Taylor Sisters Once Lectured Like Noted Brothers Bob and Alf

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.

Bob (the white rose wearing Democrat) known for his famous “Fiddle and Bow” delivery and Alf (the red rose adorning Republican) remembered for his clever “Up Salt River” address, occasionally joined forces for a shared talk that bore the name, “Yankee Doodle” (Alf) and “Dixie” (Bob).

Some old newspaper clippings from 1902 spoke of two additional members of the multitalented Nathan Green and Emma Haynes Taylor family who also shared a speech and traveled on the lecture circuit.  They were Mrs. Rhoda Taylor Reeves and Mrs. Eva Taylor Jobe, twin sisters of Bob and Alf. The names Reeves and Jobe shine prominently in Johnson City history. Like their witty, creative siblings, they composed a clever dual act presentation that carried the title, “The Real and the Ideal.”

The Richmond Dispatch announced in February that year that the Taylor sisters would appear in Bristol, Tennessee under the auspices of the ladies of State Street Methodist Church. The address was a fundraiser for the benefit of the church, which needed  $12,000 to remodel the facility. The paper acknowledged that Mrs. Jobe and Mrs. Reeves were twin sisters of Bob and Alf Taylor – “The Taylor sisters expect to prove worthy rivals in the lecture field of their now famous brothers. Their dual lecture deals with two sides of human life, the real and the ideal and is said that they have a very able and brilliant dual production, which they deliver in interesting manner.”

In May, the Hopkinsville Kentuckian contained news that the ladies would present their lecture at the local Holland Opera House. In that same newspaper, it was also disclosed that Governor Bob Taylor would be in town that week as a stopover of his lecture tours. The century-old newspaper further gave an extract of the twin sisters’ talk that was taken from an editorial notice in the Bristol, Tennessee Courier: “The Real and the Ideal’ was handled in fascinating style last night. Mrs. Jobe preceded the dual lecture in a brief monologue gracefully rendered. Mrs. Reeves followed with her part of the lecture, which deals with the ‘real’ in human life. This side of the lecture clings to the ‘real’ as a basis but portrayed the errors and injustices that have arisen from the tendency to desert good things at home for false ideals that turn the heart from the course of duty, from the path of love and contentment to that of vanity and vexation of spirit.

“In a fascinating manner, Mrs. Jobe pictured the beauty and worth of the ‘ideal’ in life. Her production is not only rich in its expression of thought but also happy in the selection of ideas and carries with it a fascination peculiar to the grace and oratory of the Taylor family. The Taylor sisters are to be most heartily congratulated in the impression made last night.”

Furthermore, the newspaper exhibited an advertisement flyer providing additional information; “The Famous Taylor Sisters, Sisters of ex-Gov. Robert L. Taylor, in Their Inimitable Lecture, the ‘Real and the Ideal’ – The press speaks in the most flattering terms of these excellent, refined ladies and they should lecture to the capacity of the theatre.”

Those attending the performance paid fifty cents for seating on the entire lower floor and twenty-five cents for those in the gallery. The local Telegraph Office was listed as an outlet for ticket sales.