Transcribed by Crist Middaugh
Alleg. County Reporter, November 21, 1883
Orville P. Taylor
This well known citizen peacefully breathed his last at his residence in this city at 8 o’clock on Saturday evening, Nov. 17th, 1883 after an illness of ten weeks, aged forty-five years.
Mr. Taylor was born in Lynchburg, Va., where his father, John Osborne Taylor, still resides. Possessed of peculiar activity, attractive vivacity, a keen perception and good judgement, he earned in early life the firm friendship of all who knew him. When about sixteen he came north to reside with an aunt in Genesee county, this state, where he received his education at the Genesee Seminary near Attica. In 1857 he went to Canaseraga, this county, where he remained for a short time, and where he formed the acquaintance of Miss Cornelia Clark, which afterwards ripened into a happy marriage union. Soon after this he set out for Brazil, South America, where for three years he held the important position of superintendent of construction of a railroad under the reign of Dom Pedro. On the outward bound passage, the vessel was wrecked and for twenty-two days Mr. Taylor, with a few others, clung to the water-logged hull and was cast ashore more dead than alive on the island St. Thomas.
Returning to his native country, he was married in January, 1861, at Canaseraga. At that time the clouds of advancing Rebellion were hanging dark over the land, soon to burst. Mr. Taylor was a true Southerner. With Alexander Stephen; he believed in the right of states to secede, but deplored and even doubted such a policy. But the storm came, and, with his faithful bride of but a few months, Mr. Taylor wen to his Virginia home, jointed the fortunes of the Southern Confederacy, and followed them loyally to the end. The rise and fall of the tide of fate of fortunes either in war or peace, could never dampen the ardor of O. P. Taylor. His energy and activity were never less in adversity or against odds than when fairer promise beckoned onward. He was brave, during and gallant as a solider, made up of that unyielding metal of determined resistance which so long prolonged the war against the crushing odds of superior force, and which with him after years, in pleasanter pursuits, won for him substantial success in the arena of business. He was wounded in the first battle of Manasas, and brought away memorable scars - memoirs of the sad and eventful struggle.
Mr. Taylor was not disappointed at the result of the war. Better than his comrades he understood the vast resources of the North in men and means, and he accepted the situation without debate and without regret. Immediately after the close of the struggle in 1865 he removed to Canaseraga, where for several years he engaged in business, chiefly the manufacture of cigars.
In 1870 he removed to this city, where he became an extensive operation in the manufacture of cigars and tobacco.
In 1878 Mr. Taylor prevailed upon citizens of Wellsville and Alma to search or oil, and as a result, the “Wellsville and Alma Oil Company” was formed, and a test well was put down on lot 26 town of Alma, known as the “Wildcat” well, the derrick being surmounted by a stuffed wild cat. Gas and traces of oil were found but not in paying quantities. His next venture was the suggestive but not fruitful “Pikeville No. 1,” next the Wyckoff, and finally the triumphant “Triangle No. 1.” Which proved the turning point of success in his career.
The reader of today does not have to be told of the relation which Mr. Taylor bore to the rapid subsequent development of the Allegany oil field. It is as familiar as household words. To him belong, as has been fairly admitted, the credit of the development of this fruitful field. It required just his persistent pluck and perseverance, and he triumphed where a thousand others would have failed. The faithful wife never for once forsook him. In an hour when, in the Wyckoff venture, business men and friends shook their heads and refused further aid to what they believed was worse than fruitless search, Mrs. Taylor parted with her watch, obtained the trifling further aid necessary to prove the existence of a most promising oil sand, and which caused her husband to push on and to success. Her heroic devotion in the gloomy hours of doubt and disaster won for her a name not to be forgotten, and ever to be admired and emulated.
Mingled with the multitude of pressing business cares, Mr. Taylor could readily find time to run aside to the relief of others, and even to give attention to public affairs. In the midst of his struggle with the fortunes and fatigues of oil developments, he was elected President of the village of Wellsville, and gave close and competent attention to the duties of that office. In 1881 he ran as the Democratic nominee for Member of Assembly. The county was heavily Republican, and there was no earthly hope of overcoming the majority, yet he ran 479 ahead of his ticket and came out of the contest with marked credit.
Death has drawn the curtain down upon an eventful and busy life in this instance. Mr. Taylor will be missed and mourned in a truthful and conspicuous sense. He was kind of heart, generous of impulse, true to his friends, devoted to his family, and ever ready to relieve distress. A genial disposition, even when the horizon of business and speculation was gloomy and full of apprehension, won for him a heartiness of respect and appreciation which will live green in the long years to come. It seems almost impossible that he has gone, and we know that his place cannot be filled. But the elements of his brain and body were literally worn out - exhausted. He forgot to stop and rest. The swift running wheels of his human machinery he failed to oil, or to allow the journals to cool. He could not find the time. But at last Nature could bear the strain no longer, and in the presence of a devoted wife and children and of tried and true friends, after a lingering but not painful illness, and with his mind unimpaired to the last moment, at eight o’clock on Saturday, with the closing year, the closing week, the closing day, the wheels stopped - the light went out.
“Could we but know
The land that ends our dark, uncertain travel,
Where lie those happier hills and meadows low —
Ah, if beyond the spirit’s inmost cavil
Aught of that country could we surely know -
Who would not go?
Might we but hear
The hovering angels’ high imagined chorus,
Or catch, betimes, with wakeful eyes and clear,
One radiant vista of the realm before us, —
With one rapt moment given to see and hear,
Ah! Who would fear?
Were we quite sure
To find the peerless friend who left us lonely,
Or there, by some celestial stream as pure,
To gaze in eyes that here were lovely only, —
This weary mortal coil, were we quite sure,
Who would endure?