GEORGE E. TAYLOR, Register of Deeds of Newaygo County, residing at Newaygo, was born in Quincy, Branch Co., Mich., March 22, 1844 and is the eldest son of Hollis R. and Hannah (Howell) Taylor. His grandparents were Joseph and Philena Taylor. His paternal great-grandfather, Charles Taylor, came from England in 1781, settled aat Harvard, Mass., and was a soldier in the war of 1812. Hollis Taylor was born June 12, 1814, in Danville Vt., came to Michigan in 1832, was was married May 30, 1842 to Hannah Howell, born May 13, 1825 at Hartland, Niagara Co., N.Y.
Mr. Taylor was reared and educated on a farm. As a boy he had all the activity and restless impulses of that inexplicable class of humanity, and the outbreak of the Southern Rebellion, with all its attendant tumultous discussion, aroused all his activities and seemed to promise a scope for the exercise of his unrest and the gratification of the laudable ambition of his young manhood to be up and doing in the world's work. He enlisted in the fall of 1861 in the 8th Mich. Inf., but, being only a few months past his 17th birthday, parental authority interfered and he found himself relegated to the "ignominy" of rural life in Kent County, where his parents resided. In February, 1862, he again enrolled as a soldier in defense of the assaulted flag of the Nation, enlisting in the 3d Mich. Inf., and again he was baffled in his desires. Aug. 9, following, he enlisted in the 21st Mich. Inf., and when his regiment went to the front he went with it in all the glory of the regulation blue and buttons bearing the National brand. He enrolled in Co. B., under Capt. Jas. Cavanaugh, and was in the service three years. Among numerous engagements where he was in action were those of Perryville and Stone River. He was captured by the rebels at the latter fight, and was in "durance vile" about ten months, and during that period was chiefly on parole. On the seventh of October, 1862, while undergoing a long, forced march, he received a sunstroke which resulted in an affection of the optic nerve, producing impaired eyesight, which disability has continued and gradually increased until his sight is limited to a mere ability to discriminate between light and darkness.
Mr. Taylor was musterd out of the service of the United States in June, 1865, and returned to Grand Rapids. He at once turned his attention to securing an education, and attended school in that city and afterwards completed a course of business study at the commercial college there. His studies finished, he spent a few years in the pursuit of agriculture.
His succeeding business of any marked importance was as teacher, his entire period of work in that capacity comprising 27 terms of school, 18 of which were taught in Kent County, and two of these in the Coldbrook School at Grand Rapids. In November, 1874, he came to Newaygo and taught seven terms. He also taught two terms of school in Muskegon County.
In the year 1878 Mr. Taylor was elected Register of Deeds of Newaygo County, and has held the incumbency since. He is a most efficient and valuable officer from his ability and memory, which latter qualification is phenomenal. He has become so familiar with the duties of his office and the attendant detail that he can locate the precise position of any piece of real estate within his juridiction without reference to the records. In September, 1879, he began to compile a set of abstracts for the county of Newaygo, which are now nearly completed.
It is sometimes difficult to determine the exact degree and quality of the influence which make or mar the careers of men. Some seem essentially the result of circumstances, so hopelessly are they entangled in the web of an inevitable destiny. They become so involved by events over which they have no control that choice or will is completely overborne thereby, and they float to irremediable disaster on a remorseless tide. Others preserve identity and the purposes of thier manhood under all pressure. In presenting the portrait of Mr. Taylor, which appears on another page, the likeness of a man appears who yet retains all the attributes that have characterized every act of his life, through suffering from an affliction which commonly destroys men's usefulness and courage. His near approach to total blindness, though keenly felt in all its cost of enjoyment and labor, has not limited his aspirations, business or social relations; has left his courage undaunted, his cheerfulness unabated and the hopes and ambitions of his manhood unassailed. He is well informed, intellectual and as ardently intersted in current affairs as other men. His selection for the responsible position he occupies is a well deserved tribute to the man and a credit to his constituency. He is member of the Order of Odd Fellows and of the Grand Army of the Republic, Samuel Judd Post. In addition to the duties of his office he has other business interests of no insignificant character, and is the owner of some valuable property in the village of Newaygo.