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Taylor, Amanda Cartwright (1879–1977)

Deolece M. Parmelee Biography Entry

Amanda Cartwright Taylor, historical preservationist, second of ten children of Mary Cynthia (Davenport) and Matthew Cartwright, was born on March 21, 1879, at Terrell, Texas. She was a descendant of John Cartwright. She graduated from Kidd-Key College in Sherman and studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts as well as with C. Franklin Reaugh. She was encouraged to pursue a career as a concert pianist or as a painter, but did not. She married James Lane Taylor, a Sherman merchant, on December 20, 1900. The couple had three children. In the early 1900s the Taylors moved to San Antonio, where Amanda grew alarmed at public steps to efface or destroy historic sites. In 1924 she enlisted help from her friends to found the San Antonio Conservation Society, of which she served twice as president. She also joined in promoting the Witte Museum and was the founding chairman (1925–30) of the San Antonio Museum Association. She contributed greatly to the preservation of La Villita and the restoration of the granary at San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission. She took an active role in preventing the San Antonio River from being paved over as a more efficient "storm sewer," thus preserving one of the state's most important tourist attractions. Though strong on principle, Mrs. Taylor had to learn restoration practices. When a foreman called for a winch and a dolly, she said, "Young man, you are out there to work, not play." During the Great Depression the Taylors and two grandsons lived for a time on a family ranch near Uvalde, where Amanda gave neighbors homemade bread and ice cream in exchange for tamales. She sometimes cooked for gangs of harvesters and packed lunches for her grandsons, who walked across the fields to the local one-room school. The ranch lacked electricity and running water, and Mrs. Taylor bartered with her neighbors in largely cashless exchanges; decades later she joked that the United States government of the 1970s would have declared the ranch a "poverty pocket" and sent welfare money. Mrs. Taylor and her family were Episcopalians. When Governor Allan Shivers appointed members to the Texas State Historical Survey Committee (later the Texas Historical Commission) in 1953, he named Amanda Taylor a charter member. In her ten years on the committee she helped to promote the study of Texas history and to commemorate significant events, sites, and structures. The San Antonio Conservation Society made her its first honorary life president and established in her honor the Amanda Cartwright Taylor Award. Mrs. Taylor lived to be ninety-eight and died in San Antonio on November 2, 1977.

Emily Griffith Roberts, Ancestral Study of Four Families: Roberts, Griffith, Cartwright, Simpson (2 vols., Dallas, 1939, 1948). Lane Taylor Sealy and Esther MacMillan, Amanda Taylor Cartwright (Oral History, Institute of Texan Cultures Archives, San Antonio). Keith Elliott, "San Antonio's Tipsy Old Man River," Texas Highways, April 1988. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Mrs. Will E. Wilson and Deolece Parmelee, The First Quarter Century (Austin: Texas Historical Foundation, 1979).


  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Women
  • Preservationists

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

Deolece M. Parmelee, “Taylor, Amanda Cartwright,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: