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Taylorville, Alberta

Chief Mountain Country" pages 77 - 79

One of the trails coming north through Montana came out of Helena and headed north to the Canadian border. Just south of the border, in the hills forming the Milk River Ridge, it branched, forming two passes. The eastern pass later became known by the romantic name of Whisky Gap while the western entrance was dubbed Immigrant Gap. About two miles north of the border crossing, of Immigrant Gap the two trails converged and continued on in a northerly direction. The deep rutted trail made by the many wagons travelling north can still be seen in many places 90 years later.

In 1889 travelling along this westerly fork of the trail came the two covered wagons of William Vaughn and family, a son Joseph driving one of them. Shortly after crossing the border they were struck with the beauty of a large meadow lying to their left with the mountains in the background.

This is what they were looking for; a large meadow with lush green grass waist high, and a clear stream flowing into and out of a fairly large lake. To make it more interesting this land was open for homesteading, free for $10.00 a quarter or homestead. Here they settled. This meadow later became known as the Vaughn meadows.

By 1898 other pioneers heading into Canada from the south were equally impressed with the beautiful Vaughn meadows and also settled there. Among these were T. G. Reid, whose name was given to the lake and later to the School District. Another was D. S. Duncan. There were also the Taylor brothers who settled in the meadow and along the banks of the creek, Willow Creek they called it, which flowed north out of the lake.

There were other immigrants equally enticed by the surrounding country and took up homesteads there.

About this time they decided to establish a village in the area. Just north of the junction of the two trails, the N.W.|/4 of Sec. 15, T 1, R 24, which lay between Willow Creek on the west and the lake they called Police Lake on the east and a bit south, was chosen as the site. It was surveyed and divided into lots. In the next few years a store and several homes were built there. It was named Taylorville after the Taylor brothers who were some of the first settlers there. Some of the survey stakes can still be found though none of the original buildings remain. There is now a modern farmstead there built by Bill and Fawn Campbell and now occupied by their son Richard.

Names taken from the Poll Book 1899 show the following names: E. Rolph, J. Rolph, Hugh Park, J. H. Taylor, J. L. Taylor, Wm. Taylor, M. A. Lowry, B. F. Lowry Jr., T. N. Lowry, M. Cardiff, Tom Jones, August Neilson, Amasa Parker, Wm. Vaughn, Joseph Vaughn, Julius Johnson, D. S. Duncan, Wm. Manning, W. Cleveland, James Rampton, T. G. Reid, Lemuel Fackler, Fred Nielson, George Nelson, Harvey Edwards and Alf. Barton. In the next few years appear the additional names of: J. M. Pyper, Robert Nelson, Harry Albiston, Wm. Albiston, Lorin Little, Ellis Henry, Thomas Albiston, John G. Hadfield, James H. Hadfield, Moroni Leithum, Moroni Sheen, Edward Wolsey, John Wolsey, James Gregson, Alex Anderson, D. K. Greene and Fred Sommerfeldt.

Many of these built homes in the village while others built homes or temporary dugouts on their homesteads. In the village besides several homes was a store, the first one owned by J. H. Taylor, then one owned by Lorin Little. The Post Office was run by Jane Pyper. Fred Nielson had the first telephone, a toll phone used by all.

After a few years it seemed more convenient to live on their homesteads where the work was so one by one they moved their homes onto their land. It was not long until the village as such had disappeared but it remained a community bound by strong ties of love and friendship with deep concern for each other's welfare.

The very first school was held in a log house on the Vaughn Meadows with Anna Gillespie as teacher.

In 1899 a school district, "The Reid Public School District No. 510" had been formed and school was being held in a rented building in the village. Miss Anna Gilespie was the teacher.

On December 14, 1899 at a meeting of the school board and rate payers, Bylaw No. I was passed to issue a debenture to borrow $550.00 by the Reid School District No. 510 for the purpose of building and furnishing a school. This was to bear interest at not more than 8% and be repaid in five equal payments. The voting by ratepayers was to take place at J. H. Taylor's store at 10 A.M. on the 3rd day of January 1900. Signed T. G. Reid, chairman and J. H. Taylor.

On January 3, 1900 the vote was taken. All voted in favor. Ten ratepayers pledged their support in payment of debt if necessary.

On March 1, 1900 the board entered into contract with D. S. Duncan to build the school on the decided location, southeast corner of NWI/4 of Sec. 14 Tl Range 24, just across the road from the village. The building was to be 20' x 30' x 10' walls. His wage was to be $100.00 to be paid when finished.

May 17, 1900 a meeting was held at which Mr. Duncan reported the building finished. He further agreed to build two privies 4' x 5' x 6' and one coal shed 8'xlO'x6' all for $ 12.00, the district to furnish the material. He also agreed to build a fence around the school yard for $18.00 and furnish the posts and braces.

That fall school commenced in this little white school with A. J. Atcheson, teacher. His salary $45.00 per month until the end of December then a raise to $60.00 per month to the end of June 1901.

This little school became not only the educational center, but also the main center for religions, cultural, and social activities in the community for a number of years.

On May 31, 1900 the Taylorville Ward was organized with George A. Nelson as Bishop, James Rampton I st and Fred Nielson 2nd counselors. The school served as their chapel until 1918 when a church was built one mile east on land donated by James Gregson. This was a beautiful chapel and the pride of the whole ward. Much of the spiritual, cultural, and social activity shifted to this building which was used until 1942 when the two-roomed school was purchased and remodeled. This building served as a chapel until 1964 when the Taylorville Ward was discontinued, members being transferred to the Aetna Ward and then with the rest of the Aetna Ward to the South Hill Chapel in Cardston in 1972.

The little school, however, continued to serve well as the educational center until 1926 when it was felt that more room was needed. That fall school commenced in the new two-room building just a stones throw west of the old one with Eula and Orzie Steed as teachers. This offered a greater educational opportunity to the youth of the community as now high school at home was available, many of the older youth who had been out of grade school a few years took advantage of the opportunity .

It served the community well until 1942 when the Reid School district became part of the Jefferson Consolidated School District. In 1963 the Jefferson School was closed and the Taylorville children along with the children from the other districts in this consolidation were taken to school in Cardston by buses.

Taylorville was mostly a farming community, friendly, neighborly and pulling together. They suffered many setbacks, droughts, frost hail, pests, and hard winters. There was sickness, epidemics and death at times, but neighbors helped neighbor at these times making the burden lighter and easier to bear.

There were happy times too: Dominion Day Celebrations were something to look forward to with programs, races, prizes, games and the bowery with all kinds of goodies to buy for a nickel, Pioneer Day was another fun time, Santa always seemed to find his way to the Christmas party to delight the children. Then there was the 17th of March and Ward Reunions, always gala events with lots and lots of good things to eat. We mustn't forget the summer baseball games either, Taylorville belonged to the Boundary Baseball League. Their team was top notch. Games were played every Saturday afternoon. Most old and young travelled, often with team and buggy or wagon, to the ball field to cheer their team to victory. Besides a good game to watch there were always freezers of homemade ice cream made by someone in the community. Often the day ended with a dance and more freezers of ice cream.

With the changing years the old-timers moved or passed away. Their farms were taken over by members of their family or sold to others. Larger farm units, consolidated schools, improved roads and faster means of travel took their toll.

Present day Taylorville is not what it used to be-the school gone, the Church gone, the ball team gone and the old-timers gone. About seven of the families in Taylorville are direct descendants of some of the first settlers and among them still exists a strong community spirit. This was proven by the Taylorville Home Coming held July 16, 1977. Over 250 people who had once lived there came, travelling from as far away as Ontario, B.C., Northern Alberta, Montana and Utah. Everyone had a wonderful time listening to a program where many past events were reviewed, visiting and, of course, partaking of all the yummy food. "Just like the olden times", the one remaining old-timer was heard to say.

At a meeting on April 10, 1942 it was decided that the Reid school house be sold to the L.D.S. community Later it became the property of Mrs. Fawn Campbell and is used for storage. It still sits on its original site. The school barn was sold to Mr. Eph Bateman.

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Mary Tollestrup