John “Jack” Hays Taylor was a gunfighter and killer who was involved in the notorious Sutton-Taylor Feud.
Jack was born to renowned Texas Ranger, Creed Taylor and his wife Nancy Matilda Goodbread in 1842. Though Jack inherited his father’s talent with guns, he didn’t follow in his footsteps as a hero.
The Taylors were an anti-Reconstruction southern Texas family and staunch Confederate supporters, which would later lead to the notorious Sutton-Taylor Feud. However, before that began, Jack already found himself in trouble. In November 1867, Jack and his brother Phillip were visiting Fort Mason, Texas, when they were harassed by Union soldiers. When one of the soldiers knocked Jack’s hat to the ground, Taylor calmly drew his pistol and shot him. More soldiers quickly gathered around the Taylor brothers attempting to arrest them, but a gunfight broke out, and the Taylors shot and killed an army sergeant before fleeing out of town. In the meantime, the Sutton-Taylor Feud was brewing on their home ground of DeWitt County, Texas.
On August 23, 1869, the Suttons, who were also law officers, had an excuse to go after the Taylor brothers due to the killing of the soldiers. As Jack and Phillip were riding near their father’s ranch in the early morning, they came upon a posse of Sutton “Regulators” led by Jack Helm. Jack and Phillip fought back when the Sutton group opened fire on the pair. When the smoke cleared, Phillip was wounded but able to escape. However, Jack was killed, but not before he had hit five of the “Regulators.”
Jack Taylor is buried in the Bird Cemetery in Caddo, Texas.
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.