On Wednesday morning, November 25, 1931, former governor, Alfred Alexander Taylor passed away. The next morning, newspapers across the country broadcast the breaking news proclaiming, “Uncle Alf is Dead.”
In October 1900, five nationally noted speakers participated in a lecture course at the Academy of Music for the Travelers’ Protective Association in Richmond, Virginia. Among those giving talks were East Tennessee’s homespun heroes, Bob and Alf Taylor.
Johnny and Patsy Starnes own an attention-grabbing brochure titled “Up Salt Creek.” The four pages deal with a prominent lecture that was frequently delivered by then Ex-Governor Alf Taylor at various locations throughout the state of Tennessee. The date is not specified but is known to have occurred between the time he left office in 1923 and his death in 1931.
The discovery of an old scrapbook of newspaper clippings is always an exciting find and often contributes to an enhanced understanding of history. Such was the case in late October 1938 when Mrs. Kate Keys of 407 Highland Avenue found two pages from a scrapbook dating back to 1888, just 10 days before the national elections. The specifics of the find were not specified.
Last week’s column featured memories from 104-year-old Pansy Oliver Torbett as related to me by Joann Conner, her daughter. Mrs. Conner also supplied me with information that included a beguiling document dating back to April 1928.
Dr. B. Harrison Taylor, a grandson of the celebrated former Governor of Tennessee, Alf Taylor, sent me a letter: “Several months ago you had a historical article (“Old Limber”) in the paper about my grandfather. I thought you might enjoy this quote of Alf’s brother, Bob, from a little booklet entitled “Governor Taylor’s Love Letters to the Public,” especially in the light of present events.”
An undated Johnson City Staff newspaper article, dealing with Tennessee’s highly popular “War of the Roses” governor Bob Taylor, is titled “Spotlights on Senator Taylor - Many Stories Are Told of Bob Taylor as Were of Lincoln.”
A favorite book of mine is “Old Limber” or The Tale of the Taylors (Delong Rice, McQuiddy Printing Co., 1921). The small-sized 88-page volume speaks of a famed Walker hound once owned by Alf Taylor, former governor of Tennessee. The witty prose emulates that of Alf’s brother, Bob, also a Tennessee governor:
Last May, I spoke at the 2005 International Country Music Conference in Nashville where I met Dr. Bob Taylor, a retired history professor at Middle Tennessee State University and a grandson of Alf Taylor, former governor of Tennessee.
Brothers Bob and Alf Taylor, the “War of the Roses” campaigners in Tennessee’s 1886 colorful, often lighthearted, gubernatorial race (in which Bob won), are also remembered for their humorous lectures in theatres across the land.