Henry Reuben Taylor was born in the town of Plymouth, county of Windsor, state of Vermont on 03 Oct 1877, as the oldest son of Warren Reuben Taylor and Augusta Bates. There were two children in the family, himself and his younger sister Stella who never married. When Henry was in his early teenage years, his Mother Augusta bought and ran the Travellers House Hotel in Sherburne Center, which is pictured in one of the accompanying photos as it looked in 1897.
As described in the Town History of Killington, Vermont, the hotel was build in 1840, enlarged for a tavern in 1863, and run by Benj. Maxham for 18 years. In 1889 Augusta Bates Taylor, great aunt of Oren Bates and grandmother of Mrs. Florence Taylor Hall owned the hotel. In 1891, Ida Perkins married Horace Wilson and they lived at and ran the hotel for seven years. There was no running water, so they drew a barrel of water daily from a spring barrel and watering trough 500 ft. away (at the post office). Horace bargained with Mrs. Taylor that if she would provide the pipe he would dig the ditch, which he did. After it was laid, she mentioned to him that it hadn't been covered over. "That's right, Mrs. Taylor, I only said I'd dig the ditch." So she had to pay for covering it, much to her dismay.
The Taylors always reserved a room for themselves in the hotel in case they came to Sherburne on business. They also owned the Michael Smith House next door and occupied it on the 31st of March each year, bringing livestock with them from Plymouth to escape the higher taxes on personal property in effect in that town. In fact, this led to a lawsuit filed by Plymouth vs. Sherburne to recover lost taxes. Testimony of Mrs. Wilson clinched the matter concerning their residence in Sherburne, and Plymouth lost the case. This lawsuit was reputed to have cost $30,000 to pursue, but the actual figure was probably $3,000, and still a grand sum of money in those days. There was bitterness over this lawsuit, as reported anecdotally by one of Henry’s daughters, Florence Taylor, since the prosecutor who lost the case was a Republican who ran the town of Plymouth at that time.
The Taylor hotel and house were located on farmland, which was the source of the food for both the family and guests who stayed at the hotel. So as a youth, Henry tended the animals and crops to become familiar with how to earn a living from running a farm. This was hard labor, since much of the work was done with horses and oxen. Hay for the cattle and horses was harvested by horse drawn mowers and rakes and pitched by hand into the barns. Winter heat was obtained by logging trees on the mountainsides, and then cutting the logs by hand, so that the cut pieces could be split by axe to a size to burn in the fireplace. It was during one of the firewood splitting work sessions that an axe head came loose and penetrated so deep into Henry’s skull that it could not be removed. For the rest of his life, that axe head remained embedded in his skull. Most likely due to this skull injury, another injury followed during a heavy logging operation, where he severely injured his spine so badly that he could never walk upright again, giving him an awkward hunchback appearance. His nickname after that was “Humpy,” and a name he did not like.
Gertrude Hammond was born on 20 May 1881 in the town of West Medford, Middlesex county, Massachusetts. She was one of 5 children (all daughters) of Thomas Hammond and Susan Lydia Rounds, who was born in Massachusetts in Nov 1857. Not much is known about Gertrude, except that she grew up in Carlisle, Massachusetts, which is where Henry probably met her during one of the Taylor family business trips to secure equipment and supplies for their hotel and farm.