In describing the settlement of the West Branch of Wolf Creek, H. Z. Williams' History of Washington County states: "Peter Taylor, who was brought from England by Blennerhassett and employed by him as gardener, after the ruin of his patron's estate became a resident of this valley." (p. 623) Peter Taylor was born about 1761 in Cheshire County, England. By 1803 he was on Blennerhassett's Island where he managed Blennerhassett's farm and beautiful two and one-third acre flower gardens.
Since Peter Taylor is listed in an 1803 census of Waterford Township, it appears that he had already established himself on Wolf Creek about the time or even before he worked for Harman Blennerhassett. Family histories show the Mellor, Corner and Taylor families intermarried before they arrived in America. Samuel Mellor Jr. (1749-1825) married Mary Corner and soon after 1795 settled on West Branch of Wolf Creek. His brother, George Sr. (1750-1805), settled on Wolf Creek by 1802. The parents of Samuel Jr. and George Sr. were Samuel Sr. (1721-1791) and Elizabeth Corner (1724-1781). A letter written by George Mellor Jr. (born about 1791-died after 1833) in 1832 (printed in The Tallow Light, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 77-82) states, "Peter Taylor whose mother was a Corner[,] sister to our Grandmother [Elizabeth Corner] ..." By 1803 these families-Mellors (later Millers), Corners and Taylors-were settled on neighboring farms on Wolf Creek.
Peter Taylor certainly had a residence on Blennerhassett's Island by 1803. Aaron Burr visited the island in 1805-06 and allegedly plotted with Blennerhassett to invade the Spanish Southwest and establish an empire. By December 1806 the Blennerhassetts fled the island and Peter Taylor later returned to the West Branch of Wolf Creek. The area became Wooster Township in 1806 and the name was changed to Watertown Township in 1824. The line was moved before 1910 and the area of his settlement is in Waterford Township today. His land was along the creek about one-half mile from Center Methodist Church (Wolf Creek Chapel) and Cemetery. Center Schoolhouse, one of Waterford Township's one-room schools, was close by.
This was not the end of Taylor's connection to the Blennerhassett story. He was one of the important witnesses called during the Burr conspiracy trial in Richmond in 1807. Taylor and Micajah Phillips, Blennerhassett's slave, had become acquainted on the island. When Phillips fled, he later purchased land from Taylor on Wolf Creek. The old former slave, who died on December 8, 1861, outlived all of them and is buried on the Robert Bauerbach farm in Watertown Township.
It is known from Washington County marriage records that on October 25, 1806, Robert Oliver married George Mellor (1777-1829) and Lois Taylor, one of Peter's daughters. On February 15, 1808, George Mellor sold Peter Taylor 100 acre lot 6 on the West Branch in Wooster Township for $250. Mellor, who was the original proprietor, settled on Wolf Creek about the same time as his parents, Samuel Jr. and Mary Corner Mellor. Since Lois Mellor, wife of George, released her dower right to this property, the Mellors had probably lived there at one time. (Vol. 23, p. 251) Peter may have lived with them immediately after leaving the island. At least two other daughters married in Washington County: Ann married Edmund Perry on December 5, 1816, and Ellen married John E. Flowers on February 23, 1820. There was another daughter, Charlotte, who married three times and was a widow in 1832 with the name Camp. Some sources say there were five daughters. The name of the mother of these children is unknown.
Peter Taylor was paying taxes on 50 acre lot 5 by 1810, but no deed is on record showing that he purchased this land. In 1810 he was paying taxes on 100 acre lot 16, but the deed says he bought this land in 1813; in 1810 he paid taxes on 90 acre lot 7, but he bought it in 1814. The only tract that fits the normal sequence of receiving a deed and then paying taxes within the next two years is the 100 acre lot 6 which was purchased in 1808 and was on the tax record in 1810. He must have been farming lots 7 and 16, but deeds were made later. In addition, none of the deeds where he was grantee, except the one from the Vincents (mentioned in the next article), was recorded until 1833, which was after his death.
The next article will continue with Peter Taylor's later years on Wolf Creek. A third article will detail his testimony during the Burr Conspiracy trial in 1807. (Dr. Ray Swick's editing of the three articles is appreciated.)
Phillip L. Crane, a Waterford resident and Marietta history teacher for 32 years, will share stories of historical events in the Lower Muskingum Valley.