J. Paul Taylor, the political legend and “Conscience of the Legislature” of New Mexico, passed away on February 12, 2023, after a brief illness. Born in Chamberino, New Mexico in 1920, Taylor had a remarkable life dedicated to education, ranching, and public service. He served as a state representative for the Las Cruces region from 1987 to 2005 and was widely known for his unwavering commitment to the people and communities of New Mexico.
His heart attack had happened earlier this month. Two years ago, a statewide celebration event featuring speakers, music, and special visitors was held to honor his 100th birthday.
Taylor was a true champion of the arts and preservation, and his influence on the state of New Mexico will long be felt. He played a key role in the creation of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, served as a member of the National Hispanic Cultural Center board of trustees, and was a decades-long member of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents. His generosity and civic-mindedness were reflected in the donation of the Taylor-Reynolds-Barela Historic Site in Mesilla to the state of New Mexico.
“You would be hard-pressed to find an individual as passionate about the people, culture and communities of New Mexico as J. Paul Taylor. For my own part, I consider him to be a friend and mentor who demonstrated the true heart of a servant, always striving to make New Mexico a better place to live for future generations. I have no doubt that the compassion and integrity he demonstrated throughout his 102 years of life will be felt for hundreds of years to come.Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, said the following:
In recognition of his contributions to the state, Taylor’s home on the Old Mesilla Plaza is now known as the Taylor-Mesilla Historic Property, offering visitors a glimpse into the history, culture, and architecture of the Southwest.
“I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends – as well as the people of New Mexico –for the loss of such a legendary leader and advocate.”
The passing of J. Paul Taylor marks the loss of a true public servant and a kind and humble leader. He will be remembered as a mentor, friend, and passionate advocate for the people and future generations of New Mexico. The governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, described him as “an individual as passionate about the people, culture, and communities of New Mexico as J. Paul Taylor,” and a man who demonstrated “the true heart of a servant, always striving to make New Mexico a better place to live for future generations.”
J. Paul Taylor Early Life
J. Paul Taylor was the son of his father William Robert Taylor who was a native of Texas, USA, and his mother, Maria Margarita Romero. Taylor was a well-known figure in his community, known for his distinguished ancestry and family heritage.
J. Paul Taylor was a driven and dedicated student who attended Valley High School, where his passion for journalism led him to become the editor of the school’s newspaper, the Valley High Booster. In 1938, he was given the chance of a lifetime when his journalism class took a trip to El Paso to attend an event honoring First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Paul was overjoyed at the opportunity to meet the First Lady in person and even more thrilled when he was able to shake her hand and have his picture taken with her as part of his journalism class.
J. Paul Taylor’s father was a native of Texas
William Robert Taylor William Robert Taylor, J. Paul Taylor’s father, was a native of Texas, USA. Although not much is known about his family background.
Taylor’s Mother Margarita was descended from Juan de Cabeza de Vaca
Maria Margarita Romero Margarita Romero y López, J. Paul Taylor’s mother, was a member of one of the most affluent familie, she was born in Romeroville, New Mexico. Her family’s history is rich and full of significant events, and her ancestry is linked to several well-known historical figures.
J. Paul Taylor Ancestry and Family Tree
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s Expedition
According to the oral history of the Taylor family. Margarita’s ancestry can be traced back to Juan de Cabeza de Vaca. A soldier who was part of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s famous 1540-1542 expedition in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. This expedition established a Spanish military foothold in New Mexico, in what was then known as New Spain’s far north.
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Juan de Oate’s Journey to the American Southwest
Another familial connection can be found through Cristóbal Baca. Who was related to Juan de Oate’s second journey to the American Southwest. Oate’s 1598 journey marked a significant event in New Mexico’s history, and Margarita’s family was proud to have a connection to this historical event through her grandpa, Francisco López.
Santa Fe Plaza and the Spanish Empire
Margarita’s great-grandfather, Manuel Francisco Delgado, lived on the Santa Fe Plaza and served as second in charge of the Santa Fe Presidio. Manuel’s daughter, Josefa Delgado de Romero, was married to Margarita’s grandfather, Miguel Romero y Baca. Manuel was a trader along the Santa Fe Trail and his ancestors owned the Delgado Mines to the east of Golden. Families such as the Romero, Delgado, Baca, and Lopez were part of a prestigious military outpost of the Spanish Empire.
J. Paul Taylor Relation with his Wife, Children, and Grandchildren
J. Paul Taylor is a well-known historian, paleographer, archivist, writer, and photographer. He was dedicated to his family and wife Mary Daniels Taylor, and their seven children, 17 granddaughters, and 18 great-grandchildren.
Marriage to Mary Daniels Taylor
J. Paul Taylor and Mary Daniels Taylor got married in 1945 and remained married until Mary’s death. Mary was a prominent figure in her church and neighborhood and was also a skilled historian, writer, and researcher.
She was raised in El Paso, Texas, near the Rio Grande and Smeltertown, where her father oversaw the cement factory. In 2004, she released her renowned book, “A Place as Wild as the West Ever Was: Mesilla, New Mexico: 1848-1872.”
Partnership in the Pursuit of Knowledge and Contribution to the Field of History
J. Paul and Mary committed themselves to help the people of New Mexico, and Mary was the perfect partner for Paul in this endeavor. They traveled the backroads of southern New Mexico with their seven children in tow. Searching for ancient paths and important landmarks. Mary had scoured primary sources from the archives to find these locations. The two were also responsible for having the diocesan archives in Durango, Mexico microfilmed, making it easier for academics to access this valuable data.
The research conducted by J. Paul and Mary Taylor has greatly expanded and improved our knowledge of New Mexico’s past. The New Mexico State University Library, Special Collections, currently holds copies of the archives in Durango. Their dedication to preserving the history of New Mexico has made a lasting impact on the field of history.