FYI Taylor County Texas

Friday, December 15, 2017

History

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The following information comes primarily from two sources, “Our Town Taylor,” by Ruth Mantor, and “Land of Good Water,” by Clara Stearns Scarbrough. It also includes information that is part of an historical development report produced by Angelou Economics in 2004.

On June 26, 1876, the International & Great Northern Railway reached a point in the vast open cattle ranges of Central Texas called Taylor Station, named for railroad official Edward Moses Taylor. In anticipation of the railroad, the Texas Land Co. had laid out streets, public parks and a square and sold lots for prices ranging from $20 to $350. Taylor Station was situated on a major cattle trail and by August of 1876, it was reported that 146 carloads of cattle had been shipped from the new stop.

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. Early accounts describe the town as a “bloody” place with shoot-outs and lawlessness, but, as more and more people arrived, churches and private schools were established and businesses flourished.

By 1879, Taylor Station had become Taylorsville, a town of about 1,000 residents, most of whom made their living working on the railroad, at the cotton gin or in a number of shops, hotels and restaurants. In February of that year, though, fire destroyed 29 of the 32 businesses. Within days, community members began rebuilding the downtown area, in many cases replacing wooden structures with brick ones. In 1882, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was extended to Taylorsville, where it joined with the Missouri-Pacific to link east and west. A ceremony took place between Taylor and Hutto to celebrate this event, during which John R. Hoxie, ex mayor of Chicago, drove the last spike. This also was the year the first city election was held in Taylor.

In 1883, public schools were established and the Taylor Water Works pumped water from the springs in Murphy Park and 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. The First National Bank was organized in 1883 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 set up on the public square. A boy was paid 25 cents for each stray dog he could round up. The city marshal 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.

In 1889, Dr. A.V. Doak started a streetcar system that went from Main Street to Seventh Street, Sloan Street and south to Second Street, then east back to the original location. 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. More than 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 served as a temporary boost to the already booming economy. The Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1925. Geographically, Taylor has grown from about 10.24 square miles in 1963 to 13.58 square miles, annexing contiguous areas of rural Williamson County as population in the region continues to grow.

The construction of US 79 in 1939 improved the transportation infrastructure, which which has been widened west to SH 130, a regional toll road project designed to alleviate congestion on I-35.

Taylor’s airport was built in the 1930s, but has undergone several expansions, including one completed in 2003 that extended the runway to 4,000 feet. Continuing to influence the community is the growing population in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located just 30 miles northeast of Austin, Taylor has added to its role as a regional retail and agricultural hub the part of a bedroom community for metro-area commuters.

Although growth has come to Taylor it has not been the overwhelming force experienced by many of its neighbors. For the decade between 2000 and 2010, overall growth in the Austin MSA was 36.4 percent, while Williamson County’s overall growth rate was an astronomical 79 percent. In Taylor, meanwhile, growth was 18 percent. An analysis released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that growth continues to influence Eastern Williamson County. Hutto’s growth rate from 2000 to 2010 was more than 600 percent, making it the fastest growing community in the state.

Taylor’s growth during that same period was estimated to be more than 12 percent. Thrall’s population growth during the decade was approximately 20 percent, while Granger grew about 3 percent.

Moody MuseumThe Taylor Downtown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The culmination of more than a dozen years of hard work by downtown property owners, the Taylor Conservation and Heritage Society, Taylor Main Street, the Taylor Economic Development Corporation and the Texas Historical Commission, the designation was awarded in 2005.

The district is that part of downtown roughly bounded by Fifth, Washburn, First and Vance streets, 16 full blocks and portions of six others. Most structures in the district were built between 1878 and 1931.

The designation gives properties some protection from the effect of federally funded projects, gives owners access to technical experts and grants to aid in restoration and offers them eligibility for federal tax benefits. The National Park Service explains that the National Register of Historic Places “is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archeological resources.”

Last modified on Friday, 20 July 2012 15:12
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