Samuel and Martha Taylor sat peacefully in front of the small campfire after another long day of travel had now passed debating just how much farther they would travel along with the wagon train. Four months had passed since they had packed up their belongings and began the westward journey, and the rough terrain was now becoming a burden on the expecting mother. Samuel had made the decision to inform the wagon master in the morning that this was as far as he and his wife would go and the camp sight they had set up would be their new home.
Samuel began constructing their home as he slept, and soon after the other wagons had re-started their journey his task of building the house in his dreams began.
Working long and hard for weeks on end, the task at hand was finally completed a few short days before winter began to set in. It was during a heavy snowstorm when Martha and Samuel were blessed with their first child. The happy moment came just as the morning sun began to rise, which made the long ice cycles that hung in front of the window look like a crystal chandelier. Disregarding the previous names they had picked out, the baby girl was adeptly named Crystal.
It was late spring when another wagon train entered the small valley, and Samuel and Martha happily greeted the weary travelers, a few of which inquired if they too could make the valley their home. Samuel and Martha were pleased to have neighbors, and on July 27th 1823 when Samuel smiled and jokingly said, "welcome to Taylorville" the town was born.
Four years later, a total of twelve families now called this valley their home, and together they decided that this would be a perfect location for all westward bound travelers to both rest, and replenish whatever supplies they could provide.
Since they had already worked together growing a large garden for themselves, they increased their efforts and had more than enough for travelers to purchase, mostly by barter, to build their town even bigger.
Twenty years later Taylorville had become quite well known to both travelers heading west, and ranchers that would pass through as they drove their heard to market. The town now sported two salons, along with the various stores and eating establishments that had been erected, all of which were quite profitable.
Taylorville relied heavily on the money spent in the town, and the thirty families that now called this their home were constantly trying to come up with ways to increase revenues, one of which was having women available for the men who spent time and money after months on the trail.
Although the women that lived there thought that to be a good idea, and some even volunteered, Samuel and the three men who now considered the towns counsel rejected that proposal partially, and had other ideas.
Discrete advertisements in the large eastern cities such as Philadelphia and Boston were placed for women to be employees of Taylorville, employees that would be known as civil servants. In the mean time, any women not married, and if needed, those whose husbands didn't object were allowed to work for the good of the town if they chose.
A second floor was added to the two salons, along with a newly constructed hotel, to provide housing for the newly hired civil servants, and a place to "work".
The town counsel now felt that with more and more people entering their community, rules, or laws were needed. Other than a fist fight between two men that argued over would get the last spot at the bar, the town hadn't experienced any type of crime in its short existence, but knew that day would soon come and began preparing.
Since whatever laws they deemed necessary had to be enforced, Jim Davis was appointed the towns' first sheriff, solely on the fact his was the biggest and strongest man in the town. Just what should be considered a crime, along with what should be the punishment was next on their agenda.
Swift punishment had always been the rule of law in many towns' years ago, and Taylorville was now no different. The court consisted solely of a judge that was assigned to a specific territory, while the prosecutor was the towns' sheriff. Taylorville was not only quick to determine a person's guilt; it also handed out severe penalties.
Common thieves who were found guilty, were strapped to a post in the center of town and given fifty lashes with a bullwhip, and left to stand in the for the entire day while the town folk would spit or throw rocks at them.
Someone convicted of being a horse thief, was immediately hanged after the trial, as was a convicted murderer. Adulterous women, if the husband whished, were put in locks and branded as such, and faced a lifetime of scorn and ridicule, while the men involved, if not married themselves, faced thirty days in the towns jail. Married men were beaten as thieves, and the banished from the town forever, along with their families.
Although quite hard on the women who sought sex with someone other than their own husbands, there were no penalties for such behavior if the woman in question was not married or had the husbands' approval to "work" for good of the town along with the hired civil servants.
Most of the ladies who responded to the advertisements were cognizant of what their duties for the town would be, but in some cases a few thought they were being hired for other types of work. One such young lady was Amanda Evans, who came to Taylorville to be a schoolteacher. Taylorville had no school, but the town counsel realized that it was something that was needed, and Amanda was now in charge teaching the children how to read and write.
A very young and attractive lady, Amanda became the target for many of the available unmarried men, one of which was Josh Davis, the youngest son of Jim Davis, the town sheriff.
Amanda thought Josh to be quite friendly, but never considered announcing that she would be his wife, something Josh wanted desperately. Fearful that she may choose another eligible man in town, Josh would "remind" folks that it was his father that was sheriff, in hopes it would be a warning to stay clear of Amanda.
The day that Thomas James arrived in Taylorville set off a series of events that would change the small town dramatically. Born and raised in Philadelphia and the son of a preacher, Thomas was taught to be God fearing and be respectful of everyone, even an adversary.
Along with polite demeanor, Thomas was also a very handsome young man that quickly got the attention of all the women in Taylorville, including those who were married.
Deciding not to continue his travel farther west, Thomas staked a claim on a parcel of land a few miles west of Taylorville making that his new home. He would travel into town every couple of weeks to purchase supplies, and to everyone he met he would smile and always yes sir or yes ma'am.
The men of the town would hear how the women spoke of him, and they began to develop an inner distain for Thomas, and would watch him closely. They especially disliked the yellow bandana he wore around his neck, which they soon felt was his way of attracting their women.
One day after loading his wagon he took the bandana and wiped his sweating brow just as Amanda was approaching and tipped his hat and said hello while shoving the sweat soaked bandana in his back pocket. As he climbed onto the wagon the bandana fell from his pocket, and was quickly picked up by Amanda who called out, but Thomas was too far away to hear. She knew he would be back in town in another week or so, and placed it inside of her bag, intending to return it at that time.
Three nights later Josh Davis staggered from the salon on the west end of town and began walking towards Amanda's home that was located just across from the schoolhouse. The effects that he felt from the whisky, was giving him courage to once again ask for Amanda's hand.
Amanda had just finished her nightly bathing and was taken by surprise when Josh walked in without knocking. Josh was fearful she was about to scream for help and clamped his hand over her mouth to silence her while he pleaded once again. Thinking that Josh was about to take liberties with her, she struck him with the water ladle in attempt to protect herself.
Angered, Josh shoved her away, and she fell hard to the floor, striking her head on the edge of the bathtub. Thinking that she had just been rendered unconscious, Josh knelt down and tried to awaken her, but she didn't respond. Seeing the large amount of blood that pooled on the floor beneath her, he realized that she would soon die if not provided medical attention.
As he stared at the half naked body in front of him, he began to panic. He certainly couldn't call for help as he realized he would be found responsible for her death if she did die, and possibly of raping her as well, something he knew would result in him being hanged.
Hoping that somehow it would be felt that she had accidentally slipped, Josh slipped out of the back door and rushed home.
The next day the children sat patiently awaiting for Amanda to begin class, but after an hour had passed since school was to begin they all thought something was wrong. Sheriff Davis was summoned and he walked across to Amanda's house to investigate. Knocking a few times without a response, he walked through the unlocked door and discovered her lying near the bathroom door.
The sheriff's first reaction was to think she was dead, but noticed that she was still breathing slightly. Unfortunately, even with her wound bandaged, she had lost an enormous amount of blood and succumbed a few hours later.
Since she had already finished bathing and drained the tub, the sheriff didn't think it was an accidental fall, but thought it something far worse. With her dressed in her nightgown, which had been ripped during the struggle with Josh, the sheriff deducted that she was a victim of rape.
Looking around for any type of clue as to who the attacker was, he came across the yellow bandana on the table, a bandana that only one person wore, Thomas James.
Once the territorial judge arrived, the trial of Thomas James began, and the sheriff laid out his case against Thomas. Although he had no evidence to support his theory, the sheriff mad a claim that Amanda fought for her life while being attacked. Producing the yellow bandana as evidence, the sheriff pointed to Thomas and stated he had to have been the attacker.
The judge was very wise, and although a bandana had been found, and Thomas was the only one seen wearing one that color, he was not totally convinced. There was no one who came forward as a witness that could say they saw Thomas in town that night, nor did anyone say they had heard a thing.
When the judge inquired about Amanda's clothing, he was told that her nightgown was torn, and appeared she was a victim of rape. The doctor who bandaged her said he saw no other injuries other than the head wound, and when asked by the judge, he said her under garments were still in place.
Amanda was well liked in the town, which was not the case of Thomas James, and when the judge began to explain that he didn't think a rape had been committed, the town folk that were in attendance became angry. To them, there was not doubt, Thomas James guilty.
Fearful of mob action, the judge banged his gavel hard on the table he sat at any proclaimed.
"I will be the one who decides if this man is guilty, not you. Yes, you have given the bandana as evidence, but he has claimed he lost days before the death of your schoolteacher, and I find that a possibility. You sheriff, you have stated that Mr. James had appeared to all as a fine upstanding citizen of your community, and had always acted and dressed as such. This bandana reeks with the smell of stale sweat and is quite dirty. Is that what a man you described would be wearing? Further more, you claim that this young woman fought for her life, but the man accused had not one sign on his face, arms or neck of such a struggle, and you doctor, you said her undergarments were still in place. If a rape had occurred, would the attacker put them back in place? "
When it became apparent that the judge was going to find Thomas James not guilty of either rape or an attack on the beloved Amanda, the crowd got unruly and began shouting at the judge.
"Hang him" many began to yell, and the judge feared that was what was going to happen, and pulled his pistol from his holster and yelled.
"I find this man not guilty of the charges placed against him, and will justifiably shoot whoever tries to enact their own justice upon him. Is that understood?"
Thomas James let out a big sigh of relief, but euphoria quickly left him as the angry crowd rushed the judge and disarmed him before turning their attention to the still shackled accused.
The sheriff, the town counsel and the judge all pleaded with the now unruly mob that Thomas James had been found not guilty, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Dragging Thomas from the salon that served as the courthouse that day, they placed a noose around his neck and led him to the large oak tree in the center of town.
Seconds before the horse he was placed upon was whipped and allowed to run free, Thomas James screamed his innocence, and declared the town would someday pay for the injustice that they were administering. His words soon disappeared when the horse trotted slowly away, leaving Thomas James to kick franticly as the noose squeezed his life away.
One hundred and fifty years after that day, Taylorville once again greeted another newcomer to their peaceful city, a recent graduate of medical school, and now their new doctor who would take the place of Dr. Williams who moved on into retirement.