Charles S. Taylor papers
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, financial, and legal documents, certificates, and creative works document the personal and professional life of Charles S. Taylor as well as three associates: brother-in-law Adolphus Sterne, son Lawrence S. Taylor, and law partner Ashbel Green. Most of the documents in the Catholic Archives of Texas’ Charles S. Taylor papers are unique items that complement a larger collection of Charles S. Taylor papers at the R.W. Steen Library at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches and a smaller one held by the Dallas Historical Society.
- Creation: 1799 - 1951
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1834 - 1870
Conditions Governing Use
Due to preservation concerns, items cannot be removed from protective sleeves and envelopes.
Biographical / Historical
Charles S. Taylor was born in London, England in 1808. Orphaned at an early age, he was supported by an uncle, John W. Taylor, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1813 to 1833. In 1828 the young Taylor emigrated to the United States, living in New York and Natchitoches, Louisiana before entering Texas and arriving in Nacogdoches no later than February 1830. Taylor took the Mexican citizenship oath in April 1830 declaring himself single and a Catholic. Together with Adolphus Sterne, Taylor established a mercantile business.
Taylor was elected to the ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches no later than 1832 and appointed special Land Commissioner in San Augustine and Nacogdoches in March 1834. Elected alcalde of San Augustine at the end of 1833, he served only three months in this position before returning to Nacogdoches. As Land Commissioner for more than eighteen months, he supervised the area’s settlement until the victory of the Texas Revolution. He also represented Nacogdoches in the Conventions of 1832, 1833, and 1836, and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Taylor became the first Chief Justice of Nacogdoches County at the end of 1836 and was volunteer aide-de-camp of General Thomas J. Rusk at the time of the Cordova Rebellion in 1838. In April 1839 he received the right to practice law. He worked as private attorney for most of the next twenty-one years, including short periods in partnership with William L. Underwood (1839-1840), Thomas W. Blake (1846-1847), and Ashbel Green (1847-1849), serving terms as District Attorney in 1839-1840 and County Treasurer in 1850-1854. Between 1854 and 1855 he was one of two men appointed to survey the counties of the Upper Rio Grande. Reelected Chief Justice of Nacogdoches County in 1860 and 1862, he served in this office until his death in 1865. During this period, he also supervised local weaving for the Confederate Army and the issuance of paper currency.
Taylor married the sister of Mrs. Adolphus Sterne, Anna Maria Ruoff (1814-1873), a native of Germany, in May 1831. They had thirteen children; four sons and a son-in-law served with the Confederate forces in the Civil War. He erected a two-story house in Nacogdoches in late 1836, buying much adjoining land in 1837. A longtime Mason, and Master of the local lodge, in 1842 he also provided land and leadership in the construction of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Nacogdoches between 1840 and 1847.
4 Linear Feet (8 containers)
Language of Materials
Correspondence, financial, and legal documents, certificates, and creative works document the personal and professional life of Charles S. Taylor as well as three associates: brother-in-law Adolphus Sterne, son Lawrence S. Taylor, and law partner Ashbel Green.
The collection consists of three subgroups:
1. Charles S. Taylor, 1812-1951: The bulk of the Charles S. Taylor papers derive from his private legal practice, with smaller series from his periods as Chief Justice before and during the Civil War. Most of Taylor’s legal correspondents resided in Texas and Louisiana, but there are many from more distant states. Much of the personal and legal correspondence concerns land transactions. Correspondence with John M. de Bolle, F. Brichta, and others illustrates the role of Taylor’s Masonic ties in his legal practice and personal relationships. Legal receipts, promissory notes, and accounts document legal fees, the components of contemporary wealth, and occasionally slaveholding in Texas.
Two series of the Charles S. Taylor papers contain biographical writings by Robert Bruce Blake and Anna Kathryn Rulfs Holbrook, Taylor’s great granddaughter and the donor these papers and those in the R.W. Steen Library, and certificates marking the milestones in Taylor’s public career. Correspondence and financial records document Taylor’s family, business, and household affairs, with many receipts enumerating prices for merchandise. This private correspondence includes a letter by William Ochiltree from Washington in 1850 concerning the Great Compromise, and several others relating family members’ experiences in the Civil War.
The Sterne and Ruoff Family Papers are a series document Adolphus Sterne’s business and legal ties with Charles S. Taylor, the settlement of his estate, and an inheritance from the German Ruoff family for Mrs. Sterne and Mrs. Taylor. Smaller series for Taylor’s work as Land Commissioner and Nacogdoches County Treasurer illuminate the process of settlement in Texas before the Revolution, county finances in 1853-1854, and Governor E.M. Pease’s views concerning the survey of the Rio Grande counties in 1854-1855.
2. Children of Charles S. Taylor, 1867-1874: The papers of Charles S. Taylor’s children chiefly concern Lawrence S. Taylor’s settlement of his father’s estate and his own legal practice.
3. Ashbel Green, 1838-1839: The Ashbel Green Papers consist of independent case correspondence of Taylor’s law partner.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Charles S. Taylor papers were given to the archives as a gift by Anna Kathryn Rulfs Holbrook of Nacogdoches, Taylor’s granddaughter, in the 1960’s.
The papers were processed by Marcus Fry, Warren Gray, James Niessen, and Kinga Perzynska in December 1992. The collection was reprocessed by Kenzie Coull in December 2021.
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Part of the Catholic Archives of Texas Repository
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Austin TX 78723 United States