Putting zest to the test for 133 years. Since its early beginnings, Taylor has responded to challenges, embraced opportunities and taken risks to preserve the community’s quality of life. Its story is full of flavor and appeal.
Like many Texas TX cities, Taylor was originally a settlement of German and Slavic communities. Anticipating the construction of the railroad, Texas Land Company began designing a town in 1876. It was named Taylor Station after a contemporary official of the International & Great Northern Railroad: Edward Moses Taylor. The town adopted a mayor-council form of city government in1882, and in 1884, the city fathers changed the name to the City of Taylor. An important rail shipping center, Taylor quickly became a pivotal point for moving cattle, cotton and grain.
Taylor’s first test came in February of 1879, when a fire destroyed most of the frame structures. But, this city responded heartily, replacing the destroyed buildings with the brick and stone structures that boldly stand today.
Taylor didn’t get discouraged when fire destroyed the town, and it certainly wasn’t going to let a little water dampen its spirit when the worst flood in local history dumped 23 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, (second only to Thrall’s 38 inches). It was another test, but Taylor forged on.
In 1884, the dog pound was established when a 12-year-old boy was paid 25 cents for each stray dog he could round up. The city marshall then sold the dogs back to their owners for $1, along with a numbered brass dog tag. The revenue was collected and used to complete the city’s first sewer system. Now that’s innovative thinking.
Taylor’s first cotton gin was built in 1877, quickly establishing the community as a Central Texas agricultural hub. Cotton has been one of the mainstays of Taylor’s economy since the early 1800s. Its rich soil and the skilled farmers made Williamson County a leading cotton producer.
By 1940, the population of Taylor was 7,875 and thanks to light manufacturing during the 1970s and 1980s, the city grew to 11,472 by 1990 and hit 13,575 in 2000. As of January 1, 2008, Taylor’s population was 17,663. The steady growth of almost four percent over the last decade has guided community leaders in proactive growth management.
A history of zest appeal. From wrestling and law to bulldogging and illustration, Taylor has been shaped by a long line of talent and invention.
• Crawford Henry Booth - an early local rancher and banker.
• Dr. Howard Bland, Sr. - an investor in real estate, a commodities warehouse, a flour mill, an ice house, a hotel, a local power company, a theater, the Taylor Daily Press and an anti-prohibition newspaper. As a community leader, Bland served on the City Council and Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the 34th Texas Legislature.
• Albert Eikel - the owner of the three-story brick hardware store located at 316 North Main Street.
• Elmer “Pet” Brown - won the World middleweight crown in wrestling in 1914.
• Dan Moody, son of Taylor’s first mayor - the first prosecuting attorney in the U.S. to win a legal battle against the Ku Klux Klan. At age 33, he became the youngest governor of Texas.
• Bill Pickett - an African-American cowboy who initiated the practice of “bulldogging”—or steer wrestling—and in 1971 was posthumously inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
• Frederick Bean Avery, also known as “Fred/Tex” Avery - an illustrator who created Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Droopy, Screwy Squirrel, Porky Pig and Chilly Willy.
• In 1952, the community demonstrated its gusto—intelligence and honesty—when leaders recognized Dr. James Dickey as its Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The event made news in TIME magazine and The Saturday Evening Post because even then, during a time of racial segregation and strife in the South, Taylor was appreciating its diversity and lauding the achievements of an African-American leader.
More recently, Taylor has been home to celebrity favorites, such as actor Rip Torn and musician Greg Ginn, and is the location of many unique businesses, such as Williams Brothers Model Products, FlyRite Choppers and SST Records, which has produced the music of highly influential bands, including Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth.
Today, Taylor’s diverse cultures, including people of African American, Hispanic and Asian heritage, are creating a new heritage, a new creative class.