By Naomi Hatch
Jean Standifird Lipe did a Google search in hopes of finding information on the branch of her family, the Standifirds, that settled in Taylor. A story in the Silver Creek Herald about Aquilla Standifird and the Standifird home in Taylor came up, so she contacted the Herald.
Lipe then arranged for a visit to Taylor to see the sights, bringing along a sister and a brother, and their spouses. Lipe, Tommy Standifird and his wife Ruby, who live in Muskogee, Okla., and Wanda Standifird Beck and her husband Elbert of Beaverton, Ore., visited Taylor June 9. They went to the cemetery, the Standifird home and other historic sites to learn more about their family history in Arizona.
The siblings are children of John Jacob Standifird, the son of William Burcham Standifird. John Henry Standifird, who settled in Taylor on March 7, 1878, just after James Pearce came on Jan. 23, 1878, is their great uncle.
John Henry Standifird was called by Brigham Young, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to serve a mission in Arizona and later was called by LDS Apostle Erastus Snow as the first LDS bishop in Taylor. He immediately went to work building a church and other buildings in Taylor.
The Aquilla H. Standifird home was built in 1890 by the Willis brothers for the Brimhall family, and in 1905, Aquilla Standifird and his family moved into the home.
The Standifirds have played an important part in Taylor history, not only as some of the first settlers in Taylor, but for bringing back the tradition of firing of the anvil.
Frank Hunt Standifird was born June 10, 1915, in Taylor and was the first son and seventh child of Aquilla Frank, a son of John Henry, and Eva Hunt Standifird. Gyle Crosby Standifird was born Dec. 25, 1917, and was the second son and eighth child.
Hunt, Gyle and another brother Jack fought during World War II, with Hunt and Gyle making the ultimate sacrifice.
In July 1943, Hunt and Gyle were sent to England, Gyle as co-pilot and Hunt as bombardier on the same plane. They flew approximately 15 missions across the Channel in a B-17 called The Passionate Witch.
In September 1943 they were sent on a mission over Emden, Germany, the Germans’ submarine base. They were about 20 miles from Denmark in the North Sea when their plane gave the S.O.S. and they headed back to the Dutch Coast. Gyle had one engine on fire, one completely gone and two shot up pretty bad. That was the last anyone heard from them. Gunner Johnny Hess’ body was found with the downed plane in January.
Hunt and Gyle were declared missing in action and Jack thought that they went down over the North Sea, but no more is known about their disappearance. Their dad always felt that they were prisoners of war in Russia and would come home some day.
Jack received an honorable discharge and came back to Taylor, where he lived until his death several years ago. He donated the Standifird Home to the Taylor-Shumway Heritage Foundation.
The tradition of firing of the anvil in Taylor on the 4th of July began in the town’s early days, but stopped for a period of time. It began again in 1952 when the Aquilla Frank “Quill” Standifird family, with the help of Jodie McCleve, began waking up the town at 4 a.m. Taylor has become famous for having the loudest and earliest method of beginning the Independence Day celebration.
Eventually Standifird’s son Jack and son-in-law Monk Frost took over, and Gordon Thornhill and Frank Frost, grandsons of Standifird, carried on the tradition from 1997 until Thornhill’s death in 2005, with his children keeping the tradition alive today.
Join the Taylor Independence Day celebration on Saturday, July 5, and take a tour of the Standifird home and the other Taylor-Shumway Heritage Foundation homes, which will be open from 1 to 3 p.m.