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Lonn Wood Taylor Literary Landmark

Jeff Davis County Library

Fort Davis, Texas

Lonn Wood Taylor (1940 - 2019) was director and curator at the Winedale Historical Complex in Central Texas, curator at the Dallas Historical Society, and deputy director of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. In 1984 he went to Washington, D.C., as the historian and director of public programs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Taylor had a major role in preparing several of the museum’s permanent exhibits. One of his most renowned projects involved the history of the Star Spangled Banner, which resulted in his book, The Star Spangled Banner: The Making of An American Icon.

After a career in museums, curating exhibits, and scholarly writing, Taylor moved to the small town of Fort Davis in West Texas with his wife Dede in 2002. There he found a different calling writing a weekly column, “Rambling Boy,” for the Big Bend Sentinel. He developed an even wider following by reading his columns on Marfa’s public radio station. Taylor collected many of his columns into books, including Texas, My Texas, Turning the Pages of Texas, and Marfa for the Perplexed, a book of touching and humorous pieces about the history, land, and people who settled and live in this remote and fascinating corner of the state. According to the Washington Post, he chose the title because of tourists who “came to Marfa because they read about it in the New York Times, and now that they are there, they can’t figure out what the town is all about.”

His last work, Child of the Sun, a memoir of his childhood in the Philippines was published posthumously after his death in 2019.

About the Jeff Davis County Library in Fort Davis, Texas
     

Jeff Davis County Library is the focal point of the Fort Davis town square. Prominently located in the 1906 Union Mercantile building, this newly renovated library serves the tri-county area. The Friends of the Jeff Davis County Library strive to showcase the writers and literary heritage of West Texas, hosting many authors and book signings over the past twenty years. Librarians work to acquire new publications by regional writers to highlight in their displays. Jeff Davis County Library is also home to special Southwest and rare books collections. Notably, Lonn Taylor was a frequent guest. He gave public events for the library's “Lonesome Dove” exhibit, as well as popular library walking tours. Jeff Davis County Library presently owns nearly all of Lonn Taylor’s books and featured a special exhibit of these when he passed away in August of 2019.

Page last modified: September 2, 2021