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E.R. Ann Taylor Park: Historic Forested Oasis in Houston

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

One of many magnificent old oak trees on the property

One of many magnificent old oak trees on the property

Background History and Love Story

This story begins in the late 1840s when Edward Ruthven Taylor's parents, Edward Wyllys Taylor and Caroline Taylor, moved to Houston from Massachusetts. E.W. Taylor became the president of the Houston Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade and owned property in downtown Houston. The site of the present-day Wortham Center was their homesite.

During the Civil War, their son, Edward, joined a unit of the Confederate Army, was captured in Vicksburg, imprisoned, and contracted tuberculosis. After his release from prison and discharge from the Confederate Army, he was a sick young man who needed tending.

His father was also a slave trade broker and bought a 21-year-old slave by the name of Ann George. Her mission was to nurse young George back to good health. She succeeded, and in so doing, she and young Edward fell in love.

Edward R. and Ann Taylor Story

Here is what is available to read on a 2003 Texas Historical Commission sign:

"Edward Ruthven Taylor, born in August 1845 at Independence, Texas, moved with his parents Edward Wyllys and Carolyn Taylor to Houston in 1848. Here, in the city's formative years, the family made an impact in the cotton business and the public education system.

At the start of the Civil War, Edward Ruthven attended private school in New York. In 1862, at age 16, he returned to Texas and joined Waul's Texas Legion. He served with the unit at the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he was captured. While held as a prisoner of war, he contracted tuberculosis and the legion later discharged him from service.

As he recuperated at home, Edward became close to one of his family's slaves, a girl named Ann. Some sources indicate Ann came from Hungerford, Texas, and slave papers list her name as Ann George. Edward and Ann fell in love and unofficially married, as interracial marriages were not legal in Texas at the time. At the age of 25, Edward moved to Myrtle, later known as Pierce Junction, with Ann and their first child, Pinkie. Establishing a farm of more than 600 acres, the family grew, and Ann and Edward had five more surviving children, Major Julius, Samuel, William E., Nettie C., and Burt Taylor. In 1903, Edward deeded half of his property to Ann. She lived until 1909 and is buried on the original Taylor homestead with three children who did not reach adulthood.

A few years before Ann's death, the family became aware of potential oil deposits on their land. In 1921, the Pierce Junction Field had its first substantial oil strike. The oil rush continued beyond Edward's death in 1924, and his children, given equal shares of the property, continued to maintain the land and its resources. Family members donated the original homestead to the City of Houston in 1986."

Pavilion, picnic tables, and bench near the parking lot of E.R. and Ann Taylor Park

Pavilion, picnic tables, and bench near the parking lot of E.R. and Ann Taylor Park

E.R. and Ann Taylor Park

The address of this forested 26-acre park in the southern part of Houston is 1850 Reed Road, Houston, Texas 77051. Before entering, one can view the Texas Medical Center and the distinctive buildings of downtown Houston. The park is open from the hours of dawn to dusk.

Adjacent to the interior parking lot is a covered pavilion with picnic tables and one of several benches. The bench by the pavilion is a donation by the Garden Club of Houston. Note: This property does not furnish running water or restrooms.

Once inside and away from the sounds of traffic, the appearance of wild tangled vines, old-growth forested oak trees, and other plants growing in this relaxing wooded setting makes you feel like you are in another world.

Nature Trail and Bird Sanctuary

The 1.08-mile nature trail is easily navigable. Much of it is natural, with some wooden boardwalks. Scattered throughout are several birdwatching blinds with tiles identifying some of the types of birds that might be sighted.

Resident year-round birds include some of the following: doves, red-winged blackbirds, hawks, cardinals, herons, and egrets. Migratory birds are some of these: hummingbirds, ducks, various songbirds, etc.

In addition to birds, small mammals like rabbits and raccoons, among others, also make this nature sanctuary their home.

Family Cemetery

Because interracial marriage was illegal back in those times, Edward and Ann's love of one another flourished despite obstacles, such as the inability to have a formal marriage ceremony. Moving to a relatively out-of-the-way location in the countryside undoubtedly made life easier for them.

They successfully raised six African-American college-educated children. Several of their children who did not live to become adults are in the small cemetery alongside their mother Ann. It is touching to view what I assume is a child's toy plus other mementos inside the fenced-in space.

Two-Story Viewing Stand

For those birdwatchers who like to see the migrating ducks or other birds who enjoy pond-like settings, there is a two-story viewing stand within the park. It overlooks a pond with a backdrop of forested areas. If this piques your interest, bring your binoculars and patience. You might be in for a birding treat or even a feast!

Legacy

Thanks to their children who donated this land to the City of Houston, we not only get to enjoy a beautiful natural wooded setting perfect for birders and nature lovers but have also been able to learn some history going back to the early days of Houston.

I will leave you with a few extra photos taken on our first visit to this lovely and historic park.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peggy Woods

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