GEORGE MERRILL TAFT is an extensive landowner and one of the native sons of Roscoe township, his birth having occurred upon the old family homestead here in 1855. The Tafts trace their ancestry back to Robert Taft, a prominent citizen of New Hampshire, the family having been established in New England during an early period in the colonization of the new world. Levi M. Taft , the father, was born in the state of New York and was taken to Ohio by his parents when only six years of age. There the days of his childhood and youth were passed and when he had attained man’s estate he came to Illinois, arriving in Winnebago county when a young man of twenty-one years. He found here a district largely wild and unimproved and from the government he entered a claim, thus securing a tract of one hundred and ninety acres upon which he spent his remaining days, devoting his undivided attention to agricultural pursuits. He was a hard-working man and his diligence and frugality were the basis of his success, for as the years passed he emerged from a limited financial condition and took his place with the more prosperous citizens of the community. He was likewise interested in general improvement and development of the county and was active and helpful in community affairs. He served as highway commissioner and in other offices of trust in his township and his political allegiance was given to the republic party, for he believed that in its platform were embodied the best elements of good government. He married Electa Gregory, also a native of the Empire state and his death occurred in 1889, when he was seventy years of age, while his wife survived until 1894, passing away at the age of seventy-nine years. In their family were four children, of whom two died in infancy.
George Merrill Taft, the only member of the family now living, was reared in Roscoe township and has always lived upon the old homestead which is endeared to him through the associations of his boyhood as well as those of later years. His father trained him in the work of the farm and he became practical in his methods of caring and for the fields and in all that promised substantial development here. He continued in active operation of the place until about two years ago, since which time he has rented most of his land. His possessions in this county aggregate more than five hundred and fifty acres and he likewise has farm property and fifty acres and he likewise has farm property in other states. He has been very successful and his realty holdings are the visible evidence of a life of thrift, industry and capable business management.
On the 23d of November, 1876, Mr. Taft was married to Miss Cora B. Carpenter, who was born in Roscoe township and is a daughter of Newton Carpenter, a pioneer resident of this locality. Five children graced this marriage, of whom three are yet living. Helen is the wife of Nelson McColl and has three children, Donald, Mildred and Lawrence M. Edith and Edna are twins. The former married Ross Buchanan and the later is the wife of Harry Morse and has one child, Carroll.
As one of the native sons of Winnebago county, Mr. Taft is very familiar with its history, having been a witness of the events which have shaped its policy through a half century. His life proves the value and force of industry and enterprise in wresting fortune from the hands of fate and by his persistency of purpose and careful investment he has become the owner of valuable and extensive landed interests.
Source: Charles A. Church, Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1905), p. 538.