Phineas Blood Taylor and his Families

Phineas Blood Taylor was born 24 October 1820, in Nova Scotia, the fourth child of Bennett Ingraham Taylor and Eleanor Blood Morton. His father was a highly respected pastor of the Baptist church in the Lunenberg and nearby Barrs Corner area of Nova Scotia, probably of Loyalist descent, while the Mortons were Planters who came to Nova Scotia before the American Revolutionary War.

Phineas married Sarah A Joyce, and according to the Chute Genealogy (William Chute),  they had six children (not named by Chute.) I think there were actually seven.

Phineas was in the 1861 Canada census in Cumberland County. The census only named heads of household, and his household had 3 males and 6 females, one of which was under the age of one. These statistics would match up to Phineas and sons William and Thomas, and his wife Sarah and daughters Mary, Eleanor, Alveretta, Catherine (also called Cassie), and baby Susan. The 1861 census is the last primary record that we know refers to Phineas, son of Bennett.

Other records helped confirm the family group. For example, son William’s death record names his mother, Sarah Joyce, but not his father. Mary’s marriage record to Edward Gould names both parents, but doesn’t say whether her father is still living at the time of this marriage. Eleanor’s marriage record to James Chandler names both parents, as does the marriage record for Alveretta (or Alfaretta) to Henry Smith.

Sarah Taylor was the head of the household in 1871, and the family included William, Cassie, Thomas and Susan, as well as married daughter Eleanor and her family. Notes written in the remarks column of the census sheet indicate that Sarah’s husband left 10 years ago and hasn’t returned. Perhaps she wasn’t sure whether to count him in the household, but the census did list her as married.

In 1881, Sarah reported that she was widowed. She lived with her daughter Susan Jeffers and family. In 1891, she lived at River Hébert with her son William and his family. The household included her widowed daughter Susan and the Jeffers children. In 1901, Sarah lived with her Jeffers grandchildren. Sarah died in 1907.

So what happened to her husband Phineas? Family lore is that he left Nova Scotia to go to Kansas to work in the wheat harvest, and never returned.

The 1875 Kansas state census lists a Phineas Taylor born about 1820 in Nova Scotia. Phineas was a farmer, and the household included Melinda J (probably an error, as she is called Melissa J in later records) age 32, housewife born in New Jersey, and Phineas Jr age 6, born in Kansas, “at school”. They lived in Paola, Miami County, Kansas. I have been unable to find a birth record for Phineas Jr. Family Search has Kansas marriage records on line. They do not have a searchable index, but the marriage books each have a printed index in the front. I was not able to find Phineas marrying in Miami County. I also was not able to find this family in the 1870 US (or 1871 Canada) census.

The same family group was in the 1880 census in Paola. Phineas was age 60, and a laborer. His wife was Melissa, born in New Jersey, with son Phineas, age 11, born in Kansas. The household included boarders Clara Hackett and Thomas Shillinglaw. A fairly well documented family tree on Ancestry says that Phineas died 27 Jun 1881 in Paola, although there is not an attached primary source for that event. There are also trees with a daughter, Margery, but no vital records attached to her name, and she doesn’t show up in the census family groups.  Since the family was counted in either the state or federal census every five years, it is likely that she died as a small child.

Kansas marriage records indicate that on 12 October 1882, Mrs. M. J. Taylor married L. F. Laird at Paola. Her prior marital status (widowed or divorced) is not listed. Her new husband was Lafrayne F Laird, a divorced stock raiser originally from Missouri. The 1885 state census lists LF Laird, MJ Laird, Lucy W age 2 months, and Phineas Taylor, age 16.

In 1889, Phineas Jr married Minnie Reifel in Paola. This record lists his parents as Phineas, and Melissa J Hawkins. She may be the Melissa J who is daughter of John Hawkins and Amanda Van Etten, as listed in 1860 census in Avon, Rock, Wisconsin. That Melissa married Charles Allen Sweet on 21 October 1862 in Rock County, Wisconsin. He remarried three years later – but was that due to divorce or death? Some on-line family trees say that this Melissa died after giving birth to daughter Addie, but no records are attached to prove this.  I have not yet found paperwork to show that Phineas Jr’s mother is that same Melissa Hawkins, but age and birth location make it likely.

The 1895 Kansas State Census lists Phineas Jr, his wife and children in Paola. Melissa Laird is with her husband, and daughter Lucy, in the same town.

The 1900 census shows Phineas Jr and his expanding family still in Paola, while the Lairds are in nearby Marysville.  Melissa reported being mother of four, with three still living.  This would correspond with Addie, Phineas, and Lucy, and Margery who died young, if this is the same Melissa.

In 1905, “Phin” and family are still in Paola, and LF and MJ Laird are in Marysville. Lucy had married by then, but died in 1905.

By 1910, Phineas Jr had moved his family to Oakland, CA, where he worked as a carpenter. He was counted there as late as the 1930 census, and the California Death Index lists a Phineas Taylor born about 1868 who died in Alameda CA on 20 March 1937.

Melissa Laird was listed in the 1910 census in Marysville Kansas, widowed, reporting four children born, two still living (Addie and Phineas – if this is the correct person).   She was also there in 1920.   I do not have a death date for her but did not find her in 1930.

Family lore is that Phineas’ son Thomas also left Nova Scotia and went west looking for his father, and he was never heard of again. Thomas was in Nova Scotia at the time of the 1871 and 1881 censuses. If Phineas really did die in 1881, then he may have died before Thomas even started looking for him. The obituary for Thomas’ brother William lists William’s surviving sisters, but doesn’t list Thomas as a “survived by”, so he may have died before William (1919) or he was just missing, status unknown. An unsourced tree on Ancestry lists Thomas as having a wife named Nancy Wait.

I sent a research request in to the historical society where Phineas and Melissa lived, but have not yet heard back from them.  I’m hoping that they will have information that will positively identify Phineas and Melissa.