A.W. Taylor: Prominent Attorney, Political Figure, Man of Affairs, and Landholder

There are so many street names in Indiana that are named for prominent people from around the County, one of those is Taylor Avenue, named for Alexander Wilson Taylor, Esq. Mr. Taylor was a prominent attorney, political figure, man of affairs, and landholder.

Alexander was born March 22, 1815 to John and Mary Wilson Taylor, in Indiana. He had strong ties to the history of Indiana; he was the grandson of Alexander Taylor, who had settled in Indiana County in 1790 on a farm on Saltsburg Road about four and one-half miles southwest of Indiana.

A.W. Taylor
A.W. Taylor

While growing up, A.W. Taylor’s father filled many important positions in Indiana including Country Treasurer (1817-18); Deputy Surveyor (1815 and 1825-27); Burgess of Indiana (1819-20), and Prothonotary (1818-21). In later years, John Taylor was a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, Associate Judge, and Surveyor General for Pennsylvania. He was also an editor and publisher of the “Indiana Free Press.”

A.W. was educated at the Indiana Academy (located on the present site of the Silas M. Clark House) and at Jefferson College. He interrupted his studies in 1836 when he moved back to Indiana to serve as a clerk in his father’s office, who at the time was Surveyor General of Pennsylvania, a position he held until 1839. It was in 1839 that he entered law school in Carlisle, PA and studied there for one year. He continued his law studies at Judge Thomas White’s office and was admitted to the Indiana County Bar in 1841.

After being admitted to the bar, Taylor became a successful practicing attorney. He served as clerk of the Indiana Borough Council in 1843, 1844, and 1845. Then from 1845 until 1851, he served as Prothonotary and clerk of courts of Indiana County.

A.W. Taylor married Elizabeth Ralston, daughter of David Ralston, Esquire, on May 8, 1849.

Politically Taylor was a member of the Whig Party and he was strongly anti-slavery and took part in the establishment of the Republican Party in the 1850s, of which he remained a member until his death. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1858 and 1859; while there he circulated a petition for the pardon of Absalom Hazlett at Harper’s Ferry and opposed proposals to create Pine County partially out of Indiana County territory. Taylor’s service did not stop there, he served as Burgess of Indiana in 1863. He was also chairman of a meeting to raise Civil War volunteers.

Then in 1872, he became a representative of Indiana, Westmoreland, and Fayette Counties as a Republican in the 43rd Congress where he served on the Committee on Railways and Canals. It was also in 1872 that he introduced Horace Greeley to a crowd at the Indiana County Fair.

Although not a practicing farmer, A.W. Taylor was interested in agriculture. Hence, Taylor served as President of the Indiana County Agricultural Society. In 1873, Attorney Taylor was elected Trustee of the Agriculture College of PA (a forerunner of Pennsylvania State University). Then in 1878, he served on the Board of Trustees at the Indiana Normal School.

Mr. Taylor was also a temperance advocate. It was on June 26, 1875 that he presented a lengthy argument in Court against the granting of liquor licenses. Taylor attempted to run as an independent candidate for judge but was defeated by Harry White.

It was in Mr. Taylor’s home, that John S. Fisher (future Pennsylvania governor) lived while he attended high school and Indiana Normal School. Taylor also owned an extensive amount of land, part of this land was developed into the Greenwood Cemetery beginning around May 21, 1879.

Alexander Wilson Taylor continued practicing law. In 1891, Taylor became helpless due to a paralytic stroke and was confined to his home for two years until his death on May 7, 1893.