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JIM: Adair, Russell and Gov. Goebel and politicians of day

How Adair Countian Parker S. Harden lost front runner status for Democratic nomination to William S. Goebel. How Governor Taylor married a Russell County, KY woman. How twice married Nora A Lawless later became the wife of Governor Taylor, and how they had one child, Charles Linden Taylor - and much, much more


The Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899 was a brutal affair. At the infamous Democratic gubernatorial convention held in Louisville's Music Hall in June, William Goebel won (or, in blunter terms, stole) the nomination through machinations that would have made Machiavelli blush. He first conspired with another candidate, Wm. J . Stone, to oust the front-runner, Adair County's own Parker Watkins "P. Wat" Hardin, from contention, then double-crossed Mr. Stone and walked away with the nomination.

Come November, Republican candidate William S. Taylor narrowly won the popular vote but served only seven weeks before the Democratically controlled state legislators tossed the election results and handed the governorship to Goebel.

Goebel served but three days as governor before succumbing to an assassin's bullet fired the day before he was sworn in. In short order, Democrats raised the hue and cry for Taylor's blood on the assumption he was complicit in the crime. Taylor, then nearing 50, immediately fled with his wife and several children to Indiana, where the governor of that state refused to execute more than one extradition order. (The following year, an attempt was made to kidnap and involuntarily return Taylor to Kentucky. It failed.)

Even after he was pardoned by then-Governor Augustus Willson in 1909, Taylor's trips to Kentucky were few and far between, but he did return briefly in late 1912 marry a Russell County woman.

Shortly after their removal to Indiana, Mrs. Taylor passed, and for a little over a decade, Mr. Taylor remained a widower. However, he eventually met and fell in love with the Widow Myers, a Kentuckian who resided in the Greenwood, Indiana, area. Just past 30 years old, the young widow was a strikingly beautiful woman.

Nora A. Myers, nee Lawless, was born in February, 1880, to William J. Lawless & Mary Isabell ("Bell") Warriner Lawless in the Owensby community in south Russell County. In January, 1896, about a month before her 16th birthday, Nora and Mr. Leonacus Floyd, better known as Lee O., were joined as husband and wife and appeared as such in the 1900 Russell County census, taken in early June.

Not too long afterwards, Lee and Nora went their separate ways, and she took back her maiden name. A few years later, however, they apparently settled their differences and decided to try again, and the Adair County Clerk issued a marriage license to them in October, 1904.

The second time around worked out no better than the first, so Nora and Lee again divorced and she moved to Johnson County, Indiana, where about 1908 she met and married Nathan Grant Myers, a divorced man 11 years her senior.

In the 1910 Johnson county census, taken in early May, Nora and Lee's near neighbors were Robert L. Shirley, his wife Louise, and their two kids, Louise being Nathan's older sister. Nine months later, a horrific tragedy ripped the two families asunder and left Mrs. Myers a widow. A letter written by Lee A. Lawless, Nora's older brother, appeared in the March 8, 1911 Adair County News, two weeks after the events described therein.

Mr. Lawless stated there had been bad blood between the two men for years, and that "The culmination started Friday night [February 17th] at a special meeting of the Masonic Lodge at Greenwood...Myers belonged to the order at Franklin and Shirley at Greenwood. Myers was invited to attend the anniversary meeting but soon after his arrival he learned that there were some objections for which he blamed his brother-in-law, but he immediately left the lodge room."

On Sunday morning, February 19th, Myers, on foot, encountered Shirley near the latter's home. Words were exchanged, Myers turned around and started home, then turned again and went back toward where he'd first met Shirley, the latter in the meantime having gone into his house and gotten a pistol.

More words were exchanged, Shirley pulled the trigger, and "The bullet struck Myers in the left arm just above the elbow, ranging upward, cutting the main artery." Local doctors were called in to dress the wound, after which Myers was hurried to St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis. Gangrene set in and in a valiant effort to save Myers' life, doctors amputated his arm. That was all for naught, however, and he passed the following afternoon, Tuesday, February 21st, 1911. (Not until the postmortem exam was conducted was the bullet finally located, "in his left side just under the arm."

A respectable time later, the widower Taylor and the young widow Myers commenced courting, and the courtship culminated in their marriage December 1st, 1912, in Russell County, Ky. The News informed its readers thus in the December 4th edition:

Gov. W.S. Taylor Married
People by the score looked over the register at the Hancock Hotel last Sunday. The most conspicuous names were those of W.S. Taylor and wife, Indianapolis, Ind. It was soon learned that W.S. Taylor was none other than the Republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky eleven (sic; should be thirteen) years ago, and who was declared elected but who was ousted in a contest instituted by Wm. Goebel.

Gov. Taylor reached Columbia last Friday night and Saturday morning he left for Russell County, and on Sunday he was married to Mrs. Nora Myers, whose maiden name was Lawless, returning to Columbia in the afternoon...

The couple left here Monday in an automobile, and it is the understanding of the News that it was their intention to take a trip South.While here, several gentlemen who know Governor Taylor well, met and conversed with him.

(An entry in the "Personal" column in the same paper noted that "Mr. C.C. Holt, who is a brother-in-law to the woman Gov. W.S. Taylor married, was here Monday to see the couple take the automobile.")

The January 1, 1913 News carried a lengthy letter penned by Mrs. Taylor detailing their trip to Florida and the journey home. From Columbia, they went to Campbellsville, from whence they journeyed to Richmond (Ky.) via Lebanon. At Richmond, they boarded "the beautiful palace [train] car, Florida, owned by the National Land Company" for several days in Florida. Mrs. Taylor's letter profusely illustrates she was well-educated and a lady of culture and refinement.

Written by JIMThe Taylors had one child, a son, Charles Linden Taylor. William died in 1928; Charles perished in a plane crash about 1967; and Nora passed in March, 1968, shortly after her 88th birthday.

This story was posted on 2012-02-09 15:41:12
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