Samuel John Taylor
Interviewed by Rusty Salmon, July 25, 2003, at Moab, Utah
Question (Rusty): Why don’t we start with a little bit of your Taylor family history? Where does Loren Taylor fit into the greater Taylor clan?
Answer (Sam): He was the grandson of Norman Taylor who was an 18-year-old wheelwright on the Brigham Young wagon train in 1847. His father’s name was Arthur. He was one of a number of sons that Norman had from his first wife. His second wife, who was his first wife’s sister, had a few children, too. And we’ve identified 6 or 7 other wives that he had, too. He got around. My father was also born in Moab in a large log cabin behind what is now the Old Ranchhouse, which was the family homestead. The family lived in the log cabin while they built the ranch house, which was probably the first “mansion” if you want to call it that, in town.
Q: Were there any other earlier buildings or earlier residents that you know of, on that property?
A: No. And that surprises me, because there were 3 or 4 families that came in a year before the Taylors came in. And why they bypassed that marvelous spring is amazing to me. That’s the main reason that Arthur and Norman settled there was because of the abundance of fresh clean water. That spring now is owned by Moab City. Incidentally, the log cabin that my dad was born in, we salvaged. It had been moved down to where the Orchard Villa townhouses are being built. When it was apparent that it was standing in the way of progress down there (it’s a huge log cabin), the contractor on the job and the owner of the property both knew the cabin’s background and offered it to me if I’d move it out of there. They said if it doesn’t get out of there, they would burn it down. And so we moved that cabin over to our little nine-acre farm and erected it again on a concrete pad down by Pack Creek. We subdivided our acreage a number of years ago and sold the parcel including the cabin to our son Zane and his wife Molly. So now the cabin is theirs, which is appropriate since they haqve done the restoration themselves, including a wood-burning stove, electricity, and running water. It will be marvelous when it’s done – sort of a rustic guest house.
Q: So it’s in much better shape than the Balsley cabin over by the DUP hall?
A: Oh yes, and five times as big. Interestingly enough, Ponderosa logs that were used to build it, and we’d cut in to add a window here and something there. The cabin was built in 1881, and those logs looked terrible, but when we got ½ inch into them, they looked like they’d just been cut, just beautiful things.
Q: Can we get a little background on your dad because he was quite the outstanding editor/publisher of the area also?
A: He was kind of orphaned at age 13 when his mother passed away. There were eleven kids in the family, and he was kind of the middle of the bunch. From age 13 on, he was pretty much on his own. He only had one year of Junior High School, I think. So he was cut loose, and the first job he had that I know anything about, was riding the mail from Moab to Cane Springs where the Hole in the Rock is now. There he would meet a rider from La Sal and they would exchange mail packets. I don’t know if he had that job too long. He did spend one year driving the mail stage from Moab to Thompson with a stop at the half way house.
Q: When he went the other way (Moab to Cane Springs), it was just on horse? It wasn’t the stage?
A: Yes, just horseback.
Q: Thompson was the mail stage.
A: I found his inscription on the very toe of that big rock at the Hole in the Rock. It’s carved and it was early nineteen hundreds, 1903 or something like that. And it’s real high on the rock. I asked him one time, “I found your name and the date on a rock at Hole in the Rock.” He said, “Yeah, I remember carving it in there”. I said, “Well. It’s way up high on the rock. Was there a big sand dune up there”? He said, “The guy from La Sal was late and I was bored so I decided to carve my name in the rock and I got my horse up next to the rock, got up and stood on the saddle and carved that name”. He said it was a good old horse.
Q: He must have been.
A: And that name is still very visible.
Q: And he drove mail stage for a while?
A: Yes, and then he decided he wanted to see the world so he hooked up with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Thompson or Green River, one of the two, and went to work for them for a week or two until he found that shoveling up crap wasn’t the best job in the world. So he went back to Sunnyside Junction and hopped a freight, a coal train, up to Sunnyside. Got a job working in the coal mine. That lasted a day. He decided there had to be a better way to make a living. By this time he was about 16 or 17. So he hopped another freight back into Price and got a job working in a little weekly newspaper. There were two newspapers in Price at that time; he went to work for one of them that was operated by a real drunkard. The place was a mess and the guy said, “You’re gonna have to get the paper out. There are the type cases and you put the type together and get a newspaper out.” He said, “What’ll I put in it?” And he said, “Oh, just get the other paper and copy what they had.” So that was his introduction to the newspaper business. And a year or two later, when he fairly well learned the mechanics of putting out a newspaper, his older brother-in-law, Clarence Robertson, who was the County Attorney here in Grand County, and who was kind of Dad’s mentor, bought the Grand Valley Times from J.N. Corbin. And he bought it primarily because Corbin wanted out badly. He was an entrepreneur, mining magnate type, always had new ideas. He started the first telephone company here.