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)
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." .
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