Burpee Caldwell Taylor 1875 – 1945

Burpee Taylor was born 15 January 1875, in Aylesford, a farming community in Kings County, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.  His parents were Charles Allen Taylor, yeoman (land-owning farmer) and Elizabeth A West.  Although Burpee is an uncommon name now, I have several relatives of that name from Nova Scotia.  They were probably all named for Richard Burpee, a Baptist minister born in 1810 in York County, New Brunswick.  Richard Burpee had attended school in Queen’s College (later called Acadia) in Wolfville, Kings County, Nova Scotia, then served as a missionary in the Far East.  He returned to New Brunswick in ill health, and eventually moved to Florida, where he died at age 40, probably of tuberculosis.  In recognition of his service to the church, Burpee became a cherished Christian name to give to Baptist males. 

The 1881 census lists Burpee Taylor living with his parents and five older brothers and sisters in the Aylesford North sub-district of Kings County.  The family was Baptist.  Charles was a blacksmith, Burpee was a student.  In 1891, the Taylors lived at Dempseys Corner in Kings County.  I am not sure if this is the same location as the 1881 census, but may well be.  Burpee was still a student.  His father was listed as some kind of agent – I was not able to decipher the handwriting to determine what kind of agent – but it wasn’t “land”.  

The Taylors, or at least Burpee and his parents, moved to Marlboro, MA.  He graduated from high school in 1893, and then attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  The Boston Daily Globe on Dec 29, 1894, in the Marlboro news items, named Burpee in a list of college students who were home for the holiday week.      

Burpee studied publishing, and a catalog from Dartmouth listed his home town as Marlboro MA, course C, room C H 5.    Course C might be Chandler School of Science and Arts.  He also contributed some essays to college publications.  One was called “The Undecided Bet” printed in “Echos From Dartmouth”, a collections of poems, stories, and historical sketches by graduate and undergraduate writers.  The following link should get to an on-line version of the book: 


He also wrote a short story called “His First Client” which was published in the Dartmouth Literary Monthly.  A Wellesley college review of the story said it was good, but the plot was predictable.  I wasn’t able to find a copy on line. 

Burpee was a member of the Eta Eta chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity.  According to the fraternity’s constitution, “the purpose of the fraternity is to cultivate and maintain the high ideals of friendship, justice, and learning upon which Sigma Chi was founded.”  Burpee graduated in 1897.  He apparently valued his connections with the fraternity, and with Dartmouth, as he took the time to keep his alumni information current.  He was named in subsequent membership and alumni lists; for example: “Addresses of the Living Graduates of Dartmouth College” p 59 published in 1906. Burpee Caldwell Taylor, publisher.  Highland Park, Ill. 

The 1899 Boston city directory lists Burpee Taylor as a salesman at 60 North Market, rooming at 12 Picnkey. In the 1900 census, Burpee lived in a boarding house in Boston.  His occupation was salesman, provisions, but I’m not sure what he actually sold.  The 1900 Alumni roster says b 15 Jan, 1875, Aylesford NS, Business, 33 N Market St, Boston, Mass   This appears to be in or very near Faneuil Hall marketplace.  However, the 1900 Boston Directory lists “Bertie” C Taylor, salesman at 17 John, boards at 10 Pickney.  I wasn’t able to locate 17 John street, but the building at 10 Pickney is apartments built in 1880, a few blocks north of Boston Common.  Burpee also became a naturalized citizen on 10 July 1900, and at that time lived at 10 Pickney.  

Burpee moved to Chicago, and worked for the publishing company of Charles Scribner’s Sons. The 1902 American School Board Journal published a photo of Burpee C. Taylor, representing Charles Scribner’s Sons, Chicago, IL in a section called “Bookmen” which seems to have been about book venders affiliated with the National Education Association.  On 19 November, 1902, the Concord (MA) Enterprise reported on page 7 that Burpee C Taylor, son of Charles Taylor, Pleasant st., who has been a travelling salesman connected with Chas. Scribners Son’s Chicago house, has just accepted a very fine position at the Chicago University Press, and entered upon his duties. This organization still publishes a variety of academic books and journals.  A news item published 24 December 1902 in the Boston Daily Globe told of Captain John Wise Morse being sent to the Philippines.  He was enroute to Seattle, and was going to stop in Chicago to meet with Burpee Taylor and two other members of the Marlboro high school class of 1893.  The story says that “all of them are filling responsible positions.”  The 1 July 1903 Concord (MA) Enterprise reported on page 8 that: Burpee C Taylor, superintendent of the publication department at the University of Chicago Press is making a short visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Taylor, Pleasant st.  Mr. Taylor is on a business trip and will be in Boston and the larger Eastern cities for a short time before returning to Chicago.  

Some time during the next couple years, Burpee made a significant change in professions, and became a confectioner.  The May 1909 issue of the Official Gazette of the US Patent Office reported that Burpee had registered a label titled “Cloister Chocolates” .  

The 1910 census shows Burpee living in Chicago, in a rooming house.  He was listed as a confectioner.  The Concord (MA) Enterprise reported on 19 April, 1911 that Burpee C Taylor, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. A Taylor, Lincoln st., Dartmouth ’97, is doing a fine business at 7 La Salle st., Chicago.  Firm name Hiesdorff & Taylor, wholesale confectionary manufacturers.  Burpee’s partner wasprobably Charles W Heisdorff, who was listed in the 1910 (and later) census as a confectioner at a candy factory. 

On 20 December, 1911, in Chicago, Burpee married Claudine P Davis.  They had one son, Robert Davis Taylor (1913-1997).  

The Official Gazette of the US Patent Office published 29 April 1913 listed a patent number  53,827 to Heisdorff and Taylor, Chicago, Ill, Candies, but I couldn’t figure out what it was for.  This partnership appears to have ended in the next couple years.  

In 1916, The International Confectioner journal, Vol 25 (by the National Wholesale Confectioners’ Association) reported that Burpee C Taylor, 5732 South Park Avenue, Chicago, Ill, has filed a petition in bankruptcy with liabilites at $3079.18 and assets $444.70.   

Burpee seems to have recovered from this financial problem.  When he registered for the WW1 draft, he was still at the same address on Park Avenue, occupation: candy manufacturer, Burpee C Taylor Co.  This registration described him as 5’8 ½”, medium build, blue eyes, light hair.  Although he was registered, later records indicate he did not serve in the military.

In a journal of Advertising and Selling, published 3 Jan, 1920, a news item reported: Sales of Brandt candies promoted in Illinois and Wisconsin – the Brant Advertising Company, Chicago, has secured the account of the Burpee C Taylor Company, candy manufacturers, and is placing contracts with the Illinois and Wisconsin daily newspapers.  Brandt apparently followed through, as numerous newspapers in 1920 published quarter-page advertisements:  Bite a Burpee Bar – rich creamy luscious pineapple fluff bar.  “Gee, but it’s good!  A smooth, chocolate coating just bursting with real juicy, fruity pineapple squares that are buried in a flaky, creamy filling.  Oh boy! but they — excuse me just a minute.  Now I feel better.  I just couldn’t go on writing until I ran down to the druggists’ for one of those luscious Burpee Pineapple Fluff Bars.  And when I got there, the variety of Burpee sweets was so tempting that I couldn’t leave until I had bought a creamy cocoanut filled marshmallow low, a chocolate covered nougat bar chockful of nuts, and a pale filled chocolate pudding.”  Treat yourself to a Burpee bar today.  You can’t imagine such candy perfection until you taste a Purpee.  10c each.  Made by the makers of the famous Burpee’s Cake Frosting and Fillings.  Burpee C Taylor, Chicago.  

The 1920 census lists Burpee, Claudine, and Robert living at 1571 Wesley, in Evanston, IL.  The household included Ella Davis, Claudine’s mother, and Marie Krimel, their servant.  Burpee’s occupation was wholesale confectioner.  This home was relatively new, built in 1911, and is now described as 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1849 square feet.  It was recently for sale, and the realtor published a short virtual tour at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6N5q0OnbkA 

Burpee and Claudine were listed in the Evanston city directories, between 1922 and 1935, living at 1571 Wesley Avenue.  The 1930 census lists Burpee, Claudine, and Robert at the address on Wesley.  Burpee was the proprietor of a wholesale candy business.  They owned their home, which was valued at $20,000.  

By 1939, the Burpee and Claudine lived at 1615 Ridge Avenue, which is a large apartment complex.  Their son Robert also lived there, and was an ensign in the US Navy.  The business was at 1562 Sherman.  The Sherman address is now a high-rise office building, and I suspect it might not be the same building Burpee used. 

I have not yet found Burpee and Claudine in the 1940 census.  I did browse the pages that included 1615 Ridge but did not find the Taylor family.  

Burpee died 12 February 1945 in Evanston, and was buried at Memorial Park in Skokie, IL.  He was 70, and was still listed as a candy manufacturer, Burpee Taylor Co. 

I was not able to find a death record for Claudine.  She was listed in the 1948 Evanston city directory, still at 1615 Ridge avenue, but that was the latest directory for Evanston that I could find on Ancestry.


Find of the ‘40

The 1940 census was taken on 1 April (and the two weeks or so following).  By law, it was to remain confidential for 72 years.  It was released to the public on 1 April, 2012.  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are two of the major genealogy organizations that bought copies of the images.  It took them a short time to get all the images up.  At that point, the images could only be browsed, going page by page, looking for the names of interest. That worked for me if I knew the person’s address, but wasn’t useful if I didn’t know where the family lived in 1940. The images had to be indexed, meaning someone had to go page by page, line by line, extracting the names and other information so that the images could be searched by name.  As each state was completed, the websites were updated.  FamilySearch used volunteers, and did the states in a different order than Ancestry, so if the state wasn’t available on one website, it might have been available on the other.  Both sites now are reporting 100% completion of the indexing.  I have found errors, of course, in the spellings of the names.  I always send in corrections to Ancestry, (FamilySearch doesn’t have that function) so the next person searching will be more likely to find that name.  If I cannot find the person on one site, I find it pays to check the other.

The person I most wanted to find in the 1940 census was Marcel Labor /Marshall Laber, born in 1865.  No one seems to know when or where he died.  I found him in the 1930 census in Lexington, MA.  A grandson remembered his father receiving word that Marshall had died, and guessed it might have happened about 1940 or 1941. 

I was able to find him in the 1932 Lexington city directory.  In the 1933 Arlington MA directory, he was listed as living at 71 Mystic, employed as a dynamite blaster.  Mrs. Marie Kenny also lived with him, the same housekeeper he had as early as 1920. The 1934 and 1935 Arlington directories had the same entries.  But I didn’t have access to later directories. So the question was:  Would Marshall be found in the 1940 census?

Massachusetts was one of the last states to be indexed, but when it was, Marshall’s was the first name I looked for.  And there he was, now living at 132 Sylvia Street, in Arlington, with the same housekeeper.  His occupation was driller and blaster, employed by the town.  His age was recorded as 67, but he was really 75.  I still don’t know when or where he died, but probably in Arlington, and definitely after April 1, 1940.

I’m always happy to find a person lived longer than I thought.  That was especially true this weekend, when I found that my Aunt Bea was recorded in a family tree on Ancestry as having died in 1988.  She was at the family reunion this weekend.  She’s looking remarkably well for someone supposedly dead for a quarter of a century!  But that’s another story.