Friday, January 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 - Charles J Tyson Gets Busy with Gettysburg & Other Work

Charles J Tyson abt1885

Charles and Isaac Tyson established the photography studio in Gettysburg, and hired a young assistant- a William Tipton. Charles and Maria Griest of Menallen Township get married in April 1863, shortly before the battle of Gettysburg. They moved to town and were settling in as a newly-marrieds when they were forced to flee Gettysburg for the countryside. They returned to find their house had been occupied. 
Charles & Isaac and Tipton get on the road to take photos in the after the battle. However, their photos exclude many of the sort later arrivals took: of corpses on the battle field. War is not part of the Quaker tradition, and it’s been said that taking photos of the dead, especially those in battle, glorifies what is repugnant to the Quaker spirit. The Tysons (& Tipton) took many photographs of the battle. Many photos which they sold were later imprinted with another photographers name (common practice). For more information on this, it is well told in the book: Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A. Frassanito. Here is a Tyson Bros photo of the Camp Letterman Hospital Tent from the National Archives.

On November 19, they made their way to the ceremony in which President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, a photographing the crowded road in front of the platform. The tree (a honey locust), was called the Witness Tree, to both the battle and the famous speech, was about 150 feet from the speakers platform. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York now holds this photo).
Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg, PA Tyson Bros
Charles was quite energetic; the newspaper wrote of him, that he “possessed a progressive spirit which he carried into all his undertakings. He was not satisfied with any kind of doing but his effort was to excel. It was not in the spirit to have things better than others, but to have them done as well as they could be done.” and,  “His influence was always for better conditions. He took an active interest in everything involving the advantage and benefit of the community. Indeed, Menallen Township and Bendersville have in many ways felt his influence for better things.”
The brothers parted--Isaac also married and moved to Baltimore where he continued in photography, meanwhile Charles was a busy man.
He held his interest in the photography studio until 1865 when he sold it. He continued buying and selling a share in the studio 873 with William Tipton (who named his first born son Charles Tyson), and eventually disposed of it all together to Tipton in 1880. 

In 1864, he bought 1/3 interest in Springdale Nurseries, Cyrus Griest & Sons (his father-in-law).
In 1865 he moved out of Gettysburg, to Flora Dale, near Menallen Meeting and in 1867 bought the entire interest in Springdale Nurseries. In 1869 he bought the farm of 167 acres and a house named “Mapleton” in Flora Dale, PA.
Then, in 1881 he became a charter member of Susquehanna Fertilizer Co of Baltimore, and eventually became President of the plant. The fertilizer plant had its financial ups and downs, but generated more income than the nursery business.

He was big supporter of the building of the Gettysburg & Harrisburg Railroad.  He built an enormous barn and started a 1000-acre orchard.  He had the first bathtub with running water in Adams County, and when his father, Edwin Comly Tyson, became a widower, he stayed with Charles and Maria.

Charles was generous with his children. To Chester (my great grandfather) he gave a “house to fill with Tysons”, to his daughter Mary Tyson Peters, a house, and to son Edwin (Ned), he gave Mapleton.  He and Maria moved into a house in Guernsey (Loma Vista).
Mapleton 1890
[The next two postings will have two other men-and a bit of what went on in their lives around the Civil War.]

1 Photo Charles J Tyson, Collection of ACharity Higgins (NYS)
2 Photo by Tyson Bros of Camp Letterman Hospital Tent (National Archives, USA)
3 Photo by Tyson of Crowd at Dedication o Soldiers National Cemetery [where Lincoln gave Gettysburg Address] (Metropolitan Museum Of Art, NY, NY, USA)
4 Photo of Musselmans Mapleton Barn, newspaper photographer, Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA, USA)
5 Photo of Mapleton House, Collection of Margaret B Walmer (Aspers PA}


  1. We live in this house it is full of history

  2. We live in this house it is very beautiful and full of history