Benjamin F. Taylor, Co. C

Post-war biography from the 1898 "Book of Biographies of Cortland County", courtesy of Greg Reed. 

BENJAMIN F. TAYLOR, the superintendent of the splendid water works system of the village of Cortland, a prominent and welt-to-do real estate dealer, a director in the National Bank, and withal one of Cortland's most progressive and wide-awake business men, was born in New York City, and was a son of William Taylor, a lumber merchant of that place.

When Benjamin F. was a young man he moved up into this part of the state, settling in Tompkins County; when the 76th Reg. N. Y. Vol. Inf. was formed, he enlisted in October, 1861, in Company C, and served three years and thirty-four days, being discharged a corporal. The fortunes of war were kind to him, and he was only slightly wounded at the battle of South Mountain. In lieu of his war associations and the acquaintances there formed, he is now a member of Grover Post, No. 98, G. A. R.

In 1865 Mr. Taylor came to Cortland, and worked in the mills as a clerk, but soon owned what was favorably known to a large patronage among residents of the town and the traveling public as Taylor's Hotel and Restaurant. He was very successful in this line of work, and built up a solid reputation as a man of the best business principles; to this venture he also owes the greater part of his start in life, for it was with profits from his hotel that he first commenced buying and speculating in Cortland real estate. Believing heartily and unreservedly in the future growth and welfare of Cortland, he invested what savings he could from the very start in real estate, and before many years had passed he became recognized as a shrewd real estate dealer.

In 1889 he built a three story brown stone and brick building at 44 Main Street, where he resides, renting the spacious ground floor to Mr. F. B. Smith for his hardware establish in cut, one of the finest in the village. In 1887, he built an extension to the Grand Central Block on Railroad street, a three-story brick, where his office is located, the second floor being fitted up as offices, and the third floor being left in the shape of a large hall. He owns the block which continues to Main Street, formerly built by Mr. Rowley, and has also no small number of tenement houses.

By good management and steady industry he has been very successful; the success that attends his efforts only makes him the more satisfied of Cortland's future, and his investments grow apace with each succeeding year, both to his own benefit, and to the assistance in the material benefit of the village.

He has been director of the Cortland National Bank for number of years, and has been president and superintendent of the Cortland Water Works Co. for ten years. He may well be proud of this last connection, for Cortland never suffers from an abundance of the purest spring water, and the success of the whole system and the smoothness with which it runs is largely due to the indefatigable efforts and labors of Mr. Taylor.

The Water Works Co. was organized in 1884 as a private company, and entered into a contract with the firm of Hinds, Moffett & Co. of Watertown, N. Y., to construct and equip a water system, to erect a pump-house at Otter Creek Springs, and provide means for obtaining power to pump the water to Court House Hill 1,200 gallons per minute; on Court House Hill was built a stand pipe, which towers 160 feet above the village, and whose capacity is 375,000 gallons. Besides supplying the house-dwellers, offices, manufactories, etc., it supplies 135 hydrants for protecting the village from the ravages of fire.

As superintendent of this water works system, Mr. Taylor has exhibited a high order of intelligence, which, with his excellent judgment and unswerving integrity in all the walks of life, have made him a man of influence beyond the ordinary. He is independent in his political views, and has never sought an office, but he possesses the entire confidence of his fellow-townsmen, and has ample ability to fill any official position in the county. He married Miss Sarah Van Rensselaer in 1870; she was a daughter of John L. Van Rensselaer of Rensselaer County, N. Y.

The Taylor Block

From "Gripís" Historical Souvenir of Cortland, 1899

Benjamin F. Taylor.-No man in Cortland is more prized and esteemed by a large circle of friends than Benjamin F. Taylor, the public spirited superintendent of the Cortland Water Works company. He was born in New York City and at an early age moved into Tompkins county, N. Y. At the outbreak of the war of the rebellion he enlisted as a private and was promoted to a corporal in the 76th Regiment of N. Y. S. V. He was in active service for nearly four years, during which time his abounding good nature and rich and rare good fellowship are well remembered.

At the close of the war he returned to Cortland and for many years was known as the popular and successful proprietor of Taylor's hotel and restaurant. In 1870 he married Sarah Van Rensselaer. He has been a member of Grover Post, No. 28, G. A. R. from its organization. He is a director in the National bank of Cortland and was one of the projectors of the excellent water system of Cortland and has been superintendent of the company for a number of years past. Mr. Taylor has been prominent in all the public improvements in Cortland and largely identified with its growth. His kindly deeds, his unobtrusive and almost secretive charities, are as characteristic as are his intense hatred of shams, his warm sympathies and his positive convictions.

Benjamin F. Taylor died in 1915 and is buried in the Cortland Rural Cemetery.

Mike Brown photo at right.

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- Last Updated March 27, 2001