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|Size||17.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 18000 items)|
|Abstract||Industrialist of Knoxville, Tenn.; brigadier general of the 59th Brigade, 30th Division in World War I; and U.S. senator, 1925-1929. Chiefly family correspondence, World War I military communications, and U.S. Senate records. Many family letters are from Tyson to his wife, Bettie Humes McGhee Tyson (fl. 1883-1933), and deal with such matters as military actions against Indians in Wyoming in the 1880s; observations of customs in Puerto Rico in 1898 and 1899; Tennessee politics, 1903-1913; World War I training at Camp Sevier, S.C., and battle experiences with the 59th Brigade, 30th Division, U.S. Army, in Belgium; and family matters. Military communications include battle instructions, regulations, reports, and general orders. Senate records consist of campaign files, constituent correspondence, and case files.|
|Creator||Tyson, Lawrence Davis, 1861-1929.|
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Born 4 July 1861 on a farm near Greenville, Pitt County, North Carolina, Lawrence Davis Tyson attended the country schools on his father's plantation until he entered the academy at Greenville in 1873. His lifelong involvement in the military began with his enrollment at West Point in 1879. Graduating in 1883, Tyson was commissioned second lieutenant of the United States Army and assigned to the Ninth Infantry. In September 1883, he began twelve years of active military duty at Fort D. A. Russell, Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he met Bettie Humes McGhee. Daughter of Charles McGhee, a leading railroad financier of the South, Bettie married Lawrence in February 1886. During their early married life the Tysons were stationed chiefly in the West, but spent one year (1888-1889) at a recruiting station in New York. Tyson subsequently spent two years in Arizona and New Mexico participating in campaigns against the Apaches. Tyson served his last four years of active duty (1891-1895) as a professor of military science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
While at the University, Tyson shifted his life's course from the military to a career in the private sector, when he earned a bachelor's degree in law in 1894. He resigned his commission in 1896 in order to practice law in Knoxville and quickly diversified his interests to take advantage of the expanding industrial opportunities of the New South. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Tyson was president of the Nashville Street Railway Company, and, in 1899, he organized the Knoxville Spinning Company. War, however, briefly interrupted Tyson's business pursuits. He volunteered for service in 1898, recruited and trained the 6th Regiment, United States Volunteer Infantry, and took them to Puerto Rico. Tyson stayed there for several months as military governor of the north-central portion of that island, joined briefly by Bettie and their two children, Charles McGhee Tyson (b. 1889) and Isabella McGhee Tyson (b. circa 1893), after peace was declared in 1899. Before the year was out, the family returned to Knoxville.
In the years following the Spanish-American War, Tyson expanded his business interests beyond textile production and railroads to coal and iron mining, banking, and manufacturing. He became president of Poplar Creek Coal and Iron Company, East Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, Lenoir City Land Company, Southern Valve and Gear Company; vice president of Roane Iron Company, Cambria Coal Mining Company, Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Company; and director of two banks and several other corporations.
Tyson's career in politics began in 1903 when he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives and chosen speaker (1903-1905). During this period he continued to use his military training as inspector general of the Tennessee National Guard. In 1913 he was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate.
Tyson volunteered for service at the outbreak of World War I and was commissioned brigadier general in command of all Tennessee National Guard troops. President Wilson soon assigned him to the 59th Brigade and sent him to train the troops at Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina. His brigade of about 8,000 men embarked for France in May 1918 and in July joined British troops fighting in Belgium. They saw almost continuous action through October 1918 with over 3,000 killed or wounded. The brigade's signal achievement was its participation in breaking the heavily fortified Hindenburg line. Brigadier General Tyson subsequently received the Distinguished Service Medal. Sadly, however, while fighting in France Tyson received word of his son's death in a plane crash at Killingholme, England.
In 1919, after Tyson returned to Knoxville, he took his business career in yet another direction when he bought the Knoxville Sentinel and became its president and publisher. In 1920, the State Democratic convention endorsed Tyson for vice-president, but he withdrew his name and seconded the nomination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the national convention. In 1923 Tyson became president of the American Association of Cotton Manufacturers.
Tyson's aspirations to national political office were finally fulfilled when he became United States Senator from Tennessee in 1925. In the Senate he advocated adherence to the World Court; co-authored the Tyson-Fitzgerald bill, giving full retirement compensation to disabled emergency officers of the First World War; and supported legislation to aid agricultural interests and tighten immigration restrictions. He served on a variety of Senate committees, including banking and currency; commerce; education and labor; manufactures; and military affairs. Tyson died before the end of his Senate term at a sanatorium in Pennsylvania in August 1929.Back to Top
These papers document aspects of Lawrence Davis Tyson's family, military, and political life. There is little information about his business endeavors in Knoxville. Family correspondence consists chiefly of letters to Bettie Humes McGhee Tyson and focuses primarily on family matters relating to the Tysons and McGhees. There is a gap between 1866 and 1884 of papers. The World War I and political papers closely follow the arrangement established by Tyson himself.Back to Top
Chiefly family correspondence (Subseries 1.1.), this series also contains other family-related materials (Subseries 1.2.), including biographical materials, school reports, personal financial and legal information, newspaper clippings, and other materials.
Chiefly letters to Bettie McGhee Tyson, this correspondence documents the Tyson's family life more than their business and professional activities. Subseries have been designed around the dates of events significant enough to signal a change in major correspondents and/or the subjects treated during a particular time span. Undated correspondence (Subseries 1.1.7.) is arranged by correspondent with the greater portion of this material relating to Bettie McGhee Tyson. This subseries is further divided into subseries 1.1.1.-1.1.7.
Chiefly correspondence relating to the McGhee family of Knoxville, Tenn. Letters indicate that the family moved to East Tennessee in the 1830s. A letter dated 1838 contains family news from relatives in Hartford, Conn., with the names Charles and Isabella underlined in contrasting ink. Bettie McGhee Tyson probably named her son and daughter for these two relatives. Also of note, a letter from 1866 describes the destruction of family fortunes in the Civil War.
Letters documenting the courtship and early marriage of Lawrence Davis and Bettie McGhee Tyson. Letters show that the Tysons met while Bettie was visiting her sister in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Lawrence was stationed at Fort Russell. Bettie's return to her Knoxville home in November 1884 marks the beginning of an extended long distance romance that continued through the Tysons' early married life. Married in February 1886, they endured long separations due to Lawrence's military assignments.
In his letters to Bettie, Lawrence was chiefly preoccupied with his feelings for her and often wrote of the social life of the fort. Occasionally, however, he did refer to military actions against the Indians, labor conflicts between white miners and Chinese railroad workers (see especially 20 September 1885), and his work as a judge advocate in the military court.
After their marriage Bettie moved to Cheyenne to stay with her sister. Letters show difficult adjustments faced by a young wife separated from her new husband. Many letters from her mother also document a close mother-daughter relationship and the trial of Bettie's separation from her Knoxville family. Other significant correspondents during this period include Bettie's father and sisters.
The Tysons' first child, Charles McGhee Tyson (whom they called McGhee) was born circa August 1889, and Bettie moved back to Knoxville. Suffering from malaria early in 1891, Lawrence applied for and received an appointment to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
During this period the Tysons had their second child, Isabella. Living in Knoxville, Lawrence worked first at the University of Tennessee, then as a lawyer in private practice. Most letters are to Bettie, either from Lawrence, whose business relationship with her father sometimes took him out of town, or from her mother. The McGhees lived much of the year in hotels in New York City, Long Island, Massachusetts, Florida, and Georgia, and much of the correspondence from Bettie's mother reveals her loneliness and feelings of isolation.
This period ends with the Tyson family's involvement in the Spanish-American War. Few letters discuss Tyson's involvement in training troops for combat but several newsy letters document his activities in Puerto Rico after July 1898. He often discussed the Puerto Rican countryside and social customs. Toward the end of the year Tyson brought his family over for a planned stay of four months while he served as military governor of the north-central portion of the island immediately after the war. There are several letters from Charles McGhee to his grandfather describing family life on the island. (See also Subseries 1.2. for Isabella's reminiscences of Puerto Rico in her biographical sketch of Charles McGhee Tyson.) By February 1899 the Tysons had returned to the United States.
Major topics of correspondence for this period include Lawrence's involvement in Tennessee politics as a representative in the State Assembly, continuing McGhee family matters, and the education of Charles McGhee and Isabella Tyson. Lawrence was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1903 and campaigned unsuccessfully for a seat in the United States Senate in 1913. He wrote Bettie and his father-in-law from the State Assembly in Nashville, and on the campaign trail, discussing various political issues and personalities. Letters continue to Bettie from her mother until about 1907. Much correspondence from McGhee at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, then at Princeton, begins in about 1905. Isabella also wrote many letters to her brother and parents after enrolling at Miss Spence's School, New York City. (See also Subseries 1.2. for Isabella's school reports from this institution.) Family correspondence sheds little light on the extensive industrial and business concerns in Knoxville that Lawrence Davis Tyson developed during this period.
Correspondence for this period documents Tyson family involvement in World War I. Early letters from Lawrence to Bettie describe his activities at Camp Sevier in Greenville, S.C. Bettie served as chairman of The National League for Women's Services and of particular note is a letter (2 October 1917) to her from Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels concerning aviation safety.
Isabella Tyson married Kenneth Gilpin, a member of the Flying Corps from Virginia in March 1918. Letters exchanged between Isabella and her mother refer to business Bettie was handling in the absence of Lawrence Davis Tyson. Letters from Charles McGhee Tyson to his sister and parents document his training and military service in New York and Texas. He married Betty Carson of New York in May 1918, just before shipping out to England to join the war as an aviator. There are only a few letters here from his overseas service.
Lawrence Davis Tyson departed for Europe in May 1918. Thereafter, newsy letters from him to Bettie often give vivid descriptions of life on the front lines and refer to his concerns for conditions at home, especially regarding the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Chief correspondents during this period are Lawrence Davis Tyson and Isabella Tyson Gilpin. Bettie McGhee Tyson is the recipient of most of their letters. Letters deal chiefly with family matters, including the birth of two grandchildren--Tyson Gilpin (September 1919) and Kay Gilpin (circa 1923). However, around 1923, Lawrence David Tyson wrote several newsy letters to Bettie while campaigning for the seat in the United States Senate he ultimately won in 1925. Of particular note is a rare letter from Bettie McGhee Tyson to her husband which documents her role in mobilizing women for his campaign. After 1925 most letters are from Isabella to her parents. Few family letters document Lawrence Davis Tyson's activities in the Senate. After his death in 1929, letters from Isabella and her family continue through 1933.
Undated letters and letter fragments of Tyson family members and others. The letters, which chiefly relate to family matters, are arranged by recipient. However, when the sender is identifiable and the recipient is either unknown or not a family member, the letters is filed under the sender's name.
Biographical materials relating to Lawrence Davis and Charles McGhee Tyson, newspaper clippings, financial and legal Papers, school reports, and other materials, including an undated "Report of the Female Charitable Society of Knoxville." The financial and legal material includes a few bills and receipts; Charles McGhee Tyson's will; official certificates; and Puerto Rican currency (1880). The school reports regard Isabella's performance at Miss Spence's School in New York City. The scrapbook contains information on Charles McGhee Tyson and Lawrence Davis Tyson.
This series relates to Brigadier General Tyson's command of the 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division, which was part of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. The series documents General Tyson's involvement in training troops at Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina (1917-1918) and during active operations in France and Belgium (1918-1919).
The bulk of the series consists of communications with headquarters and includes orders, memoranda, reports, and personnel and subject files. It pertains more to military procedures and regulations than to General Tyson's thoughts or feelings concerning the war or his performance as a World War I commander and soldier. For a more personal account of Tyson's experience see his letters from this period in Subseries 1.1.5.
Procedural and battle instructions, regulations, reports, printed bulletins, general orders, penciled field orders, and mimeographed informational memorandum on a wide variety of subjects from the Headquarters of the 30th Division and the 59th Brigade Headquarters. Note that similar material, arranged by subject, is filed in Subseries 2.3.
Subjects of the communications include: movements, transportation, exercises, supply, equipment, ammunition, locations and strength, battle plans, paper work, baths, training schools, animals and forage, fuel, discipline, water supply, uniforms, plans for lines and positions, evacuation of the sick and wounded, patrols, religious activities, lectures, loose talk, lice, warnings and rules for safety and conduct, special events, inspections by dignitaries, and Red Cross services. Also included are memoranda relating to trench maps of the Ypres sector and the Poperinghe line (July 1918); printed intelligence reports from General Headquarters, A.E.F., Second Section, General Staff (G-2), and other intelligence bulletins from II Corps Headquarters and First Army; copies of captured German intelligence reports; and large folded maps showing lines and positions on specific dates.
Items concerning personnel of the 59th Infantry Brigade. Topics covered include promotions, transfers, special assignments, courts-martial, applications for leave and passes, men unfit for machine gun work, casualty reports, decorations, citations, wound-chevrons, reclassification of officers, deserters, discipline cases, men excused from drill, separation from service and discharges in Europe, service records lost and needed, and allotment arrangements. It also includes unclassified material relating to individuals.
Arrangement: Alphabetical by subject.
This Subseries consists of the same sort of communication and information found in subseries 2.1. The papers chronologically arranged in Subseries 2.1 were in batches that were mixed or vague as to subject, whereas the materials in this Subseries retain their original subject headings.
Correspondence, printed materials, lists of voters, and other materials related to Lawrence Davis Tyson's political career during the 1920s. The papers in this series document Tyson's campaigns for the United States Senate in 1924 and 1929, and his abiding concerns as a Senator for veterans' compensation, world peace, national defense, and the economic development of the South. The four subseries reflect Tyson's original arrangement scheme.
Chiefly lists of voters arranged by county, this subseries also includes subject files related to Tyson's campaign for the Senate in 1924 and his campaign for re-election in 1929. Notably, these materials show Tyson's active solicitation of the women's vote only a few years after passage of the nineteenth amendment. Also documented is the active participation of women in his election campaigns.
Letters chiefly from Tennessee constituents, expressing opinions about legislation before the Senate or requesting Tyson's assistance with a variety of personal concerns. Copies of Tyson's responses to many of these inquiries are included. The variety of issues represented in this correspondence reflect Tyson's keen interest in veterans, international stability in the post war era, and industrial development in the South.
Correspondence with constituents similar to letter in subseries 3.1, but arranged by subject. Also included is printed material about legislation or issues debated by the Senate.
Arrangement: alphabetical, then chronological.
Correspondence between Tyson and veterans or their families about claims and disability benefits, arranged by individual claimant. Many claims include correspondence ranging over several years course and documenting the disposition of particular cases.
Processed by: Lisa Tolbert and Alice Thomas with processing assistance from Patricia Townsend and Joy Barfield
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