January 14th, 2017
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Consider: He conceived so many kids and kept making babies for so long that two of his grandchildren are still alive. You read that right: two grandchildren of a man born in 1790, a few weeks after George Washington gave America’s inaugural state of the union address, a guy whose dad roomed with Thomas Jefferson at William and Mary, has two living grandchildren. No greats. Grandchildren.
Here’s how that works:
Tyler had eight children with his first wife, Letitia Christian.
A mere six months after her death, Tyler made his first move on 22-year-old Julia Gardiner, 30 years his junior and hailing from a wealthy Hamptons family. She declined that proposal and a few more that followed until she finally broke down in 1844.
Tyler’s Tool went back into action and stayed busy until 1860, when, at age 70, he fathered the last of his seven children with Julia. He died two years later.
So that’s 15 kids total. (And that might not quite be all of them. Abolitionists claimed he sired, and then sold, one or more children with one or more of his slaves, and those stories still echo today in the African American oral tradition of the Virginia Tidewater. However, unlike the case of Tyler’s dad’s old roomie and close friend Thomas Jefferson, there is no DNA evidence, either in support or refutation, of these claims.)
It’s as if John Tyler was trying to fuck his way out of obscurity.
It all makes for some mind-bending genealogy.
Pearl, Tyler’s baby girl born to Julia, died in 1947, 132 years after the 1814 birth of Mary, his first child with Letitia. In other words, the lives of his children spanned everything from the Battle of New Orleans to the atom bomb.
And then there was his son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler (born: 1853), his fourth by Julia and a chip off the old studly block. He had three kids by his first wife, Anne Tucker. Like his dad before him, Lyon wasted little time grieving his first wife’s 1921 death, and by 1924, he’d married Sue Ruffin, 35 years his junior, and got back in the bellypoppin’ game. And two of their three kids—Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. (born 1924) and Harrison Ruffin Tyler (born 1928 and likely named after old Tippecanoe)—are still living.
Today. Right now.
Hell, Harrison still lives on Sherwood Forest Plantation in Virginia, in his granddad’s old house. Lyon lives in Franklin, Tennessee, a state that joined the Union six years after President Tyler was born.