Chester William Taylor (1883–1931)
Chester W. Taylor was born in Verona, Mississippi, on July 16, 1883, to Samuel Mitchell Taylor and Mary Bell Taylor. The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1887, and Taylor received his early education in the public schools. Upon graduation from high school, he studied law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Returning to Arkansas after completing his legal studies, he worked in the wholesale lumber business for a number of years. From there, he embarked on a career in state government, serving as deputy state auditor from 1908 to 1910 and then following that with stints as deputy secretary of state in 1911 and deputy state treasurer from 1911 until 1912.
In 1913, Taylor’s father, Samuel Mitchell Taylor, was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election to replace Joe T. Robinson, who was elected governor. Taylor returned to Washington to serve as the congressman’s secretary, filling that post for the duration of his father’s service from 1913 until 1921.
When his father died suddenly on September 13, 1921, Taylor was selected by the local Democratic Party committee as the party’s candidate to succeed his father. Running unopposed, on November 25, he was elected to serve out the remainder of the term. He did not seek election in 1922 to a full term of his own. During his brief time in office, Taylor undertook a broad range of responsibilities, serving on the Committee on Woman Suffrage, the Committee on Insular Affairs, the Appropriation Committee’s sub-committee on Expenditures in the Interior Department, and the Committee on Accounts.
Upon his retirement from Congress, after a decade living and working in Washington, Taylor returned to Pine Bluff, where he engaged in the insurance business. Taylor served as an official in Arkansas’s department of conservation in Little Rock (Pulaski County) beginning in 1927.
Taylor had been married to Lena H. Shook Taylor, but she died in December 1920 during the birth of their only child, a son. Taylor married Lillian V. Philpot on October 7, 1925. By the summer of 1931 the couple had separated, with Lillian returning to her family in Pine Bluff.
On July 17, 1931, Taylor traveled to Pine Bluff to reconcile with his wife. He was met on the front porch by his father-in-law, former county judge Charles M. Philpot. After words were exchanged, Philpot shot Taylor in the head, killing him. Philpot then attempted suicide by shooting himself and cutting both wrists. Taylor is interred in Bellewood Cemetery in Pine Bluff.
For additional information:
“Chester William Taylor.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000069 (accessed September 16, 2021).
“Chester Taylor; Suicide Tried by Jurist.” Arkansas Democrat, July 17, 1931, p. 1.
William H. Pruden III
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