Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Passing in the Southland

Will my soul pass through the Southland
To my old Virginia grant?
-- “The Legend of the Rebel Soldier,” traditional

I hope that when we pass on we have a chance to pass through the places that mean the most to us. I’d like to imagine that L. B. Taylor, Jr. of Williamsburg, Virginia is still touring the haunted grants of Virginia that he wrote so fervidly about.

Perhaps he’s meeting the ghosts that became so familiar to him through his many books of Virginia ghost lore. Perhaps he’s being greeted by ghostly coach and horses from Rosewell Plantation in Glouchester. Perhaps he’s touring the grand plantations along the James River and the historic farms and battlefields of the western part of the state. Perhaps he’s meeting the heroes and villains from the pages of the Old Dominion’s history: Jeb Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, John Wilkes Booth, Nathaniel Bacon and Powhatan.

Taylor never set out to write about ghosts. After the Lynchburg, Virginia native graduated from Florida State University with a degree in journalism he worked as a writer for NASA and later for the BASF Corporation. After working in a book about haunted houses he focused his research on his home state publishing his first volume on Virginia ghosts in 1983. He would pick up the tradition of documenting Virginia folklore from Marguerite DuPont Lee, who first published her landmark Virginia Ghosts in 1930.

His first volume would serve as a basis for more than twenty volumes on the state’s ghost lore. While some books focus on the state in general, Taylor did tighten his focus for other volumes specific to the Tidewater, Richmond, Williamsburg, Lynchburg and Roanoke, among others. Initially, he self-published many of his books, but later worked with Stackpole Books and History Press to publish a few volumes. Taylor leaves behind a marvelous legacy: a well-researched, written and meticulously cataloged oeuvre documenting the hauntings of one of the paranormally active states in the South.

To Mr. Taylor, I wish you a fine journey! You have left many grateful readers and researchers behind and it is my sincere wish that our paths will cross once I make my final journey through the Southland. Bon voyage, sir!

Carter, Rusty. “Williamsburg author L.B. Taylor Jr. dies.” The Virginia Gazette. 25 February 2014.

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