Walter Lee Taylor

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 8, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 292-293

WALTER LEE TAYLOR, one of the West Virginia leaders
in the promulgation and development of corporation law, is
one of the members of the profession who has always been
identified with large affairs. His connection as counsel and
official with a number of the largest companies of the state
has brought to the realization of the public his masterly
knowledge of the law, his deep penetration into its founda-
tion principles, the broad and high qualities of his mind,
and his ability to apply his knowledge to circumstances and
affairs. A large part of Mr. Taylor’s legal career of thirty-
two years has been passed in McDowell County, but at
present his offices are maintained at Huntington.

Mr. Taylor was born in Giles County, Virginia, November
15, 1866, a son of Thomas Samuel and Nichatie Cherokee
Tennessee Floyd (French) Taylor. The Taylor family was
founded in America during Colonial days, when the first
Taylor, emigrating from Scotland, located in Virginia.
In Henry County of that state was born the grandfather
of Walter Lee Taylor, Robert Taylor, who was a planter
in Henry, Pulaski and Giles counties, Virginia, and died
in the latter county prior to the birth of his grandson. He
married Martha Minter, who was also born in Henry County,
and died in Giles County. The French family originated in
England, whence the first American ancestor immigrated to
Virginia prior to the Revolutionary war, in which struggle
the great-great-grandfather of Mr. Taylor, John Clay
French, held the rank of colonel in the forces of General

Thomas Samuel Taylor, father of Walter Lee Taylor, was
born in Henry County, Virginia, November 21, 1838, and
was nine years of age when taken by his parents to Pulaski
County, that state, subsequently removing to Giles County,
where he was married. At the outbreak of the war between
the states he gave up his position as a teacher in the rural
schools and enlisted in a Virginia infantry regiment in the
Confederate service, which was attached to Picket’s Divi-
sion, Longstreet’s Corps, with which he was connected
throughout the war. Mr. Taylor participated in the
memorable Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, through which
he came safely, but three days before the surrender of
General Lee, at Appomattox, he was captured at Sailor’s
Creek, near Petersburg, Virginia, and was a prisoner at
Washington, D. C., on the night President Lincoln was
assassinated. He was then sent to Johnson’s Island and
held there until July, 1865, when he was released. Mr.
Taylor then returned to Giles County, where he resumed his
school teaching and continued as an educator until 1876,
when he became sheriff and deputy treasurer of Giles
County. He served as sheriff for twelve years, during
eight years of which he also acted in the deputy treasurer’s
capacity, and in 1900 was made deputy sheriff, a position
in which he served eight years. He finally retired to his
farm at Thessalia, and his death occurred at Lynchburg,
January 22, 1914. Mr. Taylor was a democrat. He was a
very active supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
South, in which he was a Sunday school superintendent for
thirty years. In Masonry he attained the thirty-second
degree, was district deputy lecturer for the State of Vir-
ginia, and was considered one of the brightest and best
informed Masons in the state, being called upon frequently
to deliver the Masonic addresses at the laying of the corner-
stones and other functions. Mr. Taylor married Miss
Nichatie Cherokee Tennessee Floyd French, who was born
April 16, 1845, in Giles County, Virginia, and died in that
county in February, 1901. She was named by Governor
John B. Floyd of Virginia for his sister. Mr. and Mrs.
Taylor became the parents of the following children:
Walter Lee, of this review; Albert Tyler Hicks, local attor-
ney for the Norfolk & Western Railway Company and for
several other large corporations and a well-known attorney
of Giles County, where he died in 1897, at the age of twenty-
eight years; Bertie A., who died at the age of twenty years;
Mary A., the wife of Senator James A. Strother, a prom-
inent attorney of Welch, West Virginia, and present repre-
sentative to the State Legislature from McDowell County,
this state; India P., the wife of Dr. Charles F. Shumate, of
Lynchburg, Virginia, one of the leading osteopathic physi-
cians of Virginia; Mattie N., who died at the age of two
years; Marvin S., an attorney of Welch, West Virginia, and
member of the firm of Taylor & Taylor, his partner being
hia wife, formerly Miss Rosa Quisenberry; Bayard H., en-
gaged in the insurance business at Welch, who during the
World war was sent by the governor of Virginia as the
representative of that state of the Young Men’s Christian
Association to France, where he spent eight months at the
front and was on the firing line when the armistice was
signed; and Vera, who died at Lynchburg, Virginia, in
1918, as the wife of Dr. Charles F. Dickens, a dental prac-
titioner of that city.

In 1905 Mr. Taylor married at Thacker, West Virginia,
Laura J. Stafford, who was a sister of his first wife and
lived happily with her until his death, and his widow
departed this life at Huntington, West Virginia, in 1921.

Walter Lee Taylor attended the rural schools of Giles
County, Virginia, and at the early age of fifteen years be-
gan teaching school. During the following eight years he
continued to work as an educator, having various schools in
Giles, Bland and Tazewell counties, Virginia, and Sullivan
County, Tennessee, and in the meantime applied himself to
the study of law, being finally admitted to the bar in 1890.
He immediately began practice in McDowell County, where
he made rapid advancement in his calling, and where he
still has a large and lucrative clientele. Mr. Taylor has
risen to be known as one of the leading corporation lawyers
of his state. He is attorney for the R. E. Wood Lumber
Company and Montvale Lumber Company, both of Balti-
more, Maryland; the Atlantic Fuel and Steamship Company
of Huntington, and several large coal companies in Mc-
Dowell County. In June, 1921, he established an office at
309 Robson-Pritchard Building, Huntington. He belongs
to the various organizations of his profession and occupies
a place high in the esteem and regard of his fellow

In politics Mr. Taylor is a stanch democrat and was prom-
inent in the ranks of his party during his residence in Mc-
Dowell County, although his only public office was that of
councilman of Welch, in which he served one year. He be-
longs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and his
fraternal affiliation is with McDowell Lodge No. 112, A. F.
and A. M., of Welch, West Virginia. His business connec-
tions are numerous and important, he being president of
the Torchlight Coal Company of Torchlight, Kentucky;
vice president of the Pan Coal Company of Welch, West
Virginia; president of the Southeastern Grain and Live-
stock Company of Jones County, North Carolina, owners of
an 18,000-acre plantation; secretary of the Marvacar Min-
ing Company, owning mines in Cherokee County, North
Carolina; secretary of the New Garden Coal Land Company
of Lockhaven, Pennsylvania; and a director in the R. E.
Wood Lumber Company and the Montvale Lumber Company,
both of Baltimore, Maryland. He owns the old Knabe
homestead at Catonsville, Maryland, formerly the home of
the well-known piano manufacturer of that name, and is
interested also in farming land in Giles County, Virginia.

On September 9, 1891, Mr. Taylor was united in marriage
in Giles County, Virginia, with Miss Ada Cecil, daughter
of Daniel R. and Sophia (Anderson) Cecil, both of whom
are deceased. Mr. Cecil was a substantial agriculturist of
Giles County, and Mrs. Taylor is a graduate of the Wesleyan
Female Institute of Staunton, Virginia. Two children have
been born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. Nichatie Cecil, the
elder, married Hon. Ryland G. Craft, of Gates City., Vir-
ginia, one of the five republican members of the Virginia
Legislature of the session of 1922. He is a well-known at-
torney and agent for the Ford automobile in Scott county,
Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Craft have one daughter, Ann Tay-
lor, born November 24, 1921. Walter Lee Taylor, Jr., son
of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, is a graduate of the Baltimore City
College of Johns Hopkins University, degree of Bachelor
of Arts, and was honor man in his senior class year. Dur-
ing the recent war, at the age of nineteen years, he volun-
teered for service, was accepted in the United States Navy,
and attained the rank of ensign. During a part of his
two years of service he was on the U. S. S. Saranac. He
is now a student in the law department of the University of
Baltimore, Maryland, but resides at Catonsville, Maryland,
and is acting as private secretary to B. E. Wood, president
of the R. E. Wood Lumber Company.