Roxie L. Hart Taylor
December 30, 2014
2014 posthumous Peter Melendy Community Builder award
It is often difficult to document the contributions of pioneer women. Their surnames are lost to marriage and they were rarely mentioned in the local newspaper or history books. One of our first pioneer women however, has been remembered because of her importance to our community.
Roxie Hart Taylor and her husband Jackson Taylor moved to Cedar Falls from Rock Island, Illinois in 1846. The next year, Roxie Taylor opened the first school in Cedar Falls for the six children of school age. It was located in her log cabin near 14th Street and Waterloo Roads, where a boulder currently marks the approximate location.
Mrs. Taylor continued to teach until 1852/53, when Erasmus Adams allowed his front room at 221 Main Street to be used as a schoolroom by Dr. Keeler, and 1853 when the first school house in Cedar Falls was constructed, by subscription. The student population had grown by that time to 41, far more than could fit into Roxie Taylor’s one room cabin.
In 1856 the Taylors moved to Buffalo, Wright County, Minnesota where they built the first frame house, established a hotel, and Jackson became postmaster of the developing community. Roxie, with no children of her own, adopted five orphaned children. They spent the rest of their lives in Buffalo, Minnesota.
Ten short years Roxie Taylor resided in Cedar Falls. How could she have made such a substantial contribution to the building of this community that she is remembered 158 years later?
She was a teacher. She touched the lives of every family in the community.
She was the first teacher. She opened her home so that Cedar Falls children would have a school. Peter Melendy described that home in 1893 – “a log cabin with puncheon floor, clapboards riven out of slabs for a roof, with a mud and stick chimney in one end of the cabin, with earthen hearth, with a fire-place wide enough and deep enough to take in a four foot back log”.
Fundamentally, Roxie Taylor is of significant importance as a community builder because she began our school system. She established the first local school and kept it going until the community had matured enough that a Cedar Falls school system could be established. From her hands the school system was given over to the first school board, consisting of John Overman, Erasmus Adams, and Stephen Bishop who built on the foundation Roxy Taylor had laid.
Roxy Taylor helped build this community.