1839 – 1925
Hood County Sheriff, State Legislator & Mayor of Dallas
By James B. McCrain
John Henry Traylor, state legislator, son of Robert B. Traylor, was born on March 27, 1839, in Traylorsville, Virginia. He was a descendant of one of the first families to settle in the Virginia colony in 1695. The family moved in the early 1840s to Troup County, Georgia, where Traylor’s father served in the state legislature for several years.
In 1861 Traylor joined Company B, Fourth Georgia Regiment of the Confederate Army. He served throughout the war in the Army of Northern Virginia and was wounded at Warrenton, Spottsylvania Courthouse, and Chancellorsville. He was a scout and sharpshooter for General Stonewall Jackson and was within a few yards of the general when Jackson was mortally wounded by his own troops.
In 1867 Traylor left Georgia and moved to Jefferson, Texas where he set up as a merchant. He married Pauline Lockett in 1869 and moved to Granbury in 1871.
In Granbury Traylor began surveying and selling land. He was elected sheriff and tax collector of Hood County in 1876 and was reelected in 1878. He was elected in 1881 to the Texas House of Representatives, Seventeenth Legislature, as a representative from Hood, Somerville, and Bosque counties. He introduced more successful legislation during this term than all other representatives but one. He was elected to the state Senate in 1883 from the Thirtieth Senatorial district. As a member of the legislature, Traylor was involved in lowering railroad fares from five cents a mile to three cents a mile and for repealing the law that granted railroad companies 16 sections of land for each mile of construction. He was also instrumental in assuring that the State Capitol would be made out of Texas pink granite.
Traylor left the legislature and moved his family and business to Dallas in 1887. There he was elected mayor in 1898, an office he held until 1900. During his administration the first brick and asphalt paving was started in the city. Traylor and city attorney William P. Ellison are credited with devising the commission form of city government, though this type of system was not implemented elsewhere for another two years.
Traylor moved to Rockport in 1907 after twenty years in Dallas. He died on March 19, 1925 in San Antonio and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Dallas. He was survived by his wife, four sons, and one daughter. Another son preceded him in death. Traylor was a Methodist.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1925.