Killing in Glenwood Springs
“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Monteport Gunshots echoing through Glenwood Springs the afternoon of Sept. 26, 1935, reported the feud between William Noonan and Harvey Taylor had reached a tragic climax. In the end, both men would pay a price in some fashion for the conflict. Both lost their reputations.William “Bill” Noonan was a man whose good reputation was made by legacy and by self-creation. Born Oct. 22, 1894, in Glenwood Springs, his father, John L. Noonan, was a highly renowned criminal lawyer and politician. His Irish mother was well-respected in Glenwood Springs’ upper social circles. His sister, Eleanor, was praised for her English and foreign language teaching at Garfield County High School. Noonan won notoriety with his outstanding mastery of the game of baseball while he attended Stanford University. He served as an infantry lieutenant during World War I, and joined his father’s law practice in 1920 after receiving his Stanford law degree. As an attorney, he received respect from his colleagues throughout the region.Taylor came from humbler beginnings, but also had a good personal reputation. A man about 20 years Noonan’s senior, Taylor had been a farmer and more recently a man who did day labor and odd jobs around Glenwood Springs. Taylor had a wife, Mary; daughter, Cecel; and son, Norris.The intersection of the Noonan and Taylor families occurred around 1930. Noonan resided with his parents at their home in Noonan’s Grove, now in the Cowdin Drive area of Glenwood Springs. Mary Taylor had been hired as the Noonan’s domestic. Cecel, a 1932 graduate of Garfield County High School, worked as Noonan’s legal secretary. Harvey Taylor performed janitorial services at Noonan’s office in the Noonan Building at 209 Eighth St.The relationship between the two families soured in about 1934 after the death of Noonan’s parents. His sister, Eleanor, had married and moved from Glenwood Springs. At the age of 40, and for the first time in his life, Noonan was alone to make his own choices. Health problems, fears, insecurities, and a manipulative personality fueled Noonan’s actions.He could maintain his professional life, but personally, vices took hold which Noonan adeptly kept from the public eye. Allegedly alcohol played a larger role in Noonan’s life, with what would be described as “wild parties” involving women being held at the Noonan home. Mary Taylor was often called in the middle of the night to cook for these parties. Harvey Taylor strongly disagreed with Noonan’s lifestyle.All was not well at the Taylor home. Noonan’s demands upon Mary’s time and her accommodation to those demands sent Harvey into a rage. Noonan did not pay him for the work he had done. There were rumors his daughter Cecel had become involved with the handsome attorney. Cecel estranged herself from her father and took residence elsewhere in town. Noonan’s persistent demands drove a wedge into the Taylor household. In the summer of 1935, Mary and Norris Taylor purportedly moved into the Noonan home.Verbal altercations between Noonan and Taylor escalated, with Noonan stating often and publicly that he would “get” Taylor and warned him to stay away from Noonan’s Grove. Taylor requested a firearms permit, but was refused. He obtained a .32 caliber automatic handgun anyway.At 1:15 p.m. Sept. 26, 1935, William French parked a car across the street from the Noonan Building. Noonan exited the car on the passenger side. Taylor rose from a bench next to the livery stable on the corner, raised his gun and fired at Noonan. The first shot struck Noonan’s abdomen. Taylor then directed French to stay in the car or “he would kill him, too.” Noonan started across the street to his office, but Taylor followed, continuing to fire. One shot found target in Noonan’s arm. Seven more shots struck Noonan’s abdomen. Taylor later stated that he shot Noonan in such a way as to give him time to make a will.Taylor walked to the Garfield County Courthouse, turning himself and his weapon in to Sheriff Winters. Noonan was taken to Porter’s Hospital at 802 Grand Ave., where he did draft a will before he died two hours later. On Dec. 7, 1935, Taylor was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to not less than 10 or more than 15 years of hard labor at the Colorado State Penitentiary. As the sordid details of two men’s personal lives became public, it became apparent that a man’s reputation is made or lost by his last memorable act. Good deeds – whether done by a successful attorney or a sturdy and responsible common laborer – are meaningless unless the doer possesses a stable moral compass. Unfortunately for Noonan and Taylor, their last deeds exhibited the cruel side of their natures. This is only what the community remembers more than 70 years later. There will be no redemption for either man. Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours, now in effect, are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448. “Frontier Diary” appears the first Tuesday of every month.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Sticks in the mud. Overly cautious. Obstacles to progress.