Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rancher, Horse Breeder, and Sheriff Sam F. Taylor [otd 04/18]

Samuel F. "Sam" Taylor was born April 18, 1848 in Kentucky. Like his cousin, James Madison “Matt” Taylor [blog Dec 10], Sam traced his lineage back to Englishman James Taylor, who emigrated to Virginia in 1635. James Taylor’s descendants included two U. S. Presidents: James Madison and Zachary Taylor (second cousins to Sam and Matt). Sam’s family moved to Lafayette County, Missouri when he was a year old.
Making hay, the old way. Library of Congress.

In 1870, Sam finished a college degree in Kentucky and then joined cousin Matt in Eagle Rock (today's Idaho Falls). The town grew up around Matt's toll bridge and Sam helped with a hay contract for the stage line.

In a letter written many years later, Sam said, “There was nothing there then but Matt Taylor’s family and what help they had around, and men that worked for the stage line; … There was no farming done, no tame hay, no stock in the country; lots of good grass and we just had to cut the wild grass wherever it could be found. I had four four-horse teams and ten men; lots of this hay had to be hauled twenty-five miles, and we were all summer until frost filling the contract.”

After completing the order, Sam and his brother Ike trailed cattle into the area from Missouri, first for Matt's ranch, and then for one of their own. They were among the first to import thoroughbred stock to help upgrade the Territory's herds. According to local historian Barzilla Clark, "These Taylor brothers originated the SI stock brand, the first brand used in this valley, and well known for many years thereafter."

Besides his ranch, Sam also ran a livery stable, partnered in a meat market, and twice served as county sheriff. He was a member of the first school board organized in Eagle Rock, and President of the first county fair in 1887. Right after that, Sam served a term in the last Territorial legislature and was a member of the constitutional convention that led to Idaho statehood.

The livery business moved Sam into breeding top-grade trotting horses. He bred many fine horses and one went on to excel in Eastern races. A New York Times headline for July 27, 1894 read "Ryland T. Surprises the Talent in the Races on the Grand Circuit."
Bay trotter, Currier & Ives image, ca. 1883. Library of Congress.

The article noted that "the talent" – racing aficionados – had never seen that much speed from the bay gelding, which was "bred in Idaho" and carried the "SI" brand. But this time out the horse had "stepped ... the best mile that has been trotted this year and the fastest one even seen at Cleveland."

Later, Sam moved his family to a ranch near Mackay. While he lived there, Custer County voters elected him to a term in the state House of Representatives.

In 1911, Sam moved to Ontario, Oregon (a few miles south of Payette, Idaho), partly for his wife’s health, and to be near their married daughter. Sam returned regularly to Idaho Falls on business for five or six years after that. The change certainly helped his wife’s health, for she lived until 1928. Sam passed away there in 1935.
References: [Illust-State]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
"Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884-1934," Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).
"A New Trotting Champion," The New York Times (July 27, 1894).

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