In the "Odd
coincidences" department, this family's story
involves a woman named Byrd and one nicknamed
30, 1903, a Chicago mother, twenty-nine-year-old Birdie Dryden,
hosted an afternoon theater party for her twelve-year-old son,
Taylor, and a teenaged visitor from St. Louis,
Robert Caldwell. A few hours later, Birdie's husband, John Dryden,
identified the body of his wife and son, while an
uncle traveled to Chicago from St. Louis to identify Robert Caldwell's body.
The Caldwell boy was
identified by a custom engraving on a watch
that had been a Christmas gift.
Girrard Taylor Dryden (b. 1869),
nicknamed Birdie, was one of four children born to
Judge William Roley Taylor (1823-1903) and Susan
Garrard Peers Taylor (1834-1925).
Birdie married John Dryden Jr. (1865-1932) and a
year later gave birth to their
only child, Taylor Dryden
(b.1891). The Dryden
family moved to Chicago from Farmington, MO in 1902
or 1903. In Chicago, twelve-year-old Taylor Dryden
attended the Ray elementary school on 57th and
Monroe (today's Kenwood) in Hyde Park. (See
At the time of Birdie and
John's marriage, John (also known as Jack) was in
business with Birdie's father, Judge William Taylor.
The judge had previously owned a 1,250-acre mine
known as the Taylor Mine that he sold to the Doe Run
Lead Company. He then purchased 1,295 acres in Flat
River near Farmington, MO area, and hired John
Dryden to drill a 200-ft shaft. Following the
discovery of ore, they formed the Flat River Lead
Mining Company, capitalized with $350,000 ($9
million adjusted for inflation). Though Taylor was
the majority shareholder, Dryden had a small piece
and was an officer in the new company, as well as
the general manager. They hired one hundred men,
built processing facilities, housing, and two
company towns, Leadville and Taylor Place. In 1898,
when water in the mine became a costly problem,
Judge Taylor sold the property to St. Louis Smelting
and Refining (sometimes called "the National"). SLS&R
sank a new, deeper shaft. Sometime after that, John
Dryden and his family moved to Chicago where he
worked as a salesman for Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett
& Co. hardware.
Four years after losing
his wife, child and business partner, John Dryden
married eighteen-year-old Marjorie Pitts. The
pair had a daughter and he spent his final years in New York City, NY.
Fifteen-year-old Robert Porter Caldwell (b.
1888) lived at 4368 Morgan St. in St. Louis.
The son of widow Lucy Byrd Teasdale Caldwell
(1859-1927) and the late Thomas Wilkens Caldwell. He had one sibling, an older
sister named Anna Lou
Robert, Lucy and Anna lived
with Lucy's prosperous brother, Charles H. Teasdale (1853-1908).
(Charles was a second-generation participant in his
father's grain trading company, J. H. Teasdale
Commission, and an investor in a variety of other
produce and mining companies. A month before
the fire, Charles acquired another one hundred feet on
Morgan St. in St. Louis, adjacent to his house, from
his brother, John Edward Teasdale.) Also
living in the
large home was Lucy's
sister and her husband, Louisa and William B.
Harrison. William was the uncle who
traveled to Chicago to identify Robert's body.
Rev. Dr. W. J. Williamson of
the Third Baptist Church in St. Louis conducted
Robert Caldwell's funeral services. Burial followed
at the Bellefontaine Cemetery. Robert Cotton,
Clayton Teasdale, Elmer Neville, Dwight Hurlburt,
Harry VanCleave, William Goodloe, Ralph Wind and
Archie Summerville were pallbearers.
Other than mutual St.
Louis origins, and Charles Teasdale's involvement,
like John Dryden, in Missouri zinc and lead mining,
the connection between the
Taylor-Dryden-Caldwell-Teasdale families is not
known. Perhaps a St. Louis historian or
genealogist will find this page and be able to offer
Robert's older sister Anna
Caldwell later married William B.
Moody and spent much of her life in Denver, CO.