I admit, the first time I heard of Pearl, like you, I probably thought, well so what? Who is she? But I hope you come to learn that Pearl is not just one gal, she’s loads of different people. She’s the one who got me truly interested in ancestry and art, and taught how much we have in common, and how far we have come, from past generations.
Pearl’s story was shared with me by my mother and grandfather. Pearl was my grandpa’s aunt. I was lucky to have grown up with my grandpa Vic Taggart sharing stories of his childhood in the Ozark’s; and my mom can go further back and recalls lively dinner conversations of her grandparents, who fought on both sides of the civil war. One side could trace all way back to the Mayflower, and the other an English Quaker. My grandma brought her own stories to the family: of horse races at Exposition park, about the one time legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta and his gang of cutthroats came through her family’s Los Angeles rancho in Green Hills (near present day Watts), how her grandmother had fled Tucson after her family was massacred.
But still, who’s Pearl? Why Pearl? True, Pearl is only one woman, one ancestor, but she represents so much more to our community than one person’s story could ever tell. She is important because she teaches us to look at all the stories that came before us, and to look at what story we are creating today for future generations to learn from. So as you read about Pearl’s life, think about your own family history journey.
Most of Pearl’s life was spent in the Township of Lakeside in Bingham Lake, Cottonwood County, Minnesota. Her father and mother were early settlers of both Bingham Lake and their former residence in Girard, Macoupin County, Illinois, and the Taggart name is well documented on early plots as well as historical records for early postmasters and other official positions. They even donated the land and made the bricks for Blackburn College, which still stands today.
Pearl’s uncle, David Porter (or DP as often referred to) Langley of her mother’s side (Fannie Langley) was friends with Abe Lincoln. Pearl’s mother is also a direct descendent of George Soule, passenger of the Mayflower in September, 1620. Her ancestors came from Holland, England, Scotland, and Ireland.
In Bingham Lake, Pearl was a schoolteacher, and her friends included cousins and another girl from Idaho, who happened to have a brother named William Woodard Coates, attending the Normal School and involved in teaching as well.
Pearl and Will would wed in March, 1894 at the family home in Bingham Lake. However things didn’t go without a hitch. According to the local paper, Will was late to his own wedding and received quite a storm of rice upon his train arrival the following day. The town indulged in the wedding feast prior to his arrival, and the couple wed the day after the scheduled vows.
Pearl and Will almost immediately move to Ontario, California following their wedding, a move that would come to haunt her mother. It was hard to lose your daughter to a far off land, and nobody knew that great tragedy would befall on the newlyweds, despite their best efforts.
Life in Ontario must have been exciting, as the city was new and bustling with the latest inventions and master-planned social design dubbed “The Model Colony” and offering excellent schools, homes, farming, railroad access, and more. Running water at the fountain was intentionally turned on as guests arrived, as to be impressed with the latest amenities.
Will took Pearl to camp out in the foothill springs of the San Gabriel mountains in a wholesome and earnest effort to cure her Tuberculosis. Though unsuccessful in healing, this time provided a slower pace and likely prolonged their short time together as best as nature would allow.
With the inevitable demise that the Consumption brought on, Will felt compelled to bring his wife back to Minnesota for what would be the remaining weeks of her life, in order to be with her family. She would turn 24 just weeks prior to passing. A short life, though, is not one unfulfilled. She was known for her hope and her pure love for her family, new husband, and her community.
In typical Taggart fashion, her father met them in Sioux City to travel the rest of the way home together. A short time later, they laid her body to rest in their hometown cemetery. This was less than six months after her marriage.
Will would not marry again for many years. His heart was broken and the letter he writes home to Pearl’s mother says so. Will would go on to become a prominent teacher in the Los Angeles, Pomona, and surrounding area, as well as running an insurance agency which was later replaced by Coates Cyclery, a well-loved family establishment.
The lasting stories of Pearl and Will have been carried down for generations, each time invoking a sentimentality for family and a desire to live our lives by her shining example. Her life was full, her love was realized, and I hope she would be proud of the inspiration she continues to invoke in the living.
Hi, I’m Aimee. Through my love of family history and art I have come to life to inspire our community to come together and share their own stories, photos, and memories.
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