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Heritage history: A cowboy tale

We live in a state full of prehistoric history, western pioneer history, Mormon history and particularly Cowboy history. As one example of Mormon/Cowboy history Carlos “V” Taylor stands out as a great character. How many people have you known that can put a bullet through a dime from 100 yards? The shot was challenged by someone pointing out that the bullet wasn’t perfectly centered. Carlos put him in his place by letting him know that he had been “aiming for FDR’s eyes.”

Photos courtesy of Laurel Beesly.

His personal story began before he was even born. It covers three generations and documents some big changes in Utah history. Go back in time to the late 19C. when his grandfather Earnest Guy Taylor and his three wives were sent by Brigham Young to Mexico. Brigham Young had been sending missionaries into Mexico to search and find potential new Mormon settlement sites. He foresaw a need to establish escape routes for polygamists fleeing prosecution and envisioned a string of Mormon colonies from Utah to Brazil.

Grandpa “Guy” was sent in to deal with some troublesome issues regarding the young colonies. He was a wild hothead so that assignment did not go well.

Carl, the father of Carlos, was six-years of age when the family was escorted out of Mexico by Mexican patrols and resettled initially in Texas during the “Dirty Thirties” depression era. Carl was also a stubborn hot head, luckily he married a much kindlier woman and Carlos was born. By the time he was six years old little Carlos was milking cows and feeding chickens. Because his father had that bad temper the family had to move often and he ended up going to nine schools before graduating.

His record of success began when he met 13-year-old Valerie Jean Taylor (they are not related.) He was 16, and three years later they married. By 21, Val had three babies in diapers and their life was going strong. Young Carlos had initially gone into construction jobs, alternating those jobs with years ranching. Ironically, his eventual mentor not only gave him a premier job at Christianson Construction but a ranch to run as well. He also helped Carlos found his own successful Taylor & Sons Construction & Landscaping Company.

But for this man, Carlos, that was not enough. After a serious motorcycle accident, he decided to give up the bike and buy a horse. Carlos bought an untrained Appaloosa Quarter horse.

Pawnee Dew would turn out to be an amazing animal that would change the lives of everyone in their family. Pawnee proved to be an unbelievably talented all-event horse, competing in cow cutting, western pleasure, calf roping, reining, pole bending, pairs pleasure, barrels, keyhole and trailer races. Their first-born, Tammy, was the first one to show a serious interest in riding and soon she and her sister Judy would go on to win most every rodeo and even Queens competition they attended.

The sisters and bridle less reining on the talented Pawnee? No problem. A Slide Stop? They had it down and did it the best. The Taylors were changing the style of Rodeo Queening and horsemanship. The jump mount, flip reins, the grab horn – what they did not only changed but improved the previous best style. Carlos and his wife Val were always in the mix of school Rodeo clubs and private students. They were dedicated ambassadors for horsemanship and rodeo performance.

As their children left, Carlos went back to being a cowboy. He rode for several ranchers, including Butch Mills and Robert Grey. He decided on a mule instead of a horse and bought the now infamous Rowdy. Years later, he admits that he should have wondered why the mule was named Rowdy and why there was a “sold as is” and a “no return” on the sale. Rowdy lived up to his name but also proved to be hard-working and smart. As Robert Grey will testify, during one day of hard work at the ranch he went through four well-spent horses and Carlos rode just Rowdy.

About this time, Carlos stepped into yet another role – this time he became a Reel Cowboy, as in TV reel actor. He had the attitude, looks and horse skills for film and ad modeling.

Carlos, to the end of his days, proved that he was a one-of-a- kind hard-working man who was proud of his western heritage and most of all – of his own family. This article barely begins to record their tremendous story, but that is probably true of many families here.

Carlos reluctantly parted from life on November 27. The last year before his passing he and his wife of 67 years, spent telling together telling the wonderful stories of their shared lives to a biographer. Carlos was an extraordinary storyteller.




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