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Henry S. Taylor and the Burning Raid

army men burning barns and taking farm animals
Henry Smith Taylor (1799-1866), Courtesy of great-great-grandson Henry Taylor
Hannah Brown Taylor (1806-1888) Courtesy of great-great-grandson Henry Taylor

The formidable Henry Smith Taylor (1799-1866) married to Hannah Brown Taylor, wrote a letter to one of their six daughters in the autumn of 1864. The daughter was away at college, perhaps at Earlham College in Indiana, Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, or Oberlin College in Ohio, each were Quaker founded colleges that accepted female students. Henry wrote to his daughter of events that were going on at home farm, Coolbrook, as well as surrounding farms in the Lincoln area. A typed transcript of the original letter is shown below.

Shown courtesy of Robert F. O’Neill, Jr.
Barn on Coolbrook Farm, the property once owned by Henry S. Taylor

Henry Smith Taylor’s letter is a detailed listing of loss, perhaps more than any other letter written regarding the Burning Raid’s affect. He might have harbored some resentments against the Union army after this catastrophic event. However, by the end of the war, we know from Moses Pascal Watson that “Henry S. Taylor says the Secesh ought never to be allowed to vote again and ought to be made to eat with an iron spoon the balance of their life and not to be alowed to hold any office of any kind.

Henry and Hannah Taylor’s great-great-grandson, also a Henry Taylor, is a poet who has written about his 19th century ancestors, some of them discussed on Nest of Abolitionists. Taylor’s poems reveal much about the men and women who lived near the little village of Lincoln. The poet regards the picture of his great-great-grandfather, Henry Smith Taylor, shown at the top of this post: “….small enough to cover with thumb, but no slack in that tension of straight gaze, set lips, tight jaw. A few hired men armed with shovel and pick, a team of oxen, were all he required to draw this landscape according to his will.” – excerpt from Henry Taylor’s poem “A Straight Stretch on the Far Side of Coolbrook”

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