Saturday, February 22, 2020

#57 Prosperity - How Charles J Tyson Made Money

Prosperity: Charles Tyson Pursued It
One direct ancestor really saw prosperity, that would be my mother's great grandfather on her maternal side, Charles John Tyson.
A newspaper said this of my gr-great grandfather: "the architect of his own fortune...on his arrival in Gettysburg his ready cash consisted of $10 and was $150 in debt."
Charles was born in 1838.
Jumping ahead to 1901, he's 62 and traveling throughout California. He is still in business though he's slowed his pace (he claims). In 1901 there are two things that still engaged his interest, carried over from his early years: photography (he owns a Kodak camera--and takes photos), and the growing fruit, its sale and its distribution.
How do I know this? He wrote about both in a letter to a friend and which I have at the end of this post--so keep reading.
Charles J Tyson was born (as far as I can tell) in New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. He grew up in Philadelphia. 
Born  5 Sep 1838, to  Edwin Comly Tyson and Susannah Griffith. His father was of modest means.
Charles' Early Employment:
A newspaper article claims that when he was 11 Charles went to work for himself in a "house-furnishing company" in Philadelphia. Following that, he worked for six years in a grocery store.
Joins with brother Isaac in the new business of photography and moves to Gettysburg:
Somehow he learned daguerreotyping. He and his brother Isaac Griffith Tyson were able to buy enough equipment to open their own business. But they decided to move to a small city (Gettysburg) to start the business. They moved to Gettysburg and opened their own "Photography Gallery"  in 16 Aug 1859. It went under a variety of names: Tyson & Bro; Tyson Brothers; etc.

1859 Tysons aggressively advertising in Gettysburg
The "Tyson Brothers Studio" made the first photographs ever finished in Adams County, Pennsylvania.
Charles J Tyson

At this time the Civil War was raging. If you're not familiar with Adams County, it is a county on the south-east border of Pennsylvania, bordering Maryland. Though north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and in the "Union," this area and much of Maryland was still much-contested. Gettysburg is only a few miles away from the Maryland border.
Charles Tyson joined the "Wide Awakes" of Gettysburg in 1860; a group who supported Abraham Lincoln and was against slavery

In the middle of the war, Charles married his wife Maria E Griest, a local gal, on 30 Apr 1863 (b. 7 Mar 1840). She was the daughter of a local farm family, Mary Ann Cook and Cyrus Griest
Charles and Maria had only begun to set up house just 3 weeks before the Battle at Gettysburg in July (Jul 1-Jul 3). They were still working on the house when the battle came to town.
An officer came by to warn the citizens to evacuate ahead of the coming battle. When they returned a few days later, they had quite a mess to clean up, but most of their belongings were there (apart from some food and clothes).
The photography studio was in surprisingly good shape, apart from the soldiers' hunt for alcohol in some form.
Shell in wall of Tyson Bros Studios York St Gettysburg
With soldiers still encamped in town, the brothers busied themselves taking photos of soldiers in the gallery in town. They also cobbled together a mobile photography studio to go on the trail, taking photos of the landscape after the battle, helped by their able young assistant, William Tipton, who was a teen.
William Tipton in Tyson Bros Photo "Mobile"  Gettysburg, PA 1863

The Springdale Nurseries and others:
1860 Springdale Nursery Brochure Cyrus Griest & Sons
Within a year  Charles was persuaded by the Griest family that this was a good place to farm. In 1864 (while the war was still on), he bought a 1/3 interest in the Spring Dale nurseries of Cyrus Griest & Sons, (his wife's family). But he retained his interest in the photograph business. [See front of Griests' Catalog from 1860, found by my cousin]
In 1865 he sold the photography business. By then his brother Isaac had married another Griest, a cousin of Charles' wife Maria. Isaac and his wife moved away to set up a photographic studio in Philadelphia.

Then again in 1866 Charles bought back the photography gallery, but presumably was still involved in the nursery business. In 1867 Charles bought the entire interest in Springdale Nurseries.
A Big House
In 1869 he bought a 167 acre farm in Menallen Township and moved into a house called “Mapleton” in Flora Dale, PA, very close to the Menallen Friends Meeting House. He lived in that house for some years.
"Mapleton" as it looked abt 1890
He still loved photography. So yet again, in 1874 he bought the 1/2 interest in the same photograph gallery. 
In 1875 he sold out his nursery business, only to buy, in 1878, a 1/2 interest in Chambersburg (PA) nurseries.
The 1860s and 1870s he ws busy in learning the nursery business, buying and selling, as well as popping in and out of the Gettysburg photography. The young assistant Tipton who had bought the business had apparently bonded closely with Charles (so much so that William Tipton named a son "Charles Tyson Tipton.")

Then came 1880:

Charles eventually disposed of the photography (as a business, but not a hobby) all together to Tipton in 1880. In doing so, he exchanged his half interest in the photography business for a house in Gettysburg.
About the Changing Nature of Farming in the US:
In his lifetime, many farms had changed from small family meant to feed oneself to larger farms which could provide for more than one family. Many farms had grown to the point they had to hire local hands for the farming, as it was too much work for the family members.
Between mechanized machinery to do the work, and the railroads, large farms could now sell produce to cities, where immigrants had greatly swelled the population, and where there was also established factories and men and women working there. Large cities required food and meat from from the countryside.

Tyson's Background - Although Charles was a city boy, he had been living in farm country for two decades. (His parents still lived in Philadelphia.) By 1880, I would guess he had made a good number of business friends, and by now, some decades into growing fruit, he grasped the value of fertilizer to farmers.
So in 1881 Charles was a charter member of the Susquehanna Fertilizer Company.
The fertilizer company built a factory near Perryville, Maryland with capital stock of $15,000. It increased in 1882, to $35,000.
Of course there was a Fire!
On 29 Sept 1883, the plant burned. Charles retrenched and moved on.

A Move and a Reorganization:
The company was reorganized in Baltimore with a paid up capital stock of $100,000. The new plant cost about $50,000.  It was renamed "The Susquehanna Fertilizer Company of Baltimore City"
Its officers:
1 - President: Charles J Tyson
2 - Treasurer: George B Passmore
3 - Superintendent: S. P. Broomell
How did the new company fare? In 1881 they sold 1,200 tons of fertilizer. 4 years later in 1885, they sold 11,000 tons.

Back to City Living
The retrenchment meant the Tysons had to take drastic measures. Charles and Maria moved into a much smaller home in Baltimore so he could oversee the company business. Maria was no longer near her family, she was no longer taking in fresh country air. And Charles was no longer a young man. 
But the factory disaster in Perryville could be viewed as a blessing because, once freed from the location in Perryville, Charles could focus his time and energy in Baltimore: living close to the plant allowed him to monitor the activity closely.

So, How did Prosperity Find Him?
It did not: he pursued prosperity with vigor. He worked most of his life, and he moved between very different jobs. He seems to be visionary, resilient, connected, and energetic. What finally made the most money? The fertilizer business. But he stayed interested in his first 2 areas, as mentioned.

You may recognize it as the photo from the front of the blog:
Flora Dale, Menallen. Hill House where son Chester & Bertha lived.
Charles Tyson eventually "settled down" at a house he dubbed "Loma Linda” in Guernsey, not far from the Menallen Meeting House. (This book calls it Loma Vista, but family records of Margaret B Walmer's "Loma Linda"). See 2 photos of the house below (the second one shows how large it is, from front to back). Also a photo of the barn at Loma Linda.

Loma Linda - Chas and Maria Tyson's final Residence; Guernsey MBW Collection

Barn at Loma Linda, Guernsey - Chas J Tyson

A Vacation! Yes, Charles and Maria Tyson took a well-earned trip West (quite a journey if you read his letter). They marveled at the flora of Southern California.

They stayed at the hotel pictured below.

Charles and Maria on vacation in California:

Charles Tyson Maria (Griest) Tyson in California 1901

 A letter he wrote to a friend in 1901  
Letter from Charles (and Maria Griest) Tyson to friend in PA on their trip to the West Coast
Santa Barbara, California, April 1901 
Seneca P. Bromell
My Dear friend,
I received thy very welcome and interesting letter of the 24th and on the 4th inst we left Pasadena for this quaint old place of seven thousand population and a hundred years old. I am really and honestly ashamed of not writing thee long ago. [He adds the other letters he’s had to respond to in the meantime]
I find Sight seeing as hard work as I have tackled for many a day and occasional rest ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. On the 1st inst I had a wire on the death of Wm Wood. [Continues about the man’s illness and his widow]
We had a very pleasant and comfortable passage from Balt to N.O (New Orleans?) and four days there—one of rain and three of sight seeing. Of all places visited thus far, we found extremes meeting us there more decidedly than any other. The old part is old and quaint in the extreme and not over clean indeed, quite the reverse—while the new is very  beautiful. We find that a carriage and good driver enables us to do up a place in less time and more satisfactorily than any other way. We left N. O. on the 14th of 2nd mo and arrived in Pasadena seventh day eve the 16th. Found Clark at the Station to welcome us and take us to rooms he had engaged for us just across the street from the “Whittier” where he takes his meals and where he had made arrangements for us also. Next day he had a carriage come for us and we all took a ride. The most delightful one of the trip I think for all was so new. And surprises met us at every turn. Snow on the mountains in full view, and the most beautiful flowers in the greatest profusion on all sides, magnificent date Palms, pepper trees, live oaks and many other varieties comparatively new to us. Since then we have gone around a good deal—have explored several of the Canyons noted for their beauty and well deserving of all that is said about them. Have also tempted Providence by going to the top of Mt Lowe 6000 Feet above sea level on the backs of burros. When the path was not over two feet wide in some places and almost straight down for hundreds of feet on the one side and a corresponding slope upwards on the other, and we still Live! We have visited the noted “Catalina Island” and the wonderful “Avalon Bay” exploring its crystal depths through a glass bottom boat, the most beautiful sight I ever beheld. Rocks, ferns, fishes of many kinds large and small.  Many of them new to us and very pretty as they moved about so gracefully in and out among the rocks and plants nearly a hundred feet below us. We only remained there over one night. Catalina Island is 30 miles from the Main land which we leave at "San Pedro.”
We have visited Redlands and Riverside; the great orange growing center of the “Citrus Belt” When 40,000 acres are planted in oranges within a radius of 20 miles, and the finest fruit in the state grown–of this there is not a doubt. The variety in the greatest form is the “Washington Navel” sweet, juicy and tender when through with one, there is nothing left but the skin . Twenty thousand car loads of oranges will go from Southern California this year, and each car will carry three hundred and sixty two boxes. It is estimated that fully three thousand boxes will rot on the ground for want of cars to ship them After returning to Pasadena for a few days we went to “San Diego” stopping for a few hours at Capistrano and visited the Old Mission where I found much of interest to photograph. We took dinner with an Old German and his wife who keep store and accommodate travelers. The old gentleman informed us that the English walnuts on the table were grown on his place and that he had shipped his last crop—forty thousand pounds, to the east and realize 9 cents per pound for them—a great many are grown in that section and the quality is Extra Good. From San Diego we visited the Old and Diego Mission, the oldest in the state. Also took a forty mile ride into Old Mexico. Took lunch at Tia Juana, a queer little town consisting of a saloon, two stores, and half a dozen small houses, nearly all one story. Several Cowboys rode into town while we were there, full rigged and ready for the chase. I understand that San Diego is supplied with beef from that quarter. On our return we drove along the shore of the Pacific for nearly six miles which was very delightful. Our drive took us by the famous “Hotel Del Coronado” where we had spent the first day before. This hotel is owned by Spreckels the Sugar King of San Francisco and is one of the finest I ever saw, inside and out.
I have a 3 1/3 x 4 ¼ Kodak along and am taking “snap shots” as we go so as to illustrate our trip for future reference. I have developed and printed over a hundred but from now on I shall be obliged to store my undeveloped films until I get home. I find it adds much to the interest of the trip to feel that we are taking some of it along with us as we go. While at San Diego we also visited La Jolla, a very interesting spot on the Pacific about fifteen miles away.  Also, Chula Vista, Paradise alley, Sweet Water Valley, Otay Valley and a pretty drive through Mission Valley. A great many lemons are grown in that section, but it is not as well watered as some other places we have been and a California Ranch without plenty of water is valueless— 
On our return to Pasadena we stopped off at Ocean Side and took a nine mile drive to San Louise Rey Mission and the old Ranch house said to be Ramonas Home, Clark says there is some doubt about this and that the old Spanish house at Camulos is the genuine. So we called there on our way here and spent about six hours there, ate our lunch in the Old Chapel and had a very interesting talk with the daughter of the Old Senora, photographed the South Porch the Old chapel the watering plan, the Willows, the court Yard, the fountain in the garden, etc. I have just stopped to eat a couple of oranges bought from Pasadena. They are fine. I tell thee. We get none such in Baltimore. Wish I could send you a box but the expenses on the box would cost 15 cents per pound, almost as much by mail. And after all, would not be as good as they are here fresh from tree.
There is another old Spanish Mission here, but it is in a better state of preservation than any we have visited, and regular services are held. They are just now building a new and handsome Stone College and have it nearly completed. “Father Peter” who has charge of it informed us that he had been sent here four and half years ago by the Holy Father at Rome to take charge of and restore the mission of Santa Barbara and that since that time he has raised and expended $650,000 on the buildings.
This morning we took a twenty mile drive over the Boulevard which runs along over the foot hills of the mountains which overlook the town and for part of the way the Grand Old Ocean. Truly a very pretty drive. On third day next we move on to Pacific Grove and from there we will visit the noted Hotel Del Monte at Monterey and then go on to Santa Cruz and San Jose reaching San Francisco about the 18th or 19th and remain until 4 Pm of the 22nd when we take train for Berenda and Raymond, the entrance to the Yosemite.
On the same day Clark Vrooman and his friend Homer Hoopes from Media, PA who has spent the winter in Pasadena will leave Los Angeles and join us at either Berend or Raymond where we are due at 5:30 am on the 23rd stop for breakfast and at 6:30 start on a sixty nine mile stage ride into the valley. More anon?
We do not know how long it will require to do the valley. It will be Clark’s first visit and he will go prepared to carry away a lot of negatives. Homer is also very enthusiastic photographer and is very expert. From Yosemite we will return to San Francisco where we will remain for about a week, say, until the 5th of May or thereabouts during which time our address will be Grand Hotel, San Francisco, Calfor. From there we will go to Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago and home. Where we expected to turn up about June 1st. I am not sure I will get to the Cattle Ranch though have written to Jos. Pyle asking best way to go there after leaving San Francisco. 
I have kept very well all the time, though do get pretty tired and find it necessary to take a day off now and then for rest and recuperation. Maria and Elizabeth have had several days of not feeling up to par but both are better now and ready to move on. We are surely having a wonderfully good time full of interest at every turn and a trip we can live over and over again to the end of our lives. Thee and Rebecca must surely make it—you cannot afford not to do so. The time to do it will be next winter after thee gets through with the A.A. and before thee settles down to anything else. Everybody says we will be back again then but I see no prospect of it now. 
I was much interested in thy mention of the situation of things at the Canton factories and as I understand it concentration goes quietly on with the one end in view that of dispensing with every last man that can be spared and why not? That was the intention from the start and I have no doubt will be carried right along to the end, without fear or favor. I am glad to know that Arthur is likely to become a fixture and hope that a plan will be found for Charles and Len where they may earn satisfactory salaries. I would also like to see Frank comfortably fixed. Like thyself my concern for the boys has been greater than for myself.  I was surprised to learn that Will Ashly had gone to Hanover. The AA have parted with an exceptionally good man and one with more to them than he will get at Hanover. I am not surprised that Baugh and Sons are going to build. I wonder they did not do so long ago. The one great surprise to me is that the AA allowed them to get possession of that property. But smart people make mistakes sometimes, as well as green horns from the country. No doubt they know what they are about. Regarding the Veneer CO. I received a notice from Sec. Williams asking for a return of notes and 15% of my stock. I have not replied and do not intend to. All of that can wait I return.
Of course, it is to his interest to get some money into the treasury to pay his expenses. I have not the least particle of confidence in that man and believe the more we run after him, the more trouble we will run into. His last proposition is coming towards mine was he and Peck give back their notes and all the last issue of stock. Then we take of that stock for our notes. The other Stockholders who have done nothing ought to put up some of their stock or something to help put the Co on some sort of footing for business. We ought not to be asked to do anything more. We have already done more than our share, through gross misrepresentation. That’s the way I feel about it. But as thee says we cannot write very intelligently or satisfactorily on this subject. And it will have to wait as far as I am concerned until I get home. 
I have written right along, against time as I want to get this into the next mail. So, thee must make allowance for any mistakes that I have made. Would be glad to hear from thee at San Francisco if thee finds time to write. I have had several hitches at this letter, and it is now time to start to Pacific Grove. The 9th inst.. and the girls have their bonnets on and are saying hurry up. They say give our love to all. So I close with love and best wishes to everyone.
Afect. Thy Friend,              CJ Tyson

Page 1 of letter, Chas J Tyson from California

Final page of Chas J Tyson's letter from California
After Charles' death (22 Dec 1906) Maria moved into this house (where her daughter lived). She died 11 Mar 1927. See below:

*Except for the photos from the published book, all photos, letters and information is from the archives and files of Margaret B Walmer Collection, Flora Dale, PA accessible by family.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I noticed that you posted the cover of the Springdale Nurseries catalog of 1860. Do you have a digital file of the complete catalog you can send me?

    One reason that I'm interested is because Cyrus Griest was a second cousin of my 5th great-grandfather Nicholas "Hill" Wierman. I've been trying to learn more about Cyrus because he often worked on abolitionism and the underground railroad with Hill's brother, Joel Wierman, and sister, Phebe Wierman Wright. I suppose Cryus Griest also collaborated at times on growing fruit trees with Phebe and her husband, William Wright, who ran Plainfield Nurseries near Latimore Valley Road. I've seen newspaper ads by Plainfield Nurseries that mention catalogs I would love to see.

    My gmail email address is chuckditzler.


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