Friday, January 24, 2014

#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 (who became a close friend of Charles) Charles and Maria Griest of Menallen Township  married in April 1863, shortly before the battle of Gettysburg (first few days of July). They moved and just setting up house as a newly-marrieds when they were forced to flee Gettysburg for the countryside (they fled to Littlestown). They returned to find their house had been occupied. 
Charles & Isaac and Tipton got on the road to take photos in the after the battle. 

If you see their photos of the battlefield, note they do not include photos of the causalities of war. 
War is not part of the Quaker tradition, and it was thought that photos of the battlefield would glorify what is repugnant to the Quakers.  Still, the Tysons (& Tipton) took many photographs of the battlefield and its environs.  

They also took many, many photos of soldiers: both Union and Confederates sat for a photo. Many photos which they sold were later imprinted with another photographer's 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 energetic. 
The local newspaper noted 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.”
Eventually the brothers parted--Isaac also married a cousin of Maria (Charles' wife, Rachel Griest), and they moved to Philadelphia where he continued in photography. Charles kept his interest in the photography studio until 1865 when he sold it. 
He continued buying and selling a share in the studio to William Tipton (Tipton named his first born son Charles Tyson). Charles eventually finished with it once and for all when he sold it to Tipton in 1880. 

In 1864, he had purchased 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. He bought and renovated a house which was 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 had big dreams and big plans: He was an ardent supporter and funder 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 Count. 

His father, Edwin Comly Tyson, lost his wife and Charles' mother, he came to live with Charles and Maria.

Charles was generous with his children. To son Chester (my great grandfather) he gave a “house to fill with Tysons" (which they did), and to their daughter Mary Tyson Peters, another house, and their son Edwin (Ned), he gave Mapleton.  
He and Maria built and moved to a house in a place called Guernsey (they called the house Loma Vista).

Mapleton 1890
[The next two posts 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


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