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J. Hoge Tyler Family Collection, 1802-1956 (Ms1967-002)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1967-002


  • 1802 - 1956


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the J. Hoge Tyler Family Collection must be obtained from the Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical Information

James Hoge Tyler, Virginia governor from 1898 to 1902, was born at the Tyler family farm, "Blenheim," in Caroline County, Virginia on August 11, 1846. He was the son of George Tyler (1817-1889), a representative of Caroline County, and Eliza Hoge (1815-1846), daughter of General James Hoge. His mother having died during his birth, the young James Hoge Tyler was reared by his grandparents, James and Eleanor Howe Hoge at "Hayfield," their Pulaski County home. Tyler was educated in Pulaski County before attending the school of Franklin Minor in Albermarle County.

(George Tyler (1817-1889), father of James H., married four times: First to Jane De Jarnette (1820-1841)--the couple's only child died in childhood. Eliza Hoge (1815-1846) was Tyler's second wife, the future governor being their only child. Tyler married third Jane Quisenberry. The couple had two children: George William Tyler (married Mary Stuart Carter) and Nannie Brown Tyler (married John Washington). By his fourth wife, Julia Magruder (1837-1873), Tyler fathered six children: Henry Magruder Tyler, Mary Adams Taylor, Julia Magruder Tyler (married James Armistead Otey), Lucinda Coleman Tyler, Evelyn Tyler (married John J. Miller), John Tyler and William Elliot (married Burnley Redd).)

Tyler left school at the age of 16 to join the Confederate army and served as a private in the Signal Corps throughout the Civil War. (His later rank of "major" was apparently a post-war honorific.) After the war, Tyler returned to Pulaski County, where he had inherited the Hoge farm. He would rename the farm "Belle Hampton" and become a successful farmer, raising Durham cattle and serving as president of the Virginia Stock Farmers' Institute and of the Southwest Virginia Live Stock Association. His other business interests would come to include a store, a gristmill, a sawmill, the Belle Hampton Coal Mining Company (sold in 1902 to a New York company), and the Radford Development Company.

Tyler married Sue Montgomery Hammet (daughter of Edward and Clementina Craig Hammet, who built the first home in what it now Radford, Virginia), a native of Radford, on November 16, 1868. While living at Belle Hampton, the Tylers had eight children: Edward H., James H. Jr., Stockton H., Lucy Belle, Sue H., Henry C. ("Hal"), Eliza ("Lily") and Eleanor Howe, who died in infancy. In 1891, the family moved to "Halwick," their home in Radford.

In 1877, Tyler was elected to the state senate, serving one term and advocating retrenchment and reform. He maintained an active role in civic affairs, serving on the board of visitors and as rector of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and on the state debt commission. During the 1880s, he mounted two unsuccessful congressional campaigns. Tyler also launched an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1889 but secured the second place on the Democratic ticket that year and served as lieutenant governor from 1890 to 1894. While serving as lieutenant governor, Tyler again ran for the governorship in 1893, losing to Charles T. O'Ferrall. In 1897, Tyler successfully campaigned for governor and served from 1898 to 1902.

Tyler's gubernatorial administration was marked by a concern with adjustment of Virginia's state debt. He was a strong supporter of bi-metallism, and was a personal friend of William Jennings Bryan. The American Historical Society's History of Virginia (1926) summarized Tyler's governorship thus:

Governor Tyler's administration was marked by the settlement of the long vexed oyster question, for it was largely through his efforts that the LeCato bill was made effective and the oyster beds of the state made to yield an income to the state instead of an annual deficit. As governor he secured the reduction of taxes and the state debt and the increase of the public school fund and the literary fund. Other measures credited to his administration are the establishment of the Farm Bureau, the reorganization of the agricultural department, a conditional pardon system and the settlement of the Virginia-Tennessee boundary question.

While serving as governor, Tyler launched an unsuccessful campaign for the U. S. Senate seat of incumbent Thomas S. Martin. His unsuccessful 1899 campaign would be Tyler's last, though he would continue to be somewhat active in state politics, playing the role of elder statesman and considering various pleas that he again seek office. During World War I, he served as food administrator for Radford and Montgomery County.

A Presbyterian, Tyler served as a ruling elder and moderator of the Synod of Virginia. He founded the Presbyterian church in East Radford, the area's first brick church. Three times he represented his church in the Presbyterian General Assembly. He also served twice as a delegate to the Pan-Presbyterian Council--once in Toronto, Canada and once in Glasgow, Scotland. He also served on the boards of trustees of the church-affiliated Hampden-Sidney College, Union Theological Seminary, and Synodical Orphans Home at Lynchburg.

James Hoge Tyler died on January 3, 1925; Sue Hammet Tyler, born July 16, 1845, died on April 24, 1927.

Eldest child of James H. and Sue Hammet Tyler, Edward Hammet ("Ned") Tyler was born on December 15, 1869. He graduated from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and served in Radford's local defense regiment, the Radford Rifles, during the late 19th century. Tyler remained a bachelor throughout his life and managed the family farm at Belle Hampton and also owned Kirkland Farm near Dublin (Pulaski County, Virginia). He died on March 22, 1939 in Radford.

James Hoge Tyler Jr. was born on December 8, 1871. He attended Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and graduated from Hampden-Sidney College, where he was a member of the Sigma Sigma chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity. He worked in the governor's office during his father's administration and later for the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Company. He married Evelyn Gray Bell (daughter of A. O. Bell) on June 23, 1908, and the couple lived in Roanoke. The Tylers had no children. Evelyn died in Wilmington (Fluvanna County), Virginia around 1924. At the time of his wife's death, Tyler was living in Radford, paralyzed by a stroke; he died in 1937.

Born on September 13, 1874, Stockton Heth Tyler was a graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law. During the Spanish-American War, he was a major in the U. S. Army, serving as an additional paymaster. He married Nelle Louise Serpell (born June 10, 1878) on November 16, 1904; the couple had five children: Goldsborough Serpell, James Hoge III, Sue Hammet, Nell Serpell, Stockton Jr., and Gulielma Serpell. Tyler served as mayor of Norfolk, Virginia from 1924 to 1932. He died on September 5, 1943.

Lucy Belle Norwood Tyler was born March 9, 1876. She married Colonel Frank Percy McConnell (born July 1, 1870) of Talladega, Alabama on November 16, 1908. The couple, with their son, James Hoge Tyler McConnell, lived initially in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where McConnell was engaged in several business enterprises (including a Bonanza, Arkansas newspaper), before returning by 1927 to Radford. The son of Confederate Colonel William Kennedy McConnell, Frank McConnell commanded the Alabama National Guard's Third Regiment for four years. He was also an active member of Kappa Alpha fraternity, serving as general purser. Frank McConnell died on September 21, 1941; Lucy Belle McConnell on February 4, 1955.

Sue Hampton Tyler was born April 9, 1877. She married Rev. Robert Ware Jopling (1865-1944), a Presbyterian minister, on December 16, 1915. The couple had two children, Sue Tyler and James Robert (1918-1920), and they resided in Texas and South Carolina. Following her husband's death, Sue Jopling made her home in Norfolk, Virginia, where she died in 1949.

Henry Clement ("Hal") Tyler was born in Pulaski County, Virginia on December 10, 1878. He attended St. Alban's Academy in Radford and Richmond College before graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1901. Admitted to the Virginia bar that same year, Tyler returned to Radford, where he established a law practice. In 1906, Tyler was appointed Radford's commonwealth attorney. He continued in that position through successive elections until 1922. In 1909, he was elected city attorney and served in that position until his death. In private practice, Tyler generally handled corporate law, including the legal affairs of the Belle Hampton Coal Company. Tyler also engaged in other businesses, being president of the Radford Hotel Corporation and the Radford Real Estate and Development Company. A Democrat, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1924 to 1925 and on the Radford School Board. He was a member of the American, Virginia and several county bar associations; Phi Delta Phi; Kappa Sigma; and Radford's rotary and golf clubs. He was also a superintendent of the Old Brick Presbyterian Church in Radford and later an elder in Radford's Central Presbyterian Church. Unmarried, Tyler died in Radford on December 1, 1941.

Known to her family and friends as "Lily," Eliza Lillian Tyler was born on September 7, 1882; she married Henry Harrison Wilson (born January 15, 1885) on June 16, 1915. The couple eventually made their home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and had three children: James Hoge Tyler, Lily Norwood and Henry Harrison II. Born in Cumberland County, Virginia on January 15, 1882, Wilson graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1906 with a BS in engineering. He served as an instructor in civil engineering at the university while earning a civil engineering degree the following year. Wilson worked on various projects before being employed from 1908 to 1911 by Winston & Company, contractors for the Ashokan dams in New York. In 1914, he became a special partner in the company's highway and railway construction and in operation of its crushed stone business. Specializing in bridge and other construction work, Wilson became managing partner in 1925 of Winston Brothers Company & H. H. Wilson. He was also president and treasurer of the Lime Bluff Company, director of All States Life Insurance and the Peoples Bank of Radford, Virginia. He was elected president of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors in 1924 and vice-president of the Association of General Contractors of America in 1922. A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Wilson published several articles on highway construction and edited Highway Builder. A descendant of Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Harrison, Wilson maintained an interest in genealogy. He died in Baltimore, Maryland on May 31, 1933. Following his death, Lily Wilson returned to Virginia and by 1948 was living at the Tyler family home.

Colonel Edward Hammet was the father of Sue Hammet Tyler. Arriving in the area of what is now Radford, Virginia in the 1830s, Hammet married Clementina Craig, who had inherited the Norwood property, near (or on) what is now Radford University, from her father, James Craig. Edward and Clementina had several children, including James Preston, Isabella (married Stockton Heth), John Radford, and Susan (married James Hoge Tyler). The Hammets maintained ownership of lands in Washington and Issaquena counties, Mississippi.

William Henry Hammet / Hammett (1799-1865), brother of Edward Hammet, was born in County Cork, Ireland. He served as chaplain of the University of Virginia (1832-1834) and the Virginia House of Delegates before moving to Princeton, Mississippi. In 1837, he married the widow of Dr. James Metcalfe and became owner of the Lammermoor plantation. A Democrat, Hammet served in Congress from 1843-1845. Evidence within the collection suggests that Hammet was a physician. He died in Washington County, Mississippi and was buried on Lammermoor Plantation.

James Preston Hammet (1832-1829), son of Edward Hammet and a graduate of Virginia Military Institute (class of 1853) studied medicine at the University of Virginia and in Philadelphia. He married Katherine Markham Spiller in 1856; their daughter would marry Judge G. E. Cassel of Radford, Virginia. At the commencement of the Civil War, Hammet organized the "New River Grays," which became Company H, 24th Virginia Infantry, but resigned early in the war. By 1864, he was a Montgomery County, Virginia surgeon, serving on the county's committee of public safety.

Isabella Hammet ("Belle") Heth, daughter of Edward and Clementina Craig Hammet, was born in 1842. She married Captain Stockton Heth, who had served in the 18th Virginia Infantry. Heth, president of the Exchange Bank of Radford, also owned Whitethorne Plantation in Montgomery County, Virginia. The couple's children included Virginia C., Stockton Jr., Sally P., and Sue H. Isabella died in 1910 and is buried in Radford, Virginia.

Very little information could be found on the Sifford family, and it remains unclear why the family's papers were within those of the Tylers. The Siffords were Pulaski County farmers, so it may be assumed there was a relationship with the Hoge family. In 1818, Harman Sifford and John Hoge purchased from Cornelius Brown lands on Back and Neck creeks. George W. H. Sifford, perhaps the son of Harman Sifford, married Elizabeth Loukes on September 8, 1838, and the couple had four children: Henry, Rufus, Joseph, and Mary. During the Civil War, Sifford served in the 4th Regiment of the Virginia Reserves, probably in Company C, the Pulaski Reserves. Several other family members also seem to have served in the Confederate Army, including Henry S. and Joseph (sons of George W. H.), who both served in the 54th Virginia Infantry.


Howe, Daniel Dunbar, Listen to the mockingbird: the life and times of a pioneer Virginia family (Boyce, VA: Carr, 1961).

Tyler, James Hoge, The family of Hoge: a genealogy ([Greensboro, NC: J. J. Stone and Co.], 1927).

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The J. Hoge Tyler Family Collection was acquired by Newman Library in several installments. The nucleus of the collection, including the early correspondence of the Hammet and Tyler families and the business correspondence and ledgers of J. Hoge Tyler, was donated by Mrs. Sue Tyler Thomas in 1967. In 1972, J. Hoge Tyler Wilson donated approximately two thousand pieces of political and other correspondence dating from 1890 to 1901. Later in 1972, Mr. Wilson withdrew from temporary deposit at the University of Virginia Library a sizeable collection of Tyler papers, including gubernatorial correspondence, and donated them to Virginia Tech. Additions to the collection were made through several dealer purchases in the 1970s and 1980s.

General Physical Description note

85 containers; 42 cu. ft.


Papers of Virginia Governor James Hoge Tyler, including official, business and personal correspondence, printed materials, scrapbooks, and ledgers; papers of Tyler's children (Edward H., James H. Jr., Stockton H., Belle Tyler McConnell, Sue Tyler Jopling, Hal C. and Lily Tyler Wilson); business records (including records of the Belle Hampton Coal Company and Radford Development Company), genealogical materials, Spanish-American War army pay records, and photographs. Also includes papers of members of the Hammet and Sifford families.


This collection contains the papers of James Hoge Tyler, Virginia state senator (1877-1879), lieutenant governor (1890-1894), governor (1898-1902), businessman, church elder, genealogist, and resident of Radford, Virginia. The collection includes Tyler's correspondence as governor, including a set of bound letter books. Also among the political correspondence are a set of subject files, largely relating to political appointments directly under the governor's control but also touching on some of the issues with which Tyler's administration was concerned. Complementing this official correspondence is a voluminous collection of incoming political correspondence, spanning the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, much of it devoted to Tyler's 1897 and 1899 campaigns, but also including references to the political atmosphere in Virginia and the national political issues of the day.

Within Tyler's personal papers are files relating to his involvement in the Presbyterian Church, particularly his service on the boards of various church-related institutions and in various church councils, as well as his leadership in Radford's Presbyterian Church. Tyler's interest in genealogy is documented in a small set of correspondence from other researchers, together with two of his own typescript manuscripts and printed materials. Also within the personal papers is a large collection of incoming correspondence to both J. Hoge and Sue Hammet Tyler. Much of this correspondence is from members of his very large extended Hoge and Tyler families and relates to personal matters, though many of the letters also touch on political and business matters. Though housed among the personal papers, a collection of scrapbooks provides an exhaustive chronicle of Tyler's political career, largely through newspaper clippings.

Tyler's business pursuits are well documented in a collection of correspondence, ledgers, and legal papers. Among these records are those of the Belle Hampton Coal Company and the Radford Development Company, together with records of Tyler's agricultural interests. Also among the business papers are documents relating to Tyler's personal financial activities, including such routine documents as personal checks and receipts.

Of the papers of Tyler's children, perhaps the most significant are those of Stockton Heth Tyler, an army paymaster during the Spanish-American War. In addition to S. Heth Tyler's personal papers are paymaster records which he retained after the war. The papers include payroll records for a number of units and individuals.

Also among the papers of Tyler's children are those of Edward H. Tyler, a Pulaski County, Virginia farmer; Belle Tyler McConnell, whose husband, Frank, was a prominent banker and businessman of Arkansas and Virginia; and Lily Tyler Wilson, whose husband, Henry, was a civil engineer and road contractor in Pennsylvania.

The collection also includes the papers of members of the Hammet family of Mississippi and Virginia. Among these papers are a number of items relating to the affairs of Lammermoor Plantation in Mississippi, including materials concerning the ante bellum operation of the plantation, and later, accounts with the freedmen employed there. Also included among the Hammet papers are the account books of James P. Hammet, a physician of Montgomery County, Virginia.

A small collection of papers belonging to the Sifford family of Pulaski County, Virginia, are included as well and relate to the family's personal activities and business/legal interests. Included among the papers is a small notebook providing the names and birth dates of slaves on an unidentified farm.

Completing the collection is a large collection of photos, including both studio portraits and snapshots of the Tylers, extended family members and friends.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the J. Hoge Tyler Family Collection commenced in January 2004 and was completed in August 2007. Some earlier work on the collection had been performed from 1967 to 1969 and 1971 to 1972.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US