Not all of our lives are interesting, except maybe to other people. The Taylor Public Library has a collection of biographies, some compiled with information from the local newspaper, the Taylor Daily Press. Some of these biographies are written by family members, fondly remembering a deceased family member. Perhaps the remembrance is a bit abbreviated, or a bit altered, whether from the passage of time or repainting that beloved one in better light.
There are many stories that stand out in the collection. Are we all a collection of interesting and boring bits? Over time we may romanticized the ordinary or dull, or the exciting bits become even more exaggerated…
Arthur John McCarty was born in Illinois, November 13, 1868. His father was looking for warmer territory, taking the family on a tour of Florida before coming to Texas. Young Arthur was just 9 years old when his family settled just north of then Taylorsville. Arthur well-remembered that first night in the small town from the small hotel room in town. Cowboys raised a ruckus, chasing up and down the streets hollering. When the family came down in the morning, they found the floor of the lobby wet—shots had been fired through the water barrel. Water had to be hauled in from local springs and wells, and was sold by the barrel at .25 cents each. Arthur’s father bought 150 acres to farm and he recalled that the sod was broken by a man with large, unwieldy plow pulled by eight yoke of oxen.
In his new home town, Arthur first attended private school and later public schools. At that time the Taylor business district consisted of three general stores, two drug stores, one furniture store, one lumber yard, two livery stables, a saddler and buggy shop, one photographer, and one newspaper, published by Judge J.R. Scott. There were numerous saloons, almost too many to count, the largest one being the Gold Rule Saloon, which had a back room for gambling. African-Americans operated the two barber shops. The McCarty family had little exposure to those of another race when they lived in Illinois, so the McCarty children found the African-Americans and Hispanics particularly fascinating.
By age 16 Arthur decided he was not farmer material. His true calling was sales, and found many venues by which to earn a living. He worked for a while in the dress goods department of Womack & Sturgis and sold coffee “on the road” for T.W. Marse, who roasted the beans as a side line with his general store. He worked with Sturgis & Womack and Ed Rogers in wholesale grocery. It is probably via this work that Arthur met his future bride, Miss Lila Womack.
They wed in 1890 and had nine children, which kept them busy to be sure. After moving for a short time to Sweetwater, Texas, the family returned to Taylor. Arthur worked a while for the Taylor Bedding Manufacturing Company, and then opened an insurance company where he worked until his health forced retirement. A week before his 80th birthday, Arthur fell ill. Arthur John McCarty passed away November 1948 at the hearty age of 79, having seen the birth of Taylor and the following years of its growth and prosperity.