Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997

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Mormon author and historian.

From the description of Cedar Breaks, 1970? (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 366744563

From the description of Papers, 1940-1970. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122623033

From the description of Correspondence, 1947-1948. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122553158

From the description of Family kingdom, ca. 1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122550731

From the guide to the Samuel Woolley Taylor correspondence, 1947-1948, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Writer of history, fiction, and drama.

From the description of Papers, 1925-1985. (Utah Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122623798


John Taylor, third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born in Milnthorpe, Westmoreland county, England, on 1 November 1808. The son of James and Agnes Taylor, he was raised according to the principles of the Church of England until he reached the age of fifteen, at which time Taylor joined the Methodist church. He was appointed as a preacher in the church and remained as such until 1829 when he left England to join his family in Toronto, Canada. In 1833 he married Leonora Cannon. While in Toronto, Taylor joined a Methodist society consisting of men interested in the research of the scriptures. During this time Taylor was visited by Parley P. Pratt and was introduced to the teachings of the Mormon church. In 1836, along with several friends, he was baptized into the Mormon faith.

Taylor served as presiding elder in upper Canada until 1838, when he moved to Far West, Missouri, at the request of Joseph Smith. In 1838 Taylor, along with John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards, was called to the a postleship "to fill the places of those who had fallen." While in Missouri, Taylor shared in the persecutions that were beginning to be directed against the Mormons. It was during this time that Taylor earned the title of "the Champion of Right," a name that remained with him throughout his life.

In 1839 Taylor and Wilford Woodruff left for a mission to Great Britain where they preached not only in England, but in Ireland, Scotland, and on the Isle of Man. While in England, Taylor published several pamphlets and tracts in which he proclaimed the doctrines of the Mormon faith and attempted to refute the challenges of other religious leaders. Taylor returned to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1841, where he became active in church duties, publishing the Nauvoo Neighbor and serving as a city councilman and judge advocate of the Nauvoo Legion. It was also during the early 1840s that Taylor entered into the practice of polygamy.

In 1844 Taylor was present in the Carthage jail with Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Willard Richards, when the jail was entered by an armed mob. Both Joseph and Hyrum were killed in the shooting, and Taylor was severely wounded. Following the death of Joseph Smith, Taylor remained active in church affairs, helping in the completion of the Nauvoo Temple and assisting in the move from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters in 1846. From there he left on a second mission to England where he remained until the following spring. He arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 with a company of British converts and remained for two years, helping in the building of Salt Lake City. In 1849 he left for a mission to France, where, in addition to preaching Mormon doctrine; he also published pamphlets and magazines, supervised the translation of the Book of Mormon into French and German, and helped to organize several branches of the church in France.

While in France, Taylor made the acquaintance of Philip DeLa Mare, a French convert. Together they attempted to bring to Utah the knowledge and machinery of the sugar beet industry of France and establish such an industry in the Salt Lake Valley. The sugar-making processes in Utah, however, proved to be a failure.

In 1854 Taylor presided over the church in the eastern United States, where he published The Mormon, a newspaper designed to answer the attacks of an anti-Mormon press. In 1857 the Utah War and the threat of invasion by Johnston's Army necessitated the return of Taylor to the Salt Lake Valley where he was active in both church and civil government. He helped to organize and regulate church affairs and served in such capacities as a member of the Utah legislature, speaker of the House, and as a probate judge in Utah county.

At the time of Brigham Young's death in 1877, Taylor was president of the Twelve Apostles and in October 1880, was sustained as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As church president, Taylor is most remembered for his stand in defense of polygamy and against federal laws designed to outlaw and eliminate the practice of plural marriage in Utah. With the passage of the Edmunds Act of 1882 and the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, Taylor, to avoid persecution, lived alone at his home, the Gardo House, while his wives kept separate residences, and finally was forced to go into hiding. His last public appearance was in 1884 and all church business from then on was conducted through correspondence and private meetings with trusted church officials. John Taylor died in exile on 25 July 1887.


John W. Taylor, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, was the son of church President John Taylor and Sophia Whittaker Taylor. He was born 13 May 1858 in Provo, Utah, his parents having fled from Salt Lake City in anticipation of an invasion from Johnston's Army. The family returned to Salt Lake City, where John W. was raised until he reached the age of twenty-five, when he married and moved with his wife to Idaho. While in Utah, he worked at farming and at his father's saw mill and at the same time was highly active in church affairs. While still in his teens, he had completed a mission to the Southern States, been ordained a deacon, then an elder, and subsequently was chosen counselor to Edward W. Davis, of the Elders Quorum. He also taught Sunday School and had an unusually good rapport with the children whom he instructed.

In his early twenties John W. was employed as a penman for the Deseret News and was considered to be among the best in the country. In 1880 in the company of his boyhood companion, Matthias F. Cowley, he served a mission to the Southern States. After returning to Utah John W. was chosen to fill a vacancy in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the ensuing years he served his church in a number of capacities, traveling to Mexico, Canada, and Colorado to establish missions and branch churches.

One of the overriding principles in John W. Taylor's life was his belief in the practice of plural marriage. Having been raised in a polygamous household and under the strong influence of his father, who was adamant in his belief in plural marriage, John W. took a total of six wives during his lifetime, his third wife, Nettie, being the mother of Samuel and Raymond Taylor. These wives were married following the 1890 Manifesto and consequently were in violation of not only civil but church law. For his wives, life was made difficult not only by the strain of a plural marriage, but by having to live underground, as their marriages, by necessity, had to be kept secret from both the government and church authorities. In addition, John W., while possessing both charm and enthusiasm, lacked sound business sense and his wives generally had to support themselves and their children.

In 1911 John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley were tried before a meeting of the Council of the Twelve, Taylor being excommunicated and Cowley being deprive of his priesthood. John W. Taylor died in 1916, but in the mid-1960s his two sons, Samuel and Raymond Taylor, with the support of other family members, succeeded in having their father posthumously reinstated in the church.


Raymond Woolley Taylor, developer, author, and entrepreneur, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 18 April 1904. The son of John W. and Janet Woolley Taylor, and the grandson of John Taylor, Raymond grew up in a polygamist home during a time when plural marriages were considered to be outlawed by both church and civil authorities. Though his father was a somewhat remote personage during his childhood and died while Raymond was still young, the influence of his father and his unique home situation colored his interests and many of his ambitions later in his life.

Raymond Taylor was married to Annie Randall from 192 3 until her death in 1969. In 1970 he married Ruth Fors, with whom he had worked while researching the John Taylor biography.

During his lifetime Taylor worked in a number of jobs and occupations, but always was a promoter. Even while engaged in his own business matters, he was also active in helping his brother, Samuel, to promote his writings. During the 1930s and 1940s Raymond was a clothing merchant in Spanish Fork, Utah. In the 1950s he entered the real estate business in Provo and became involved in uranium prospecting in southern Utah. During the same time he established the Consumer's Water Agency, organized to promote the sale of land in southern Utah. Taylor was also involved in local politics during the 1950s, serving at one time as the county chairman of the Republican Party. He was a county jailer during the 1960s, ran for county sheriff and lost, and at the time of his death was a Utah County peace officer.

Raymond Taylor had always had an interest in history, and particularly the history of Utah and the Mormons. Though he was a writer and wrote many articles and speeches, his primary talent lay in research. Ray did the major portion of the research and wrote rough drafts for the two books on which he and Samuel worked together. Raymond not only did most of the research for Uranium Fever and The Kingdom or Nothing, but also made a substantial contribution in researching material for the biography of their parents, Family Kingdom . In addition Raymond arranged the promotion and publicity not only for these books, but for many of Sam's other works as well.

Raymond had an almost insatiable desire for writing and research and spent the latter years of his life gathering material not only for the John Taylor biography, but on all aspects of Mormon history. This research produced such articles as "The Lesser Known Wives of John Taylor," and "The Legend of the Friends to the Martyr," the story of the secret "Black Sticks" organization, and others. Taylor belonged to such historical and literary associations as the Utah State Historical Society, the Utah Westerners, and the Utah League of Writers. Raymond died on 10 December 1972 of cancer.


Samuel Woolley Taylor was born on 9 February 1907 in Provo, Utah. The author of numerous books, articles, and screenplays, he began writing while attending Brigham Young University in Provo and has continued to write ever since. In 1934 he married Elizabeth Gay Dimick of Redwood City, California.

During World War II Taylor served in the United States Air Force (1942-1945) where he was able to continue his writing career. As a member of the Public Relations Office in Europe, he served as chief of the magazine section and wrote periodical material for both American and European publications. In addition he did the writing for General Arnold's annual Air Force Reports to the Secretary of War from the European Theater of Operations.

As a professional writer Taylor authored many magazine articles in addition to published books and screenplays. His stories range from westerns and mysteries to biographical and historical writings. Many of his articles have appeared in nationally known magazines, such as Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Argosv, and Holiday . Many of his stories have been selected for anthologies or adapted to radio, television, or motion picture use. Among these are "The Man with My Face," and "The Absent Minded Professor" produced by Walt Disney.

Several of Taylor's stories were subsequently published as books. Perhaps foremost of these is "I Have Six Wives," which later became the basis for Family Kingdom, the story of the polygamous marriage of his parents, and his father's five other wives. Another such story was a serial, "The Mysterious Way," which later became Heaven Knows Why .

Sam Taylor's collaborative efforts with his brother, Raymond, began with the research and writing for Uranium Fever, which grew in part from the screenplay called "Uranium Story," by Sam Taylor. During the 1970s they began work on another book, a biography of John Taylor, The Kingdom or Nothing . Raymond died before the book was completed. Though the writing was based on Raymond's research, the biography was subsequently published under Sam's name.

From the guide to the John Taylor family papers, 1833-1994, (J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. Papers, 1940-1970. American Primers
creatorOf United States. Army. Northern Dept. Circular, 1864 Oct. 27. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. Walter Murray Gibson / Samuel W. Taylor. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
creatorOf Fitzgerald, John William, 1907-. John Williams Fitzgerald papers, 1876-1985. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
referencedIn Taylor family. Papers, 1838-1980. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library
creatorOf Taylor family. Collection, 1838-1980. Landmarks of Science Microform Service
creatorOf Ericsson, John, 1803-1889. John Ericsson and Samuel Taylor Letters, 1887. The Mariners' Museum Library
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel Woolley, 1907-. Cedar Breaks, 1970? American Primers
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. Papers, 1925-1985. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
referencedIn Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. Correspondence, 1947-1948. American Primers
referencedIn Raymond and Samuel Taylor Correspondence, 1966-1972 Utah State University.Manuscript Collections
creatorOf MS 1217, Taylor, Samuel Woolley 1907-1997. Research material concerning John W. Taylor 1920-1951 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Church History Library
referencedIn Theater collection, 1849-1964. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Samuel Woolley Taylor correspondence, 1947-1948 L. Tom Perry Special Collections20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts
creatorOf John Taylor family papers, 1833-1994 J. Willard Marriott Library, University of UtahManuscripts Division
referencedIn John Williams Fitzgerald papers, 1876-1985 Utah State University. Special Collections and ArchivesManuscript Collection
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. John Taylor: Forgotten man of Mormon history. 1974. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. Family kingdom, ca. 1950. American Primers
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel Woolley. Correspondence. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
creatorOf Taylor, Raymond W. Raymond and Samuel Taylor correspondence, 1966-1972. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
creatorOf Taylor, Raymond W. Uranium fever, or, No talk under 1 million, 1970. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
creatorOf Taylor, Samuel W. (Samuel Woolley), 1907-1997. Correspondence, 1947-1948. American Primers
referencedIn Cummings family collection, 1770-1864. Maine State Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bailey, Paul Dayton, 1906- person
associatedWith Consumers Water Agency (Utah) corporateBody
associatedWith Cowley, Matthias Foss 1858-1940 person
associatedWith Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. corporateBody
associatedWith Ericsson, John, 1803-1889. person
correspondedWith Fitzgerald, John, 1876-1877 person
associatedWith Fitzgerald, John William, 1907- person
associatedWith Gibson, Walter Murray. person
associatedWith Johnson, Sonia Harris. person
associatedWith Robertson, Frank Chester 1890-1969 person
associatedWith Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844. person
associatedWith Sunstone Magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Taylor family. family
associatedWith Taylor family. family
associatedWith Taylor family. family
associatedWith Taylor, Janet Maria Woolley, 1870- person
associatedWith Taylor, Janet Maria Woolley, 1870-1956 person
associatedWith Taylor, John, 1808-1887. person
associatedWith Taylor, John Whittaker, 1858-1916. person
correspondedWith Taylor, Raymond W. person
associatedWith Taylor, Raymond Woolley 1904-1972 person
associatedWith Taylor, Samuel Woolley, 1907- . person
associatedWith United States. Army. Northern Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Weller, Sam, 1921-2009. person
associatedWith Young, Brigham, 1801-1877. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California--Redwood City
Mormons and Mormonism--Wit and humor
Authors, American--Correspondence
Mormons and Mormonism--Intellectual Life
Mormon authors--Correspondence
Material Types
Uranium mines and mining--Utah
Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Authors, American--History--Sources
Mormon authors--History--Sources
Authors, American--California--Redwood City--Correspondence
Mormons and Mormonism--History


Birth 1907-02-05

Death 1997-09-26




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