June 7, 2011

Roy Taylor, 1900-1914

Roy Franklin Taylor was born in Johnson County, Texas, between Joshua and Cleburne, on July 22, 1900. His parents were William Franklin Taylor and Mary Elizabeth Bullard, who had married in Mills County on August 25, 1895.

Frank and Mary already had two children when Roy was born: Mary Myrtle (1896) and Martha Elizabeth "Mattie" (1898). After Roy came James William Mannon (1902), Lydia Estelle "Stella" (1903), Laura Thelma (1906), Raymond Lesley (1908), John Calvin "J.C." (1912), and Ernest Madison (1914).

Myrtle remembered having diphtheria when Roy was about five months old, and she also remembered Roy being ill, although if it was from diphtheria is unknown.

In 1902, the family moved to Arkansas, where Frank's family was living at the time. James was taken ill after a fall and died at the age of nineteen months. Twelve days later, Stella was born, and when Stella was two weeks old, the family moved back to Texas, to Cleburne. In 1904, they moved on to Mills County, to a ranch where Frank worked as a hired hand.

So when Roy was four years old, his mother set up her sewing machine and made a tent (about 8'x10') out of heavy canvas, where the family lived for a while until a room was built. Later a second room was built. The structure had a fireplace but no flooring.

In early 1906, Thelma was born. By now the family had a nice garden on land they had cleared by hand, and the ranch owner had given them a cow to milk. They had a 600-ft. deep well, from which they would draw 5 gallons of water at at time using a mule. At six years old, Roy was, of course, an active participant in family chores. In late 1908, Raymond was born, and the family moved on to work on another ranch near Priddy.

It was here that Roy spent most of his life. His family cleared the land for farming and cared for cattle. He and his sisters and brother had 300 acres for their playground. They were members of New Hope Baptist Church, and sometimes they would have camp meetings, taking food and bedding to church and staying two or three days at a time. Frank would go home now and then to care of the stock. By early 1912, J.C. had come into the family.

In the early part of 1914, some of the school children came down with German measles. Before the older children were well, Frank, Mary, and the two baby boys, Raymond and J.C., came down with them. Mary was expecting a baby in the summer. Frank relapsed into pneumonia, as did J.C., who nearly died: he weighed 11 pounds when he was two years old.

Roy was never well after having the measles. He and Myrtle were caught in a rain shower in April of that year, and Roy had lung trouble after that. Roy turned 14 in July, twelve days after Ernest was born.

One Saturday in November, Roy gave himself a tuberculosis skin test according to the doctor's orders. This would have been the von Pirquet test, where two drops of tuberculin were placed on the forearm a small distance apart, then the skin was scratched and covered with cotton wool. A positive result, which Roy had, would be a red, hard raised spot on the skin within 24 hours.

The next afternoon, Sunday, Roy played ball with his friends for several hours. Monday, he went to the doctor who gave him a new medication named, by Myrtle's recollection, Tuberline. Roy was to take 2 drops in 1/2 glass salt water, which he did on Monday. His instructions were to then take 3 drops in salt water mixture on Wednesday, and to increase each dose by 1 drop until 15 were given. (Although extensive research has not revealed information on Tuberline, tuberculin was indeed given orally in a salt water mixture in those days as a treatment for tuberculosis).

Roy fell ill soon after the first dose, and he was very sick all day Tuesday. Frank had gone to Comanche for supplies, so another family member summoned the doctor, who would not come.

Roy died at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, halfway between his first and second doses of Tuberline. Although his death certificate has not yet been located, his family will always believe that it was the medication that killed him.

After hearing that Roy had died, the doctor came out to the ranch, bringing another doctor with him.

It began to rain. Myrtle remembered going to the church house at Priddy Cemetery and walking through the water and the black gooey mud. By the time the funeral was over, it was well after dark. The date was November 24, 1914. Roy had lived 14 years, four months, and two days.

No photographs of Roy are known to exist. His grave is marked only by a Wilkins Funeral Home marker whose dates are unreadable.

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