DUNBAR SAGA – Dear Taylor

The last of Lewis M. and Polly (Powers) Dunbar’s children to reach adulthood was Taylor born January 16th in 1849; of course, in Franklin Township in Montgomery County. He was educated in the area schools, and married Nancy Elizabeth Parrish four days before his 17th birthday. The Terre Haute Express August 9th, 1883 (see photo from the same) described Taylor as being “5’8″ and weighing 168#, and very well proportioned, had dark hair and eyes and wore a full beard.” It went on to say that he was a temperate, honest inoffensive man, all of which you can think on as you read the rest of his story!

Taylor’s occupation was two-fold. He had a small grocery in Darlington, but also a weekly huckster wagon he drove out to the farms to deliver goods to the farm wives who couldn’t get into town for various reasons (children, no buggy …) and was greatly appreciated for such. His life was good, so in love with Nancy and the proud poppa of five children (although many of the reports upon his death had three and four, none having the correct number).

So, it was huckster time and he went out on the 14th of November in 1882. Local resident, Joseph “Buck” Stout decided to catch a ride with him and took a gun along for hunting. Buck was just 21 years old, engaged to be married to an Indianapolis girl, had fair complexion, dark hair and blue eyes. He was slightly less in height and weight as Taylor, being 5’7″ and about 150#. He did farm labor for some of the local farmers, having been born and raised in New Richmond and having lived on a farm with his family near Darlington since age 14. It is believed that Buck was epileptic which may/may not have been influential in the outcome of this story.

No one really knows what happened in the next few hours but Buck never denied his doing in it, just how exactly and why the affair occurred was always in some question. Several saw Buck leave with Taylor that day and the two were seen together along some of Taylor’s stops. At a gravel pit a few miles south of town, the two went into the fields and woods to hunt. Taylor was never seen alive again. The gravel pit workers heard several shots in the direction of the woods and near noon two rapid shots. Thereafter, Stout was seen quickly crossing the road heading toward New Ross. A few hours later, two men named Booher found Taylor’s team still hitched. Recognizing it as Taylor’s they rang a bell (likely to let the farm wives know he was there) in the wagon to attract attention but no one came to help. However, “Dunbar’s dog which had been with him that day came to the fence, turned and ran back. The Boohers went to a nearby farm, Endicotts and told about the mired huckster wagon, the dog acting funny and so they all went to find the dog who was sitting “as near as possible to the body of his master!” Two scalp wounds made by a freshly cut hazel club that was near and two gun shot wounds were found, the club wounds would not have killed the man but either of the gunshot wounds could have. He presented a horrible sight and his pockets had been gone through for anything of value which was taken from his person (which panned out to be a mere $4 and his watch).

The sheriff was called and a long list of minuses pointed to Buck Stout (blood on his hands and shirt when he got a ride with Morgan Johnson; bought a new shirt at New Ross; pawned Taylor’s watch). When caught at Indianapolis, Buck never denied the fact he killed Taylor but he really didn’t know why, his money he guessed although later he said it was because they quarreled over a quail. At the jail in Darlington, a very large group planned on hanging Buck but one brave man said that can’t be, we are good citizens – can’t take this in our hands, and so most left with their heads down. Buck was then transferred to the new Crawfordsville jail with a tough don’t mess with me sheriff, later moved to Rockville to await what would come.

After the circuit and superior court trials and change of venue to Parke County plus a plea to Governor Porter (who said nope, Buck had had excellent lawyers, all was carried out properly) for a reprieve, so Buck was hanged for his deed. Dressed in a neat, well-fitting black suit, wearing a boutonniere, he removed his hat and gave great devotion to the prayer then joked that the noose fit perfectly. When asked if he was ready to die, he answered he was and hoped that the good Lord knew he was sorry. At the hanging, there was one lone woman, dressed in black, a pretty lady with dark complexion, dark eyes and coal black hair. She was Taylor’s wife, Nancy, and she was heard to say, “If the sheriff doesn’t want to hang Buck, I think I have the necessary fortitude to do it!”

Nancy learned the dressmaking trade and did an exceptional job at taking care of her and Taylor’s five children (ages 3-12 at the time of Taylor’s murder). First was Leonidas (born 12 Dec 1868 in Clinton County) called Lon. He married Pearl Humphrey who was a barber as he was. They moved to Macon, Georgia not long after their Jan 1898 marriage in Marion County where they worked at their trade. They lived in a large boarding house in Macon until Lon got sick. They returned to Indianapolis where he suffered for six months with leukemia before he passed away 10 September 1901. Buried in Crown Hill. Don’t believe they had children.

Six children (Robert, Hazel, Lottie, Garnett, Walter and Fred) blessed Taylor’s second child, Minnie (born Oct 3, 1870 died in Kokomo 27 May 1952) who married Woodford Hamilton who was a plumber and died young, as well, leaving Minnie a widow for 44 years. Nancy remained close to this family, loving on those grands and greats.

“Ardella” found in the 1880 census turned out to be Alpha Rhetta born 12 Jan 1873 died in Kokomo 11 May 1928. She never married and lived with her mother most of her life, passing away a few months prior to Nancy.

Mary Elizabeth was their fourth child born in February 1875 and died 8 Dec 1937. She married Edward John Kious who was in the ice cream business in Lafayette for several years. In his lengthy sickness, they went to California to regain his health and barely made it back home again to Indiana before he died March 10, 1919. He is buried at Spring Vale in Lafayette. She had loved LA and returned where she passed away. They had three daughters.

Frenzy (born 17 Oct 1879) in the 1880 census turned out to be Frances Pearl but supposed she may have been nicknamed Frenzy – it’s cute. She married Leslie Orrin Vance 10 Oct 1907 in Kokomo and passed away in Traverse County, Michigan 30 Sept 1948 – they have a beautiful stone in Maple Grove Cemetery there. They were parents of at least two daughters, Elizabeth and Alpharetta.

Nancy passed away in Indianapolis. She had been born in Casey County, Kentucky 20 Jan 1849. She remarried George Maxwell in Thorntown Aug 12, 1886 and believe he died young since she was listed as a widow in the 1900 census. She died 26 Nov 1928 and is buried in Crown Point Cemetery in Kokomo, but I think it is sad she’s not buried with her dear Taylor. Rest in peace to both of you (Taylor and his beloved Nancy) who experienced joy but also much sorrow in your lives!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at