Taylor, Harriet

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                                             HARRIET TAYLOR
                                              By Gail Savoy

TABUSINTAC – Harriet Taylor has seen a great deal of change in her lifetime. The last surviving member of her immediate family, Taylor has lived a full century.

When Taylor was born on January 1, 1900, the British Empire was still the superpower of the world. The Kodak camera with a removable film was invented later that year, and Coca-Cola went on sale for the first time. Motor cars, electricity, and telephones were slowly becoming a part of people’s everyday life.

The changes in Taylor’s lifetime that left the greatest impression on her was being able to turn on a tap and get running water. “Mumma had pumped water by hand for years. She was happy to finally have running water,” her daughter said.

Another great adventure in her life was flying to Edmonton to visit her oldest daughter. “She could not get over being able to go from one end of Canada to the other in a matter of hours,” said her granddaughter.

Taylor’s life has gone full-circle. Before she was hospitalized in 1999, she returned to the home where she was born in 1900 to live with her granddaughter and her family.

Taylor’s family

Here is the family of Franklin and Isabella (Harding) Price: Mariah, Robert, Sarah, Richard, Harriet, Wesley, Henry, Annie, Maude and James. Frank and Harriet (Price) Taylor had nine children.

Harriet and her brothers and sisters walked from Price Settlement, three miles each way, to school in Grattan Settlement. “I went three grades to that school,” she said. Taylor remembered having teachers by the name of Ross, Breau and Savoy. A new school was built in Price Settlement, so the family only had a short walk.

“Miss Fayle was our teacher. She was a good teacher. I never got a strapping but she could give one if someone needed it,” Harriet Taylor said with a smile.

She left school after grade seven and went to work, which was the norm for those days. At age 13 or 14, she was doing housework for families in the area. “I worked for Mrs. Joe Price, Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. Wishart.” Taylor was paid $3 a month and was allowed to go home to visit her family every two weeks. She left housekeeping when her father needed a cook at his lumbering camp on the Little Eskedelloc River. For the next two winters she spent months in a camp cooking for seven of eight men. There she met her husband.

Frank Taylor of Brantville was working for Franklin Price as a lumberman. Ten years her senior, the young lady caught his eye and his heart. When asked if it was love at first sight she said, “I guess so.”

A beloved family story often told by Frank Taylor describes when he asked his future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. “Apparently may grandfather thought my grandmother was too young to marry. He said to my father, ‘she’s awfully young’ to which my father replied, ‘well I don’t want her when her teeth are falling out.’” Her granddaughter laughed.

Franklin and Harriet were married on March 15, 1917 at her parents’ home in Price Settlement. “Rev. Tatry married us,” Harriet said.

The couple set up housekeeping with her parents. That is where her first child was born. The family moved to Plaster Rock and Campbellton for three or four year span. Frank Taylor worked in lumber mills. Eventually, they returned to Tabusintac where they built a home and continued to add to their growing family. In all, the Taylors had nine children.

Daughters spoke of the hard times the family went through. “We were not rich, but we never went hungry, we had warm clothes and shoes on our feet.”

Forced to move

Unfortunate circumstances forced the family to give up their home in Price Settlement in 1934 and move to Russellville. In 1940, the Taylors acquired a grant lot on the Winston Road and moved there. The settlement had about 10 families. It even had its own school.

Frank, who was also a good carpenter, built a new home and got to work cutting lumber from his wood lot. As the years went by, the children grew and left home.

The family suffered its share of tragedy. The Taylors lost three of their four sons.

Ernest, the eldest son, was killed 11 days before the Second World War ended. He left behind a wife who was pregnant with his second child and three year old son.

The youngest son, Marc, died at the age of 13 months after he was scalded. “He pulled a washtub of hot water over on himself. Pneumonia set in and he could not survive,” her granddaughter said.

The second eldest son, Walter, passed away in June of 1998 of heart failure.

Frank and Harriet moved their home out to the main road (Highway 11) in 1951. Their son, Frankie, returned from fighting in the Korean War and told his parents he did not want to live back in the settlement any longer. “The house was moved out and for the first time my grandmother had electricity, running water, and a telephone,” said her granddaughter.

Frank Taylor died in 1973 and Harriet continued to live in her home by herself until she was 92.

“My grandparents became the stop for many people travelling to and from Newcastle or Chatham. No one ever left her home without having a cup of tea and something to eat,” her granddaughter said.

Taylor is described by many as a kind-hearted, generous, trusting person. Her numerous family members affectionately call her Mumma. “If Mumma heard a knock on the door, she never asked who was there, she just opened it. Mumma always worried that visitors or family never had enough to eat.” In fact at her birthday celebration Saturday she kept telling those gathered to “eat before it got cold.”

Taylor has a large, extended family. In addition to her six surviving children, she has 25 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren, and 23 great-great-grandchildren. Only one grandchild shares her birthday.

Source: Miramichi Leader – January 4, 2000

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