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Tell Taylor

Tell Taylor

Tell Taylor was a comedy actor, and composer of more than 21 sentimental songs, the best known "Down by the Old Mill Stream". The song, words and music, were written and published about 1910 while Taylor was teaching rural school, and made popular by the vaudeville team, "The Orpheus Comedy Four" who first used it in that year. More than 5,000,000 copies have been sold since it was first published.

Taylor was born on a farm 5 miles east of Findlay in 1876. The Blanchard River, which he swam as a boy, was the original "Mill Stream". The old Misamore Mill at the bridge is gone but the site is still visible. On one of his trips to Findlay, in 1908, Tell decided to go fishing along the Blanchard River, as he often did. He began to think about his childhood and the romantic dreamer in him took over. He thought of the girl he once loved and of an old mill that once thrived but had since been abandoned. He jotted down some lines that reflected his thoughts from that afternoon of fishing. For two years that song would lay in drawer all but forgotten. Two years later, Tell would finally publish "Down By the Old Mill Stream." It became his most popular song.

Old Mill Stream Sheet Music

As a young man Tell sang in church choirs in Findlay and was often called to neighboring towns to give programs. While singing at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, he was engaged for a musical comedy which began his long vaudeville career.

He established the Tell Taylor Music Publishing House at 177 North State Street, Chicago, where he made his headquarters and lived some years. He returned to Findlay to live the last years of his life. At the time of his death (1937) he was en route to Los Angeles to assist in the production of a moving picture based on his famous song, but was stricken by a heart attack in Chicago. He is buried in Van Horn Cemetery at Findlay.


Down by the Old Mill Stream

Down by the Old Mill Stream, where I first met you, with your eyes of blue, dressed in gingham too, It was there I knew, that you loved me true, You were sixteen, my village queen, by the old mill stream, Down by the stream.