John S. Taylor (1871-1936)
Black Diamond Brand
Florida State Senate
Bank of Clearwater
Florida Citrus Exchange
John Taylor was born in Indian Rocks, Florida, in 1871. As a child Taylor grew up working on his parents orange grove and packing plant. His parents were considered Pinellas county pioneers and he was one of the first residents to be born in the Largo area.
Taylor built his first packinghouse in 1902 which became the center of Largo’s economy. He also originated the Black Diamond Brand in 1910. From 1905 until 1910 Taylor served as a Hillsborough County Representative in the state legislature where he advocated for the separation of Pinellas from Hillsborough County. Due to his efforts Pinellas County was created in January of 1912, and thus Taylor has been called “the Father of Pinellas County.”
From 1915 to 1923 Taylor served as chair of the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners, and in that capacity led in the building of better roads throughout the county. By 1912 Taylor had been elected to the Florida State Senate and in that chamber he pushed for pro-citrus legislation. In 1925 Taylor became president of Florida State Senate. Taylor joined many citizens’ groups in the opposition to teaching evolution in the public schools and in 1927 supported a bill banning the practice. The bill was narrowly defeated. In 1928 Taylor made an unsuccessful bid to become governor.
Taylor’s chief economic pursuit while in the legislature was his orange grove and packing plant. His groves and packing plant were mainstays for the Largo economy throughout the Great Depression. John Taylor also served as President of the Bank of Clearwater, Steward of Largo Methodist Church, and in 1932 he was a member of the Democratic National Committee. Taylor became President of the Florida Citrus Exchange in 1935. He died one year later.