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Kansas Family History

Family History of John "Jackie" TAYLOR

Prospect Park Farm

Prospect Park Farm-Walking Tour

I, Paul Elwin Taylor, born March 12, 1904, am the youngest son of John Hiram Taylor and Mary Frances Converse Taylor, and the present owner of Prospect Park Farm that has been owned by my grandfather, John Taylor (nicknamed Jackie), since he purchased the South one-half of Section 33 in Rhinehart Township on June 10, 1875, and the North one-half of Section 33 on May 13, 1875. The entire section had been deeded to the M. K. & T. Railroad by the U. S. Government on January 15, 1872. This land was later turned over to the Kansas Pacific after a court battle. On September 28, 1877, Jackie Taylor deeded all of the Section 33 to his son, John Hiram, (my father) who then was twenty years old. The Northeast Quarter was deeded to me in 1934.

To go back in time, and the reasons why my grandfather came to Kansas from Cincinnati, Ohio was that after the Civil War when competition between the railroads and the barge lines became intense. Those cities like Cincinnati whose commerce was based on water transportation suffered because of the rate cutting by the railroads. The mercantile business on a wholesale level, especially their stockpile of sugar and peanuts had produced large profits to Jackie and his brother, Joseph. Maybe the foresight that greener pastures were to the West. Maybe Jackie and his brother, Joseph retained a long time interest in the land perhaps stemming from their early boyhood on the Haigh Estate near Grainsby, England.

Apparently Jackie believed that the next area of real growth would come in the West and he began to look toward Kansas as a challenge and an opportunity. In the early 70's all of the western railroads were attempting to entice easterners to the lands along their tracks. Once the rails had been laid, they needed people there to provide the demand for movement of freight and supplies. It was early in the Spring of 1871 that Jackie and his brother Joseph came upon the advertisement of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad describing the magnificence of the land along its tracks. "The M. K. & T. offers 1,300,000 acres of the best land in Kansas," where "the winters are short, dry, and pleasant, snow usually lying on the ground but a few hours at the longest." Where "Osage Orange can be set out for 35 cents a rod, and in four years will turn stock." "The soil is deep and fertile, and rainfall is fully as plentiful as in Ohio."

The railroads provided free transportation, or at least at only a modest cost, to bring prospective buyers on excursions to show them the land and convince them of its investment value. It was on one of these excursions (on the Kansas Pacific) that Jackie along with his oldest son, John Hiram and his brother, Joseph first arrived at Abilene, Kansas. John Hiram was later quoted, "we started with some hundred others on an excursion train, comparing this country, this county, this state with the one we had just left. At last the name of Abilene was announced throughout the cars by the shrill-voiced brakeman. We alighted and gazed around us marveling at the smallness of the town compared to Cincinnati. Can this be the land of our great expectation?"

Located in Junction City was the office of Capt. A. C. Pierce, who was the Realtor in charge of the sale of all the M. K. & T. land. After meeting with Capt. Pierce, Jackie, Joseph and John Hiram arranged for horses and rode out on that bright and sunny June morning in 1871. They rode south of Junction City for two days looking at the prairie lands with grass that grew belly high on a horse. They found the land to their liking and negotiated the first purchase of Kansas land, the deeds being recorded in March of 1872. Jackie bought Section 6 in Union Township from the M. K. & T. (6 miles south and 2 miles west of prospect Farm) for $3,176.20 and Joseph bought the Section just north for $2,656.23. Later in 1872 Jackie returned to Kansas and on October 21, 1872, he bought a total of 3,042 and 91 one-hundredths acres almost from the M. K. & T. for a total price of $11,110.77, or a cost of about $3.65 per acre. This included various parcels of land stretching for nine miles North and South, the Northern boundary was what is now the road just north of Prospect Farm. None of the Section 33 was included in the original purchase.

Jackie originally had built a small stone house plus a bunk house of stone on Section 32 in Rhinehart Township. This home was not at all like the one that he and his family lived in while in Cincinnati. However, it was warm and comfortable, with walls nearly three feet thick, and the boys could sleep in the bunk house during the summers. Once a home was built, he could then begin his plans to move all of his family to Kansas. In the early Spring of 1876, Jackie sold his share of the wholesale mercantile business to his brother Joseph and most of the family moved to Kansas to make their permanent home. At this time Jackie was 51 years old and it took a strong will and much foresight to leave a well-established business in the city for the lot of a farmer. "We left our pleasant homes, our birthplace in the east, where we had all the privileges of society, kindred, and friends and came west. It was the possibility of bettering ourselves that by working and contriving we could have lands and homes, "a country squire" in sunny Kansas."

After the first of the prairie land had been broken, Jackie planted approximately 100 acres to wheat in the Spring of 1873. Then most of the wheat planted in Kansas was of the soft type (beardless) and planted in the spring. However, in the fall of 1872, Theodore C. Henry, a prominent farmer from Abilene, began planting a hard winter wheat on the river bottom east of Abilene. The first field was a small 30 acres or less and hidden from his neighbors until its worth was proven. Henry was pleased with the results from the hard winter wheat and planted a large acreage in 1873 and for the 1874 crop he planted the whole bottom along the Smoky Hill River from Abilene to Chapman, a distance of 11 miles to winter wheat. In 1875, Jackie and his son, John Hiram, who worked in Kansas during the summer and went to school in Cincinnati in the winter, were part of a group of 15 farmers in Dickinson County, who planted a hundred or more acres of land to winter wheat.

On September 28, 1877, Jackie deeded all of the Section 33 to his son, John Hiram, who then was 20 years old. Jackie and John Hiram built the part of the house where the present kitchen is located in 1876. The first project of John Hiram's after his father deeded him the land was to dig a good well. Good water was too deep to dig by hand, so it was drilled by a horse "going in circles." The well was dug about 50 feet to the Southwest of the house. The section of the house built in 1876 was constructed of native stone, a whitish limestone from Swenson creek four miles west. This stone was just tooth-hammered by an ordinary mason. It was used as a home for eight years, the cellar as a kitchen and the bake oven was built into the outside stairway. The first floor was used for living quarters and the second floor, just one large room with beds, was used as a bunk house for the hired hands. It took many men to build a farm and to till the soil with horses.

Construction of the first barn was begun in 1876, and finished in 1877. This barn was 50 feet by 100 feet with an upper floor for equipment and hay storage, and the ground floor for housing of livestock. It like other buildings on the farm was constructed of stone and built to last. The east barn was finished in 1882, and was built on a similar pattern as the west barn, each with built up driveways to reach the upper floor with cisterns for collecting rain water located under the driveways.

John Hiram met a young lady from Salina, by the name of Fanny Converse, whose father was then a butcher and packer in that town. They were married on August 20, 1884, in Salina, and moved to the small house on Section 33 in Dickinson, County. They were married in the Methodist Church in Salina by the Rev. Antrim. She was born Mary Frances (Fanny) Converse in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of Elizabeth Ann (Adams) and Nathan Putney Converse. To this union were born the following children:

Howard Converse - Born January 6, 1886
Irene Alma - Born September 29, 1887
Ruth Pearl - Born August 28, 1889
Leon Warden - Born February 13, 1892
Byron John - Born April 15, 1893
Helen Elizabeth - Born May 13, 1895
Gladys Eleanor - Born May 28, 1898
Frances Ione - Born May 22, 1900
Paul Elwin - Born March 12, 1904
Katherine Edna - Born February 20, 1907

Shortly after their marriage in 1884, John Hiram began his plans for a substantial home on Prospect Farm. He drew the plans for his home and supervised the building. The dwelling was built from native stone, a cream colored limestone quarried from what was known as the Borman quarry located about eight miles northeast of the house. He hired his head carpenter, a Mr. Henry Leonard from Chicago, and his stonemasons were two Scotch men, a Mr. Medley and a Mr. Wilkie.

The imposing stone dwelling is located near the center of the Northeast Quarter of Section 33. It is shaped like a "T" with the new part of the home attached to the original house build in 1876. The front of the home is 40 feet by 40 feet, three stories tall with a cupola at the top. There is a huge basement under the entire home, the builders having to dig 11 feet to solid rock, going through three rock layers of 12 inches to 15 inches thick to reach bedrock. This solid foundation has kept the home from showing any cracking for over 95 years. Medley and Wilkie dressed the cream colored limestone with a five-tooth chisel, barbs about an eighth of an inch long with a trim all around the edges. Each of the 14 rooms had several windows, each window with a stone lintel, hand carved in the designs of the day which portrayed signs of prosperity, health, and happiness. The lintels show the ivy, the thistle, the heather, an anchor, a star, each having its own significance. Over the front door that faced the North was a large stone carving with the initials of J.H.T. One story that goes with the carving of the lintels relates that John Hiram was getting anxious to have the house finished and asked the masons to duplicate the designs and they said "no, it will be bad luck, for you are building a home for ten children," which is just the way it happened. The stone masons were paid $4.00 per day plus room and board.

Cement in those days was expensive so the builders made their own lime to cement the stone together. A man by the name of Shrader had a lime kiln a short distance from the farm. To make this lime, they used a layer of limestone, a layer of wood, and this procedure was repeated four times. It was then heated, and after heating came out in chunks as big as your two fists. The chunks had to be broken up and the weather had to slack it before it could be put in a mortar box and water poured on it enough to make putty. Then it could be mixed with sand and used as cement.

The floor plans were on simple lines, the first floor with two large rooms on each side of a spacious hallway that contained a stairway to the second floor. Three of the first floor rooms were finished in black walnut and the dining room wainscoted in cherry. They were finished in natural color with six coats of varnish. The varnish then cost $6.00 a gallon, each coat took a week to dry, and was rubbed and sanded down between each coat. It made a beautiful finish, and to this day nothing has been done but wash and wax it.

There are four square rooms on the second floor, with a wide hall and a stairway. These rooms were finished in yellow pine and varnished with a black stripe in the grooved woodwork. It makes a nice contrast with the first floor paneling and was copied after the Taylor home in Cincinnati. The black walnut finishing lumber on the first floor and the yellow pine for the second and third floors were all shipped out from Ohio. Part of the original shipment was destroyed by fire while stored in a barn on the Jackie Taylor farm in Section 32, now the Clarence Taylor farm, and it took many months to get new lumber to finish the upstairs rooms.

The third story with its dormer windows is composed of three bedrooms, the one on the south having what the children called the "locked room," really a storage room. It was kept locked and once in a great while Fannie would unlock it and let her children play among the trunks and even dress up in some bonnets and ruffled dresses stored in them.

Each room has its own closet with built in drawers and shelves, and a private marble lavatory with running water. Running water in those days was an almost unheard of thing. The water was fed to the second story bedrooms from a tank on the third floor. The bannisters and stairways are walnut except the small stairway leading to the cupola, which is of cherry. A small one room cupola was built on top of the third floor. It had windows facing each direction and one could see the prairies for miles around. The flat 10 foot roof surrounding the cupola was edged with a 2- foot iron fence. We slept out on mattresses in the summer time or just came up to cool off, or watch the stars. Father would show us Venus, Jupiter or the "Big Dipper" or we would go up to see an approaching storm. Not only fun but educational.

The finishing throughout the house was all secretly nailed. That is, the carpenters with a sharp chisel split the paneling hammered in a nail, and glued it down, sandpapering it so no one could detect where it was nailed and to this day you cannot tell. In the center of each room hung a chandelier, the decorative precast pieces having been sent out from Cincinnati. All of the deep-set windows had inside wooden shutters.

The home in Cincinnati where John Hiram grew up had a fireplace in each room. In contrast, the home he built on Prospect Farm had no fireplaces, but was heated by coal burning baseburners, two stoves and the kitchen range. A dumb waiter was built to carry the coal to the upper floors.

Developing Prospect Park Farm, constructing a three-story, 14 room house was no small undertaking. "Fannie, I figured cooked a meal for every stone that went into building the house so she really helped build the home," John Hiram would say. "It was like feeding a small army - hired hands, carpenters and stonemasons, we cooked in the basement using the Dutch oven built in the side of the wall to bake bread, pies, cookies, cake and those Sunday morning Boston baked beans."

John Hiram had a vision for his Prospect Farm, and that was to supply his family with wholesome food, for he planted orchards of apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherry trees. Much food for the family came from the large vegetable garden. More fruit trees, shipped from Ohio, were added to the orchards each year. Cherries sold for three cents a quart and some years peaches and apples sold for less than fifty cents per bushel. Each summer hundreds of quarts of fruits and vegetables would be canned for winter's use. Kansas weather is rough on an orchard with the danger of early frosts, and in one wet year 200 cherry trees drowned. As many as 15 to 20 hogs would be butchered at once - then hams, shoulders, and bacon were smoked, sometimes this would be repeated two to three times during the winter.

Wheat was the largest cash crop. In the early years most of the wheat was sacked in two-bushel cotton bags and hauled to Skiddy. Ten to twelve wagons would leave at once to fill the railroad car at Skiddy, then it was picked up by the M. K. & T. Railroad and shipped to Galveston, Texas, and then by boat to Europe. During the period 1880-1900 the price of wheat in Kansas averaged about 63 cents per bushel and it cost 8-10 cents per bushel to ship it via the M. K. & T. Railroad from Skiddy to Texas. There were many hills between the farm and Skiddy and sometimes two teams had to be used to haul the full wagons to the top. It was Mother's job to mend any tears in the sacks and she hated those darn stiff sacks. Later in the 1880's when the Rock Island branch line was built, a station was established on Section 12, Township 14, Range 3, an original section Jackie had bought from the Katy Railroad. The station was named Pearl, after Jackie's daughter and John Hiram and his brother, Clarence, established the Pearl Mercantile Company. Besides general merchandise, this business included a grain elevator. Pearl was much closer to the farm than Skiddy and all on the upland so it was much easier to deliver the wheat to a railroad for marketing.

"John," Mother says loved animals, and he was best known for his pure bred Shorthorns, the raising of fine draft horses, the short blocky Belgian type. There was always at least fifty head of horses and mules around - for the farming was done with work animals until many years later when the tractor came. At plowing time as many as five teams of three horse hitches were used at once to get the work done on time. Poland China hogs and sheep galore were kept, "sheep were such gentle farm animals and father thought they were good for children to herd, for it taught them patience and kindness." It was not until years and years later that Mother admitted that she thought mules were born with their tails and mane trimmed.

My father was a "thinker and a doer," being ever alert to new ideas and methods much ahead of his time. I have often heard the comment that "father was born forty years too soon." Father and Mother saw to it that we always had plenty of educational playthings and good books, as I think back, all of us children got books and books under the Christmas Tree, our prize gifts. Most of the clan attended college. From 1900 to 1932, one or another of us children were enrolled at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. In recent years many grandchildren have received degrees.

Father always claimed he won Mother over to the country life when he brought her down from Salina when his orchard of eight acres of apple trees were in full bloom, "you should have seen her glowing face, among the fragrance and the pink and white beauty, with red clover blossoms sweeping at her skirts, I guess we both thought we were in fairyland," he would muse.

In the 1870's the government surveyed the land by sections of 640 acres. They put in corner stones at each mile and a stone at each half-mile. They set the stone on edge, notched it with a chisel, so many notches to the township line, and marked both sides of the stone so that you could tell where you were. The distances were measured by tying a white rag on the buggy wheel and counting the number of revolutions per mile. Though the mile sections were marked, the road angled from Junction City to Chapman and Abilene as the crow flies for the towns were located along the Smoky Hill River and the river did not follow the section lines.

John Hiram was elected Clerk of Liberty Township on February 7, 1882. Liberty Township was six miles wide and twelve miles long, but was later divided, and the North half called Rhinehart. One year he and Will Hollinger spent $700.00 on roads to build culverts across creeks and ravines. They paid a man $3.00 apiece to build the culverts.

John Hiram took great pride in the early development of the prairie. He had the English trait to build his building to last for generations. To improve and broaden the minds of his family and neighbors, they had literary meetings every Monday night, riding the three miles to Rhinehart School where debates were held, songs sung and newspapers from distant cities were read. He was a thinker, being ever alert to new ideas and methods. He took great care to instill this in his children that courage and learning (education) no one can take from you. "No one was ever too old to learn, and to keep alert and abreast with time was each generation's duty, privilege and responsibility." What greater heritage could one leave his ten children than this!

In 1893, a Mr. Frank Traugner of Lawrence produced the first aged cheddar cheese. It was first called "Uncle Sam's" but later became better known as "Longhorn." John Hiram became interested in cheese production and built a cheese factory on the farm. After the cheese was produced, it was stored in the big cool basement of the house for aging. The children remember going after the mail - the rural mailbox was located near the road on the east side of the farm - and going by the old cheese factory east and south of the east barn, and that the men would slice-off a piece of the curd and put salt on it, and was it good. After the curd was pressed, it was placed in telescope hoops about 6 inches in diameter and 12 inches high and stored for six months for proper aging.

In those early years when the family was growing up, and the dining room table with ten, twelve, fourteen or more around it. We had white linen tablecloths and linen napkins that we put in our separate ring for the next meal. Mother insisted we must always know how to eat and behave properly at mealtime. We were never allowed to tease, grumble or spill anything on the white linen tablecloth (if something happened, those spilled or dirty spots had to be covered with our allowance pennies). Many of our pennies went into the "grumble box" for older brothers and sisters could resist teasing.

The Taylors installed their first telephone in 1897. It was called "barbed wire" phone because the lines were strung on fence posts. "The youngsters rushed to the phone to talk to their cousins on a farm a mile away," Mother recalls. "It seemed like a miracle." A few years later they got permission from the Rock Island Railroad to use their fence to run a line to Pearl and the other Taylor relatives. It came out in the New York papers, "those crazy Kansans think they can talk over barbed wire."

John Hiram told how back in the early eighty's he sent to Texas for two bushels of Osage Orange seeds (common Kansas Hedge). These seeds he planted in rows and the following spring would cut them off, plowed them out and heeled them in until they could be planted around the fields. He figured he got 100,000 plants for $6.00. They were first planted around Sections 32 and 33. It took 11,000 plants per mile, planted six inches apart. John Hiram said, "in one year he and one other man planted six miles of hedge." They would make a fireguard 50 feet from the hedge row line two furrows wide and burn off between. He begged his neighbors to come and get the plants, for when grown the hedge rows would stop the ever-present Kansas winds and the fearsome prairie fires. Miles and miles of these hedges were finally planted all over eastern Kansas, and many, many still exist to this day.

The most often told stories include the one when Wilkie and Medley, the Scotch stonemasons, were so slow in carving the different designs on each lintel above the windows of the new house "they claimed, to assure the family of being blessed with many children." Father wanted them to just duplicate the designs but they told Mother, "No, this house is being built big enough for ten children," so above each window is a Scottish thistle, a bit of heather, an ivy leaf and so on. Whether the charm helped, we are not certain, but they went on to have ten of us.

Another was, Charley Woodford, an Englishman working for father. Woodford was going to marry a little Swedish girl four miles away. It was wintertime and he left after work by horseback for her home. A blizzard came up and he sought shelter around a haystack. There he found a pretty black-and-white striped kitty, which he thought would make a nice gift for his bride. But morning found him back home asking mother if she could get rid of the smell, washing did not do it and so the clothes were buried a couple of days and then washed again. Four days later he left again to be married, with everyone telling him not to pick up another kitty. I related this story in 1941 at a County Historical Society meeting, at which I was taking my Father's place on the program, and after the meeting a little old lady came up to me and whispered, "I was the Bride."

With ten children growing up, to put down just part of the remembered happenings would fill a book so, like Gladys said, when Paul was born, "Let's not call him Taylor, there are so many Taylors now."

Mother and Father's Golden Wedding Anniversary was celebrated on August 20, 1934 with many friends and relatives coming to honor the occasion.

Father passed away, April. 10, 1941, at the age of eighty-four years, eleven months and ten days.

Mother passed away, February 27, 1966, and the age of one-hundred and two years, nine months and twenty-four days.

Prospect Park Farm was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.




HISTORIC--Prospect Park Farm
AND/OR COMMON--Prospect Park Farm


Six miles south and one and one-half miles east of Chapman, Kansas (Dickinson County)
(NE 1/4, Sec. 33, T13S, R4E)


The main section of the stone house John Hiram Taylor built in Dickinson County is two and a half stories measuring 40 feet by 40 feet with a cupola surmounting the truncated hip roof. The house faces north. There is a two-story polygonal bay projecting from the east wall. An older two-story rectangular wing extends from the center of the south wall so that the two sections together form a T-plan. This kitchen wing has a gable roof with an enclosed one-story porch at the southwest corner and an open porch at the southeast corner.

The cupola and four gabled dormers that light the attic floor of the main section are framed in wood. There are two original stone chimneys on the east. The metal roof is original. There is ornamental cresting on the cupola; some cresting also remains around the edges of the flat roof. A metal cornice ornaments the main roof line and the end of the hip roof.

The basement of the Taylor house is unusually deep (eleven feet) to reach a layer of bedrock for foundation support. Careful attention to detail is also shown in the masonry walls. After the stone blocks were squared and faced with a toothed hammer, the edges were dressed with chisels. Each block was closely fitted with extremely fine mortar joints. Smooth-faced stone is used for trimming the main features of the building.

The most distinctive details of the stonework in the Taylor house, however, are the 21 hand carved lintels. Each has a different design. One records the original owner's initials, "JHT"; the other designs represent "good luck" symbols such as the ivy, thistle, heather, anchor, and star.

Inside, the Taylor house has a central stair hall with two rooms on each side. There are four rooms on the second and third floors. Most of the first floor is finished in walnut except the dining room wainscoting which is cherry. The upper floors are finished in yellow pine.

There are two large rooms and a cellar in the kitchen wing. When this building was first built, it was used as a dwelling, with the kitchen located in the cellar. A bake oven built into the basement wall still remains from this occupation. Although the stone used in this part is squared, it was not tooled.

Not only the house, but also the outbuildings of Prospect Park Farm are constructed of stone. These are built of rough-faced coursed blocks. There is a one-and-a-half story bunkhouse south of the main house. It has a gable roof with the entrance located in the end wall. Some distance to the east, but aligned with the bunkhouse, is a milkhouse/smokehouse.

Two barns farther south and east of the house have similar plans and detailing. Both are rectangular buildings with gable roofs; they are two stories tall with a raised basement. The east barn is 60 feet by l00 feet; the west is 50 feet by 90 feet. The west barn (called the horse barn) has a frame and stone addition forming an ell. Ramps on both sides of each barn run up to a central cross passage with sliding wooden entrance doors. These runways have cisterns built underneath to store collected rainwater. The windows of the barns have carved keystone arch lintels. In each gable end there is also a high opening for ridge ventilation. Also, in the gable ends at the basement level, there are broad arched openings for driveways.


The architectural integrity of the Prospect Park Farm buildings is excellent. Only minor changes have occurred since their construction.

A front porch across the north wall of the Taylor house was removed about 50 years ago. Two chimneys on the west were removed; one was later replaced in the 1920's. The chimney top in the end wall of the kitchen wing has been rebuilt. The cupola roof of the main section has been reshingled, and the walls have been covered with asbestos siding. The metal-covered main roof has been tarred and painted. Some parts of the metal cornice have been repaired. Storm windows have been added and new basement windows installed. On the exterior of the ground floor, repointing during the 1940's has left a beaded joint where there was none originally.

Although the uses of the outbuildings and barns have changed, the structures retain their historical appearance.


A writer in 1893 called Prospect Park "one of Dickinson County's finest farms." It was noted both for its fine limestone buildings and its diverse and valuable products. The John H. Taylor house displays a pretentious form and meticulous detailing that are unexpected in a rural setting, evidence of the sophistication of its owner and the quality of the craftsmen he could employ. The house is complemented by many substantial stone buildings. Together they form a distinctive farm complex of the 1880's.


John Hiram Taylor was named after his father, John, who was first in the family to visit Kansas in 1873. John Taylor was a prosperous wholesale merchant in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had come west on a Kansas Pacific Railroad tour that was promoting the sale of land grants along the route.

Two years later, in 1875, John Taylor bought section 33 where Prospect Park is now located. In the same year, Taylor was one of many farmers in Dickinson County who planted more than one hundred acres of winter wheat. This was something of an innovation at the time since varieties of winter wheat had only been successfully tested the year before.

John and his son John Hiram built the first house on Section 33 in 1876. This was the original two-story building which was later incorporated into a larger design by John H. Taylor. The west barn was finished in 1877. Stone for these two buildings came from Swenson Creek four miles west of the farm. The upper part of the barn was used to store hay and equipment, the lower part for livestock. Another similar barn was built in 1882.

John Taylor deeded section 33 to his son, John Hiram, in 1877. For three years before this, John Hiram had worked on the Dickinson County farm during the summer, and returned to Cincinnati for school during the winter, seven years after settling permanently in Kansas, John Hiram Taylor married Fanny Converse in 1884. That same year he drew plans for a substantial home using the design characteristics of the Italianate Villa style. He supervised the construction of the new structure that overshadowed the original stone house built with his father.

Stone for the new building was hauled from the Borman quarry eight miles northeast of the farm. Taylor employed skilled masons and stone carvers--two Scotsmen named Medley and Wilkie. The masons reportedly made their own lime mortar in a kiln dug near the farm. The head carpenter, Henry Leonard, was brought in from Chicago. Lumber for the interior paneling and trim was obtained from Cincinnati.

John Hiram Taylor's expansion cost $10,000; the house was worth as much as all the other buildings on the farm combined. According to a contemporary account, it was "conveniently arranged with modern improvements." Running water was provided by gravity flow from a storage tank in the attic. The house was lit by chandeliers and heated by coal burning base burners. There were also two larger stoves and a kitchen range. Coal was carried to the upper floors on a dumb waiter.

Although the main house and outbuildings formed a notable assemblage of buildings, Prospect Park Farm was also an impressive agricultural enterprise. Taylor bred fine Shorthorn cattle and Percheron draft horses, and the farm's prizewinning animals were in demand among farmers of the surrounding area. Taylor also had a twenty-acre orchard that afforded the family plenty of fruit for its own use and some for sale. The Taylors had been a first family in the area to plant Osage Orange seeds for hedge fencing. After John Hiram had established some nine miles of hedge around his own land, he gave seeds and young trees to his neighbors.

By the 1890's Taylor was farming 350 acres of corn and wheat. Wheat was the leading cash crop. Later in the decade, Taylor became interested in a cheese-making process that required aging in the cool basement under the house. This treatment made it possible to store and distribute the cheese widely.

John Hiram Taylor was active in the Methodist church and a political supporter, first of the Republican, then the People's Party. In the 1880's the family also participated in weekly, literary meetings that met in Rinehart School, three miles from Prospect Park Farm.

A stop on the branch line of the Rock Island Railroad was also located near the farm. When the Taylors contributed $500 for construction of a depot at that point, it was named Pearl after John Taylor's youngest daughter. This was a convenient shipping point for the Taylor grain and cattle. Later John Hiram and his brother, Clarence, established the Pearl Mercantile Company that consisted of a general store and grain elevator.

Since the early settlement of Dickinson County, the Taylors have been leaders in the surrounding community. The well-maintained features of the farm reflect this status. Presently the farm is owned and operated by one of John Hiram Taylor's sons.

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