Taylor eventually relocated to Xenia, Ohio and married Amanda Chandler on October 27, 1869, according to their marriage license. The marriage records do not provide any insight into Amanda’s background; however, the 1880 United States Federal Census indicated that she was born in Kentucky and that her occupation was a ‘wash woman’. Other probate court records for Amanda Taylor that were discovered indicate that her ‘former occupation’ was a slave and that both of her parents had also been slaves. (Both the 1870 and 1880 United States Federal Census reports indicate that Louisa Chandler, Amanda’s mother, was living in the Taylor household.) It is probable that Amanda came to Ohio with Taylor sometime after he was mustered out of service in 1866. It is well documented that many families of the African American soldiers, who served at Camp Nelson, followed them there in order to get away from a life of slavery. Many of these women were paid to cook and wash clothes for the soldiers. It is very likely that Amanda may have washed clothes and cooked meals for the soldiers who were stationed at Camp Nelson.
Taylor filed his initial pension application claim on February 1, 1881, but it does not appear that it was approved for several years. On August 19, 1885, an application for appointment of guardian was filed in the Greene County Probate Court. According to the Guardian Application, “Said Umphrey Taylor is a person of the age of 39 years; but on account of diseases contracted while in the U.S. military service during the years 1864, 1865, and 1866 he has become blind and greatly debilitated in body, and to the extent that he is liable to be led by the undue influence of others, imbecile in mind and incapable of properly managing and taking care of his property.” Using this information and going back to the Physician’s certificates, discussed earlier, it is now obvious that the blind Humphrey Taylor is the actual person who served in the 12th U.S.C.H.A. On August 29, 1885, John Cisco was appointed as Taylor’s guardian and ensured that Taylor’s personal affairs were being taken care of. Cisco paid all of Taylor’s bills and even paid out funds to Humphrey and Amanda for everyday goods such as groceries, clothing, or other needs. Between 1885 and 1886, Amanda would make monthly trips to Yellow Springs. The reason for these trips has been lost to time. Perhaps Amanda ventured to Yellow Springs to purchase clothing or maybe she had family and friends that lived in the village.
Humphrey and Amanda had two children, James who was born on March 14, 1877 and Paul who was born on December 10, 1886. Unfortunately, both of these children died early in life. James died on March 11, 1886 at the age of nine. Paul died from consumption on June 5, 1887 at the age of five months. On October 26, 1888, John Cisco resigns as guardian stating that, “…said ward, Humphrey Taylor, is of such sound condition of mind, and possessed of such mental qualifications and abilities as to no longer require the services of a guardian; and that he is abundantly qualified to take proper care of his property and to manage all matters relative thereto.” Approximately six months later is when we have a record of the imposter Taylor trying to qualify for pension funds. No details have emerged regarding the older, deaf “Humphrey Taylor”, but one could surmise that he was attempting to pose as Taylor in an attempt to collect his pension. African Americans who served in the Civil War often became victims of fraud. Unfortunately, these cases often took months and sometimes years for pension agents to investigate which meant that pension payments could be delayed pending the outcome of the investigation.
By November 1889, Taylor began receiving his pension payments on a regular basis. Unfortunately, life for this couple was anything but easy. Amanda was committed to the Infirmary on April 25, 1891. Judge J.M. Stewart found that Amanda “…is insane …and that in consequence of her insanity she being at large is dangerous to the community….” The records do not indicate exactly what it is that Amanda did to be committed to the Infirmary, but one can only imagine how the events of her life may have impacted her. Amanda was admitted to the Infirmary in January 1892 and died of consumption, just over a month later, on February 18, 1892. On September 27, 1892, Humphrey Taylor married Celia Smith. The records have not provided any details regarding Celia other than she was born in Kentucky. Unfortunately, Taylor’s second marriage did not last long because he died of dropsy on August 3, 1894. The August 3, 1894 issue of the Xenia Gazette reported on his death, “Humphrey Taylor, son of General George Taylor, is no more. The well-known colored man died today shortly before noon after an illness of some weeks of dropsy. The deceased was a well-known figure on our streets. For some years he has been afflicted with blindness but he managed with the aid of to cane to get around remarkably well and was kept busy in collecting rags and waste paper in which he was a dealer. Humphrey’s familiar whistle had come to be recognized all over the city. He was a member of the Daniels Post and had seen a great deal of service during the war….”
Humphrey Taylor is buried, along with approximately seventy other African American Civil War soldiers, in Cherry Grove Cemetery in Xenia.While the story of Humphrey Taylor did not have a happy ending, it is my hope that he will be remembered for his service during the Civil War. Humphrey and Amanda appear to have been active participants in the quest for freedom among former slaves in the south. Many of the African American soldiers that sacrificed so much to fight for what they believed in have been forgotten over the years. While the Taylors were not residents of Yellow Springs, they seem to have been indirectly connected to the village. On this Memorial Day weekend, I hope that we will remember everyone who has fought for independence and equality for every citizen of this country.