Volunteers Preserving Local History

The volume and complexity of work volunteer historians pour into their research astound me.  Morgan Breeden of Brentsville is one of those people.

Among other projects, Morgan took on the task of compiling birth and death records for small towns in Prince William County, Manassas and the surrounding areas.  He used the local newspaper to do this.  The records range from the obscure to the well-known.  One of the more well-known but possibly forgotten was a former Manassas Mayor and Confederate whose obituary is below.

We owe these historians a big thank you for preserving local history.


Taylor, Thomas Owen

Ex-Mayor of Manassas and Confederate Veteran Passed Away Last Night
With only a few moments warning to his family, Mr. Thos. O. Taylor sank into
unconsciousness at four o’clock yesterday [January 26, 1911] afternoon, at his home in
Peobody street, this place, and died at eleven o’clock.

Although having been in ill health for the past two years, and quite feeble from
the infirmities of age, his persevering energy enabled him to appear upon the streets of
Manassas, with no alarming change in his condition, the afternoon of the day before his

Yesterday afternoon he put on his overcoat and attempted to make his customary
trip to the postoffice for his mail, but overcome with feelings of languor, after going a
half square, he returned to his home and seated himself in a chair by the stove. Throwing
up his hands with an outcry that told in no uncertain words of his dying condition, he was
tenderly carried to his bed chamber and his family physician, Dr. J. Marye Lewis,
summoned. The anxious expression of the loved ones, who stood around the deathbed,
was answered by the physician with a solumn glance which revealed the sad fact that the
soul of his patient would soon be with his Maker.

So short was the warning of the “grim monster” that the friends of the deceased
had no intimation of his unusual illness and his death came as a surprise.
Mr. Taylor, who was a son of the late Joseph D. and Frances Rosseau Taylor, of
the upper portion of Prince William County, was born October 12, 1834, and was thus in
his 77th year. At the outbreak of the Confederate war, he joined the Fifth Texas Infantry
and fought in the battles of The Wilderness, Seven Pines and numerous other minor
engagements. Subsequent to the battle of Seven Pines, he was assigned to Chimborazo
hospital, in Richmond. He was with the hospital’s corps of surgeons upon the bloody
fields of the Seven-days-fight and his ministrations of mercy were attested by the
wounded and dying, from that great struggle, who were removed to the hospital after the
tide of battle had swept over those memorable fields, in defense of the Confederate

After the close of the war he returned to Prince William county and engaged in the mercantile business at Hickory Grove, of which place he was chosen postmaster by the Federal government, though an avowed rebel, through his eminent fitness for the position and the wishes of the patrons of the office. He was also a merchant, for two years in Charlestown, W. Va., removing from that place to Manassas in 1892. Upon his
location in Manassas he engaged in the lumber business with Mr. W. Hill Brown under the firm name of Taylor & Brown, which business was successfully conducted for about two years when the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, and he retired from commercial business.

Soon after Mr. Taylor’s advent to Manassas, he was chosen mayor, succeeding Mr. Thos. H. Lion, declined, which office he filled with marked ability for several successive terms. He filled several other official positions in the county and was for several years a judge of election of Manassas magisterial precinct and of the town of Manassas.

In 1868, Mr. Taylor married Miss Anna Mary Smith, daughter of the late Andrew K. Smith, one of the most prominent and successful merchants of Dumfries. From this union were born four girls, Mrs. Alice Hutchison, of Loudoun county; Miss Selina Taylor, Mrs. C. A. Sinclair, and Mrs. R. M. Weir, of Manassas, and Messrs. T. Ramsey Taylor, of Norfolk, and B. Conway Taylor, former editor of THE MEANASSAS JOURNAL, now of The Baltimore Sun.

The funeral will take place from Trinity Episcopal church to-morrow afternoon, Rev. Leslie Robinson, former rector of the church, officiating, and the interment will be in the Manassas cemetery, where sleep many of his comrades in arms awaiting the resurrection morn. Those who will bear the casket to its last resting place, and who were among the deceased’s most intimate friends, are: Messrs. Geo. C. Round, William M.
Wheeler, W. C. Wagener, A. W. Sinclair, G. Raymond Ratcliffe, and Dr. C. R. C. Johnson.

In the death of Thomas Owen Taylor the county has lost a good citizen, the community in which he has resided for nearly a score of years a kind and sympathetic neighbor, and his family an affectionate and devoted husband and father.

The writer remembers with feelings of sincere gratitude the many acts of kindness and words of sympathy extended to him in trying hours by this departed friend, and he hereby extends to the sorrowing widow and children his deepest sympathy in this, the hour of their sad bereavement.
The Manassas Journal, January 27, 1911, p-1&5


The Manassas Journal Reports of Death, 1911 – 1915
Compiled and Transcribed by Morgan Breeden, RELIC Volunteer, Bull Run Regional Library, Manassas, VA

RELIC stands for the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center, a special collection devoted to genealogy and local history with a focus on Virginia and Prince William County.

Works by Morgan Breeden:
Manassas Journal, Deaths Index, 1911-1915
Manassas Journal Reports of Deaths, 1911-1915

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