William Taburn was a free man of color born in Northampton County, North Carolina in about 1758. In 1776 he enlisted as a private in the 6th North Carolina Regiment of the Continental Line, but he was excused from service after offering his wagon and team to the war effort. On January 1, 1778 he married Nelly Evans in Bute County, North Carolina. Sometime after his marriage, likely in late 1778 or early 1779, Taburn was drafted again in the 6th North Carolina and saw combat at the Battle of Briar Creek in Georgia. He was arrested and put under military guard for drunkenly cursing his regiment's colonel, but was later released.
By early 1781 William Taburn was serving an additional tour of duty, this time as a private in the Granville County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia. He was present at the Battle of Cowan's Ford on February 1, 1781 and witnessed General William Lee Davidson's death. He then retreated from Banastre Tarleton's dragoons at Torrence's Tavern, running from present-day Iredell County all the way home to Granville County. He served a final tour in the Granville County Militia in the summer of 1781. Mainly posted in the Raft Swamp, he was General John Butler's personal cook. He was discharged in 1781 after news of the British surrender reached his unit.
After the war William Taburn returned home to Granville County, where he and his wife Nelly Taburn raised at least three children. By August 1832 when he was applying for a veteran's pension, Taburn reported that he was "almost blind" and living in the Granville County poorhouse. His pension application was approved in February 1834, entitling him to $34.44 per year from 1831 until his death in observance of the ten months and ten days he served as a private in the 6th North Carolina and in the Granville County Militia. He died in Granville County on February 4, 1835.