Taliaferro, Robert Hay (1824–1875)

By: Samuel B. Hesler

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 18, 2018

Robert Hay Taliaferro, Baptist minister and chaplain, was born to Nicholas Hay Battaile Taliaferro and Elizabeth Johnson Tutt in Winchester, Kentucky, on October 19, 1824. After his parents died he was raised and educated by his sisters. While attending Baptist College (now Denison University) at Granville, Ohio, Taliaferro was converted and joined the Baptist Church. The Lubuguard Baptist Church in Lubuguard, Kentucky, ordained him in late 1846. He was self-supporting while attending college and Western Baptist Theological Seminary in Covington, Kentucky. Taliaferro and Henry L. Graves were appointed missionaries by the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1846. Taliaferro came to Texas in February 1847 and settled at Austin. In July 1847 he organized the First Baptist Church there, with seven members. He published, by the Austin Democrat, a book called Evidences of Christianity in 1848. He pastored the First Baptist Church in Galveston in 1849–50. Taliaferro was also a missionary to the Choctaw Indians of western Arkansas for two years. He pastored the First Baptist Church in Austin again in 1852. Taliaferro and Chloe Ann Anderson were married by Rufus C. Burleson on January 18, 1855; they had one son and four daughters. In 1857 the First Baptist Church in Austin was in debt, but the congregation nevertheless started to build a church. Taliaferro preached without pay for three years at this congregation, while teaching school during the week to support his family. He was corresponding editor for the Texas Baptist from 1855 to 1861. During these years he moved from Webberville to Austin. In 1862 Taliaferro was chaplain of George M. Flournoy's regiment of the Sixteenth Texas Infantry. He resigned because of sickness in his family on November 13, 1862. He was corresponding editor for the Texas Baptist Herald (see TEXAS BAPTIST AND HERALD) from 1865 to 1875. Taliaferro served as chaplain of the Texas Senate for the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth legislatures (1870–75) and was one of the volunteer chaplains for the Constitutional Convention of 1875. He contracted yellow fever at Chappell Hill around 1873. His health gradually declined, and he died on November 19, 1875, at his home in Austin. Taliaferro was buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

Austin American-Statesman, July 4, 1915, July 26, 1989. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Texas Baptist Herald, January 6, 1876. Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine, 1891. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Religion
  • Baptist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Samuel B. Hesler, “Taliaferro, Robert Hay,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/taliaferro-robert-hay.

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August 18, 2018