Harrison Ruffin Tyler Grandfater

Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr & Harrison Ruffin Tyler

Although Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler may not be household names, together they make up the most amazing fact  about our 10th president:  

Who are Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler?

  John Tyler was born in 1790. He took office in 1841 after William Henry Harrison died, our shortest reigning president. And he has two living grandchildren. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler.    

President Grandfather of Harrison Ruffin Tyler & Lyon Gardiner Tyler
President Tyler

Who was Tyler?

  John Tyler, who served as the tenth President of the United States from 1841 to 1845, does not rate highly in the history books. Typically ranking near the bottom of surveys that classify U.S. presidents according to their effectiveness in office.   You may remember him from the phrase “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” the famous slogan from the 1840 presidential campaign that paired Tyler as a vice-presidential candidate with William Henry Harrison on the Whig ticket.  

Ok, but how does someone born in 1790 have 2 grandkids in 2019?

The Grandfather

The Tyler men have a habit of having kids very late in life. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, one of President Tyler’s 15 kids, was born in 1853. (John Tyler was 63)  

The Father

He fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924(Lyon Tyler was 71), and Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 1928(Lyon Tyler was 75).   His remarkable short line of ascendancy is due to a couple of factors that are not common in modern American society but once were quite common.   Men (especially widowers) took brides that were much younger, late in life and fathering large numbers of children.  

The Grandfather’s Children

  John Tyler fathered fifteen children, more than any other U.S. president:  

  • 8 with his first wife, Letitia Christian Tyler (who was his own age)
  • 7 more with Julia Gardiner Tyler (a woman thirty years younger)

   Five of those children lived into the 20th century (the youngest, Pearl Tyler, was still alive after the end of World War II and finally passed away in 1947),  

The Father’s Children:

  John Tyler’s thirteenth child, Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853–1935) had the following children:  

  • 3 children with his first wife, Anne Baker Tucker Tyler,
  • 3 with his second wife, Sue Ruffin Tyler (a woman thirty-five years his junior), when he was nearly 70.

  One of those latter three children died in infancy, but the other two, Lyon and Harrison (both born in the 1920s), are still with us today(2019), living grandsons of the 10th President of the United States.   Those unusual circumstances allow three generations of the Tyler family to span over 223 years!

Is Lyon Gardiner Tyler jr still alive?

At the original time of writing this post, he was, but sadly that is no longer the case. Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. died on Sept. 26 in Franklin, Tenn. He was 95.