population showed a decrease between 1930 and 1970.
Taylor has had several famous citizens through the years:
TAYLOR, TEXAS: was first named Taylorsville for an official (Edward Moses Taylor) of the International and Great Northern Railroads in 1876. Taylor is an agriculture and manufacturing –based community with a growing population. While Taylor is considered part of the Austin metropolitan area, it is the most individual and rural community in the area.
ETHNIC PRIDE: is a great part of the Taylor “mystique”. The community takes great pride in its ethnic diversity that includes, Czech, Polish, German, English, Scotch-Irish, Swedish, Black, Hispanic, Mid-Eastern and other ancestry. This diversity is never more evident than during the annual “Taylor History Days”. Examples of “ethnic Pride” are in the range of eating establishments within the city. Taylor is rightfully known for its great Bar-B-Que restaurants. Kolache, a slavic pastry, is also widely available.
STATELY MANSIONS: are found throughout much of Taylor. Large old homes with two and three stories reflect a time of affluence in a young Taylor. Many of these homes have been maintained by generations of the same family, while others have been faithfully restored and modernized.
COTTON: has been one of the mainstays of Taylor’s economy since the early 1800’s. The rich soil and the skilled farmers who worked it made Williamson county a leading cotton producer. Most years will see some 80,000 bales of cotton harvested in the county and over 125,000 shipped from the Taylor Compress.
MOODY MUSEUM: “In a world where mankind is all-consumed with looking toward the future, we take great pride in preserving our past”. The restoration of the Governor Dan Moody Birthplace-Museum build in 1887 is such an accomplishment. The Moody Museum reflects the traditions of a very distinguished family whose roots stem from Tennessee and Kentucky to Taylor. It is the boyhood home of Texas’s youngest governor, Dan Moody. In 1926, at the age of 33, he became the youngest governor to hold this office in the history of Texas, he won the governorship after running against the famous Ma Ferguson. Dan had previously served as Williamson County Attorney and Texas Attorney General. The home received a Texas Historical marker in 1968. The house was given to the city in 1976 and notes Governor Moody’s many accomplishments. Today, the museum houses many items of furniture and memorabilia from the family and is available for receptions, luncheons and other events. Postcards are now available.
Read More About Our History and Culture at Village Profile
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Citizens National Bank
Main Street Rental
ON Technology Consultants
Taylor Daily Press
Taylor Economic Development Corp.
Contact the Chamber
1519 North Main St.
Taylor, Texas 76574