Nevada Taylor's Story

Monday, May 13, 2019 - by David Moon
At twenty-three years old, Nevada Taylor died 112 years ago on Sunday, May 12th, 1907 at 4:20 AM with her family at her side in a farmhouse in Liberty Township, Ohio. It had only been a little over a year after she was attacked and raped while walking home from St. Elmo’s Cemetery Station to her family’s residence on the edge of Forest Hills Cemetery in the early rainy evening of January 23, 1906.
Ed Johnson would be later accused, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for that crime. Johnson was brutally murdered on March 19, 1906, by an angry mob of Chattanoogans on the Walnut Street Bridge in retaliation to US Supreme Court awarding a stay of his execution. Ninety-four years later, in February of 2000, Hamilton County Criminal Judge Doug Meyer overturned Johnson's conviction.

Last year I spent a few months researching Nevada Taylor and her family. Much has been discussed about Johnson’s story, but little about Taylor and her life and death after the attack. My research only uncovered one significant detail that leaves this story open with more mystery and speculation than before.

William Taylor brought his family to St. Elmo from Findlay, Ohio in 1898 to serve as the new Superintendent and Groundskeeper at the Forest Hills Cemetery. His wife had died five years prior. Of Nevada’s four siblings, at least two would follow and make their home in Chattanooga. One sister, Jeannette, was a nurse and cared for Nevada up until her death. Jeannette was unmarried and remained in Chattanooga until her death in 1955.

There’s evidence that the Taylor family often visited the Findlay area for extended periods of time between 1898 and 1906. Another sister, Mary, and her husband kept a farmhouse outside of town and probably provided the family lodging.

Nevada was educated and attended business college in Findlay while her father and other family resided in St. Elmo. Her education would eventually lead to her employment as a bookkeeper and stenographer at the W. W. Brooks grocery store located at Sixth and Market Streets in downtown Chattanooga.

Through some internet sleuthing and help from an article published in Findlay’s local newspaper, The Courier, I was able to contact immediate family members of the Taylors with hopes to learn a bit more about Nevada and their family. Not much about the attack or rape was openly discussed. And no new family photos, or a photo of Nevada, could be located. The only photograph I could find of the family was of brother Dwight Taylor in 1902, as part of the St. Elmo Boy’s Brigade. It's published in Chattanooga's St. Elmo, by Gay Morgan Moore.

William and Nevada Taylor returned to Ohio a few weeks before her death, to honor his daughter’s request to die at home. It was reported at one point, she rallied but quickly lost strength and succumb to her illness.

In her hometown obituary, Nevada was described as “pretty, blonde, and with winning ways.” The cause of death states “nervous prostration incidental of the crime committed under the very shadow of historic Lookout Mountain.” Nervous prostration was a widely used and generically stated cause of death at the time. The State of Ohio was still a year away from mandating death certificates and no autopsy was required.

When I asked the family about Nevada’s death, several stated that their father, who was Nevada Taylor’s nephew, said that she had died of syphilis, sexually contracted during the rape. When I consulted with a Chattanooga area physician, he confirmed that syphilis or neurosyphilis could cause death within a year. In that time frame, it would most often result in a form of meningitis and/or inflammation of the arteries of the brain, which can cause a stroke.

Nevada Taylor’s unmarked grave is in a family plot in the old section of Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay, Ohio, where her father was once the Sexton before moving to St. Elmo. Her family still owns the farm and house where she died.

--

Special thanks to Jeannie Wolf with The Courier, The Taylor family, Employees of Maple Grove Cemetery, and helpers on Findagrave for the photographs on Nevada's listing and everything you do.

As always, we encourage you to do your own research about Nevada Taylor. I could not turn up much locally, but I know that there is more information out there. Also, if you know anything about the Taylors or Ed Johnson, reach out. Picnooga.org is still looking for a photograph of Nevada.
------
David Moon
Picnooga

423-972-0209|picnooga@gmail.com

http://www.picnooga.org|http://chattanooganewspapers.org



Deadline To Apply For A Storm Debris Burning Permit Is June 9

Weekly Road Construction Report

Deadline For Storm Debris Pick-up Is June 1


The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau extends its sympathy to residents who were affected by the tornado on Sunday, April 12. We have been issuing storm debris permits ... (click for more)

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County: I-24 Replacement of Belvoir Avenue Bridge over I-24 and I-24 bridges over Germantown Road near MM 183: Lane shifts are in place ... (click for more)

The June 1st deadline is approaching and property owners must register for storm debris picked up and hauled away by hired contractors. Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management officials ... (click for more)



Happenings

Deadline To Apply For A Storm Debris Burning Permit Is June 9

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau extends its sympathy to residents who were affected by the tornado on Sunday, April 12. We have been issuing storm debris permits free of charge for residents in Hamilton County who were directly impacted by the tornado. This allows anyone with a storm debris permit to burn through June 15 on approved burning days. Residents ... (click for more)

Weekly Road Construction Report

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County: I-24 Replacement of Belvoir Avenue Bridge over I-24 and I-24 bridges over Germantown Road near MM 183: Lane shifts are in place on I-24 EB and WB under the Belvoir Avenue Bridge, at North and South Terrace approaching the Belvoir Avenue Bridge, and on Germantown Road under the I-24 Bridge. Single interior lane closures ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Continues Upswing In Coronavirus Cases With 73 More, Including 49 Hispanic; No New Deaths In Hamilton, Memphis, Nashville And Knox

Hamilton County on Thursday reported 73 more positive COVID-19 cases. That brings the total of confirmed cases in the county since the virus broke out in March to 843. There are still 13 coronavirus patients in Intensive Care in Chattanooga hospitals. Deaths remain at 15. Officials said of the 71 new cases, the Hispanic population accounts for 49 cases. Of the total cases ... (click for more)

County Unemployment Rates Reach Historic Highs Across Tennessee

Statistics released on Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show a staggering increase in unemployment for each of Tennessee’s 95 counties in April as many businesses closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The unprecedented and historic spike in unemployment impacted some counties more drastically than others, but no area of Tennessee ... (click for more)

Opinion

Departure Of Drs. Gruver, Devlin Is Disturbing

The recent departure of Drs. Gruver, cardiologist, and Devlin, neurologist, is disturbing. They have impeccable credentials, among the “best in class” regarding advancements in medicine and delivering excellent healthcare to patients. Chattanooga’s healthcare requires continuous retention and recruitment of quality physicians. High quality physicians attract more of the highest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Reclose? Are You Nuts?

I am every bit as mournful as every other teary-eyed citizen who genuinely cares in the United States that our COVID-19 death rate has surpassed 100,000 people. We’ve got 50 state governors doing 50 different things and, believe this, every last one of them is desperate to find the right thing. We’ve got the best and brightest scientists collaborating with one another. The White ... (click for more)