Pagosa Country pioneers: E.M. Taylor

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Pictured, from the left, are Annie Byrne, Hattie McGirr, Maude Garvin Hart, Laura C. Manson White and Myrtle Schonefelt. Hattie McGirr was the daughter of E.M. Taylor, the subject of today’s story.[/caption]

We’ve been writing about Eudolphus M. Taylor, one of the most influential of Pagosa Country’s early settlers.

A Yankee from Texas who fought for the North during the Civil War, Taylor was deeply involved in local politics all of his life. He helped promote the creation of Archuleta County from Conejos County in 1885 and served as the first county treasurer.

He was deeply involved in the struggle between Anglo and Hispanic for control of the newly formed county. He seemed to side with the Anglo cattlemen, but personal memoirs left by Charlie Siringo indicate Taylor was riding on both sides of the fence.

Siringo was hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, headquartered in Chicago. The Pagosa fracas was one of Siringo’s first assignments.

According to Siringo, Taylor had secretly sent for the outside help from Pinkerton. While appearing to be working with the Anglos, Taylor secretly met with Siringo, who was operating in Pagosa Springs under an assumed name.

Taylor also worked to promote the incorporation of the Town of Pagosa Springs in 1891. When that incorporation took place, Taylor was elected as the town’s first treasurer. For a time, he served simultaneously as county and town treasurer. Not afraid of work, Taylor also conducted a personal loan business and operated an insurance company while holding both elected positions. He overcame the expense of paying for an office by using his county office for his personal business interests.

As his career progressed, people in the community referred to Taylor as “Doc” Taylor, not because of his education or occupation, but maybe as an indication of affection. Taylor’s reputation helped him out of a tight spot more than once.

He had an attractive daughter named Hattie who had married an ambitious young lawyer named Victor McGirr. McGirr had a reputation for being a flirt and a womanizer. Taylor took all of McGirr’s shenanigans he could stand and finally decided to persuade the young man to change his ways by shooting him. Following the shooting, which was not fatal, Doc turned himself in to the sheriff.

The local newspaper was almost silent about the shooting, but you know people were whispering in the coffee shops.

“McGirr got what he deserved,” they would say. Maybe now he’d learn his lesson.

In any case, I found no evidence that Taylor ever spent one day in jail or stood trial. I guess it proves that it pays to have friends in high places.

Next week we’ll take a look at the life of Fil Byrne, Pagosa Country’s first school teacher.