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Vying for governor in 1886

Sometimes as we study history there are just some things that stand out as odd, different or unusual. Johnson County and its neighbor Carter County have a number of occasions that stand out in one or all of those categories. Both have their share of interesting happenings. One of the most unusual occasions that interest me is the rivalry between the Taylor brothers of Carter County. I like to relate the story of the Taylor Brothers based on what I’ve read. I understand that both Robert Love (Bob) and Alfred Alexander (Alf) were very knowledgeable and versed in oratory. They were also accomplished fiddle players and used that talent as they ran for the gubernatorial office. The brothers campaigned against each other in the election of 1886. Bob was a democrat and Alf was a republican. That campaign is often called the “War of Roses.” Bob wore a white rose while Alf wore a red rose as they campaigned together. Both played the fiddle at various venues and both were great debaters. Incidentally, I have an interesting book titled Lectures and Best Literary Productions of Bob Taylor. The book was published in 1912 and it is very interesting. Bob served two terms (January 17, 1887 – January 19, 1891 and again from January 21, 1897 – January 16, 1899). He went on to become a U. S. Senator. Bob has perhaps been featured in writings perhaps more than Alf. Alf lost to his brother in the 1886 election but he went on to become a three-term congressman. Finally in the election of 1820, Alf found that illusive quest. He was elected on the republican ticket. He served as governor of Tennessee from January 15, 1921 until January 16, 1923. He was the last republican to serve as governor until Winfield Dunn was elected in 1971.
Bob and Alf were born in Happy Valley an area of Carter County. Bob was born July 31, 1850 and he died March 31, 1912. Alf was born August 6, 1848 and died November 25, 1931. Both brothers studied at what was then called Buffalo Institute (Now Milligan College). Despite their rivalry in the governor’s race, the brothers were said to be close. They debated each other 41 times. Their father Nathaniel Green Taylor was a strong supporter of the Union Army. Their mother, Emmaline Haynes Taylor sympathized with the south.