Thursday, April 15, 2010

Daniel Rockwell Taylor—Two Years in the Life—Part One: By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

In the blog stories following this, Evelyn Taylor adds to Daniel’s life by exploring more of his journal from these years…

Daniel Rockwell Taylor, born in 1828, would marry Martha Cordelia Waller in 1852, and they would become the parents of Clara (our poet, story in December 2009 on the blog ), Carlton (story in February 2010 on the blog), Orrin, and Bryant (or B.W., father of Floyd and Lloyd, Aunt CB’s father). But in 1850, he was just a twenty two year old boy ….

Sometimes, two years can change everything in a person’s life. It seems like this indeed was so for Daniel Rockwell Taylor.

Daniel, grandfather of Lloyd and Floyd Taylor, was a sophomore at Yale University in 1850, pursuing the classic education of his time--reading the Roman poet Horace and the Greek historian Herodotus, quoting Dante, studying Day’s Mathematics, and Whately’s Rhetoric.

At home at Peace Farm (called ‘Woodlawn Farm’ later, by B.W. and Emma) in Oakfield NY, his father had died six years earlier, but his younger sister Elizabeth lived with their mother, Phoebe. Brothers Arthur and Elliot lived near, while Daniel’s older sister lived close by in Cattaraugus.

After Daniel’s sophomore year, he returned to Oakfield very sick. On July 6th, after his BiAnnuals at Yale, he wrote in his journal: “ Do not feel first rate to day.” Two days later he admitted: “Dark are the hopes of future days & joys. Hope retires & peace & love & truth.”

His beloved sister Elizabeth, herself just married on July 12 of this year, 1851, stayed by his bedside and nursed him through the worst. Daniel did not write in his journal again until the end of October, still home at their family farm in Oakfield, recuperating.

The next summer, his sister Elizabeth was expecting her first child--she was twenty two years old. This baby boy was born on July 7th, 1852. There must have been complications from childbirth—most likely ‘childbed fever’ according to Aunt CB, as Daniel's journal tells of his emotions. He describes in detail what he is feeling and thinking--a few of his thoughts:

“July 17th Saturday Evening--Reach home from Cattaragus. Sister Elizabeth very, very sick. O! may God grant her speedy recovery!

Tuesday Morning: Watched with Elizabeth. She was delirious most of the time, her pulse so quick & feeble as not to be numbered. O it does not seem possible that my Dear Sister will be taken from our midst. She told me she has named her boy after me. O, even in death her thoughts are of those she loves.

But it must be—I feel it in my heart. She must die. O why could it not be otherwise.
O, God, wilt thou comfort the heart of my dear Mother, who thus sees all the hopes which she had formed of living with Elizabeth, thus suddenly cut off;

Sunday Evening--O, My Sister! must thy Sun go down thus early? Must the cold earth lie upon that fond & loving bosom & thou never more join our once happy circle of Brothers & Sisters?

Monday Morning, July 26--Sister Elizabeth is in heaven! At 4 this morning she fell asleep in Jesus.

Elizabeth did name her son, Daniel. Young Daniel and his father, Albert Sizer, went back to
Wolcott, Vermont, where the Taylors were also from, and in 1855, Albert married Elizabeth's first cousin, Mary Noyes.

Daniel Rockwell, no doubt at his mother’s urging, did not go back to Yale. With Elizabeth gone, someone had to look after Peace Farm. Daniel took over the farm duties and kept the farm running, so that his mother could live out her life at her beloved home. As Evelyn Taylor explains so well below, Daniel the writer became Daniel the upstate New York farmer.

Picture One: Daniel

Picture Two: Woodlawn, known in 1850 as Peace Farm, taken in 1900


Pat said...

I also want to make sure I thank my cousin, Julie Lochner Riber, for all of her hard work transcribing Daniel's journals--it must have been tough to get through, as his writing style is so different from our own, AND, of course, then you have to decipher the words.

Thanks, Julie!!

CB said...

It must be pointed out that after Elizabeth's death Daniel's mother made him a proposal , to leave him the farm if he would take over and le her live there until death. He did so and altho she was at her older daughter's when she died, she was buried from Peace Farm.

CB said...

This same proposal was made to their oldest son, Bryant and wife, Emma. They accepted and thus Lloyd, Floyd. Clara, Leon and Florenec grew up there at Peace farm now named Woodlawn!