SENECA W. TAYLOR is a citizen and business man known to every person in the City of Iuka and widely known over the surrounding country. He has been identified with that community for many years. He is a thorough Yankee by birth, inheritance and early experience, his paternal ancestors having come from Wales and settled in Massachusetts in colonial times.
Mr. Taylor was born at Plymouth, Vermont, January 17, 1838. His father, Nathaniel Taylor, was born in the same locality in 1802 and spent the greater part of his life in that vicinity, where he was a farmer and lime burner for many years. During the '60s he moved to Keene, New Hampshire, and lived there until his death in 1875. He was a whig and then a republican in politics, was honored with several township offices, and was a man of good reputation. Nathaniel Taylor married Sallie Moor, who spent all her life at Plymouth, Vermont, and died at the age of seventy-four. This New England couple had eight children: Julia, the oldest, died at Plymouth, Vermont, when young; Newell was a Vermont farmer and died at Plymouth at the age of seventy-four; Norman, who died in Minnesota at the age of eighty-two, was nationally well known as a pedestrian and he made remarkable records of endurance and speed; Ryland is a raiser of blooded horses at West Bridgewater, Vermont; Julia died at Plymouth, Vermont, in 1918, as the wife of Edson Sprague, a farmer; the sixth in age is Seneca W.; Jerome is a merchant at North Sutton, New Hampshire; Adeline, the youngest, who died in Plymouth, Vermont, in 1908, married Amos Coolidge, a farmer new deceased.
Seneca W. Taylor had a public school education at Plymouth and lived on his father's farm to the age of twenty-one. After that, for several years he worked out for other farmers at monthly wages. In 1862 he joined the army with the Ninth Vermont Infantry, and saw service for three years lacking only twenty days. At the capture of Harpers Ferry he was wounded and taken prisoner, and remained out on parole until exchanged. He was with his command in a number of the battles and campaigns of Virginia, and was before Richmond when that city was evacuated. When the war was over he returned to Plymouth, Vermont, worked in a wood shop for a time, and for two years traveled about the country as a tin peddler. For a period of ten years later he was a merchant at Woodstock, Vermont. That sums up briefly his experiences prior to becoming a Kansan.
Mr. Taylor stopped at Great Bend, Kansas, in 1878 for ten days, and then moved to Iuka, where he has spent forty years. He first homesteaded a quarter section in that vicinity, but almost from the first has had an active part in the city affairs of Iuka. In 1879 he was appointed postmaster, and held that office continuously for twelve years. While postmaster he established a store which has grown in patronage and in general resources until it is now the largest department store in that part of Kansas, drawing a trade from a radius of twenty miles around Iuka. Mr. Taylor also owns the building in which the store is conducted, he still owns his original homestead, the patent to which was signed by President Hayes. Other property includes ten acres of town lots, and the local ice plant, also a modern house built in 1905. He has steadily used his means and influence for the upbuilding of his town.
Mr. Taylor served again as postmaster, beginning during Cleveland's second administration and continuing during the administration of President Harrison. He is an active republican and for a number of years was a member of the School Board and is new on the City Council. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity.
On March 19, 1881, in Iuka Township, Mr. Taylor married Miss Sarah Portnell, daughter of Daniel and Ann (Mills) Portnell. Her father was a native of England, born in Dorsetshire, in which country Mrs. Taylor was also born. Daniel Portnell came to the United States in 1868, and in 1878 established his home in Iuka Township, where he pre-empted a quarter section. In 1888 he moved to Arkansas, and engaged in the milling business at Fayetteville, where he died in February, 1905. Mrs. Portnell died in Iuka Township in 1878. Mrs. Taylor was the oldest of her parents' children. Her sister Julia married Irving Freeman and resides at Alameda, California. Her sister Fannie, who died on a farm near Iuka, married Abram Ezzard, now a farmer in Oklahoma. Her brother Frank is an orchard pruner and horticulturist at Winters, California. Her brother Jesse is manager of a city gas works in California. Her youngest sister, Emma, married T. J. Emery and lived in San Francisco, where Mr. Emery was in the insurance business before the earthquake, but since then has followed other lines and is a patrolman on the police force. Daniel Portnell married for his second wife Sarah Bergan, a native of Iowa, who died at Fayetteville, Arkansas. By that union there is a son, James Roy, now an electrician with the electric light plant at St. Louis. Mr. Portnell married a third time and had one child, Lucile, who is unmarried and lives in Oklahoma.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have one son, Earl Vern, born February 14, 1890. He is the active manager of his father's mercantile business at Iuka. He married Nina Pohlman, and they have a daughter, Anna Marie, born November 9, 1917.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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