Descendants of
 John W. TAYLOR (1812-1853) &
Elizabeth A. NEWSUM (1818-1897)

Updated: January 13, 2008


John Taylor was born 1812 in Edgecombe Co., North Carolina and Elizabeth "Betsy" Newsum was born 1818 in Bedford Co., Tennessee. John and Betsy likely met in Greene Co., Alabama, where they were married in 1832. The family resided in Greene Co. through at least December 1841, when their fourth child was born. By 1844 the family had moved from Greene Co., Alabama, to Clarke Co., Mississippi.  Around August 1852, John headed for California with hopes of making the family’s fortune in the Gold Rush, leaving Betsy pregnant with their tenth child.  Unfortunately John died only a few weeks after reaching California. A letter from John to Betsy documents his harrowing journey.  Around 1858 Betsy and the children moved from Mississippi to Ashley County, Arkansas.


A summary of the Taylor family migration. John and Elizabeth likely met in Alabama where they married in 1832. Around twelve years later (1844) they moved to Clarke Co., Mississippi. In 1852 John departed for California via ship landing in Panama to cross the isthmus by land, followed by another journey by ship to San Francisco. John died in 1853 soon after arriving in California--a few weeks after the birth of their last child. Elizabeth and the children moved to Ashley Co. in 1858. Their departure from Mississippi likely corresponded with the October 1857 marriage of the oldest son, Robert W. Taylor. Robert and his mother purchased 400 acres of land in what would become known as the Promise Land community in Ashley County, Arkansas.


This is the address and postmark from a letterJohn wrote Elizabeth on 6 March 1853, only a few weeks before his death. In the letterJohn describes the harrowing journey to California, where many men died on the ship en route. (See John's scrapbook link within the Descendant report for the original letter and a transcription).


There are no known photographs of John or Elizabeth. However, it is probable that a photo of Elizabeth exists, given her 1897 death. Following are some descendant photographs.


John and Elizabeth's second child, James L. Taylor. James was born 1837 in Alabama. Photo courtesy of Marvin (Buddy) Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, via Diane Gardner.


John and Betsy's youngest child, John Alexandria Taylor and family. This ca 1907 photograph was taken on the John Alexandria Taylor family farm near Hamburg. Left to Right: Pearl Edith Taylor, Twyman H. Taylor, Rhodes Dunnigan Taylor, Helen Taylor, Mary Alvada Taylor, John A Taylor and Viola Jane Rhodes Taylor. Photo acquired from Cyndi Repp. Original photo in possession of Virginia Hagen.


Julia Fidelia Taylor, born 1 February 1859, was Elizabeth's first grandchild, born to the eldest son Robert. This photo is thought to be a wedding photo from December, 1876, when Julia married James Nathaniel Riley. Julia died on 7 February 1878, or eleven days after giving birth to her first child, Anna Elizabeth Riley. There were presumably complications related to the birth. The original photograph is in possession of Anna Stone Rowland as of 2005.


Additional photographs, maps and historical documents may be found in the "scrapbook links" of the reports.


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© 2008 by James R. Shell, II