Taylorville, California

Encyclopedia Article


In the context of Hillerman's 1980 novel PEOPLE OF DARKNESS, Taylorville appears to be the name of a juvenile reform school in California. Preliminary research reveals that no such institution existed in California. However, the town of Taylorville, California was a small settlement in Marin County, named after Samuel P. Taylor, who was the founder of the West Coast's first paper mill. The community no longer exists and was last recorded in maps in 1914. However, Marin County has housed the Juvenile Services Center, located in the city of San Rafael, since the 1970s. Formerly run as a family rehabilitation center, the center currently serves as the Probation Department's Juvenile Services Division.

A larger town by the same name exists in the state of Illinois, but no reform schools of the same name were found there either. Within the novel's storyline, it is unlikely that Hillerman's character, who grew up in San Diego, would be sent at age fourteen to a correctional facility outside of California. This is one of the unsolved mysteries involved in tracing the origins of Hillerman's work, some of which is based on concrete historical and geographical facts, and some of which is entirely fictional.

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"Juvenile detention center, September 25, 2011" by Stuart McAlpine is licensed under CC BY.

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