Elliott Centennial, 1879 - 1979

Elliott Centennial Committee


Page 183-184




    Thomas Dexter Tyler was born 19 August, 1832 at Westfield, New York, the son of Stephen Irons Tyler and Polly Coe. He married Sarah Ann Wall, (daughter of Nathaniel Wall and Sarah Craddock of Dursley and Cam England) at Ottumwa, Iowa 21 Dec. 1865. Sarah Ann was born 25 Feb. 1840 at Steubenville, Ohio. Her parents had moved to Ottumwa in 1864, where she now taught school.

    The Tyler family had moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1853, T. D. and a friend started for the gold fields. He was determined not to be poor all his life. They walked across the Isthmus of Panama, leaving their balky pack mules on the isthmus. They found passage on a ship, and from San Francisco found their way to Nevada, where they panned for gold for nine years. In the tenth year, on the California side of Lake Tahoe, he found more gold than in the other nine years.

    In 1863, he bought passage on a ship and came home in style and comfort, around Cape Horn. His Prince Albert coat, velvet vests, hand tooled cow hide valise, pewter powder flask, small microscope and money vest survive and are in the possession of his granddaughter, Dorothy. The money vest was a successful gold miner’s bank until they got back home. His wife said that he wore the vest day and night for six weeks on the ship, and in the various pockets, each with a particular fastener, was his California fortune of $10,000 and a few nuggets, which his daughter turned in during W. W. II.

    He first bought and equipped a farm north of Ottumwa in the old Salem Community now across from the City Airport. There his four daughters were born and a baby son who died in infancy. T. D. always called his wife and daughters his “Pack of Tyler women”. His daughters were Minnie A. (Mrs. W. L.) DeWitt; Pauline F. (Polly) (Mrs. F. L.) Townsend; Carrie Mae; and Nelle G. (Nellie) (Mrs. Robert) Cain.

On 22 Feb. 1883 the family moved to Elliott and purchased the I. H. Page farm on which the earlier Wilson Post Office building was located, now a Bicentennial gift to the Eshelman Outdoor Farm Museum. All the daughters and also their mother had schoolteacher’s certificates.

    In 1895, the Tyler’s sold the farm to W. L. DeWitt and his wife, Minnie, their daughter. Mrs. Tyler and the other three girls moved to Indianola, Iowa, so that they could attend Simpson College. T., soon after went to Newkirk, Oklahoma, then Indian Territory and filed on a claim.

    At the time of his death, 1 Dec. 1908 at Newkirk, Okla., he owned considerable land in Kay County, Okla.; had built a very fine home in Newkirk; and was Vice President of the Farmer’s National Bank there.

    In 1910, Sarah Ann, with her daughter Carrie, moved back to Elliott “where the fields are green and the hot winds do not blow every day”. Sarah Ann had “Pa’s” casket removed and brought it home to Elliott. Sarah Ann died at Elliott, 8 Dec. 1926. They, with daughters Minnie, Carrie May and Nelle are buried at Hillside, Elliott. T. D.'s half-brother, Stephen Andrew, half-sister Lucy, brother Smith, and sister Lydia followed T. D. to Calif. and remained there; but his half-sister Mary (Tyler) Fields Wells, twice widowed, rejoined her brother in 1866 in Eastern Iowa and remained at Eddyville, where she is buried in the Highland Cemetery there.



~ Dorothy DeWitt Wilkinson