Reverend Joseph Tays, an Episcopal missionary who founded El Paso's first Protestant church, arrived in El Paso in 1870, a widower with two boys. C. L. Sonnichsen records the story that a month after he began his mission in El Paso, Tays sent word to Austin that he was "doing his best."
Tays was learning Spanish and at least one saloon keeper had closed his doors and found another vocation because of him. He not only preached and taught, he worked in real estate and served the county as surveyor. Tays laid the cornerstone of the first St. Clement's Episcopal Church on Christmas day in 1881.
Local Historian and Author Leon Metz writes that after having conducted the funeral of a smallpox victim, Tays contracted the dreaded disease himself and died after a week's suffering. Late in the evening of November 21, two men from the city wrapped Parson Tay's body in a sheet and delivered it quickly to Concordia. He was buried without ceremony in the middle of the night during a violent rain storm. The man who had helped so many in early El Paso was buried with only two grave diggers present.

Uploaded on 07.30.2014 by El Paso Museum of History

Central / El Paso High, (1870 - 1879), Faith

  • Reverend
  • Smallpox
  • Health

Rev. JW Tays was my Great-great Uncle. I have many extended Tays family members who I never met in the El Paso area, as well as other parts of Texas. I'd love to know more about them, and share any information about the "Tays Boys" of TX.

Thank you for this information. Please share your information with us.

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Rev. Joseph W. Tays - El Paso, Texas

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