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Missouri City Honors African-American Commissioner with Parkway

Members of the community and the Taylor family join City staff and elected officials at a ribbon cutting of Thomas Taylor Parkway.

Members of the community and the Taylor family join City staff and elected officials at a ribbon cutting of Thomas Taylor Parkway. Image courtesy of Missouri City

Thomas Taylor became an elected official after the Civil War

Thomas Lane Taylor was a history maker who left a legacy in area communities of a man who would protect, preserve and promote his heritage. In his honor, Missouri City has dedicated Thomas Taylor Parkway, an approximately $2.5 million, Fort Bend County-funded extension of Lexington Boulevard from Texas Parkway to Scanlin Road south of the City Hall complex. The project includes a new traffic signal at Texas Parkway and the Thomas Taylor Parkway/Lexington Boulevard intersection. The extension also includes a bicycle lane.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony in July, Mayor Allen Owen welcomed members of the community, including Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage, who was instrumental in the completion of the County project. The new extension is an additional east-west corridor for area citizens with convenient access for motorists traveling through the Hunters Glen subdivisions to the western portion of Missouri City and Stafford.

Taylor was the first African-American Fort Bend County Commissioner who served during Reconstruction. His portrait is on display at the Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond. Members of Taylor’s family, including Fort Bend County Sgt. Eurel Taylor, were present at the ribbon cutting.

A pioneer and a family man, he summoned bravery and courage to forge a political foundation for African-Americans during Reconstruction, when he was elected and served honorably as a Fort Bend County Commissioner in the late 1800s.

A lifelong resident of the region, he established roots as an agriculturist and cattle raiser, prospering and purchasing a homestead in Boone’s Bend in Wharton County. His grandsons, Chancy and Tom Taylor, still reside on the land.

Taylor’s public service is extraordinary, as he became an elected official during a tumultuous time following the Civil War. In Fort Bend County, the period was marked by conflicts such as the Jaybird-Woodpecker War in which two Democratic Party blocs vied for control. A heated debate during the struggle was whether African-Americans — such as Taylor — ought to have an opportunity to participate in politics. The ensuing divide raged for more than six decades. Ultimately, united alliances emerged encompassing contributions from African-Americans and whites.

Reflecting on the era, one of Taylor’s descendants noted: “In the [Jaybird-Woodpecker War], they at least were honest enough to acknowledge that some black men were run out of town, while others resisted. My fifth great-grandfather on my father’s side, Tom Taylor, was one of the local black [landowners] who resisted ‘eviction’ from Fort Bend County.” However, under great duress, Taylor eventually moved his family to Wharton County.

In testament to Taylor’s triumphs, the Wharton County Historical Commission celebrated him and his family in 1986, the county’s sesquicentennial year. A proclamation affirmed that Taylor and his family “have lived in and around the community of Hungerford for 100 years or more, and have contributed to the development of this said community. It is hoped that this family will continue to reside in this area, as their presence influences and enriches the history of the community.”

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