Marshall Benton Taylor, aka: "The Red Fox"

 

                                                                                                     

 

 

                                            Marshall Benton Taylor, alias "The Red Fox", was a man of medium build, thin

                                            and rather stoop shouldered. He was 56 years of age when the massacre 

                                            of the Mullins Family occurred and was said to have looked his age. By this

                                            time in his life, Doc Taylor  was quite bald at the crown of his head which

                                           touches of grey appearing in the reddish brown hair  that covered the lower

                                            part of his head on either side and behind. He sported a fringe of

                                            red whiskers of a much deeper color than his hair which extended down

                                            either cheek and under his chin, his upper lip being clean shaven. He was said

                                            to have a good forehead and his countenance indicated a degree of

                                            intelligence above average.  And from all claims and  accounts, Doc was

                                            one of the most unique men ever to walk the hills of eastern Kentucky. 

                                            He was known as an herb and medical doctor, spiritualist, United States

                                            Marshall and Revenue Agent. John Fox, Jr, recognized these qualities when

                                            he characterized him as "The Red Fox" in his book, "The Trail of the Lonesome

                                            Pine", a title long before attributed to Doc Taylor.

 

                                            Marshall Benton Taylor was born in 1836, at Taylorstown, Scott County,

                                            Virginia, the oldest son William P. and Mary (Stallard) Taylor. He died 27

                                            October1893, on the gallows, at Wise County,   Virginia.  He married 23 November

                                            1854, at Wise County, Virginia to Nancy Ann Booth, daughter of James P. and

                                            Mary Ella Booth. Nancy Ann Booth was born May 1835 in Green County,  Tennessee

                                            and died in 1912 in Letcher County, Kentucky. Marshall Benton "Red Fox"

                                            Taylor also had children with Rebecca Jane Mullins born 1855 Virginia, d/o

                                            Booker Basil  "Cripple Basil" Mullins and America Baker. 

 

                                           

 

                                  Children of Marshall Benton Taylor and Nancy Ann Booth:

 

                              1.    Mary Elizabeth Taylor, born 1856, Scott County, Virginia, married James Franklin

                                    "Jim" Bentley, born 24 Mar 1849,  s/o Thomas Bentley and Margaret Crase.

                              2.    Martha Catherine Taylor, was born February 11, 1859, married Henry Baker born

                                   February 26, 1858, s/o Elijah Willis Baker and Mary Polly Yonts. Henry Baker m. 2nd

                                   Marthann Clay and 3rd Angeline Parsons.

                              3.    Rebecca Taylor, born 1856, Wise County, Virginia, d. 6 Apr 1897 Beaver Dam, Kentucky,

                                    married 15 Feb 1877, Absalom ‘Ebb’ Johnson, 26 Sep 1878 in Letcher County, Kentucky.

                                    Rebecca died in Salina, Missouri.

                              4.    Sylvan Taylor, born May 1862, Wise County, Virginia, married 25 Dec 1886 Hattie Salyers,

                                    d/o Samuel Lydia & (Culbertson) Salyers.

 

                                     Children of Marshall Benton Taylor and Rebecca Jane Mullins:

 

                         1.    James Campbell or Calvin ‘Blue’ Mullins b 31 Mar 1891 Wise Co VA d 22 Nov

                               1979; married 22 Dec 1912 Wise County, Virginia to Delphia Mullins born 3 Dec 1893

                               Wise County, Virginia, died 19 Jun 1977 Wise County, Virginia; d/o John Dave Mullins

                                and Princess Parzada Peaks.

                         2.      Charlie Todd Mullins   -(Click To See Picture)

 

                                                                            Marshall Benton Taylor

                                                                                        Doc” Taylor

                                  With his distinctive large blue eyes, red hair and beard, Marshall Benton Taylor, "The Red Fox",

                                  struck an ominous appearance as he rode through the mountains. One writer when describing

                                  him said,   "He had a duel character, showing in his face both kindness and benevolence on one

                                  side, a wolfish snarl  on the other, both plain to any eye that looked".  Supposedly it was an

                                  evident factor showing since one side of Doc's face twisted into a snarl while the other side

                                  was smiling.  This feature has not been shown in any of the many pictures of Doc.

                                

                                  With the articles warfare that he carried, Doc projected a fierce image. Doc Taylor was, without

                                  a doubt, a one man walking arsenal. He carried two .45 Colt revolvers, one  on each hip.  A five

                                  inch wide leather belt which held two rows of gleaming cartridges was swung around his shoulder

                                  and wound under his arm. Within close grasp, lying across his saddle or sometimes slung across

                                  his back, was  his Winchester Rifle. He was also known to carry a five foot long brass embellished

                                  telescope which was tied to a   strap that hung across his shoulder. Whichever trails he rode, Doc

                                  always carried his sheep skin bound Bible and in his saddlebags were the various herbs used in his

                                  medical practice.  Whether for effect or choice, this alarming sight was enhanced by the fact that

                                  Doc dressed entirely in black. “The Red Fox", with the flaming red hair and beard, always wore a

                                  black suit and wore two Colt 45 pistols in his holsters and carried a Winchester rifle in his saddle

                                  holster, even  his horse was a black fox-trotter.

                                                               

                                  Doc was a popular figure as he delivered babies, treated the sick and wounded and ministered

                                  to his patients. Though he did not attend medical school, Doc was well skilled in medicine. He

                                  attained a primitive education in Scott County, Virginia then studied medicine under a relative, 

                                  Dr. Moran L. Stallard, Sr. -(Click To See Picture) in Lee County.

                                     

 

                                  He had also acquired excellent medical skills with his use of native  plants and herbs. He went to

                                  Letcher County,  Kentucky after he completed his course of study under  Dr. Stallard and there

                                  he commenced his medical practice. He remained in Letcher for a few years and then returned

                                  to Virginia where he first located in Bold Camp in the Roberson District of Wise County Virginia,

                                  and after living there for a time moved to Gladeville (Wise County) and continued in the  practice

                                  of medicine.  Another aspect of Taylor's life was his religious beliefs. He had become a convert

                                  of the Rev. George O. Barnes,  a mountain evangelist who traveled over the eastern section of

                                  Kentucky. He was converted at Whitesburg and followed the evangelist to the mouth  of Elkhorn

                                  Creek. This was when the famous camp meeting, "Camp Praise the Lord" was held there.

                                 

                                  Over the years Doc preached where ever and to whoever would listen. Since he was such a

                                  mysterious man, people were stirred by his hypnotic sermons.  He had no trouble assembling

                                  a congregation. Known to most people merely as  "Doc", Taylor was considered to be a kind

                                 and benevolent man. But at  the same time he was thought to be a little eccentric in his spiritual

                                  concepts. It was after he studied in  Virginia under the religious teachings of Swedenborg,

                                  a religious fanatic that he began to combine religion with his medicine.

 

                                  He held séances in his home and became known also as a spiritualist. Dr. Taylor admitted being

                                  a mystic as this characteristic of his made its appeal to women. He claimed to be a "seer", one

                                  endowed with the  ability to communicate with spirits and angels. It was said he was able to achieve

                                  healings through the  workings of the spirit.  He preached on Sunday wherever he could find a

                                  congregation, and always one was easy to find for people liked to be stirred by his hypnotic sermons.

                                  Wherever he rode the trails over the mountains he carried a Bible in his saddle bags. And in these

                                  bags also were herb medicines. He was considered to be a good medical doctor although he

                                  had attended no medical college.  On occasions when he was asked how he knew information that

                                  had been secreted to only a few, Doc would answer:   "The spirits told me".

                                  

                                  Doc commonly moved in and made himself one of the family when called to a home where there

                                  was an illness. Usually he stayed to wait on the sick until the person got well or died. His patients

                                  were mostly treated with a simple herb remedy,  but on those  occasions  when more  treatment

                                  than herbs was necessary, Doc turned to other methods.  At these times, to aid with his medical

                                  science Doc would often call upon the  "spirits" to lend a hand.

 

 

                                  The red-headed, red-bearded, spiritualist with the smile on one side of his face and sometimes

                                  snarl on the other would leave the house.  He would walk some yards away to a secluded place

                                  and raise his arms toward Heaven.  He might stand there for hours, transfixed, praying, hands

                                  upraised to the heavens earnestly, calling on  the spirits to assist him. After a period of time

                                  he would enter the home of the afflicted person to proclaim him cured, or if the felt the need,

                                  repeated the process until his patient was healed. Many of the people he treated claimed to

                                  have been cured in this manor, without the aid or need of medicine or herbs. Even today there

                                  are families eager to tell, how their great grandmother, when young, would send for Dr. Taylor,

                                 and how he  would cure her without giving any medicine at all.

 

                                  Doc knew how to talk with his patients, sitting beside them on their bed or next to them at the

                                  fireplace. The mystic spoke  with them much as a psychiatrist of today might converse with a   

                                  patient.  After discerning the ailment, he would then lay his hands on the injured or ailing person

                                  as he mumbled a few words and incantation-like mutterings.  Doc would stand and say:

                                 "Now, my dear sister, I'm stepping outside the door. I'll lift mine eyes to the heavens and

                                  concentrate. Meanwhile you concentrate too. Concentrate on me. Don't let your mind stray.

                                  Soon you'll feel an inner glow. That'll mean you're healed. When it happens, call me."

                                                               

                                                                                       

                                                                                                           Dr. Marshall Benton Taylor, alias "The Red Fox"

 

 

                                  His unusual medical practices with its mystical healings were not the only things that set Doc Taylor

                                  apart from others of his community. As he traveled in his medicine practice, Doc became familiar

                                  with every trail that led though the thick laurel of the mountains. Undoubtedly, it was this knowledge

                                  of the mountain paths that led to what seemed to be Doc's ability to appear and disappear in the

                                  forests at will, thus gaining his title, "The Red Fox".

 

                                  Riley Mullins told of running across Doc Taylor, ‘The Red Fox’ of the mountains one day. Riley said

                                  he was walking alone on a road that runs through Pound Gap. As far as Riley knew there was no

                                  one else within a mile of him and everything was quiet-like, when all of a sudden who should be

                                  walking by his side but old Doc Taylor, the Red Fox of the Cumberland’s.  Well Doc had heard about

                                  some big talk Riley had made about not being afraid of any man other than the devil himself.  

                                 Old Doc just walked on down the road beside Riley and never said one word to him.                                 

 

                                 By that time Riley was getting pretty scared as the devil and if he was going to be killed he wished it

                                 was soon be over and done with. But the next thing he knew, Doc was gone, just like he appeared,

                                 nowhere to be seen. As he went on down the road, he decided to take a chew of tobacco so he put

                                 his hand in his back pocket to get his Star Navy  and found a little piece of candy poke.  On it, in

                                 all kinds of fancy writing were the words 'Watch out Uncle Riley or the Devil will get you when you

                                 mess with the Fox."

 

                                 He was so fired up scared he said, "I jest took out running down the road till I got to where Jenkins

                                 is now, to a man's  house by the name of Poindexter who lived at the foot of the mountains and

                                 stayed there till I was sure Doc Taylor was good and gone,  "far from those neck of the woods." .

 

 

The material on this website is copyrighted (C) 2001 by Nancy Wright Bays &  Patty May Brashear

                                                          

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