Family Stories

John C. Taylor and Benjamin Springer – Business Partners in Vicksburg Mississippi

I have an old, old accounting book handed down through the years that belonged to my third great-grandfather, John Compton Taylor.  The pages are yellowed and tattered, and only the back cover remains.  Business accounts are listed on the pages, one for each person.  Most are for boarding and meals, but other items are also written in – for example, 50 pumpkins at 4 cents each.  Today I made a discovery about this book that, while not earth-shattering, was very important to me.  I thought the business was located in Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky.  But I now know that John Taylor was in business in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Let’s back up a bit and give more information about John C. Taylor.  John was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, about 1795, the youngest son of John and Mary Ann ‘Mollie’ Hawkins Taylor.  His family lived near my Linton family.  John’s oldest brother, Henry Taylor, married Catherine Linton, daughter of Captain John Linton and Ann Mason, while still in Virginia.  Henry Taylor and wife came with Captain John Linton and most of his family in the fall of 1818.  How do I know this?  On November 5th of that year both John Linton and Henry Taylor appeared before the Washington County Court and swore that the slaves they brought into the state were not intended for sale.  John brought Dick, Caney, Flory, George, Jack, Amey, Tith, Washington, Lee, Henry and Maria.  Henry brought Matt and Lucy.  And we know that John C. Taylor came with the family at that time – it says on page 242 of the Loudoun County, Virginia, Militia Journals, 1793-1829, that at the end of the year 1818, ‘John C. Taylor 3 fines, 2.25 – gone to Kentucky.’

There is a story handed down in the family that John C. Taylor took a riverboat filled with goods down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, to trade – but he didn’t return for some years.  It was told that he was very ill with fever.  There are notes written in the old ledger – some give births and deaths – others just information about the family.  Some are handwriting exercises by the daughters of John Taylor, children of his second wife, Susan Kimberlain.  One, written by my great-grandmother, Frances Barber Linton Montgomery, says that John Taylor and Benjamin Springer were not only brothers-in-law, but business partners.  The dates in the account book are 1826 and 1827.  Through today’s research I believe that John, even though he may have been ill at some point, lived in Vicksburg, worked with his friend Benjamin Springer, and came back to Washington County to marry Susan Clark Edwards November 25, 1828.  Perhaps he wanted to make some money before going home and beginning married life.

The Weekly Democrat Times, Saturday, May 15, 1875

I looked at the names in the ledger – James Blue, Punia Lathrop, William Karfull, Thomas Patterson, Dr. B. H. Jennison, Daniel P. Harrison, William Linzy – these were not Washington County names.  A newspaper search for the early years of Vicksburg brought up some great tidbits.  Benjamin Springer was an attorney who became coroner in 1833 and several years later, probate judge for Warren County, Mississippi.  He helped lay the cornerstone of the First Presbyterian Church in Vicksburg, April 12, 1854.  He was a member of one of two Masonic lodges in the city who were present for the occasion.  And a newspaper search of the names Daniel P. Harrison and Dr. B. H. Jennison, two who are listed in the account book, lived in Vicksburg, Mississippi at that time.  In an 1840 newspaper article it said that Dr. B. H. Jennison sold several slaves.  And in 1843 Daniel P. Harrison filed for bankruptcy.  The business partnership of Taylor and Springer was not in Springfield, Kentucky, but in Vicksburg!  What a remarkable find!

Daniel P. Harrison purchased barrels of corn, loads of wood, 50 pumpkins.

Dr. B. H. Jennison paid for boarding a Mr. Fox, boarding attention to Mr. fox while sick (5 days), rent of cellar from June 10th to September 10th, and rental of cellar from September 10th to January 31st.

Benjamin Springer married John C. Taylor’s sister, Elizabeth Taylor, February 10, 1829, less than three months after John Taylor and Susan Edwards’ wedding.  They were not blessed with children, but adopted a daughter, Sarah, who died about 1851.  Elizabeth Taylor Springer died February 11, 1859.   According to my great-grandmother’s notes her funeral service was preached by Pastor Rev. D. S. Snodgrass, at the Vicksburg Baptist Church.

John and Susan had four children before her death in 1836 – Catherine Elizabeth Taylor (my great-great-grandmother), Edward Edwards Taylor, Benjamin Springer Taylor (named for his father’s friend) and Margaret Ann Taylor.  In 1859 John Compton Taylor, wife, young daughters and three youngest children from his first marriage, moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  The only one left behind was Catherine Taylor, my ancestor, who married Edward Edwards Linton March 20, 1852.

Missouri was not kind to the Taylor family.  Both young daughters died, Sarah Susan in 1862, and Mary Louisa in 1869.  Edward Edwards Taylor, died in 1862, a bachelor at the age of 31.  Benjamin Springer Taylor’s young wife, Martha Jane Janes, died in 1866 at the age of 29, as well as their infant, John Taylor.  When John C. Taylor died in September of 1869, at the age of 74, what was left of the family moved home to Springfield, leaving six loved one to sleep in Missouri soil.

His Son, Benjamin Franklin LintonThis photograph was taken of John Compton Taylor before they left for Missouri in the 1850’s.  It is an old tin-type in a black case, lined with red velvet.

This is John shortly before he died, a carte-de-visite photo.  His hair is shorter and he looks much older.

Benjamin Springer lived an additional 19 years after the death of his wife, passing away January 20, 1878.  The only newspaper account I could find was a small insert in The Weekly Democrat Times, Greenville, Mississippi, Saturday, February 2, 1878.




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