Stephen F. Austin State University

Early doctor also healed poor in spirit (September 2018)

Early doctor also healed poor in spirit

By Van Craddock

Pioneer East Texas physician Dr. Job Taylor often called on a higher power to heal patients. That's because he also served as a Methodist lay preacher for many years.

When he wasn't healing folks physically and spiritually, Taylor operated a thousand-acre farm and a stagecoach station at Earpville, a long-ago village that sat in what today is east Longview.

A native of South Carolina, Taylor was born in February 1802. His family later moved to Georgia and then Alabama. As a young man, Taylor relocated to Mississippi where he married Matilda Cotton in 1823. The couple eventually had eight children. At least two of their offspring became doctors.

The Taylors arrived in East Texas in 1848, settling in Marshall. The Harrison County seat was a thriving community with almost 2,000 residents, making it one of the larger towns in Texas.

In February 1851, Taylor ran this ad in the Star State Patriot newspaper:

"Having located permanently in Marshall, (Taylor) tenders his professional services to the citizens of Marshall and vicinity. Office at the Drug Store of Norris and Tackett."

Two years later, the Taylors opened a boarding house near the town's Masonic Female Institute "for the accommodation of young ladies."

Along about 1853 the family moved 20 miles west to Earpville. Taylor bought a plantation that eventually encompassed 1,430 acres with a large "Southern-style cottage" on the red clay road where stagecoaches ran between Shreveport, La., and Tyler.

Taylor was a busy fellow. He operated a freight line and a stage relay station serving passengers traveling "from Marshall, by Ash Spring, Earpville, Pine Tree, Point Pleasant and Starrville, to Tyler, 67 miles and back, three times a week." Later the stagecoach traveled to Canton and Dallas.

Taylor rode many a mile on horseback caring for the medical needs of East Texans in Upshur, Harrison, and Rusk counties. (Gregg County wasn't created until 1873.)

By 1860, Earpville had grown to almost 300 residents and boasted several merchants, a saddler, carpenter, wagon maker and blacksmith in addition to Taylor's stage stop.

That same year Job Taylor was appointed pastor of a small church in Earpville. The church was a part of the Methodist East Texas Conference's Marshall District. Taylor and others replaced the original one-room log cabin church with a larger frame structure.

In 1874, the frame building was moved to a tract of land at Fredonia and Whaley streets in the new town of Longview. Within a year the frame building was replaced by a larger brick building. The church today is called First United Methodist Church and covers an entire city block.

Matilda Taylor died in September 1873. Job served as a pastor and physician until losing his eyesight in the 1870s. He died April 26, 1885, at age 83.

The Marshall Tri-Weekly Herald said of Taylor:

"Loved and respected by all who knew him, he did his duty and has gone to his reward. He leaves a large number of relatives and friends, who should profit by his long and well-spent life."

The Longview correspondent for the Dallas Daily Herald wrote:

"Old Uncle Job Taylor has been one of the most powerful preachers the Methodist church ever had. He moved here from Mississippi in 1851 and preached until 1875, at which time he was superannuated (retired due to advanced age or infirmity) by the conference after preaching over 60 years."

By the way, one of Dr. Taylor's sons, Andrew, was a surveyor of historical note. Andrew Taylor (1844-1890), a Confederate veteran, was first surveyor of the newly created Gregg County in 1873. For his survey work, the county paid him the princely sum of three dollars per mile.

In 1877, Andrew Taylor and J.M. Cornes established the "Longview Cemetery" near downtown Longview. The burial ground was renamed Greenwood Cemetery in 1905. A number of Taylors are buried there, including Andrew and his parents.