Lizzie (Williams) Taylor: 1871 - 1960

My 2x great grandmother, Lizzie Williams Taylor, was born around 1871 in Laurel Hill, Louisiana in West Feliciana Parish. “Mama Lizzie,” as she was affectionately referred to by her children and grandchildren, was the 2nd child born to Sheppard Williams and Mary Lee, also natives of West Feliciana Parish.  My great-grandmother, Essie (Taylor) Mckinley, originally told me that her mother was the biological daughter of her mother, Mary’s, former slave owner, Colonel Richard H. Haile, owner of Laurel Hill Plantation and that “Shep” Williams raised her. However, DNA evidence proved that Sheppard Williams was her biological father. One piercing question for me is – why did Lizzie not know that the man who raised her was her biological father?

Mama Lizzie’s other siblings were:

  1. Johnny Stone (1865 – ????)
  2. Robert Williams, Sr. (1873- 1943)
  3. Kate Williams (1878 – ????)

On May 23, 1891, at the age of 20, Lizzie married Samuel Pickett in West Feliciana Parish. To this union, two children were born:

  1. Johnny Pickett (1891 – 1954)
  2. Susie Pickett (1893 – 1964)

Lizzie divorced Samuel shortly thereafter and bore another child named Jeff Sterling (1895 – 1948) with a man named Virgil Stirling (1850 – 1930), a former slave, and the son of Colonel Lewis Stirling, owner of Wakefield Plantation, and his slave, a woman named Cecille Bryant.

Later, Lizzie married George Taylor, a native of Wakefield and son of Nelson Taylor, Jr. and Martha Morgan.  To this union 4 children were born:

  1. Laura Taylor (1899 – 1966)
  2. Nelson Taylor (1903 – 1978)
  3. Essie Beatrice Taylor (1907 – 1992)
  4. Ernestine Taylor (1908 – 1925)

George Taylor and Virgil were first cousins due to the fact that their mothers, Martha and Cecille, respectively, were half-sisters by their mother, Linda (Weathers) Morgan, a slave born on Wakefield Plantation around 1814.

Sometime after the births of her children, Lizzie was stricken with an unknown illness that left her paralyzed from the waste down for the remainder of her life. Not much is known about the causes of her illness. Those who I interviewed over the years had no remembrance of her walking which suggests she loss the use of her legs in her 40s or 50s (between 1910 – 1920).

Lizzie died on July 5, 1960 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the age of 89 although her death certificate inaccurately reported her age.


  1. Information obtained from the oral histories of Essie (Taylor) Mckinley, Ruby (Mckinley) Jenkins, Sanders Willis, Jr., and Susie (Hammond) Green
  2. Lizzie Taylor’s Death Certificate referenced on 2 May 2020 
  3. Marriage Record of Samuel Pickett and Lizzie Williams; “Louisiana Marriages, 1718-1925;” New Orleans Public Library; acquired 25 July 2013
  4. Lewis Stirling’s Register of Slave Births  – 24 Feb 1857; “Lewis Stirling and Family Papers;” LSU Libraries and Special Collections, Louisiana State University; Acquired by Kirk Young on 23 Jun 2012
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