Coggswell - Taylor Cabins

Virginia City National Historic Landmark District

The history of these two false-fronted cabins, joined by the 1890s, is interwoven with Virginia City’s African-American pioneers. The two separate, 1860s log cabins served both residential and commercial purposes. Minerva Coggswell acquired this property, according to her will, “by her own hard labor.” She and her sister, Parthenia Sneed, were among a few adventurous, independent black women who carved niches for themselves in western communities. The sisters took in laundry, ran a Wallace Street restaurant, and by 1880 kept boarders like Kentucky-born African-American Jack Taylor. Taylor served in the Union army during the Civil War and came to Virginia City in 1866, freighting for the outfit of Majors and Russell. Taylor continued freighting, accumulated livestock, and owned considerable property, including these cabins purchased after Minerva’s death in 1894.  Taylor lived here until he died in 1926. Sarah Bickford, who rose from slavery to become Virginia City’s competent water company owner, cared for Taylor during his last illness and then acquired the cabins. Taylor’s tombstone in Hillside Cemetery recalls a life of honest labor: “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest shall not cease.”



Jackson Street, Virginia City, Montana ~ Private