The Death Of Dr. W. H. Taylor

January 3, 1896 
Clinton Public

Dr. W. H. Taylor Is Killed Without a Moment’s Notice.


J. A. PACE, postmaster, shot Dr. W. H. TAYLOR Saturday, at eight o'clock p.m., in the post office at Weldon.

Owing to the prominence of the actors in the Weldon homicide, this whole county feels a throb of sadness.  The awful occurrence was anticipated in certain circles, but to the people as a whole it was a terrible shock.  The devious circumstances leading up to the tragedy are in mystery, being family skeletons hid largely in the breasts of those most severely interested, and which should not be made public property unless the good of the community demands it.  At Weldon, the citizens are divided as to where the most blame should rest, and any comments of THE PUBLIC likely to prejudice the people would be adding wrong to an already large chapter of errors.  Below is a recital of the events directly preceding the shooting.

In the evidence of Mr. Pace, who is postmaster of Weldon, it appears that Dr. Taylor entered Pace’s office from the rear and demanded certain damaging letters that had been written by Mrs. PACE to her sister, in which grave implications are made concerning the relation existing between her and the doctor.  Mr. Pace says that the doctor made serious threats of what would occur if this letter was not given him, pointing a pistol at his head.  Feigning to be in search of the letter in a drawer, Pace watched Taylor and as the latter slightly dropped his hand, the former drew a revolver and commenced firing, the smoke and excitement hiding the form of Taylor from his view.  Three balls, all that were shot, struck Taylor, one under his arm, a flesh wound, a second through the rim of his hat, and the third, the one which caused instant death, over his right eye, passing entirely through the brain.  Taylor fell, his pistol laying underneath him.  Pace at once ran to a store, giving intelligence of the awful tragedy.  Sheriff NEAL, State’s Attorney FULLER, Coroner JONES and several other officials were at once notified.  A coroner’s jury was impaneled about 3 o'clock Sunday morning, but owing to a disagreement—one of the jurors demanding a verdict of manslaughter—the first jury was dismissed and another jury sworn in, who rendered a verdict as follows:


We the undersigned jurors sworn to inquire of the death of W. H. Taylor, on oath do find that he came to his death by a bullet wound in the head, about an inch back of and above the right eye, said bullet being fired from a pistol in the hand of John A. Pace, and we find such pistol shot was fired in his (Pace’s) self-defense, in the private office of said Pace at Weldon, Ill., about eight o'clock p.m., December 28th, 1895.

Robert GIVEN, Foreman;
James A. CONWAY,
Nicolas PEARL,


John A. Pace—Known Taylor 22 years; was family physician; about two years ago told him to leave me and my family alone; my brother told me of current gossip about the doctor and my wife; found the doctor and my wife in back room of post office, and again told him to keep away.  On Dec. 28, 1895, appeared in my office and asked me to drop trouble in lodge and withdraw damage suit I expected to bring, offering $500.  I refused to accept anything, and ordered him from the office.  As I went toward him he drew a revolver, and told me he wanted the paper I was talking about, an affidavit of the clerk of the New Deming hotel [in] Decatur, where he and my wife registered as husband and wife in November, 1889; I found a letter my wife had written in which Taylor was charged with committing one or two abortions on her; telling him they were in the safe, I went there, and seeing him drop his hand by his side, I commenced firing; I went to Miles’ store and sent for officer to give myself up; Dr. ZORGER and others told me the doctor was carrying a revolver for me; I regret what I have done; but Taylor told me when he came to the door to give him the paper or he would blow my brains out.

E. E. Taylor—Said that his father’s revolver was at home in the bureau drawer; his father carried a revolver when out late at night; when he left home the night of the shooting said he would be back in a few minutes; was uneasy.

Daniel Richelderfer—Am marshal of Weldon; Mr. Conn told me Pace had killed Dr. Taylor; Pace gave himself up; left him with Conn; Taylor was laying on the floor, and his revolver was just under his right hand.

Alred Walker—Have known Taylor eleven years; was at Jesse Miles’; saw Pace in store; Pace left soon and in a few minutes Dr. Taylor came in; Taylor left in a few minutes; I started for home; I heard a racket and went back to see what it was about; went down to Miles’ and he said John Pace had shot Dr. Taylor. This was about 8 p.m. Dr. Taylor was laying on his left side and his right hand was laying on his revolver.

Carl Swigart—I knew Dr. Taylor; saw him December 28, 1895, in my office about 2:30 p.m.; this was the last time I saw him alive; heard that John Pace had killed Dr. Taylor; I took the revolver out of Dr. Taylor's hands; am a grain dealer.

C. A. Stone—I am a physician; have known Dr. Taylor eighteen months; saw him in back room of the post office on the floor dead; heard at my office that Pace shot Taylor; have examined the body and find the ball had entered the right temple that caused his death, also a wound in his left breast; the ball entering his right temple about one inch above the extreme angle of the right eye; probed the wound to the skull; did not locate the ball; think the wound in head would cause instant death, the ball entering the fore part of the head and ranging directly backwards.

J. D. Brown—I live in Weldon; am notary public and justice of the peace; saw Dr. Taylor about the time Dr. Stone said Taylor was dead: saw Carl Swigart take the revolver from Dr. Taylor’s hand, and gave it to me; the number on the revolver is 162990; saw Mr. Taylor as I went home about 7:20 p.m.; was passing his store, and Taylor was in the door; asked me where I was going; wanted me to go in; acted like he wanted to talk to me.

John Byland—I recognize the revolver, No. 162990, by the nickel on the handle, as the revolver that was taken from Dr. Taylor.

Robinson Conn—I recognize the revolver shown me as the revolver John Pace gave me; Pace told me he had shot Taylor; said he had it to do; said Taylor tried to force him to give up some papers.

L. Cornwell—Am a carpenter; about four weeks ago I saw Dr. Taylor in Costley’s restaurant, and put my hand on Taylor’s overcoat pocket and felt revolver in his pocket.

John Fullerton—I am agent for C. H. Moore; I heard that Taylor carried a revolver and told Mr. Pace of it, and told him he ought to be on his guard, and look out.

Harry T. Swigart—Dr. Taylor’s daughter said he—Dr. Taylor—was carrying a gun; I told Pace about it, so as to put him on his guard.

W. C. Perkins—I am a farmer, have known Taylor eighteen years; I have been told by men all over town that Taylor said he was carrying two revolvers, and would just as soon shoot Pace as a dog; I told Pace that I thought the best thing he—Pace— could do was to look out.

E. E. Taylor, recalled I found father’s revolver at home; he never carried a revolver; he was afraid Pace would lay in ambush for him; in talking to him I learned there was trouble; found his revolver at home where he kept it; each of us had a revolver; do not know where my revolver is; got my revolver in Decatur, it has five chambers.


William H. Taylor was born in Stark county, Ohio, June 15, 1846, to James B. Taylor a native of England, and Sarah P. (Hall) Taylor, a native of Philadelphia, Pa.  William remained with his parents until he was sixteen years old and obtained his primary education in the district schools.  At the age of thirteen years he entered the academy at Orland, Ind., and remained in school until the civil war broke out.  Although so young, he was fired with patriotic zeal, and in 1863 enlisted in Co. A, 129th Ind. Inft., and participated in many important engagements, among them Resaca, Atlanta, and Franklin, Tenn.  He was honorably discharged August 29, 1865, having served his country with all the ardor of youth, and that devotion to country which is a prominent characteristic.

From the battlefields Mr. Taylor returned to his father’s home in Newville, Ind., and for one term was engaged as a teacher in DeKalb county.  Later he was employed as a clerk in a store in Newville, his leisure moments being devoted to the study of medicine.  Preparatory to engaging in active practice, he took two courses of lectures, of six months each, at Ann Arbor, Mich.  Returning from college, he located in Pleasant Lake, Ind., whence, after a year’s sojourn, he removed to Marshall, Ill., going from there to Chicago, then to DeWitt, and after residing a year in the latter place, he settled at Weldon.  His knowledge of therapeutics was quite extensive.  In 1883 he graduated from the Keokuk Medical college and attended lectures at the Chicago and Rush Medical colleges, Chicago.  Having made Weldon his home for about twenty-five years, he had become well-known throughout the community, and his attainments and skill as a physician were unquestioned.  On August 4, 1867, Dr. Taylor and Miss Rocellia D. BEGGS were united in marriage at Newville, Ind.  To Dr. Taylor and his estimable wife five children have been born, two of whom died in infancy.  The others are Elwin E., Nellie and Carl.  Elwin has attended the medical college at Keokuk, Iowa.  He also was a student at Normal one year, and for the same length of time attended school at Eureka.

Two years ago he was elected to the legislature of this state, and because of his personal affability and strength of character, at once took a prominent place among the law makers of the body to which he belonged, the University of Illinois owing its princely appropriations to his interest in popular education.  He was also supervisor of Nixon township for two years, and served the people faithfully in every trust assigned him.  He was a true friend and while he was not exempt from sins, from which, good Lord, deliver us all, he had many noble attributes worthy [of] commendation and emulation.


The funeral train from Weldon Wednesday morning, bearing the body of the late Dr. W. H. Taylor, and the Modern Woodmen camps of Weldon and Lane, was met here by neighbors of Clinton camp, comrades of G. A. R. post and a large number of sympathizing friends.   The funeral cortege proceeded to the Presbyterian Church, where it was met by many more citizens, the audience rooms being crowded to the outer doors.

Rev. W. A. Hunter, D. D., assisted by Rev. Mr. Collins, pastor of the M. E. church at Weldon, conducted the services.  Dr. Hunter discoursed learnedly on the immortality of the soul, referring to analogies on which faith in a future life is based, the longings of the human breast, the unsatisfied capabilities of the human soul and the justness and completeness of God’s work. The need of correct living was emphasized.  The choir, consisting of Mes. A. E. Campbell and W. H. Wheeler, and Messrs. Jno D. Rogers and J. W. McPherson, rendered pathetic music, Mrs. Mary Edmiston at the organ.

The floral offerings, the last tributes of devoted friends, were beautiful.  The Gates Ajar, an emblem strongly suggestive of hope, was the gift of Congressman V. Warner, Judge J. K. Ingham, Dr. J. M. Wilcox, Mayor H. A. Magill, Alderman B. G. Henion, W. Booth, F. C. Davidson, L. Freudenstein, Fred Crang, W. A. Messer, E. L. Freudenstein and J. H. Schmith; a Pillow bore witness to the abiding love of his family; a Shield testified that his neighbors of the M. W. of A. had faith in him; an elaborate bouquet of cut flowers was given by Dr. J. L. White, of Bloomington, room-mate of Dr. Taylor during his attendance at the general assembly in Springfield.  The people were deeply moved by the untimely taking off of the deceased, his many noble qualities attracting to him the affections of his neighbors.  Remains were interred in Woodlawn cemetery, Clinton.

[see obituary of Dr. Taylor]

January 3, 1896
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois


Mrs. J. A. Pace was married to Mr. Pace about ten years ago. She is a resident of this place.

Dr. Elwin E. Taylor, son of the late Dr. W. H. Taylor, circulated among acquaintances here yesterday.

Dr. Ed. Taylor, of Indiana, and a sister of Ohio, attended the funeral of their brother here Wednesday.

The rumor that Dr. W. H. Taylor and Mrs. J. A. Pace were lately seen together in Weldon is false. THE PUBLIC would advise that people given to arousing animosities, embittering neighbor against neighbor, suspend business at least during these holidays, and try to bankrupt their business by new resolutions on New Year’s.

Lawrence Killcourse, representative of the 23d district, Fred Busse, representative of the 21st district, E. L. Lowenthal, representative of the 3d district, arrived here Tuesday via the Illinois Central and proceeded to Weldon. They attended the funeral of the late Dr. Taylor at this place on Wednesday.

John A. Pace bought the revolver with which he shot Taylor of Mueller Gun company, of Decatur, on November 26, 1895, stating he wanted it for the protection of the Weldon post office.

January 10, 1896
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois


Taylor’s Friends are not Entirely Satisfied with the Evidence Brought Out by the Coroner’s Jury.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Springfield Register have articles concerning the Weldon tragedy, which assume to throw side-lights on the Taylor homicide, tending to cast suspicion on the reported evidence leading up to the shooting.

The Post-Dispatch of this week says that there is a great revulsion of feeling in the matter, and a man sent to investigate the killing reports that indications tend to strengthen the suspicion that the doctor was the victim of a conspiracy.  He reports that the postmaster and his little son occupied a bed room in the rear of the office.  It is claimed that when the doctor entered last Saturday night that he came in through a rear door and that he pointed a revolver and demanded certain papers.  Pace’s son is only four or five years of age, but he is an intelligent little fellow and he tells a different story.  After the tragedy the child was removed to the hotel across the street.  He awoke of his own accord about two o'clock Sunday morning and his cries attracted the attention of Mrs. W. H. Costly, whose husband runs the hotel.  Mrs. Costly began to question the child about the events of the night, and he told her that when he fell asleep his papa and ≴Uncle Will” were sitting in chairs near his bed, talking about “Mamma.”  Later Mrs. Costly learned that “Uncle Will” was Dr. Taylor.  The child was questioned by a number of people in the hotel Sunday, and to all of them he told the same story without varying it a bit.

“How did your Uncle Will get into your father’s room?” Mrs. Costly asked the little boy.

“Papa opened the door when he knocked and let him in,” was the childish reply.

“Were they talking loud or did they look mad?” further inquired Mrs. Costly.

“No, they were just talking about mamma,” the little boy answered.

This statement of the child, contend those who hold to the conspiracy theory, is a complete and satisfactory refutation of the claim of Postmaster Pace that Dr. Taylor entered the post office by the side way without knocking on the door, which he asserts was unlocked, and that he was not aware of his presence until the doctor demanded surrender of the damaging papers which the postmaster held.

Some of the Weldon people also scout the idea of the side door being left open.  It leads directly to the private part of the office and had a spring lock on the inside.   Those who have had business dealings in the office say that they never found this door open and that to gain admittance it was always necessary to knock.  The postmaster, however, says that it was left unlocked on this occasion for the reason that he was expecting a farmer friend to come to the office that night and sleep with him.  The Post-Dispatch account says that Pace was $95 short in his account and that he claims his wife took the money from him when she left.  Only a short time ago he borrowed this amount of money from the doctor.  At the same time the paper states that the doctor was asked to try and induce the wife to return to her husband.

Mayor Magill, of Clinton, says he is satisfied that Dr. Taylor, up to a few weeks ago, was still trying to induce Mrs. Pace to go back to her husband, because he saw Pace, Dr. Taylor and Mrs. Pace standing together in the street near the house in Clinton in which the wife boarded, in long and apparently earnest conversation.  Putting together various incidents of this sort, which have come under his observation, or have been related to him by others, Mayor Magill is satisfied that Dr. Taylor went to Pace’s room by invitation Saturday night, unarmed and wholly unprepared for the reception which he met.

It has been established beyond doubt that the revolver taken from under the dead man’s right hand did not belong to him, and that his pistol was at home in a bureau drawer.  The ownership of the mysterious weapon has not yet been established.  Nobody who has examined it claims to have ever seen it before.  Sheriff Neal now has the revolver in his keeping.   Mayor Magill, Dr. Wilcox and other citizens of Clinton and this place have examined it closely since Sunday and unite in the startling assertion that the weapon could not be discharged.  They say the chamber will not revolve.

Their supposition is, therefore, that the useless revolver was placed where it was found after Dr. Taylor was dead.

The nature of the doctor’s wounds, too, lends color to the growing suspicion as to the manner of his taking off.  The fatal shot which penetrated his brain must have caused instant death, declare Dr. Wilcox and others.  The victim, therefore, must have fallen forward on his face at the very spot he occupied when shot.  He could not have moved his body an inch in any direction, they contend.

Yet Pace claims that the doctor ran half the length of the building before he dropped.  The pistol, too, must have been held within a very few inches of his head when the fatal shot was fired, because his eyes were almost burned out by the powder.