From: May Heath Saugatuck Book

Early Memories of Saugatuck, Michigan : 1830-1930
Author: Heath, May Francis
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids, Mich: 1930


Rev. J. Rice Taylor was born in Cambria, Niagara County, New York, Oct. 3. 1818. He was early found in the Episcopal church institutions at Gambier, Ohio, first in the Grammar school, then in Kenyon college, graduating in 1842, a classmate of President Hayes. He pursued his theological studies at the General Seminary in New York city and in 1845 went back to Ohio, his first charge being at Milan where he mar­ried Miss Henrietta Leonard of Gambier.

In 1858 he came to Allegan where he gathered together a congregation which worshipped in the court house until a church was built. In 1863 he became rector of the parish at Tecumseh but a year later he entered upon the service of the Christian Commission, subsequently serving as chaplain of the 123rd Colored Infantry. Following a short rectorship in Cleveland, Ohio, he returned to Michigan to do missionary work jn Allegan and Ottawa counties, making his home in Saugatuck. This was in 1869. Through his efforts the Episcopal churches at both Holland and Saugatuck were erected, Colonel Stockbridge, then living in Saugatuck, aiding him most loyally.

During the many years of his ministry Mr. Taylor held cures in Ohio, Kentucky, Vermont and New Jersey as well as in Michigan. He passed away in June, 1900, at his home in Saugatuck, the funeral services being held in All Saints church, the casket resting within the chancel beneath the window which is a memorial to his mother. Two sons and two daughters survived him, Alfred B., the Saugatuck banker; now deceased; Rev. William V.of Bridgeport, Pa.; Elizabeth L. and Anne M. of Venice, California.

His was a beautiful character, pure and loving. His face reflected the gentle spirit within. It was a "benediction", so many who knew him said. Mr. Taylor loved Saugatuck from the moment he set eyes upon it way back in 1859 when he came down in a canoe from Allegan with a friend, and was .never satisfied in his latter years to be long away from the sight of its woods and waters and the sand dunes across the river.