Stephen W. Taylor

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Stephen Wells Taylor was one of the young men to rescue the pioneer Saints stranded in Wyoming storms in 1856. He was part of the group that assisted the Martin handcart company. The account of historian John Jaques lists Taylor, as well as C. Allen Huntington, David P. Kimball, and George W. Grant as the young men who "waded the [Sweetwater] river, helping the handcarts through and carrying the women and children and some of the weaker of the men over." (John Jacques, "Some Reminiscences," Salt Lake Daily Herald, 15 Dec. 1878, 1; see also 19 Jan. 1879, 1)

However, he is not named in the well-known response from Brigham Young:

When President Brigham Young heard of the kindness and courage of the young men, he wept. He later said in public, “That act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.”[1]

It is well-documented that the three young men named by Brigham Young were not the only ones to assist the members of the Martin handcart company cross the Sweetwater River.[2][3]

Stephen was 21-years-old at the time. He was not tall, but he was stocky and strong and carried some of them across the Sweetwater on his back.[4]

He was born on December 25, 1835, in Dunkinfield, Cheshire, England. Both of his parents—George and Catherine Taylor— died in Nauvoo, Illinois. He was twelve years old when he traveled to the Salt Lake Valley in the Brigham Young Company in 1848. At the time of the 1850 federal census, he was living in the home of Daniel H. Wells.

Within a few months of the 1856 rescue, Taylor was serving as a “messenger in the territorial legislature.” In 1865 he was part of the detachment mustered under the direction of Robert T. Burton during the Black Hawk War. Two years later he was appointed sheriff of Summit County. From 1869 to 1871 he fulfilled a mission to England, then served as a Salt Lake City police officer from 1874 to 1876. He spent the last part of his life as a stockman and farmer. For several years he helped protect the mail service to Utah.

Taylor married Harriet Seely in March 1857 and they had nine children. He entered into plural marriage in December 1872 when he married Mary C. Evans; they had ten children. He was eighty-four years old at the time of his death, which occurred on March 22, 1920.