A favorite son of Pendleton, brother of the famous Sheriff Til Taylor, died Sept. 11, 1925, in a freak accident in the run-up to the annual Pendleton Round-Up.
W.R. “Jinks” Taylor was born in Athena, Ore., in 1869. He spent time raising horses in Grant County but after his marriage in 1890 to Nellie Leeper, he made his home in Athena and Pendleton. Jinks Taylor served as a Umatilla County sheriff’s deputy under his brother, Tilman D. Taylor, for 18 years and took over temporarily as sheriff in 1920 when Til was shot and killed by escaping jail inmates. He was made chief of the Pendleton Police Department in 1921.
A well-known and respected Umatilla County resident, Jinks was given the honor of carrying the American flag into the Round-Up Arena every year on his favorite horse, King, to kick off the rodeo. He also made it his business to handle the stock for the Pendleton Round-Up each year. An ex-cowboy and one of the best riders in the county, Jinks and others were running roping steers through the arena and back to the holding pens when an open gate caused a general stampede for freedom across railroad tracks and toward the river. Jinks and King raced after the steers, but on the uncertain footing the horse stumbled and turned a somersault, trapping Jinks underneath him and breaking his neck. Seeing King running riderless, passers-by found Jinks and rushed him to the hospital, but his injuries proved too severe. He never regained consciousness.
His pall bearers were close friends and members of the Pendleton City Council. Honorary pall bearers were chosen from members of the Pendleton Round-Up board of directors. In honor of the fallen chief, all the city’s cigar stores were closed during the funeral services. Among those honoring Jinks at his funeral were the Pendleton City Council, fire and police departments; the Pendleton Round-Up; Universal motion picture directors Edward Sedgwick and Tenny Wright, and the Universal Company in Hollywood, who were in town filming a movie; patients at the Walla Walla veterans’ hospital; the federal prohibition office in Portland and its agents; and the county sheriff’s office and friends at the Umatilla County Courthouse.
Jinks was laid to rest in the Athena Cemetery. He left behind his wife Nellie, two daughters and three grandchildren.