In 1936, Josephine L. (Taylor) Beer owned this residence at 237 East 100 South. A ten room, two-story house built in approximately 1871, it had previously been owned and occupied by Josephine’s mother, Louisa (Capener) Taylor.
Louisa’s father, William Capener, was a master cabinet maker from England who traveled on a trip to New York City in 1834. He liked what he saw and his wife and children soon joined him to make the United States their permanent home. Capener worked as a carpenter in the shipyards of Cleveland, Ohio, and was converted to the L.D.S. religion by a Cleveland neighbor. The family was ready to travel to Utah, but Brigham Young asked them to stay and provide shelter to the many immigrants and missionaries traveling through the region. The Capener family were financially prosperous in Ohio, but finally in 1852 left behind a house with large gardens. Multiple wagons packed full of their belongings crossed the plains to Utah, including a melodeon (organ) which Louisa adored and regularly played. Reportedly the first melodeon to arrive in Salt Lake, Brigham Young convinced William Capener to sell it to him, much to the chagrin of Louisa.
William Capener purchased property in the 300 East block of 100 South of Salt Lake City, and reportedly established the first cabinet shop in Utah. William’s wife was Sarah Verrinder, a cultured woman who had been a seamstress to nobility in England and spoke fluent French (according to daughter Louisa’s reminiscences).
Their daughter Louisa Capener married Joseph E. Taylor, and he joined her father as a cabinet maker. In 1860, Louisa and Joseph Taylor were living in the residence of Louisa’s parents. Soon afterward, according to family history, Louisa grasped another opportunity for the family. As Louisa’s daughter, Elizabeth, recalled:
President Brigham Young announced from the stand in Sunday afternoon meeting in the old Tabernacle that Jessie C. Little, City Sexton, had asked to be released as he did not like “burying the dead.” President Young asked if anyone present would volunteer to take his place. My mother, Louisa R. Capener Taylor, was present at the meeting, and the thought came to her that her husband could fulfill the vacancy. That evening she suggested the same to her husband, Joseph E. Taylor, who went to President Young and offered to take the job and was accepted. Plans were made for father to dig the graves, and my grandfather, William Capener, who was a cabinet maker and established in the furniture manufacturing business, was to make the coffins.
My mother [Louisa Capener Taylor] would assist in preparing the bodies for burial. These were times when some of the people were in such poor circumstances they could not purchase burial clothes. My mother would take her linen sheets or other suitable cloth, some of which was brought across the plains, and supply the clothing.
Joseph E. Taylor became the City’s most prominent undertaker, and was also the Salt Lake City cemetery’s sexton.
Later, Louisa Capener Taylor divorced Joseph E. Taylor and ran her own household at 237 East 100 South until the 1920s, just down the street from where her parents first settled. She later moved in with her daughter, Josephine and husband, Dr. William F. Beer. Josephine inherited 237 East 100 South, the third generation to continue the family’s stewardship of buildings on 100 South. The property was later sold to St. Mark’s Episcopal Parish (the Cathedral Church of St. Mark had always been next door), and the house was torn down in 1951.
Sanborn map from 1889 showing the 200 East block along 100 South, including the 237 East residence and Joseph E. Taylor’s company (click the image to enlarge):
Sources (for details contact the Archives):
Census records: Utah, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, 1860-1930.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: Salt Lake City, 1889, sheet 016. Mountain West Digital Library. Accessed 01/29/2015.
“Joseph E. Taylor bows head under weight of many years hard toil,” Salt Lake Herald, 1913-02-19. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed 01/29/2015.
“William Capener Family History” by Lucile Hanks Brown White. Accessed 01/29/2015.
Tax Appraisal Cards and Photographs, 237 East 100 South, serial 1-2643. Salt Lake County Archives.