Chesley W Taylor: Changed His Name to Richard Taylor?

1870 Census, Cheatham County. Chesley W Taylor. His sister Mary Ann Taylor Allen is also on this page.

It’s so frustrating to run into the name switcheroos among the Pryors (see Shadrack to Chesley post) Wouldn’t you know, I also run in to mysterious name changes among the Taylor cousins who settled in TN.

I’ve been trying to flesh-out the family tree on Chesley Taylor about 1785 in VA. Edmund Taylor, the father, died in VA in 1827. William Pryor and Spicy Taylor were in Overton County, TN by the 1820 Census, and soon after Edmund’s death Chesley and his other Taylor siblings followed, including Massey Taylor and her husband John Pryor. He married Mary Ann Hardeman in Sumner County in 1829 and settled in Davidson County.

Chesley left a very small trail. There was a post the Tennessean giving notice that here was a letter held for him in Nashville in 1835. At some point a baby or young boy came to live with Spicy Taylor and William Pryor; they named him Chesley. From 1835 to his death in 1839, Chesley Taylor and his wife Mary Ann had 4 children: Susan, Mary Ann, John Edward, and Chesley Washington– Chesley Washington b. 1837 again brings up the issues of name changes.

Chesley Washington Taylor was recorded on all census records as C. W. His name Chesley Taylor appears on a land grant in Cheatham County. However, C. W. appears on the 1880 Census in Chatham County and there are several children recorded in his household who were recorded as sons and daughters. When those children died, their death records and social security records state their father was Richard Taylor.

His son James General Taylor:

His son George Washington Taylor:

His daughter Ella Catharine (Taylor) Wilkerson:

His daughter Rosa (Taylor) Demonbrun

So Richard it is. Did he have multiple names? Did he drop one name for another? Absolutely confounding but also a great reminder that evolving research means being open to new data and asking new questions.

My new question: When we can’t find Taylors and Pryors are we looking for the wrong first name?