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NOTE: The following two articles were transcribed from a transcription of the 1963 article. The text was then compared to photocopies of the 1981 reprints of these two articles. They agree with one exception, which I have documented [within brackets] in the seventh paragraph of the second article below.
Thanks goes to Nina Wills Combes, our cousin in Newland, North Carolina, for these two articles.
- Robert F. Tyree
Tyree Ancestry - I
Few of the families of this area in the last century dispensed more cheer and hospitality than the noted Tyree family who lived along the ancient James River and Kanawha Turnpike.
Along that historic thoroughfare they operated a trio of taverns. In those wayside inns several of the great of the nation were entertained from time to time. When he published the Southern Historical Magazine at Charleston in the early 1890's, Virgil A. Lewis put at William Tyree, of Lewisburg, to write out for him something about the Tyree family.
This request was occasioned by Lewis after he had perused the Journal of Judge Lewis Summers who wrote of stopping at Lewisburg where Summers said he took dinner in a "Tavern kept by Tyree; pretty good house."
WILLIAM TYREE wrote from Lewisburg on January 23, 1892, in reply to Lewis's letter dated two days earlier, telling him that "My grandfather, Richard F. Tyree kept the first hotel that was ever opened in Lewisburg but I do not know what time he lived here." Then William Tyree gave Lewis some family history of the Tyree people which he apparently wrote from memory.
Only recently a call was made on Mrs. Willa Ann Skaggs, a granddaughter of William Tyree, for whom she was named. Her name comes from William. In her possession is the old Tyree family Bible, a book that is sadly disheveled and worse from wear.
Mrs. Skaggs showed me the big old book and in it was found the family record of the Tyree family. This record is much older than the letter William Tyree wrote Virgil A. Lewis in January, 1892, and very much at variance with what Tyree wrote from memory.
ACCORDING TO the Bible record, Richard F. Tyree married Miss Sarah Johnson of Greenbrier. He died June 17, 1834 and was buried at foot of Sewell Mountain, near his home. His wife, Sarah Johnson-Tyree died November 6, 1839. These worthies are buried in the family graveyard a few hundred feet from the Old Stone House which Richard Tyree built in 1824.
According to the family records in the old Bible these are the children of Richard F. and Sarah Johnson-Tyree, his wife: Francis Tyree, their oldest child. He was born April 12, 1805. This Francis Tyree was the first surveyor of Fayette County and was elected to represent Fayette County in the Virginia Assembly. He married Miss Margaret McClung of Greenbrier County on May 22, 1834. At the age of 60 years he died, according to William Tyree, on June 18, 1868. William Tyree says Francis Tyree was born in 1808 but the Bible says April 12, 1805. Francis Tyree was a Fayette County Justice of the Peace in 1837-38.
SECOND CHILD OF Richard F. Tyree was William Tyree. The family Bible record states William Tyree was born November 22, 1807 and that he died July 29, 1883, aged 75 years, 8 months, and 9 days. On August 11, 1836 William Tyree married Rebecca McClung. In the Bible record he is called "Col. William Tyree," his publicly bestowed rank of colonel being in recognition of his community standing. From 1877 to 1881 he was sheriff of Fayette County. He is buried in the ancestral plot and his grave marked by a marble slab from which the inscription on it is almost worn away by the elements. There is a good picture of Col. William Tyree in my possession.
Third son of Richard F. Tyree was John Tyree who married Elizabeth McClung, May 19, 1842. His birth and death dates are unknown. Then came George Tyree who was born Oct. 15, 1816. Fayette County marriage records show that George Tyree and Miss Eloisa A. Dickinson were united in marriage on January 20, 1848, by Rev. Martin T. Bibb.
IN THE TYREE BIBLE record she is called "Miss Ella Dickinson of Fayette County." After George there was Samuel Tyree who was born September 25, 1818. He married Miss Henrietta Plumb of Bath County, Virginia. In the family record in the Bible it is written that Samuel Tyree died at Providence, Rhode Island, on August 25, 1907, aged 83 years and 11 months. Samuel Tyree appears to be the only one of the sons of Richard F. Tyree who left the area of his birth.
Then the Tyree girls in the Richard F. Tyree family. Mary Jane Tyree was born Sept. 25, 1814. She married William Feamster of Greenbrier. Sarah Tyree was born November 28, 18-- and married Fielding McClung of Nicholas County. Rebecca Tyree was born November 1, 1820 and married Robert Dunlap of Greenbrier. Margaret Tyree was born March 2, 1815 and married a Dr. Wills of Greenbrier. She died March 1, 1899. More Tyree ancestry tomorrow.
Tyree Ancestry - II
Even the family records in the old Richard F. Tyree Bible have discrepancies as to dates of birth of the nine children of Richard F. and Sarah Johnson-Tyree. These are the Tyrees of tavern tradition along the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, on Route 60 of our day.
One of the discrepancies in the birth dates is found in the case of Mary Jane Tyree whose birth is listed as September 25, 1814 and of her sister Martha (Margaret as the name is written in the Bible record) as March 2, 1815. This is an apparent error. No birth date is shown for John Tyree and in the case of Sarah Tyree the year of her birth is not written. Fayette County marriage records show that James C. West and Sarah F. Tyree were united in marriage on February 5, 1846, with Rev. Matthew Ellison tying the knot. Some day the marriage record will be looked up and it will likely show when Sarah F. Tyree was born.
OTHER VITAL statistics in the Tyree Bible run something like this: "Andrew Woodson Tyree was born the 19th day of January, 1839. Joseph McClung Tyree was born the 9th day of August, 1840. George William Tyree was born the 9th day of December, 1841. Mrs. Rebecca Tyree was born 1st day of May 1807. Charles William Tyree was born 9th day of January 1850. William Addison Tyree was born the 30th day of April 1855. Elizabeth Sarah Tyree was born the 8th day of April, 1857. Martha Ann Tyree was born July --, 1859. Samuel F. Tyree was born November 9, 1840. John McClung Tyree was born April 28, 1842.
Here was one page of entries of the "Departed": "Richard F. Tyree departed this life on the 17th day of June, 1834. Sarah Tyree departed this life the 6th day of November, 1839. George William Tyree departed this life the 16th day of June, 1842. Andrew Woodson Tyree died April 12, 1893, aged 55 years, 7 months, and 23 days. Elizabeth P. Tyree died March 9, 1834. Colonel William Tyree died July 29, 1883, aged 75 years, 8 months and 9 days. Martha C. Tyree Wills died March 1, 1899.
Mary F. Imboden who died Feb. 21, 1889, was a Tyree, the only sister of Joe Tyree, the father of Mrs. Willia (sic) Skaggs who has the Tyree family Bible in her log house home at Ansted on Route 60.
HERE ARE A FEW marriage records noted from the old Tyree book: "Mary F. Tyree and George W. Imboden were married on December 8, 1859." This is the Colonel George W. Imboden who was a Colonel in the Confederate army and was in command of the regiment that covered Lee's retreat from Gettysburg on July 5, 1863. He came to Ansted to stay in 1870. His home was the house now owned and occupied by the Fayette Historical Society.
Other marriage entries in the Tyree Bible are: "William Tyree and Rebecca McClung were married August 11, 1836. Francis Tyree and Margaret McClung were married May 22, 1834. John Tyree and Elizabeth McClung were married May 18, 1842. William Tyree and Sarah McClung were married Feb. 13, 1844. Martha A. Tyree and James Bowling were married May 11, 1859." [This paragraph reads differently in the 1981 version, of which I have an actual photocopy. To wit: "Francis Tyree and Margaret McClung were married May 19, 1842." Ray Coleman writes: "The two dates above on Francis and Margaret McClung Tyree are widely different. The CD #229 - Southern States marriages, retailed by Broderbund amongst others, gives these two as married Greenbrier, VA, 22 May 1834, which agrees with the first statement in the (above) paragraph. "]
IT SEEMS THAT the several Tyrees took turns at operating the taverns at Ansted and at Ravens Eye. First post office at Ansted was in the Tyree Tavern there. It was about 1827 when the post office was established there and named Mountain Cove. George Hunter was the first postmaster. In 1834 Colonel William Tyree bought the old tavern from George Hunter.
In July, 1935, I went to call on Joe Smailes, one of the colorful characters who drove a stage coach over the James River and Kanawha Turnpike to get some of his recollections. He was born at Gauley Bridge on April 18, 1849.
HIS STAGE COACH was called "The Tallyho." He told me that just three days before his 21st birthday he was driving a stagecoach that was drawn by four chargers when the deep snow of 1870 fell. He was crossing Sewell Mountain when he encountered snow four feet deep. There the stage stalled.
He had one passenger on his run that day by name of Judge Harrison, a federal judge from Kentucky. Joe Smailes told me there was nothing for him to do but unhitch the horses and let the travellers seek shelter where they might be able to find it. Smailes said he took the mail sack and threw it over the back of one of his horses to serve as a saddle for the federal judge.
They left the coach and headed for the Old Stone House six miles away. There the judge holed up until the snow was gone. Smailes said ... another driver and six horses from the relay station at the ... Old Stone House and went back after his coach.
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