Taylor Memorial Cemetery
The Story of the Taylor Memorial Cemetery
How fortunate we are to have such a piece of untouched history right here in
the center of our town! From the early pioneer days of farm settlements, horse
and wagon transportation, and several coal-mining villages, much has changed in
these parts. Although much change has taken place throughout all of Taylor, time
has yet to set its mark within the confines of the 1905-dated iron fence that
still surrounds the Taylor Memorial Cemetery.
This historic cemetery has been a part of Taylor’s history since a local
farmer began burying his family members and other townspeople there in the late
1700′s. The Pond Street area was once considered the front of the cemetery until
the mid-1800s when the “Mother Presbyterian Church” was built facing Main
Street. Since then most other stones have faced Main Street. You will notice
this while exploring the cemetery, which was once referred to as “God’s Acre”.
The church, built in 1848, is the oldest known building in Taylor. A
1907-dated document states that at that time the oldest marked stone was from
1834 and was that of an infant boy. In the 1800′s a handmade wooden fence
surrounded the cemetery, but was later taken down and replaced with the current
iron fence in 1905. it is said that the wooden fence was knocked down in some
areas by speeding “horse and wagons” which would make quick turns around the
corners of the alleys (courts).
The year 1905 brought some change to the cemetery. Prior to “Memorial Day
1905″ the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Society of Taylor began a fund
drive to make necessary changes in the cemetery. Money was raised in Taylor to
replace the original wood-shingled roof with the current “slate-shingled” that
recently celebrated its 96th Birthday. Also sharing in that
celebration are the slate steps that lead up and into the front door of the
church, the iron fence surrounding the cemetery, and the Norway Maple trees
which still serve to provide some comfort of shade while visiting the cemetery.
The original entrance into the church was a pioneer-day style wooden porch and
set of steps. It was also learned that as part of the fund drive the wood from
the original fence was sold for four dollars.
Of the buried listed in the registry, two people stand out in a national-
historical perspective. Parley Hughes, a soldier of the American Revolution, was
said to have been a bodyguard to General George Washington. Eliza Pulver was a
teacher of President Grover Cleveland in New York State during his boyhood days.
If you take notice of the dates on the stones you will notice that many of
the buried died at a young age. Due to a lack of good sanitary methods, diseases
ran rampant throughout much of the world in the 1800s. No medications had yet
been found to aid the sick, and many died of these diseases. Also, with unsafe
labor practices in the mines, many men died young in Taylor.
It was on Memorial Day 1905 when the dedication ceremony took place
celebrating the renovations to the cemetery. Many citizens from Taylor took part
in both the fund drive and the celebration. For example, it was learned that
classes from the Taylor School District collected money. Amounts like
seventy-five cents from certain classes were collected. A doctor’s donation
might have been five dollars, for example. These early citizens had everything
to be proud of. Times were tough, but townspeople pulled together to reach a
much needed goal.
As the mid-1900′s approached more Presbyterian Church structures were being
built throughout Lackawanna County. Many flocked to these modern houses of
worship. The population of church members decreased to a number so low that the
Mother Presbyterian Church would close its doors as a house of worship forever.
The church and cemetery grounds were turned over to the hands of Taylor Borough.
Today this historic structure and cemetery stand as a symbol of Taylor’s past.