History of Taylorsville

Taylorsville was established on The Gulf and Ship Island Railroad in 1900. The site was selected by an employee of the railroad. The post office was originally located about five miles away in Old Taylorsville, then was moved to New Taylorsville. Above is a photo of the old Taylorsville Depot. This established the present location of the town.

Old Stringer Hotel built early in the town’s history, burned in 1946. The town of Taylorsville was foundedĀ  as a result of an extensive pine forest that grew in the county and surrounding area. As lumber was very plentiful there, new businesses and homes both were rapidly built. Today the lumber industry is a vital part of the town’s economy. A branch plant of Georgia Pacific is now located in Taylorsville.

Mrs. Dorrence Eaton, a local resident and historian, shares her knowledge of Taylorsville history with the Taylorsville Signal…
“Around 1898 a road was built from Jackson to Gulfport and a branch road was built to Laurel. That’s when a town was established and called “Bullace”. The town changed names several times, then the post office was brought from Old Taylorsville to the new town, and the old town was referred to as Old Taylorsville.”

“Two hotels were built in town. The office for the town’s first newspaper, the Taylorsville Signal, was one of the first stores built in 1901. Taylorsville has always had a newspaper. The train depot was also an early building, and the first school was a very small room with two teachers, that slowly grew as the number of students increased. The first library was a dressing room off the school stage. Later a 12 year school building was built. “(at left)


THE WATKINS MUSEUM

The Watkins family became an institution in Taylorsville. John T. Watkins came here from Raleigh about 1900 and brought with him the old Washington press which he is said to have bought second hand. He ran the paper until his death in 1930, then his daughters, Hattie and Marie continued the operation.

During his lifetime, Watkins served as tax assessor of Smith County, superintendent of education, mayor of Taylorsville, and town treasurer. He was a lawyer, an editor, and a pillar in the Methodist Church.
His daughters grew up in the newspaper business which was also a country store, so that when it fell their lot to take over the paper, they were long experienced in the printing business.

Gradually, the family died off, but before the sisters’ deaths they made arrangements to give the old press and then tumbling down office to the town with the idea that it might someday become a little museum.

Here today may be seen not only the old printing equipment which includes old brass type, large wooden type, copper plates sent to the newspaper to advertise victrolas, early model refrigerators, patent medicines, etc., buckets of ink, other tools of the trade, but also a stock of merchandise. The latter includes an assortment of high-buttoned shoes, the original lace-up boots, ladies hats, baby ointment, copies of many magazines long since out of print, and numerous other items. On display are scores of old copies of the Signal, copies of old time sheet music, caned and cowhide-bottomed chairs, a spinning wheel and much more.