Posted tagged ‘Fairport Herald’

Illuminating George C. Taylor and His Oil of Life

September 30, 2014

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

Our second Greenvale resident highlighted is George C. Taylor, as portrayed by Bob Hunt.

How’s everyone feeling today? Any coughs, colds, asthma? Stomach problems, kidney problems, liver problems? Cuts, bruises, burns? Chapped hands or lips? Earache? Toothache? Rheumatism? My Taylor’s Oil of Life [hold up bottle] can be used to cure almost any ill! Inside or out, my liniment is good for what ails you…and your horses and cows, too! Good for man or beast! Good for horn distemper, galls, caked bags, cracked teats, botts, and bellyache.

My father, Alonzo Taylor, began making Dr. Taylor’s Pain-annihilating Liniment in Cato, Cayuga County in 1848, when I was a school boy. I’m his son, George C. Taylor, and I worked in the family business from its very beginning. After my schooling was over, I helped run the company, and I took it over in 1861 when my father died. I moved the Taylor Company here to Fairport in 1866. The Civil War years had taken a toll on business, but things rebounded in the late 1860s.

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

George C. Taylor, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society

In addition to manufacturing my father’s liniment, which I marketed under the name “Taylor’s Oil of Life,” I expanded my company’s offerings to include many fine and useful products, including flavored extracts, laudanum, perfume, blackberry cordial, cough syrup, breath sweeteners, bluing for laundry, and shaving soap. We made many other popular products over the years. My business was very successful, because I was always ahead of the trends and made quality household products people could use.

My decision to move my business to Fairport was a good one. Business became so good, in fact, that I built a new 3-story brick factory with offices on the corner of North Main Street and High Street in 1873. It was called the Taylor block for many years, and that building still stands today. The railroad had a spur that came right to my building, and I shipped my products all over the country. My wife Wealthy, my daughter Lois, and I lived upstairs. I employed many local residents in the manufacture of my wares.

In addition to my own business, my building housed several retail shops on Main Street, including a grocery store, a meat market, and a barber. I also let the Fairport Coronet Band use one of the upper rooms to practice each week. I believed in building up Fairport and helping other businesses thrive. A strong business community makes for a prosperous town, and everyone benefits from that.

I also believed that an informed community, one that is well-versed in the issues of the day, both locally and nationally, is the back-bone of a strong democracy. To that end, I founded Fairport’s first newspaper, The Fairport Herald, in 1871. Of course, the George C. Taylor Company was one of its prime advertisers. Papers need advertising to thrive, and businesses need to advertise! It was a win-win situation for Fairport and the Taylor Company. But I only operated the paper long enough to get it established, then sold it about two years later. It flourished, and the community was the better for having it. Every community should have its own paper!

During the 1870s, my ever-expanding sales strained my facility’s capacity for production, so I had to enlarge my building several times. I needed more commodious facilities to produce all the fine household products my customers had come to expect from the George C. Taylor Company. In 1887, the famous showman Buffalo Bill Cody took his Wild West Show to London for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He sent me the following letter:

Gentlemen, for some time past I have used Taylor’s Oil of Life in our stables with marked success and during our recent ocean trip from New York City to London it was almost indispensible. Kindly forward me 18 large bottles immediately and I will remit upon receipt of invoice.
Yours truly,
W.F. Cody

It was an honor and a pleasure to aid someone so famous as Buffalo Bill. But my life was not only about my work, as rewarding as that was. My wife Wealthy and I were active in town, especially in the temperance movement. We did not drink or smoke, and believed in moderation in all things. I was universally acknowledged as a man of sterling character. Here is a portrait of me in my later years. My beautiful wife Wealthy departed this life in 1905. We had been married 40 years, and I was not used to being alone. So a few years later I remarried, to Miss Minnie Burchaskie of Fairport, in 1907.

Although I never belonged to any of the churches here in the village, I helped regularly with their various charitable causes, and helped

George C. Taylor's headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

George C. Taylor’s headstone at Greenvale Rural Cemetery, Fairport, New York

promote the general welfare of the town. I used my hard-earned wealth to improve the lives of those in Fairport. In 1908, I was elected president of the village, which was both an honor and a responsibility. I wanted to make the town more conducive to business in general, and to manufacturing in particular. The role of government is to help businesses thrive, and that in turn allows a community’s residents to thrive. I was not able to implement all of my plans, though, as my term was cut short by my death in 1909.

The George C. Taylor Company continued to operate after my death, with products such as vanilla extract, aspirin, shaving cream, shampoo, facial creams, and toothpaste. By the time the company was closed in the 1950s, it had been a fixture in American households for over 100 years, and it all began with Taylor’s Oil of Life.

Script by Suzanne Lee

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

A Wicked Affair: Part 4 – Lives Destroyed

August 31, 2011

Ed Clum partook of a delicious Thanksgiving dinner “consisting of a nice baked chicken with all the fixtures, such as dressings, choice jellies and pickles, beautiful bread and butter and choice coffee for desserts, different kinds of pies that suit the taste to a T, and the choicest varieties of cakes.”  The meal was quite a feast for a man who found himself on death row for the murder of one-time friend, John Jay White, and White’s paramour, 17-year old Ella Bowe.  Even more astonishing is the fact that this tasty meal was delivered by no less than ex-Senator S. R. Bridges and his wife of Cassville, Missouri.  No matter.  It would prove to be Ed Clum’s last Thanksgiving dinner.  Despite the stay of execution he had received the previous week, Ed Clum could not put off the hangman’s noose forever.

On April 15, 1887, Ed Clum was hanged in front of an audience estimated to be between 5,000 and 7,000 people.  Newspaper accounts note that nearly one-third of the spectators were women and children.  An article in The (Fairport) Herald dated April 22, 1887, discussed the event that had everyone in Cassville, Missouri and Fairport, New York riveted to the newspapers:

“Clum confessed that he did the deed, and said he was ready to pay the penalty; while he was in hopes that God had forgiven him.  This makes the end of a series of causes and effects, which have resulted in the suicide of Mrs. White, the death of Mrs. Clum, probably by murder, the murder of White and Ella Bowe, and the hanging of Clum.”

Edward F. Clum was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Missouri.  My question was whether I could allow this story to languish beside him, untold, where it had already lain for over a century unnoticed.  This was the first instance I had found where two Civil War soldiers I was researching proved to be of less than stellar character.  Illuminated History‘s goal is to shine a light on the Civil War soldiers of Monroe County, New York.  I felt the story needed to be told, if only to remind myself that these Civil War soldiers were real people with real faults.

A Wicked Affair was written as a serial, because the subject matter lent itself to the telling of a story in the most dramatic of fashions.  This story of lust and deceit and passion was a tale that could easily have come from the reels of an old Hollywood film – except it didn’t.  It came from my own community.  As I dug further into the circumstances surrounding the murders, I was saddened by the number of lives destroyed by these two men.  Not only their lives and those of their wives, but the heinous crimes committed also weighed heavily on the parents, siblings and children in the Clum and White families.  John Jay White had three children who were left orphaned.  The devastation and confusion they must have felt at the loss of their parents is unthinkable.  Those children grew to adulthood, married and had children of their own.  To their credit, they remained in the same area in which they had always lived.  It should be said that, with the exception of Ed and Jay, the Clum and White families were well-respected in this community.  I would hope that same respect continued to be shown to them even after the events of July, 1886 unfolded.

This concludes A Wicked Affair:  The Story of Clum & White.

Greenvale Cemetery Tour – June 8, 2010

June 8, 2010

Nathan C. Jeffrey, 54th Massachusetts Infantry

What a beautiful evening for a walking tour of Greenvale Cemetery in Fairport, New York!  Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy the perfect weather while hearing the incredible stories of the Civil War soldiers who permanently reside there.

We began our tour with Samuel Larwood of the 33rd New York Infantry before moving over to meet Nathan C. Jeffrey, the young soldier who served under Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry.  Chester Hutchinson of the 108th New York Infantry amazed everyone with his own description of the wound he received at the Battle of the Wilderness.  The sad story of Charles E. Moore, musician in the 108th New York, followed.  He was just 17 years old when he died of disease.  Charles will not be forgotten.

The “white bronze” Hitchcock monument was next.  It has truly stood the test of time.  The 6th Michigan Cavalry was represented at Greenvale by Doctor Daniel G. Weare, who “looked like a preacher though he could swear like a pirate.”  John D. Kohler of the 140th New York Infantry preceded Joseph S. Kelsey.  Joseph assisted his sister and brother-in-law, Josephine Martha Clarke and Oliver P. Clarke, as caretakers for Mount McGregor, the cottage where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his last months and ultimately died.

Frederick Prouse and the strong military influence in his family were discussed next.  Two of Frederick’s grandsons, Lyle Prouse and Dean Shaw, both served during WWI.  A great-grandson, another Lyle Prouse, was a radio operator on a B-29 bomber during WWII and died when his plane crashed on Iwo Jima.  We then discussed Andrew Abrams, who lost his leg at the Battle of Petersburg, and his brother-in-law George C. Taylor who established the Fairport Herald in 1872.

Everyone was so patient as we overran our time to discuss George S. Filkins, Alanson W. Pepper, William H. Jerrells and Simeon Pepper Howard before ending with Shadrick Benson of the 3rd New York Cavalry.  Special thanks to Alan Keukelaar, Vice-President of the Perinton Historical Society, for setting up the tour, and to Laurie T. Hall and Katie Profitt for their assistance.

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