Thanksgiving is almost here and we will spend time with our family around tables big and small. We will eat, laugh, share stories, pass the watermelon pickles, find that last piece of elderberry pie and hold hands with new generations of family members; all the while we hold tight to those now gone who seem to hover above our tables as loving, perhaps wistful, visions. One of those long-gone family members—my great great grandfather Daniel Rockwell Taylor—died one November more than one hundred years ago.
We have come to know more of Daniel through our three blog stories about him. Take the time to read them over; Daniel comes alive as a man and not just the name and dates written on a gravestone:
--- Daniel Rockwell Taylor—Two years in theLife, Part One –tells of Daniel falling sick, his sister Elizabeth nursing him back to health, and then her death in childbirth soon after.
--- Daniel Taylor, Student at Yale, Part Two—and
--- Part Three, Metaphors and Descriptions from the 1850 Journal of Daniel Taylor,
tell of Daniel’s time at Yale before he came back to take over Woodlawn and become a farmer.
(Please click on colored words in each of the three titles for the link to take you to that story)
All of these stories are of Daniel as a young man; he was born in Vermont in 1828 and by the age of two, had moved to western New York with his family.In 1852, Daniel married Martha Cordelia Waller.
Daniel and Cordelia
Orrin, and Bryant (or B.W., father of Floyd and Lloyd, Aunt CB’s father).
Through their married years, we can see pieces of Daniel by reading the journals of his wife, Cordelia. These journals tell of church, family, outings and picnics, work in the fields and in the home.
In Daniel and Cordelia’s later years, they shared their beloved Woodlawn with their son Bryant and his wife Emma Carson Taylor and their growing family. Emma, like her mother-in-law before her, kept journals of her daily thoughts and doings.
By 1911, Daniel’s wife Cordelia had been dead three years. As readers of this blog know, this extended family living in this house had been through many joys and heartbreaks over the years.
The newspaper obituary for Daniel said he died of ‘the infirmities of age’, and that he was ‘highly esteemed by a very wide circle of acquaintances’. Emma’s writings tell the deeper story.
And so, this small snippet --Emma Carson Taylor’s 1911 Journal:
November 26th, 1911—Time runs on with its changes. Nothing has been written this month I see and so much has happened that was not looked for at the last writing.
I will never write again of any of us staying home with Father as I have so many times in the past. For Father has gone home. Poor old Father! It must have been hard for him these years since Mother left him and for a few months more than three years he was here with us. We will all of us who lived these years together remember them. Little need be said of them more than is already written in these journals of mine. More than that he grew spiritually—was more patient, gentle and thoughtful of others. Now he has gone, gone forever.
November 10th, 1911 at 5a.m. His funeral was at 11 o’clock Sabbath morning here at the “Homestead”. The a.m. was rainy, by noon turning to snow and when we reached home again after going to the cemetery, it was almost a blizzard, so fierce was the wind and storm.
On the very first of November Father showed signs of a change for the worse altho’ he had been steadily failing for some time. Threshers this first week kept us from noticing it as much as we should, had attention been fully on him. Then, too Florence (Emma’s now youngest daughter) had a rheumatic catch in her back. When Dr. was called the 2nd, he had patients here, came twice but could see no disease, only old age infirmities in Father. He kept around each day and on Sunday the 5th, had his bath and hair cut.
Not until Monday a.m. when Bryant went to dress him did he give up and was not able to be dressed. When the doctor came this day he said he was “practically dying”, for so it proved. From this time until Friday a.m. he lay unconscious, as if in sleep, when the end came--without pain or struggle. So we say “It is well” with Father now. Earth passed, Heaven gained.
Telegrams were sent to Carlton and Orrin. Orrin coming Tuesday eve, Nov. 7th, sharing the care with Bryant to the last, and then remaining until Monday eve the 13th. Carlton came Saturday evening and stayed until that same time, as did Leon (Emma’s oldest son) who came to Batavia in Saturday afternoon and was gotten by Papa and Uncle Orrin who had gone there on that day for flowers. He also stayed until this same time. Mary (wife of Orrin) came on Friday eve to Batavia. And came here Saturday morning to help what she could.
Bryant, Carlton and Orrin went to Batavia early Monday to see to business while they could all be together. Then later in the day, Bryant made one big load of them all to Oakfield M.O.(train station) and Leon starting for Rochester. Carlton for Buffalo.
My brothers George and Ed came to act as bearers with Father’s three boys and Leon. They stayed all night Sunday and went back Monday a.m.
Work went on as usual after this, in the house and out. We missed Father but know it is better as it is for him and us. Mr. Henry (husband of ‘dear Clara’—he lived in Wisconsin) could not come owing to poor health, but “made good” to Bryant and I in his own way.
And so, at age 83, our Daniel Rockwell Taylor died. Writing from Yale at age 22, Daniel ended one of his letters to his wife-to-be Cordelia with:
“Forgive me for quizzing you. Time hastes! I know soon will we have this world and all its Beauty. Our Hopes, Joys, Loves Delights will be forever.”
I for one do hope that Daniel and Cordelia DID have ‘this world and all its Beauty’.
Happy Thanksgiving to All of our Cousins near and far.
Jack and CB's 65th Wedding Anniversary -- the Clan!