William Stanhope Taylor, soldier and planter, was born in Canton, Stark County, Ohio, in 1819, the son of Thomas and Sarah Hoyland (Bull) Taylor. William’s family moved to central Tennessee in the mid-1820s. His father obtained a Mexican land grant on April 27, 1831, via the Austin colony in present-day Fayette County. In 1832 William and his brother, George A. Taylor, traveled to Texas with their father, and then the boys returned to Tennessee that same year. After the death of his father to yellow fever in August 1833 in Louisiana, Taylor returned to Texas to take care of his father’s estate.
As reflected in Comptroller’s Military Service Record No. 1441, William Taylor enlisted in the revolutionary army on October 17, 1835, and served with Capt. John M. Bradley (Volunteers from Tunahan District) at the siege of Bexar, to include the Grass Fight, and was discharged on December 23, 1835. He re-enlisted on March 12, 1836, and served under Capt. William Ware (Second Company, Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers) and Capt. William Smith (Company J, Second Regiment, Volunteer Cavalry). On April 20, 1836, Taylor, who served as a scout/spy, volunteered to participate as part of Col. Sidney Sherman’s cavalry force in an attempt to capture the Mexican cannon at San Jacinto. On April 21 he was reassigned to Captain Smith’s Company J in the cavalry charge on the Mexican left flank, followed by the pursuit of General Santa Anna and his cavalry towards Vincent Bridge. William received Texas land via Headright Certificate No. 183 and Donation Certificate No. 353 for his military services.
Taylor married Agnes Elizabeth Garrett on June 7, 1838, in Montgomery County, Texas, and they had eleven children. In 1853 he achieved Master Mason (3rd degree) with Masonic Lodge No. 25 in Montgomery County. He was one of the vice presidents of the 1860 Know-Nothing (see AMERICAN PARTY) convention at San Jacinto that nominated Sam Houston for president of the United States as “the people’s candidate.” In 1866 he wrote a personal letter to William C. Crane, president of Baylor University and biographer of Sam Houston, defending Gen. Sam Houston’s conduct at the battle of San Jacinto and refuting incorrect information about the pursuit of Santa Anna that was printed in the Texas Almanac. Taylor’s personal account of the pursuit of Santa Anna and his cavalry was published in the Texas Almanac of 1868 and is recorded in the Texas State Archives. William Taylor died of yellow fever on February 2, 1869, in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Texas, and was buried with Masonic honors at the Montgomery Old Cemetery. In February 1879 his widow filed for a Republic of Texas veteran’s pension; she died later the same year and is buried at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Montgomery County. A Texas Centennial marker was erected at William’s grave in 1936 to honor him as a San Jacinto veteran.