Jackson Taylor

Company F, 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry

Jackson Taylor, son of Charles and Malinda (Abernathy) Taylor, was born on November 4, 1843 in the Mascoutah Township near Lebanon, St. Clair County, Illinois. Sometime before Jackson was six years old, his mother died in childbirth. Since his father could not earn a living while taking care of the young children, Jackson was taken for a ride in the wagon, along with his sister, Martha, and a brother, George. They were each given to different adoptive parents. Jackson was first given to Joseph McClure, and then adopted by Joseph Padfield. The McClures, Padfields, Abernathys, and Taylors were all early settlers of the township, and lived near each other for many years. Jackson probably knew his adoptive family fairly well, even when he lived with his biological parents.

Jackson stayed with the Padfield family from 1850 until the Civil War. He worked on the Padfield farm along with several other children (some of whom were also adopted).

When Jackson was about twenty years old, his father returned and offered to take him back, but Jackson said that it was too late.

On February 25, 1864, Jackson enlisted in Company F of the 10th Illinois Cavalry Volunteers. He was five feet eight and a half inches tall with dark hair and grey eyes. His weight ranged from about 120-130 pounds. At the time of his enlistment, he resided in Marine, Madison County, Illinois. In the service, Jackson was a saddler and a scout. He was often sent out as a scout for two or three days at a time. Scouting was considered dangerous work and reserved for only the most respected soldiers. The 10th Illinois Cavalry fought in the westernmost theater of the war, travelling through Brownsville, Arkansas, and San Antonio, Texas among other places. At Brownsville, Arkansas, Jackson contracted Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, which caused a great deal of back, head, and neck pain. This illness would haunt him for the remainder of his life. On November 22, 1865, at Springfield, Illinois, Jackson was honorably discharged from the service. An old family legend says that while he was caring for the horses of the regiment, Abraham Lincoln came by, and was impressed with Jackson's work. The legend also says that President Lincoln complimented Jackson and shook his hand.

After the war, Jackson returned to his home, and on February 14, 1867, at Lebanon, St. Clair County, Illinois, he was married to Sarah Ann Tinsley by Professor Urpe. Between 1865 and 1883, Jackson lived in the following Illinois Counties Washington, Macon, St. Clair, and Madison. By 1870, he was a prosperous middle class farmer with 60 acres valued at $3200 and farm implements worth $600. Jackson and Sarah had seven children, four of whom died at young ages. On August 30, 1883, Sarah Taylor died.

A few months later, on December 6, 1883, Jackson married Matilda Caroline Martin at Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. They spent their honeymoon in downtown Edwardsville. Matilda was the daughter of John Goodwin Martin, a friend that Jackson had recently met. They had three children, all of whom lived to adulthood.

By the early 1880's, the Taylor family was living in Alhambra, Madison County, Illinois. Beginning in about 1881, Jackson began to suffer from another episode of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis. The diagnosis was made by Dr. S. E. Bucknell. The disease was so painful at times that Jackson was completely bedridden and unable to dress himself. He was hardly ever able to do more than about half of the labor of a man in good health, and was unable to work at all for months at a time. His condition worsened whenever he was exposed to wet and cold weather. As a farmer and laborer, this happened fairly often. One particularly bad episode occurred after exposure when he was working for the St. Louis and Kansas City Railroad in Alhambra on April 1, 1892 during a flood.

Jackson's character description reads almost like a Boy scout oath. He has been described as intelligent, honest, hardworking, kind, generous, and loving. By all accounts, he was a man of the highest moral character. Many people testified on his behalf when he was attempting to get a pension for his Civil War service. All of the witnesses said that he was a good man with no "vicious habits". He was a devout baptist, and at one time donated a stained glass window to his church. He must also have been a forgiving man, because his second wife had a child out of wedlock before their marriage, and his third wife had been divorced. In those days, these things were serious social stigmas.

Sometime after 1890, Matilda began suffering from kidney disease. Life was very hard with both Jackson and Matilda in ill health. Their daughter, Maude, began taking care of the family and helping to raise her younger brother and sister, Floyd and Edith. Sometime in the late 1800's or early 1900's, a tornado struck Venice. The Taylors saw it pick up a cow, and they attempted to hold the door of their house shut while the tornado passed. Their house was so badly damaged by the tornado that they lived in a railroad boxcar for a while. In about 1900, Jackson broke his foot, which prompted him to write a very stern letter to the pension office. This letter finally got him a pension. Even with the pension money, Jackson was unable to properly care for Floyd, so he sent him to live with some German immigrant farmers where he worked for food and housing. Matilda finally died on February 7, 1904.

Jackson helped sandbag levies during the flood of 1904. On April 1, 1905, Jackson married Mary Ann Wall (Bowman), a woman who owned a boarding house, had been married twice before, and divorced once. They only lived together for a few years. She filed for divorce at St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri on November 2, 1909. Jackson was never notified whether or not the divorce was granted.

Throughout the late 1890's and early 1900's, the Taylor family moved back and forth between Madison, Venice, and Alhambra, all in Madison County, Illinois. Between 1907 and 1913, he permanently located in the Madison and Venice area.

Jackson's son, Frank, who lived in Granite City, Madison County, Illinois, had become an alcoholic and was abusive to his family. During the latter part of his life, Jackson would walk from Venice to Granite City to visit and protect Frank's family. He would also visit his son Floyd and his wife Carrie, and baby sit their daughter, Helen, which allowed Carrie time to do housework without interruption. He liked to spend time with his grandchildren, and bought them candy when he received his pension checks.

In 1916, Jackson's health began to fail. Several times, he thought he was going to die, and called the family together for a last good bye. He finally died on June 5, 1916 of complications due to arteriosclerosis. He was seventy two years old.

The following is a stern letter written by Jackson Taylor to the pension office. Alhambra, Illinois August 3, 1900

Mr. P. J. Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir
I write to inform you that I cannot be examined for heart disease, as I have no knowledge of ever having any symptoms of said disease. If I cannot get my pension honorably, I do not care to get it at all. I can prove by more than one doctor that I have been completely disabled, am not really able to do any work now, but have to do something to earn a living. I have had my foot broken since I last wrote you. So if I do not need the pension now, I never will. If I haven't given enough proof that my ailments are not caused by vicious habits, send me an affidavit, and I can give you all the proof you want.


Submitted by Eric LaVelle

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