Museum of Northwest Colorado: The trailblazing Taylor brothers
It remains somewhat of a mystery as to how the early settlers’ names were chosen for the various streets of Craig. The staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado has sometimes wondered why there isn’t a “Hill” street or one named “Teagarden” or even “Craig” after some of the men who helped finance and plat the frontier town in 1889. Some of the pioneers’ histories have been obscured by the 127 years that have passed since the town site was first laid out. Other homesteaders left a more visible trail making it easier for their story to unfold so many decades later as the museum researches the names of our town’s streets.
Donald and David Taylor had emigrated from Canada in the early 1880s and settled in Golden where they operated a blacksmith shop. Intrigued by the reports of gold in the Bear River country to the west the brothers determined to travel over the mountains to that unsettled country. Leaving in mid-June in a stout wagon of their own making they made a grueling trip over the Gore Range, which lacked any viable road at that time. At some points they were forced to use block and tackle to hoist their wagon over the rugged range and even resorted to building a corduroy road in places.
Searching for what they thought would be a settlement of a good size they finally pulled into Hayden on July 3, 1883. David Taylor recalled later that they were rather taken aback at the tiny size of the “town” that was listed on the map as the county seat. They were, however, warmly welcomed by local settler and land surveyor Ezekiel Shelton and his wife.
David Taylor later recalled that the following day the travelers and the handful of local residents celebrated the “glorious 4th of July with pony races, a futile attempt at a game of baseball, cake, a dance and a midnight lunch.” A day later the brothers set out for the town of “Yampa” as Craig was then known.
The two brothers took up land near the present day Woodbury soccer fields just off of Mack Lane. They had to record their land papers at the nearest U.S. Land Office, which then was in Central City. At that time William Rose and John Mack were the only permanent residents in the area, though more settlers would soon be coming. The Taylor brothers were among the first homesteaders in the area, and it is natural that a street was named after them when the town was platted six years later.
Eleven years after their own arrival Donald and David persuaded two more brothers — William and Charles — to come out to take up land near Craig. Bringing their wives and children with them those brothers settled northeast of Craig in the Dry Creek and Little Bear areas. William was a contractor and built the Congregational church that originally stood at Tucker Street and Victory Way, and is now located on Green Street and serves as the Episcopal church building. William’s daughter Mary was in the first graduating class of Craig in 1900. She later married Clyde Downs, son of the little town’s doctor. Mary and Clyde lived the rest of their lives in Craig. Clyde died in 1960 and Mary in 1976. By that time their children had moved out of the area.
A shady, tree-lined residential street in Craig is a lovely reminder of the family that invested so much time and effort into the rural community that many call home today. The Museum of Northwest Colorado, located in downtown Craig, is committed to preserving and sharing the region’s history. It is open Monday through Saturday with free admission. Call for more information or visit the museum online at http://www.museumnwco.org http://www.museumnwco.org or visit on the museum on Facebook to learn more about the history of this special corner of Colorado. or visit on the museum on Facebook to learn more about the history of this special corner of Colorado. http://www.museumnwco.org or visit on the museum on Facebook to learn more about the history of this special corner of Colorado.
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