"If there's a book that you want to read,
but it hasn't been written yet,
then you must write it."
   Toni Morrison

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Finding Clues

By | Norm's Author Blog | 6 Comments

It is always interesting when your writing can be based on personal experience. Recently Ilene and I discovered an intriguing story in this way.

Because of COVID, we sometimes do our daily walk safely in Forest Hills Cemetery, located a few blocks from home. Because of my long interest in the Tyler family’s genealogy and history, I recently checked with the cemetery office to see if there were any Tylers buried there. They took out a map and indicated four Tyler gravesite locations, not counting our own. One site we knew about; the other three were harder to find.

One of the sites was located in Block 56, Lots 7 & 8. We strolled to this location and looked at every stone in the block. Not finding anything, we wondered if they had given us the wrong information. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough to kick some dirt away from a small area of a mostly-buried flat stone and exposed what was obviously a gravestone. Kicking away a little more dirt, we began to see lettering, and eventually were able to decipher the name, David Tyler. This photo shows what it looks like at this point, before we go back with brushes to clean it off properly.

Returning home, I looked through our three volumes of Tyler Genealogy and found a Doctor David Tyler who in 1830 moved from “Tyler Hollow” in Marcellus, New York, to Ann Arbor. Wow! I had found one of my relatives through this unique circumstance. I found information on him in Washtenaw County’s online history and on the genealogy web site, WikiTree.

Doctor David Tyler turned out to be an upright Ann Arbor citizen and an officer in the local Masonic Lodge. His brother was Comfort Tyler, also from Marcellus, a notable who had many distinctions as one of upstate New York’s early settlers. My special interest in Comfort had been established earlier when I wrote about him in my Tyler history book titled, 15 Generations of American Stories: Notable Descendants of Immigrant Job Tyler. It seems Comfort had foolishly become right-hand man for Aaron Burr when Burr tried to establish a new nation in the Louisiana Purchase with himself as head of this new government. When their small band of rebels was caught, both Burr and Comfort Tyler were put on trial before Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court. The historic Burr Conspiracy, written about in many books, resulted in both men being freed simply because their “actions” had never been realized. Comfort returned home, but with a sense of disgrace.

So I was connected with an interesting family and some fascinating history. Ilene pointed out that David Tyler was a contemporary of Robert S. Wilson, who built our own historic Greek Revival style house. The supreme irony would be to discover that David and Robert knew each other back in mid-19th century in Ann Arbor.

All in all, it was a wonderful example of how stories can come from anywhere. As writers, we should be able to find drama in the most innocent of instances; maybe even from brushing a little dirt from a stone.

750 Words

By | Norm's Author Blog | 5 Comments

During our months-long stay-at-home, many of us are thinking this might be a good time to do some writing. You may think–I always meant to begin my memoirs, or try writing a murder mystery, or wax philosophical. But there seem to be distractions and reasons not to begin.

Our son, Joseph, introduced us to an effective way to overcome such creative inertia. It is referred to as the 750-Word Exercise. There is one simple rule. Begin writing about a topic of interest to you and keep writing about it in one sitting, non-stop, for 750 words—no more, no less. If you are like most writers you will find that the first 250 to 300 words will represent your current thinking but following those initial words you should enter a freestyle writing where you don’t know what will come off your fingertips. But keep writing anyway until you reach 750 words (approximately 3 pages). Then take a break and come back to it in a day or two and see what you have. You may be surprised at where your free thinking led you, and hopefully you have something worth developing further. It might serve as a section for a coronavirus journal, or the beginning of a piece of fiction, or a more reflective piece.

We encourage you to try this 750-Word Exercise. And let us know what happens if you do. (Note this blog posting is only 233 words. Oh, well.)

A Time That Wasn’t

By | Norm's Author Blog | One Comment

Sometimes there are more engaging ways to share reflections on our common quandary. I offer my effort using verse.

A Time That Wasn’t

A COVID moment;
The rhythm of being takes pause.

An island in time,
A pact with fatalistic will.

Anxiously trusting
Our sacrifices will soon end.

A Time That Wasn’t,
Cloaking a new destiny.

The Philadelphia Story

By | Norm's Author Blog | 4 Comments

Although my book on the biographical history of the Job Tyler family (see previous blog) has now been self-published, I just came across a new biography that really needs to be shared.

The University of Michigan’s Clements Rare Books Library has a huge collection of artifacts from early American history. Recently the staff hosted an online discussion on one of their artifacts, the Scott-Montgomery family album, an excellent example of a complete and well-organized family photo album. The speaker mentioned key people in the Scott-Montgomery family, including Charlotte Hope Binney Tyler Montgomery. My ears perked up at the Tyler in the name and this encouraged me to do a bit of research. It turns out Charlotte was the mother of Colonel Robert Leaming Montgomery, whose wife was Hope Binney Tyler, a name found in our Job Tyler genealogy. Thus, through marriage our two families are connected, although it turns out it was more of a merger than a marriage.

Let me explain. Hope’s father, Sidney Frederick Tyler, was a Harvard-educated Philadelphia lawyer who organized four railroads in the late 19th century. Hope’s brother, George Frederick Tyler, was a wealthy Philadelphia banker who built one of the country’s last “great estates,” with horses, a dairy, forty employees, and a 10-car turntable garage. (His biography can be found in my book.)

Hope’s daughter was Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, who Wikipedia describes as a Main Line socialite and philanthropist and who Vanity Fair once called “the unofficial queen of Philadelphia’s WASP oligarchy.” She is most famous as the inspiration for the lead character Tracy Lord featured in the Philip Barry play, The Philadelphia Story, played by Katherine Hepburn in the film of the same name, and also featured in the musical-film High Society.

Although such family linkages are certainly intriguing to come across, I accept that such high-falutin’ ties will not make me any more societal or moneyed. I remain the same old Norm that I’ve always been; just ask Ilene.

A favorable review

By | Norm's Author Blog | Comments

For over thirty years, Ilene has been an active member of the Association for Preservation Technology, International. The most recent edition of the organization’s Bulletin includes a review of our historic preservation book. We are pleased with the reviewer’s assessment and want to share three brief excerpts with you.

Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice is a foundational book written to reach every person who is exploring the depth and breadth of historic preservation. Beginning students will be inspired as they cover the extensiveness of this field and find ideas for their future careers. Storied professionals who have been practicing for years will find important details and case studies that can be applied to their own work. Norman and Ilene Tyler and Ted Ligibel have developed a concise narrative and presentation method that encourages the reader to continue exploring with each topic and chapter. . . This is the third edition of this influential book, and while this edition is 140 pages longer that the first, the added content is necessary to detail the development of the profession over the past 20 years. The Tylers and Ligibel are skilled at adding new content seamlessly to each subject. . . The Tylers, well-known in the field of preservation, along with their coauthor Ligibel, offer their long history of work in this field to entice the next generation of preservationists.” (Todd Grover, Principal, MacDonald and Mack Architects, Minneapolis)

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