This photograph looks very old and ragged – much the way John Cotton Taylor must have felt before he died. This man is my great-great-great-grandfather. He was part of the contingent who moved westward to Kentucky with Captain John Linton.
John Cotton was a member of the Loudoun County, Virginia, Militia. In the journal entry for November 21, 1818, he is listed as having three fines with “Gone to Kentucky” written beside his name. All able-bodied male citizens over the age of eighteen were required to enroll in the militia. Men who missed drills or musters could be fined seventy-five cents for each offense. John Cotton owed $2.25. But since he never returned to Virginia I guess the debt is still owed today!
After moving to Washington County, Kentucky, John Cotton waited ten years before marrying Susan Clark Edwards, a granddaughter of Captain John. It was said he took boats of goods for sale down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and down to New Orleans. During one of these trips he contracted scarlett fever and was away from home for some time.
John Cotton and Susan married November 25, 1828. They had four children – Catherine Elizabeth (from whom I’m descended), Edward Edwards, Benjamin Springer and Margaret Ann. Six months after the birth of Margaret, Susan died.
It wasn’t until twenty years later that John Cotton married again – this time Susan Kimberlain, on February 4, 1848. Having the same first name as his first wife was very confusing, and I didn’t realize until much later that this was his second wife. John and Susan K. had two daughters, Mary Louisa and Sarah Susan.
In 1859 the west once again lured John Cotton and he and his family moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He and his wife Susan, his sons Edward and Benjamin – along with Benjamin’s wife Martha Janes and infant son John – his daughters Margaret Ann, Mary Louisa and Sarah Susan made the trip through Kentucky, just across the Mississippi to Cape Girardeau. The only one remaining in Kentucky was his daughter Catherine Elizabeth, who by this time was married to Edward Edwards Linton and had two small children.
This is much the pattern of Captain John Linton – at the age of 67 (Captain John was 68 when he moved from Loudoun County, Virginia, to Washington County, Kentucky) John Cotton Taylor moved his family westward to a new state, a new beginning. But that is where the similarities end. What turned out to be a good move for Captain John, turned out to be a catastrophe for John Cotton.
Before leaving John’s sister, Elizabeth, wife of Judge Benjamin Springer, his good friend and business associate, died in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in February of 1859.
When the family arrived in Cape Girardeau, crops did not grow as well as expected. John Cotton’s daughter Sarah died July 11, 1862, at the age of ten. Son Edward Edwards Taylor died one month later at the age of thirty.
Son Benjamin’s wife Martha died January 9, 1866, leaving two small daughters. Two of Benjamin and Martha’s children, John and Susan, also died while in Missouri, but I have no dates for their deaths.
On May 15, 1869, John Cotton’s daughter Mary Louisa, died at the age of 19. Four months later, John Cotton Taylor, himself, died September 12th at the age of 77.
The remaining family members were devastated. Of the original nine who made the trip west and three more born in Missouri, a total of twelve, only five were left – less than half. The family was broken-hearted. They buried their dead and moved back to Kentucky – Benjamin and his two young daughters, Etta and Margaret, his sister Margaret (who helped him raise them) and his stepmother Susan. What a sad, miserable trip it must have been.