William Whitaker Taylor, one of the First Seven
Presidents of all the Seventies from 1880 to 1884, was the son of President
Taylor, and Harriet Whittaker, and was born Sept. 11, 1853, in Salt
Lake City, Utah. With the exception of the time spent on Missions in service
to the Lord, he resided in the Fourteenth ward (where he was born) constantly
from birth to death.
After leaving school he obtained employment in the
manufacturing establishment of Messrs. Folsom, Romney & Taylor, and
succeeded in obtaining considerable knowledge of the business and of the
carpenter's trade before he was called on a mission to Europe. While yet
a youth he became a Teacher in the Ward and in the Sunday School, where
he lived, performing the duties of each to the entire satisfaction of his
Though naturally of a sedate turn of mind, religiously
inclined, and free from all levity, he had a keen sense of humor and could
appreciate pleasantry with great enjoyment. A little incident is related
by an intimate friend which fully exemplifies his high sense of probity
and honor. When a mere boy he, with a companion, went to the old adobe
yard, where a skating pond had been prepared, for entering which a charge
of 25 cents was made. William and his friend were anxious to get on the
pond to skate, but they had no money. They succeeded, however, without
the knowledge of the proprietor, in effecting an entrance. When William
thought of what he had done, he felt condemned, and to satisfy his conscience
resolved to repay the man with the first money he could earn. In course
of time William earned a dollar, and he immediately took it to the man
and insisted upon his taking a four-fold payment for the wrong done him.
At the April conference, 1875, he was called on a
mission to Great Britain. But before leaving Elder Taylor married Sarah
Taylor Hoagland on April 5, 1875. He later practiced plural marriage. He
fathered eight children on record.
The newly wed Elder Taylor was ordained a Seventy
and set apart for his mission Oct. 11, 1875, by Orson
Pratt. On the 26th of the same month, he took his departure. Elder
S. Wells, in a General Conference talk given in April 1940 recounted
a remarkable dream involving Elder Taylor:
While on my way to my mission field, crossing
the ocean on the Steamship Dakota, I went down into the salon of the ship
one day, and lay upon one of the cushioned benches surrounding the eating
tables, where I fell asleep. While asleep the Lord appeared to me in a
dream and I saw Him standing before me; and by His side was William W.
Taylor, one of the other missionaries, a son of President John Taylor,
a boy like myself going upon his first mission. He stood by the side of
the Savior, and the Savior extended His hand to me and grasping my hand,
holding it tight, looked at me in the face and said: "Will you ever doubt
again?" Brother Taylor, who stood beside Him said: "I believe that is enough
for him." With that, the Lord let go of my hand and I awoke.
Elder Taylor returned home Oct. 16, 1877, bringing
with him the love and confidence of the Elders and Saints with and among
whom he labored. He filled his mission to England with that zeal and fidelity
which were characteristic of him in all his labors.
Shortly after his return, at a meeting of the Priesthood
of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, held Nov. 3, 1877, he was chosen as Stake
clerk and clerk of the High Council. This position he filled till the time
of his death. He was a sample clerk, possessing the rare faculty of seizing
all the salient points of the case under discussion and presenting them
in a terse and condensed form. No one could fail, after reading his minutes,
to get a clear conception of every point involved and the arguments of
both sides, and it was rarely they had to be corrected.
The story of his selection to become a member of
the First Council of the Seventy is as follows: At the death of Albert
P. Rockwood, the question arose as to who should be appointed to fill
the vacancy made by his departure in the First Council of Seventies. The
presidents in attendance at a certain meeting mentioned various names,
and as they did not readily unite upon any one. President Joseph
Young, who had favored the selection of Wm. W. Taylor for the position,
suggested that all the names be written on separate slips of paper and
be placed in a box, and that one of the brethren should draw each slip
separately, while he should sit with his back to the box; and when the
slip should be drawn that the spirit indicated held the name that should
be selected, he would mention it. Seymour B. Young
drew the slips without, of course, giving any indication as to the name
written upon each.
One slip was drawn. The response from President Joseph
Young was "Go on." Another was drawn, with the same response. A third was
drawn, and Brother Seymour B. Young was told he need not draw any more,
for that was the right one. An examination of the paper disclosed the name
of Wm. W. Taylor, and those present agreed to his nomination, and it was
afterwards agreed to by all the authorities and sustained at the general
conference. Consequently, Elder Taylor was ordained and set apart as one
of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies.
After the settlements of the Saints had become numerous
and widespread in the mountains, the organization of the several quorums
of Seventies, which had been effected when the people were living in a
limited area, was felt to be unsuited to the new condition and circumstances
in which the Seventies were placed. When Elder Taylor took his place as
one of the seven presidents of that body, he devoted much thought to the
subject, and to the best method of correcting the inconveniences which
arose from having the members of the different quorums living so wide apart
and scattered among the different Stakes. President John Taylor's attention
having also been drawn to the subject, he received a revelation, in which
instruction was given in regard to the proper method of reorganizing the
Seventies. None were more delighted by this word of the Lord than Wm. W.
Taylor. He took hold of the labor with the utmost earnestness and zeal,
and scarcely a Sunday passed after the revelation was received that he
was not engaged in some of the Stakes, giving the Seventies instructions
and helping them to perfect the organization upon the plan suggested by
the Lord. The devotion and wisdom which he exhibited in his labor called
forth the praise of the presiding authorities and the admiration of his
fellow servants of the Seventies.
In addition to being a member of the First Council
of the Seventy, Elder Taylor was also a member of the Coucil of Fifty,
a somewhat mysterious group whose members for the most part moved in the
highest of Church circles. Elder Taylor was, in fact, named an officer
of the group, being appointed Assistant Clerk of the Council on April 10,
At the general election for members of the legislative
assembly of Utah, in 1883, he was elected a member of the council, and
in him his constituents felt they had a representative who could be trusted
to stand by and defend their rights and interest to the utmost extremity.
He never faltered in the discharge of his duty, and was inflexible in demanding
for the people every right which belonged to free men. In February, 1884,
he was elected assessor and collector of taxes for Salt Lake City, to which
office he devoted himself with assiduity and energy.
In the evening of Saturday, July 26, 1884, he was
attacked with bilious colic, which caused his death Friday morning, Aug.
1, 1884, in Salt Lake City. (See also Deseret News, Vol. 33 (weekly),
A personal comment from Grampa Bill: This remarkable
young man would undoubtedly be much better known in the Church had not
the Lord taken him to a higher calling at such an early age.