What is the connection between county Judge William R. Taylor, who died in 1923, and author Washington Irving, who visited Oklahoma in 1832 and wrote his “Tour on the Prairies”?
They never met in person, but they have a common relationship to a piece of land at NE 23 and Air Depot Boulevard.
In October 1832, Irving and his fellow explorers began their trip from Fort Gibson, and on Oct. 26, the travelers found themselves in a valley along Crutcho Creek. There, they stayed for three rainy days.
When the weather cleared, they continued their explorations south to the Moore area before turning back east to return to Fort Gibson.
Irving describes the location in his book, “On overtaking the troop, I found it encamping in a rich bottom of woodland, traversed by a small stream, running between deep crumbling banks.”
With a drizzle beginning, they prepared for rain and built shelters to keep their provisions dry.
“These precautions were well timed. The rain set in sullenly and steadily, and kept on, with slight intermission, for two days. The brook which flowed peacefully on our arrival, swelled into a turbid and boiling torrent, and the forest became little better than a mere swamp.”
William R. Taylor came to Oklahoma in 1890 after graduating from law school at the University of Michigan and was elected the first Oklahoma County attorney in 1891.
He served several terms as county attorney, was city attorney and was appointed a district judge in 1911.
He was elected county judge in 1919 and remained in that position until his death in 1923.
It was as county judge he found his passion in helping wayward boys.
He got the state Legislature to appropriate money for a boys home, not a prison, but a home where boys who had come upon hard times could be raised in a homelike atmosphere and attend school.
It was on that same land where Irving and his party camped that the county built a home for boys and named it for Judge William R. Taylor, a man who never married and had no children of his own, but had a great empathy for the less fortunate boys who often found themselves alone on the streets.
So, more than 90 years after Washington Irving camped along Crutcho Creek, Taylor Home for Boys was opened in 1924 and served youth for more than 50 years until it was abandoned in 1979 and demolished in 1995.
Crutcho Creek is still known to flood on occasion.