Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Best of AM - The Amazing Secret of Sherwood Forest

As part of our "President's Day" holiday yesterday in the United States, various facts about past Presidents were posted on Facebook.  I was pleased to discover that a man  I had blogged about a couple of years ago - one of two living grandsons of our 10th President, who served from 1841 to 1845- is still alive, according to a source I trust (Mentalfloss.com).

Here, for your enjoyment (a day late) is the amazing story.  I never did make it to Sherwood Forest - but, it is still on my list.  I don't know, though, if Harrison Tyler still gives some of the tours.

The second grandson -  Lyon Tyler (in the above video) is apparently still alive, although he is reported to be in declining health.  Jane Garfield, granddaughter of James Garfield mentioned below, is apparently still alive also, at least from Internet research I was able to do.

Civil War Sunday -The Amazing Secret of Sherwood Forest

No, the amazing secret of Sherwood Forest doesn't have anything to do with Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Although it would have been interesting to watch them fight in the Civil War, dressed in their bright green clothes and using their longbows and clubs to fight....well, I don't know if they would have sided with the Union or the Confederates.  But Friar Tuck would have been quite the sight.

No, I am talking about Sherwood Forest Plantation, in Virginia, which is suddenly (I suspect) going to become a whole lot more popular as a tourist destination than it has been - all because of an 83 year old gentleman who lives there.  His name is Harrison Tyler, and he happens to be the grandson of President John Tyler, a U.S. President who served from 1841 to 1845.

John Tyler was born in 1790.  In other words, a man born in 1790 has two living grandsons.

To put this in perspective, Jane Garfield, the granddaughter of President James Garfield (who was a Major General for the Union in the Civil War), is 99 years old. Garfield was President 40 years after Tyler.  (Garfield was also the second president of the United States to be assassinated-he died just before his 50th birthday.  The first President to be assassinated, of course, was Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. President during the Civil War.)

It's one heck of a story, this grandson, and has taken the Internet by storm in the past week, just after we passed the 150th anniversary of John Tyler's death in 1862.

So, putting Harrison Tyler aside, what is so fascinating about President John Tyler?

Although John Tyler's administration is interesting from an aspect of studying pre Civil War history, his actions after states started to secede is what holds fascination for me.

A Peace Conference was held in February 1861 to reach a compromise and enable the Union to continue.  It was hoped a settlement could be reached before Lincoln took office in March of 1861. (unlike today, Presidents in that era took office on March 4 and not January 20).  John Tyler came from his home at Sherwood Forest Plantation to attend.

John Tyler, sent by his native Virginia, was the head of this conference.  It did not succeed, although a Constitutional amendment was proposed. 

After the failure of the Peace Conference, Tyler sided with the Confederacy, and was a delegate from Virginia to the  Provisional Confederate Congress.  When elections to the First Confederate Congress were held in 1861, Tyler was elected to their Congress but died before he took office.

He is buried in Richmond, VA near the grave of President James Monroe.  As he was in rebellion his death was not officially mourned by the Union.  On the other hand, the Confederacy declared him a hero.  A grand funeral was held in his honor.

This is a fascinating story indeed, and I hope to visit Sherwood Forest Plantation one day.  And who knows,  if my tour group is big enough, and has enough pretty women, maybe Harrison Tyler will be our tour guide.

10 comments:

  1. I had forgotten about this place. I took my two daughters there, long ago, when they were young (as was I). It was a long, one-day (OK, we stayed overnight) trip from Charlottesville...

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    1. There is so much history to study in that part of Virginia, I don't know if we will make it there. The $35. per person fee to tour the house would make me think twice, too.

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  2. What a fascinating story, Alana! I think you owe it to your readers to make the trip, and then to report back! I'd love to see a picture of you with this gentleman!

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    1. I might make the trip. It's $10 to self-tour the grounds. I'll certainly blog about it if I do visit.

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  3. The family sure live a long time. I wonder what their secret is. I also wonder if their life continues to be rewarding. So many people just sit and dream when they reach their nineties.

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    1. It appears the secret to the Tyler men was having children very late in life. Still, to me, a man born in 1790 with two living grandsons is absolutely amazing.

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  4. Oh, you should go! And spend some time touring various James River Plantations! A number of them are open to the public and they are spectacular! If you can, go during Garden Week in Virginia … it's quite lovely!

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    1. Linda, I didn't know about the Garden Week in Virginia. I won't be vacationing that week but it is possible I may be in Fredericksburg the beginning of May for the 150th of two Civil War battles. And I see this Garden Week ends that weekend. I'll have to see if I can somehow combine the the Civil War and gardening. What a post that would be! Hmmm....

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  5. I would absolutely LOVE to go to Sherwood forest- I can't believe that I've never been there before!

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    1. I would love to see Sherwood Forest myself - Sherwood Forest in England, that is! The legend of Robin Hood has fascinated me since I was a little girl. This Sherwood Forest, in Virginia, is a lot closer to me but it wouldn't be for you.

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