This is one of those threads that led to a huge ball of string. I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a Fiddler’s Green entry for Hancock Taylor McLean, an officer of the 6th U.S. Cavalry. Previously, I’d written an entry for Joseph Hancock Taylor, who served in the same regiment. Indeed, they were both original officers of the regiment. And both were from Kentucky. And there is the name similarity. Since Kentucky was not the most populous of states prior to the Civil War, particularly in the area of well-to-do families, a connection seemed likely. Were they related?

The answer is yes, in a somewhat convoluted series of marriages between two families. The first is Judge John McLean, associate justice of the Supreme Court. The other family is that of President Zachary Taylor. Rank hath its privileges, so we’ll start with the Taylors. Zachary Taylor had only one son, Confederate general Richard Taylor. He also had two brothers.

Zachary Taylor’s older brother, Hancock Taylor, had ten children. Hancock’s second child, Mildred Jane Taylor, married Judge John McLean’s son, also named John, in Jefferson county, Kentucky. Their first child was Hancock Taylor McLean.

Zachary Taylor’s younger brother, Joseph Pannill Taylor, married Judge John McLean’s second child, Eveline Aurilla McLean. Eveline was John’s older sister. Her fifth child was Joseph Hancock Taylor.

The short answer is that they were first cousins. As officers were initially assigned to companies as the 6th U.S. Cavalry was forming, Joseph H. Taylor was assigned as captain of Company F. The company’s first lieutenant was Hancock T. McLean.

Well, it’s always been said that the army is a small place….