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.