Brothers and Sisters Have I One, But That Mans Father is.....
January 26, 2012 2:27 PM   Subscribe

John Tyler was the 10th president of the United States. Born in 1790 he became president upon the death of "Tippecanoe" William Henry Harrison. His nickname given by his detractors was "His accidency." He led in relative obscurity. His Grandchildren are still alive.
posted by Xurando (39 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always been curious about Tyler, but haven't gotten off my duff to find out much about him. One kind of little known fact about him (mentioned in your "obscurity" link) is that he was elected to the Confederate Congress but died before he could take office. He was the only ex-US President to serve the Confederacy in a political capacity. Sort of.

I've been tickled by the fact that is home, Sherwood Forest, is billed as the "longest frame house in America."
posted by marxchivist at 2:33 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do direct descendants of US Presidents have any kind of standing or receive any benefits from the US government?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:41 PM on January 26, 2012


I don't believe so, Burhanistan, except insofar as the recent ones may require Secret Service protection. My granddad tells me that we're descendants of John Tyler, although I forget how. Something about an old leather chest that was stored away in the attic, marked "Tyler," and an old family story (although not the one about the bride who was playing hide-and-seek, else I would remember it). I should send him that article and ask him to remind me.

Amazing to see an oil portrait's features in a living face. I'm equally curious -- if not more so -- about his young wife Julia, and what it was to be a descendant of her.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:46 PM on January 26, 2012


One of Tyler's descendants served me roadkill venison for Thanksgiving about 15 years ago. That is all.
posted by newmoistness at 2:56 PM on January 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


this is amazing!
posted by sweetkid at 2:56 PM on January 26, 2012


Richmond, VA doesn't have a whole lot but we do have Hollywood Cemetery, which is where John Tyler is buried. It's definitely worth a visit and plan on spending hours there because the place is huge. It's beautifully kept and parts of it overlook the James River.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:59 PM on January 26, 2012


Favorited, because any post that makes me say "What? No. Wait, really? Shit, wow" gets an automatic favorite.
posted by escabeche at 3:00 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, they live in the 21st century and their grandfather was born in the 18th century.

I would have said thats impossible if you had asked me to answer quickly.
posted by vacapinta at 3:11 PM on January 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


REQUISITE NERD REFERENCE: Tyler and Harrison campaigned on the slogan "Tippiecanoe and Tyler, too!"

Otherwise, the headline to that Guardian article sums up my feelings on this matter exactly: "US President John Tyler's grandsons STILL ALIVE!"
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:12 PM on January 26, 2012


See also: Gertrude Janeway, who collected benefits as a Civil War widow until her death in 2003. (!)
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:16 PM on January 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Yeah, really old dudes marrying really young ladies causes all kinds of unbelievable generational mixupedness. The government still sends out checks for Civil War pensions!
posted by miyabo at 3:21 PM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or, what Snarl said.
posted by miyabo at 3:21 PM on January 26, 2012


(There are no remaining Civil War widows, but there are still some orphans -- if your parents die when you are 1 year old in 1920, and one parent was on a military pension, you get benefits till you die.)
posted by miyabo at 3:22 PM on January 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, they live in the 21st century and their grandfather was born in the 18th century.


I heard this on the radio today. Don't know why it's a Brit paper that happened to print it but whatever. I luv oddball trivia like this, especially when you think about it this way:

In 1842, the word ‘dinosaur’ was coined and three years later, Charles Darwin published Voyage of the Beagle. His grandsons have seen the advent of airplanes, television, and the internet.

I'm middleaged. By maternal grandfather was born before the Wright Bros. flew or anyone had radios at home, and lived long enough to watch televised coverage of men on the moon and the almost "routine" launch of the space shuttle.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:24 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the headline, "5 Things You Didn’t Know About John Tyler", as if most people knew anything about John Tyler in the first place.
posted by octothorpe at 3:56 PM on January 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Remember when you were a young child and met one of your ancient surviving great–grandparents? Well, one of theirs served in the Revolutionary War in 1775.

So, they live in the 21st century and their grandfather was born in the 18th century.

My cousin and I are both about 30 years old, one of my grandfathers was born in 1887, and one of his in 1866. Not so impressive yet, but in 2065 it will be.
posted by Jehan at 4:15 PM on January 26, 2012


Guess these grandsons have their work cut out for them, now.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:18 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


REQUISITE NERD REFERENCE: Tyler and Harrison campaigned on the slogan 'Tippiecanoe and Tyler, too!'

Let's take the nerdiness up a notch with the They Might Be Giants cover of the original song.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:30 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, they live in the 21st century and their grandfather was born in the 18th century.

Truly flabbergasting. Almost as amazing as the fact that an ex-president of the U.S. was elected to the enemy's Congress during a war.

p.s. The other thing to remember about Tyler (#10) is that he was (thus far) the last president from Virginia. Virginia gave us four of the first five, and five of the first 10 (and #9, Harrison, was born there but elected from Ohio).

Tony Horwitz, in Midnight Rising (2011), his excellent book about John Brown, explains why: "Southerners also dominated government, largely because the three-fifths clause padded the representation of slave states in Congress and the electoral college, throughout the antebellum period. Southerners won thirteen of the first sixteen presidential contests, ruled the Supreme Court for all but eight years before the Civil War, and held similar sway over leadership posts in Congress."
posted by LeLiLo at 5:34 PM on January 26, 2012


I'm middleaged. By maternal grandfather was born before the Wright Bros. flew or anyone had radios at home, and lived long enough to watch televised coverage of men on the moon and the almost "routine" launch of the space shuttle.

Mine, as well. My paternal grandmother was born in the 19th century, and lived long enough to see the first Space Shuttle missions. She was also born in a city that changed countries three times (The German Empire, France, Nazi Germany, and France again) during her lifetime.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:12 PM on January 26, 2012


Self linking here: My kids are 13th cousins (7x removed) to Tyler. I found this out as part of my years-long project to link my children up to each of the US Presidents, VPs and First Ladies. The relationship to Tyler is oddly one of the closest of all of them. I think they're 24th cousins to President Obama.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:18 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


p.s. The other thing to remember about Tyler (#10) is that he was (thus far) the last president from Virginia.

So you're not counting "Staunton's Own" Thomas Woodrow Wilson?

Fun Fact about Woodrow: he's the only President buried in Washington, DC--entombed, in fact, in Washington National Cathedral.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2012


Ah, I see; you're using "from" in the "elected from" sense. Although as he demonstrated, you can take the boy out of segregationist Virginia, but you can't, etc.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 6:35 PM on January 26, 2012


Otherwise, the headline to that Guardian article sums up my feelings on this matter exactly: "US President John Tyler's grandsons STILL ALIVE!"

Daily Mail, not Guardian.

(The Guardian has news in it.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:42 PM on January 26, 2012


Ah, I see; you're using "from" in the "elected from" sense.

I think that's the way most people do it. Wilson came into office from being president of Princeton and governor of NJ.

p.s. Didn't remember that about being him being buried in D.C. I think that most presidents, after their time in office, can't get out of D.C. fast enough.
posted by LeLiLo at 6:49 PM on January 26, 2012


On a tangentially related note, the Diane Rehm show on NPR did a segment earlier this week on William Henry Harrison (the president whose death led to Tyler becoming "His Accidency"). The guest was Gail Collins, NYT op ed columnunist and author of a new biography about Harrison. You can listen to the show here on Rehm's website.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:02 PM on January 26, 2012


This reminds me of my visit to the fantastic Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas. S. P. Dinsmoor, the man who built the garden was 81 years old in 1924. That was the year he married his young Czech-immigrant housekeeper, who was all of 20. Of the two kids that resulted a son later served as an officer in Vietnam, making S.P. the only Civil War veteran who had a son that fought in the Vietnam War.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:16 PM on January 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


My grandparents married later in life than most and I was raised in a household with my grandfather, born in 1895. He was busy and active and had a wicked sense of humor until he dropped dead at 96 after his usual bacon and eggs for breakfast. I adored him as a kid and followed him everywhere. He had an archaic way of talking, mostly due to the fact that he was from a tiny out of the way town in Co. Mayo, Ireland. The sensibilities of a 19th century person are different, very circumspect. People talk about growing up in the depression and learning frugality, but they have nothing on someone that grew up without mass produced products.

I have a cousin that was born a day before what would have been his grandfather's 100th birthday, 1859 to 1959. Old dudes and their progeny.
posted by readery at 7:26 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


1853: Lyon Gardiner Tyler born; becomes historian

Precocious child.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:35 PM on January 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Every ten years or so, it's "news" that Tyler's grandsons are still alive. It really has to piss them off every time.
posted by waldo at 8:32 PM on January 26, 2012


It really has to piss them off every time.

It probably would irk them more to read that they were dead.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:40 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Do direct descendants of US Presidents have any kind of standing or receive any benefits from the US government?

Even if they generally did -- which they don't -- Tyler's wouldn't, anyway. He was serving in the House of Representatives when he died, but it was the Confederate one. Consequently, as he was considered a traitor at the time, his is the only president's death not to be officially mourned in Washington.

That being the case, I'd think it unlikely his descendants would receive anything beyond the normal pension.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:24 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, how cool.

The sensibilities of a 19th century person are different...

readery, I would love to hear more about this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:07 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


thanotopsis Self linking here: My kids are 13th cousins (7x removed) to Tyler. I found this out as part of my years-long project to link my children up to each of the US Presidents, VPs and First Ladies. The relationship to Tyler is oddly one of the closest of all of them. I think they're 24th cousins to President Obama.

The wikipedia article on Genealogical relationships of Presidents of the United States may help.
posted by knile at 2:02 AM on January 27, 2012


So, they live in the 21st century and their grandfather was born in the 18th century.

I would have said thats impossible if you had asked me to answer quickly.


Me too. My grandfather Swan was born in 1899 and my grandmother Swan in 1905, and when I say so people blink and say, "Really?" I'm 38, so it doesn't seem like such a time warp thing to me, but most of my peer group have younger grandparents (and parents). It does amaze me a little when I think back to how old they were at different points in history and about what their material circumstances were. They were married a month before the stock market crash of 1929. They were middle-aged during WWII. They raised a family of five to maturity before they ever got had running water or electricity in their house — my dad, who was their youngest child, installed their first toilet at the age of 19.
It must be so much the more mind-blowing for John Tyler's grandsons. Well, they have to have some sort of recompense for not being able to pull the whole, "Do you know who I am?" thing, because no one would know, or believe it without documentation once it was explained to them. I bet 95% of Americans wouldn't know John Tyler from Zachary Taylor.
posted by orange swan at 6:25 AM on January 27, 2012


Richmond, VA doesn't have a whole lot but we do have Hollywood Cemetery, which is where John Tyler is buried.

And nearby Chester, VA is home of John Tyler Community College ("Tyler Tech" we used to call it).
posted by JanetLand at 6:26 AM on January 27, 2012


"REQUISITE NERD REFERENCE: Tyler and Harrison campaigned on the slogan 'Tippiecanoe and Tyler, too!'"

I see your nerd reference and raise it: that campaign introduced the phrase "keep the ball rolling" into the American vernacular. With giant papier mache balls as props.
posted by liketitanic at 8:26 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love the headline, "5 Things You Didn’t Know About John Tyler", as if most people knew anything about John Tyler in the first place.

Technically you have a point, but this is a snappier headline than "5 Among the Thousands of Things You Didn’t Know About John Tyler."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:42 AM on January 27, 2012


One more thing you didn't know: Tyler's grandson hates Newt Gingrich
posted by pjenks at 11:25 AM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


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