Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Mary Lyon Taylor  

Mary Gertrude Lyon b. March 17, 1872 Ripon WIsconsin d. January 5, 1956 Indianapolis, Marion county Indiana, buried Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis Marion county Indiana, the youngest child of Daniel Brayton Lyon and Tirza West Lord

married July 6, 1898, in Indianapolis, Indiana Edward A Taylor Birth: Jan. 1865 Indiana d. 14 Feb 1934 San Diego California son of William Alexander Taylor and Margaret E. Shade , who was associated with the Taylor Belting Company in the Wholesale District a family owned business, 247 S. Meridian St. Taylor & Smith, later known as the Taylor Belting Co., produced a wide range of machine parts, including pulleys, power

They resided 1945 N. Pennsylvania Street, a view of it today. The family left the home in 1921 accidently leaving Mary's negatives behind in the attic.

She and her sons and moved back to Minnestoa in 1908 near her father becasue of her husbands harsh discipline of the youngest boy but within the year had reconciled and Taylor returned to Indianapolis. Negatives of the Pillsbury family of Minneapolis suggest that she may have continued photography during their separation when she needed the income.

The Creative Life of Mary Lyon Taylor

    Mary was trained in art at home in Wisconsin and abroad. She specialized in miniature painting and educated herself in the art of photography.

    She acquired a snapshot camera in about 1899.

    The Taylors seemingly lived a prosperous life with live-in maids and nannies in an affluent neighborhood.

    Yet financial difficulty led created the need for Mary to draw an income and to ease the burden by starting a home portraiture business in 1906. As Mary's artwork became more skilled, she was asked to do photographic portraits of famous Hoosiers, including the Lilly family. Photography was a socially acceptable profession for women, who were recognized for their artistic compositions and ability to bring out the inner character of sitters.

    Mrs. Taylor was very artistic. She was adept at painting, and when the family faced severe financial problems in 1906, Taylor decided to improve her photography skills to earn income. She studied photography magazines and was probably influenced by photographic exhibitions held at the John Herron Art Institute, just two blocks south of her home, which had a camera club.

    Her photography work is classified as “pictorialist” style, an artistic photographic genre characterized by its soft-focus appearance. Family and friends posed for her in her upstairs drawing room parlor, and eventually she traveled to the sitters’ homes., charging $100-200 per order.

    Taylor’s models, usually women and children, were posed artistically, often holding open books, or flowers. Diffused light from a window highlighted the lace gowns, plumed hats, and beaded shawls. She developed the negatives in her darkroom. Once dried, she used a graphite pencil on the negatives to soften lines on the faces of her older models.

    Gustav Stickley’s Craftman magazine gave her photographs an eight-page spread in 1907, stating:
      The group of photographs reproduced here seemed to us to be of special interest, because they are the work of a woman who took up photography only as a pastime, and not more than a year ago, and who already has gained a charm and individuality in her work that entitles it to a place among the best efforts of many Secessionist of far greater experience and extent of achievement.

    Taylor’s career slowed in about 1908 when she separated from her husband and moved her two sons to Minneapolis to be with her family. After about a year the couple reunited and Taylor returned to Indianapolis. Negatives of the Pillsbury family of Minneapolis suggest that she may have continued photography during their separation when she needed the income. In 1911 her photograph of Ruth Fletcher Hodges holding a camera won first place in the Kodak Advertising Competition.

During the 1910s, the Taylors owned three cottages on Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver , Indiana. Mrs. Taylor and her sons spent the summer months there, with Mr. Taylor visiting on the weekends.

In 1921 the Taylors bought Orchard Hills Addition, a thirty-five acre plot of land on Millersville Road near Brendonwood, north of Indianapolis, and tried to run a dairy farm. at Fall Creek Road and Orchard Hill Lane.

She was also an accomplished poet and needlepoint artist.

A talented musician, Mary played the piano and began publishing sheet music (20 pieces) while she lived at Orchard Hills. Her music was played on local radio stations and performed by the Indiana Theatre [Theater] Orchestra, Indianapolis Athletic Club Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Biltmore Concert Orchestra.

After the unsuccessful attempt at operating the dairy farm , the family moved to California during the great Depression. The Taylor's first living in La Jolla, and later in Beverly Hills. after the death of her husband in 1934 and her oldest son’s suicide in 1950, Mary returned to Indianapolis with her son Heber in 1950, and developed the old dairy farm, known as Orchard Hill, into a residential project.

When her old home was being restored in the 1980s by David Stahl, graphic designer. David Stahl when he and his wife bought the run-down house next to the home they were restoring at 1939 N. Pennsylvania Street in Herron-Morton Place neighborhood - 1945 N. Pennsylvania Street. Like many urban pioneers, the Stahls purchased the derelict house to improve their block. Three or four years later David finally explored the attic where he discovered wooden crates filled with Kodak boxes. Inside were nearly 400 glass plate negatives in old manilla envelopes, many hand labeled with names dusty but remarkably well preserved, considering the poor storage environment found in attics. Stahl, who had done design work for the Indiana Historical Society (IHS), arranged for the collection to go to the Society’s library in 1985. And in 1992 he IHS had arranged and archivally rehoused the collection of 372, 6 1/2' x 8 1/2' dry plate glass negatives.

For more information on the Mary Lyon Taylor Collection see the collection guides P0178 and P0281, in the Indiana Historical Society library.

Through a little research for an exhibit, the remarkable but brief photographic career of the photographer, named Mary Lyon Taylor, became known. A book about her life and work has been published:
    The Pictorialsim Mary Lyon Taylor
    John E. Hostetler

also an article: Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History No. 1 (WInter 1994) 35-39 :

Edward Taylor with sons Heber and Edward
    Edward Lord Taylor born August 21, 1899 Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana Death: 23 Jun 1950 Los Angeles

    Heber Newton Lyon Taylor born on June 3, 1901 Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana Death: 9 May 1995 - San Diego California buried Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis Marion county Indiana; unmarried

Year: 1900; Census Place: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana; Roll: 387; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0038
Name: Edward Taylor[Edward Fagler]
Age: 35
Birth Date: Jan 1865
Birthplace: Indiana
Home in 1900: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital Status: Married
Marriage Year: 1898
Years Married: 2
Father's name: William A Taylor
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's name: Margarett E Taylor
Mother's Birthplace: Ohio
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
William A Taylor 62
Margarett E Taylor 53
William J Taylor 23
Harrold A Taylor 17
Edward Taylor 35
Mary G Taylor 27
Edward Taylor 9/12
Laura Ellington 25
Edward Cox 24

Year: 1910; Census Place: Indianapolis Ward 3, Marion, Indiana; Roll: T624_367; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0064 Name: Edward Taylor
Age in 1910: 45
Birth Year: abt 1865 Birthplace: Indiana
Home in 1910: Indianapolis Ward 3, Marion, Indiana
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Mary Taylor
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's Birthplace: Ohio
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Edward Taylor 45
Mary Taylor 38
Edward L Taylor 10
Heburn N L Taylor 8
Mary Harrison 35
Carl Schultze 71

Year: 1920; Census Place: Indianapolis Ward 3, Marion, Indiana; Roll: T625_451; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 68; Image: 828
Name: Edward Taylor
Age: 53
Birth Year: abt 1867 [abt 1865]
Birthplace: Indiana
Home in 1920: Indianapolis Ward 3, Marion, Indiana
Street: Penn
House Number: 1941
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Mary L Taylor
Father's Birthplace: Indiana
Mother's Birthplace: Indiana
Able to Speak English: Yes
Occupation: salesman
Industry: catters
Employment Field: Wage or Salary
Home Free or Mortgaged: Mortgaged
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Edward Taylor 53
Mary L Taylor 47
Edward Taylor 20
Heber Martin Taylor 18

Year: 1930; Census Place: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana; Roll: 611; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0091
Name: Edward Taylor
Birth Year: abt 1865
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Indiana
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Head
Home in 1930: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana
Map of Home: View Map
Street address: Meridian Street
Ward of City: 6
Block: 57
House Number in Cities or Towns: 410
Dwelling Number: 3
Family Number: 98
Home Owned or Rented: Rented
Home Value: 75
Radio Set: Yes
Lives on Farm: No
Age at First Marriage: 33
Attended School: No
Able to Read and Write: Yes
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's Birthplace: Ohio
Able to Speak English: Yes
Occupation: Salesman
Industry: Mill Supplies
Class of Worker: Wage or salary worker
Employment: Yes
Household Members: Name Age
Edward Taylor 65
Mary Taylor 58

Through A Glass Negative, Darkly
By Yaël Ksander
Posted May 16, 2011

Taylor’s soft-focus, sepia-colored photographs of tranquil domestic interiors were featured in an eight-page spread in Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman magazine

A trove of 400 glass plate negatives found in the attic of an Indianapolis home in the 1980s resuscitated the name of a once-celebrated female photographer. In addition, the discovery illuminates life in the upper reaches of Indianapolis society around the turn of the last century.

The 6 ½ by 8 ½ glass plate negatives found in a home in the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood on the northside of Indianapolis were taken during the first decade of the 20th century by Mary Lyon Taylor. Born to a prosperous Wisconsin family in 1872, Mary Lyon had had some art training by the time of her marriage to Indianapolis businessman Edward Taylor in 1898.

But her photographic experience was limited to taking snapshots with a Kodak Brownie by 1906, when a decline in the family’s fortunes spurred Mary Taylor to set up a photography studio and darkroom at her North Pennsylvania Street address. Studying the pictures she found in art periodicals and at the nearby John Herron Art Institute, Taylor outfitted herself with supplies from the H. Lieber Company and set up her photographic portrait business.

Her two sons and close female friends providing her first subjects, Taylor quickly achieved national renown for her “pictorial” photographs, in the impressionistic style championed by Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secessionist group.

Taylor’s soft-focus, sepia-colored prints representing tranquil domestic interiors were featured in an eight-page spread in the November 1907 edition of Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman magazine, the preeminent organ of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Taylor’s pictures were also exhibited nationally as part of the fifth and sixth American Photographic Salons, which included a stop at Herron.

aylor’s critical success was accompanied by numerous commissions, taking her into the homes of the Indianapolis elite, from James Whitcomb Riley and Mrs. Josiah K. Lilly, Sr., to Meredith Nicholson, whose children she photographed.

A year-long separation from her husband and temporary relocation in Minneapolis precipitated an abrupt end to Taylor’s photographic career in 1908. Nonetheless, three years later Taylor won a $500 prize in a Kodak advertising contest with one of her earlier, copyrighted shots. In later years, Taylor served as president of the Indianapolis Women’s Needlework Guild, wrote poetry and published music.

Mary Lyon Taylor
By WFIU Staff
Posted March 7, 2005
Mary Lyon Taylor first moved to Indianapolis in 1898 when she married Edward A. Taylor, a local businessman. She settled into the typical life of an upper middle-class Victorian woman until 1906 when the family fell on hard financial times and she was forced to consider how she could contribute to her family’s livelihood.

Already a talented artist and painter, Mary decided to pursue photography as a means to enrich the family’s income. She became interested in a technique known as pictorialist photography, which uses soft focus and the contrast between light and shadow to create painting-like images. Over the next decade she created portraits of some of Indianapolis’s most prominent citizens, capturing the quiet, peaceful side of domestic life and the intimacy between mother and child.

By the 1920’s the Taylor’s financial situation had improved, and until her death in 1956, Mary took few photographs. Instead she expressed her creative side through needlework, writing, and music composition.

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