Hamilton County Pioneers - the Tyners

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - by John Wilson

Dempsey Tyner was one of Hamilton County's earliest settlers. John S. Tyner, the founder of Tynersville, formed a company to fight for the Confederacy. But the Tyners had disappeared from the county by the end of the Civil War.

The Tyners are said to go back to England, where they lived near the Tyne River. In the
early days in America, the name was sometimes spelled Tynes. A descendant said they were known in England as “shipbuilders and boisterous beer drinkers.” Nicholas Tynes (Tyner) was in Isle of Wight County, Va., and Chowan County, N.C. In 1699 he sold 400 acres that he “lately purchased of Thomas Hoskinse” on the Chowan River. Nicholas Tyner Jr., of Isle of Wight County, received several hundred acres in Chowan County from his father, Nicholas Tyner Sr. In 1716, he sold 450 acres of this property, including “all the houses, gardens, orchards, etc.”

Dempsey Tyner was born in Chowan County on Aug. 4, 1755, and was the son of William and Elizabeth Tyner. Dempsey moved to Edgefield District, S.C., along with some of his relatives. Harris Tyner died at Abbeville in 1844. William Tyner also moved to this section of South Carolina. He died in 1778. Dempsey Tyner joined the Patriot army while at Abbeville. After his Revolutionary War service, he moved to Jackson
County, Ga., then he pushed on to Roane County, Tenn. He then moved to Hamilton County.

Dempsey Tyner's wife was Obedience “Biddy” Sevier. His sons apparently included John, Hiram, Reuben Jackson, Jackson, Jesse, Nathan, Lewis, Sevier and William H. John was born in 1789 and married Rachel Rider, who was born in 1793 in South Carolina. A daughter, Emaline, was born in Rhea County in 1821. She married Isaac K. Burkhart, who was also from Rhea County. John Tyner died in 1850. Sevier and William Tyner of Hamilton County served in the fighting against the Seminole Indians in
Florida in 1837-38. Reuben Jackson Tyner was in the Mexican War. He had married Jenny Carter at Roane County in 1811. Jackson Tyner married Mary Spivey at Putnam County, Ga., in 1826. William Tyner lived from about 1818 to 1861. His first wife was Lucy Ann. His second wife was Catherine Brigmon, whom he married
at Walker County, Ga., in 1846.

Reuben Jackson Tyner helped build the little log schoolhouse in Chattanooga at Fifth and Lookout streets. A daughter was Martha Tyner Papineau. Her daughter, Mrs. Minnie E. Fanning, lived on Battery Place.

Some of the Tyners married into the Indian tribes, and the wife of Dempsey Tyner was apparently from the Cherokees. A number of Tyner descendants later filed claims with the government for funds going to those with Indian ancestors. Dempsey and Lewis Tyner in 1821 in Hamilton County witnessed a deed from William Brown of the Cherokee Nation to John Cornett for property about a mile below the mouth
of North Chickamauga Creek.

Dempsey Tyner died Oct. 13, 1842. Obedience Sevier Tyner lived her last days with Jackson and Mary Tyner in Meriweather County, Ga.

Many of the Tyners eventually went to the Indian lands. Jesse Tyner married a Chickasaw woman and lived with her tribe in the West. Lewis Tyner was born about 1800. He acquired several tracts in Hamilton County, including one from Samuel Williams “near Williams' mill.” At the time of the 1850 census, he was still
in Hamilton County with his wife, Mary, and their children, Lewis, Mary, Francis and Jessa. Francis Tyner Kirksey was living in Fort Payne, Ala., in 1908 when she wrote, “I claim Cherokee Indian blood. I have always been told this by my folks. I claim this through my father (Lewis Tyner). He lived in Hamilton County, Tenn. I do not know if my father knew the Indian language, but he may have. My father was a farmer.” Lewis
Tyner left the East in 1850, and he died in Oklahoma in 1882.

Sarah Elizabeth Tyner, who was born in 1848 in Yorkville in Gibson County, Tenn., married Luke Levander Davenport of Marion County at Nashville in 1868. He was a Confederate soldier. She lived her latter years in Hamilton County.

John S. Tyner, a grandson of Dempsey Tyner, grew up in the vicinity of Macon, Ga. As a young man in the 1850s he came to Hamilton County. He acquired several tracts near the county seat of Harrison, including a lot near the Varnell store and the “double stables.” His largest purchase occurred in 1859 when he bought 60 acres from Joseph Yarnell. This community was given the name of Tynersville in John Tyner's honor
in 1858. It got its own post office on Feb. 1, 1860, with Washington Evans serving as the first postmaster. The name was shortened to Tyner by postal officials on Sept. 13, 1860, but many residents continued to refer to it by the original name. By this time, John S. Tyner was the only Tyner remaining in Hamilton County. He and his wife, S.C. Tyner, were living with their sons, Norwood and Charles, at Tynersville. It was also known as Tyner's Station since it was a stop on the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad. John S. Tyner was an engineer.

When the war broke out, John S. Tyner followed the family tradition by volunteering. He recruited members of 2nd Co. K of the First Confederate Cavalry at Tynersville, Harrison and Ooltewah. John Tyner was chosen the unit's captain. Several months after the company was formed, Capt. Tyner applied to Gen. P.T. Beauregard for an engineer position at Charleston. He proposed that he dismount his company and bring it to the coast where Beauregard was then in command. Supporting his request was Col. Alfred Colquitt, commander of the Sixth Georgia Infantry. He said Capt. Tyner “comes with the highest recommendation as an engineer and a man of integrity.” Instead, 2nd Co. K remained in the Western theater, fighting at Shiloh and Corinth, then Perryville and back home at Chickamauga. J.S. Tyner was later assigned to special duty for the engineering department of Joseph S. Wheeler's cavalry. His unit was detached as “Tyner's Sappers and Miners” providing engineering services for the famous cavalry raider. Capt. Tyner was on leave in Troup County, Ga., then he was assigned to special duty with Gen. John Bell Hood during the invasion of Tennessee in November 1864. He was paroled at Gainesville, Ala., on May 12, 1865.

James Sevier Tyner was another Confederate soldier from Hamilton County, and he may have been a younger brother of John S. Tyner. James S. Tyner enlisted with Co. I of the 19th Tennessee Infantry at Knoxville on June 6, 1861. However, he was discharged the following July 23 at Vicksburg on account of his young age. He was only 15 at the time of his enlistment, having been born Feb. 15, 1847. While with the army, he was a drummer boy. James S. Tyner had developed malarial fever in the Mississippi bottoms,
and he was very ill on his way back to Hamilton County. He had to have someone take care of him for about two months. Then he went to Nashville, where he took up steamboating. At the age of 27 he became a steamboat captain, operating packets on the Cumberland and Ohio rivers. He continued the river life until “old age made him
stop” about 1925. He died July 4, 1935, at the age of 88.

John S. Tyner did not return to Tynersville after the war. In his absence, his property was
sold at public auction in 1867. It was first taken by James A. Rhea and later fell into the hands of A.G.W. Puckett. The store that had been operated by Lafayette Varnell at Tynersville was continued until after the war. Then N.L. Rawlings operated a store there, and H.J. Springfield & Bro. had a grocery and saloon. Foster Carper had a tannery at Tynersville, and G.W. House ran a campground. The Pleasant Grove Academy was established at the campground site. By 1907, Tyner was large enough to have its own
high school. In its early years, many of the students reached the school by wagon. During the school day, the animals that pulled the wagons were housed in a barn. It stood on the campus of Tyner High School until 1957. The federal government in the early 1940s pinpointed Tyner for a huge defense plant producing TNT. About 300 families lost their homes when the government acquired over 6,000 acres centering around the old Tynersville. Tyner lost its tiny train depot in 1961 and its post office was discontinued in
1972. A few Tyners who moved here from North Carolina and from Georgia are now local residents.

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