M. Doston Taylor was born 9 March 1890 at Rumbling Mountain, North Carolina to David Mooney and Sarah E Grant Taylor. He was the oldest child of their union and older brother to my great-grandmother Juda Eva-An Taylor. His name in the family Bible is recorded Melger and he is also listed as Melger in the 1900 census. All other records list him as Melvin and his daughter and grandson state this is the name he used but that he went by Doston or M.D.. I am able to share his story thanks to them.
Until I started this blog, Melger Doston Taylor was only another name in a long list of names in the Taylor family Bible that had been entrusted to my care. I had read those names many times as a child, holding the Bible lovingly. I remember looking through it with awe each time we traveled to North Carolina. I wondered about the people listed even then. I remember wanting to ask about them, but I knew Mamaw had not had an easy childhood nor one that was always with her family because of her mother’s early death. Plus family history wasn’t something people talked about a lot then. It seemed it wasn’t something people were interested in or took time for. Now I wish I had asked Mamaw questions about her family, but for then I was (somewhat) content to look at the names and wonder. First, the children from David Mooney Taylor’s first marriage to Elmina Halford: Maomah, Jonathan, Joseph, Caldonia, Larkin, Barbra, Amanda, James, Millie. Then the names from his second marriage to Sarah E Grant: Melger Doston, Thomas, Juda Eva-An, Mary, and Mittie.
One of the wonderful things about blogging my family history is fellow family researchers-from almost all sides-coming across the blog in one way or another and reaching out. Sometimes the connection is more distant, but at times it is quite close. The very first person to contact me was a fellow researcher of the Taylor family, the grandson of Doston. Through correspondence with he and his mother, my Granny’s first cousin, I have had the pleasure of learning a little more about Doston and some of Mamaw’s other siblings and received the pictures for today’s blog. From Doston’s daughter, I learned that he delivered mail from Chimney Rock to Asheville on a mule. He told her that one time he was camped out on a mountain with a mule full of mail when he heard a critter and it so scared he and his mule that they left the campsite and made it to Asheville.
Doston’s daughter says each of his sisters told her he raised them, but she was never sure what they meant by that. In the 1910 census Doston lived with his older half brother, Fletcher, and his family and worked on a neighboring farm. My Mamaw was also living with an older half sister, Amanda, at the time as well. Doston married Ellie Eppley and they had one son, Sydney Charles. Ellie died during childbirth.
Doston served in World War I. You can see him in his service uniform here. Quite distinguished. Doston’s daughter shared a story with me of his wartime experience:
“He was stationed at Camp Sockett, New York and never had to fight in Europe. He didn’t talk much about his military service other than one little blip. It seems when a soldier had to stand in formation he must NOT have a chew in his mouth!! My Daddy said he forgot that and went out to get into formation and he said the officer came down the line asking all the men to open their mouths to show whether or not they had a “chew” or “chaw” as it was called back then. My Daddy said he only had one option and that was to swallow the chew!! He said after he was dismissed he got really sick and threw up like no tomorrow!! I so wish I had asked him loads of questions but I didn’t..”
Doston married Dorsey Viola Eppley and they had three sons, Edward Albert, Robert E Lee, and Clarence who died at age two years, nine months due to chicken pox and whooping cough. In the 1920 census, Doston was living in Forest City and working in a cotton mill. His daughter states he worked in a cotton mill in Forest City, North Carolina the whole time she can remember. Many years later they had one daughter, my Gran’s first cousin who I am in contact with today through the help of her son finding this blog. The 1940 census indicates Doston was working as a truck driver for retail lumber.
About 1952, Doston lost his hearing due to a stroke. His daughter wrote me:
“When he was 62 he had a stroke that took his hearing and he never regained any at all. That broke my heart when this happened. He told me years later that he could only imagine what my boys talked with him and sounded like. He said then, I’ve never heard any of my grandchildren’s voices! I still say he was such a kind man and never did I hear him ever complain because he had lost his hearing.”
Doston’s wife, Dorsey, passed away in September 1971, and he passed away 21 June 1972. I am thankful to his daughter and grandson for sharing their story.