This past Sunday, I was enjoying one of my favorite programs, CBS Sunday Morning, with a cup of coffee, still in bed. I am so glad I had swallowed the last bit in my cup, or I would have surely made a mess with my sputtering and gasping. I could not believe my ears. There, in living color, was Harrison Ruffin Tyler, age 83, the grandson of President John Tyler. Did you understand what I just said? This man, in the year 2012, is the GRANDSON of a man who was born just after George Washington was inaugurated (1790).
I just thought I had old parents and grandparents. My daddy was born in 1911 and his daddy in 1884. They are mere children compared to the John Tyler clan, but the most glaring difference is that my people never delivered a child after age 43. The Tyler clan must have believed that age is merely a number.
President John Tyler was half of the team of Tippecanoe (William Henry Harrison) and Tyler, too, who took office when President Harrison died after completing only 31 days in office. Poor Mrs. Harrison was still packing up the house in Ohio when he died, so she never lived in the White House. Seems that President Harrison, age 68, was rather windy and delivered a two hour inauguration speech in the rain without a hat, which was his undoing. Newly inaugurated President John Tyler must have taken much better care of himself because he outlived his first wife, married a lady 30 years his junior and started having babies. President Tyler was 63 when Lyon Gardiner Tyler, the father of Harrison Ruffin, was born and had two more children after that (Robert and Pearl). All this was going on when the average male lived only 39 years!
The genetic propensity to produce offspring late in life continued. Harrison Ruffin Tyler’s daddy, Lyon Gardiner (1853-1935), was 75 when he was born and his brother, Henry, was born when the old man was 81! The mother of these children, second wife Sue (1889-1959), was 36 years his junior when all this birthin’ was going on, which meant she was 40 when Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born. Not exactly Sarah and Abraham, but close.
Harrison Ruffin Tyler is an all American Blue Blood who only mentions in passing that he is related to Thomas Jefferson and Pocahontas. I would say he is swimming in a strong genetic current and should he find himself widowed, wouldn’t think twice about finding a young lady to produce another Tyler, which reminds me of the scripture of Leviticus 19:32 — Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man.