Age: 33, credited to Weybridge, VT
Unit(s): 14th VT INF
Service: enl 8/30/62, m/i 10/21/62, Pvt, Co. E, 14th VT INF, wdd, Gettysburg, 7/3/63, m/o 7/30/63
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 1827, Weybridge, VT
Burial: West Cemetery, New Haven, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Alan Lathrop
Findagrave Memorial #: 40182367
Alias?: None noted
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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West Cemetery, New Haven, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.
Hiram Tyler was a very lucky man his entire life. He may not have had much Irish blood in his system, but he sure had had the luck of the Irish. It was as though the patron Saint of the Emerald Isle was his constant companion staying right by his side no matter where he went in his lifetime. When just a youth, a very dark and potentially devastating event occurred in his life that could have ruined his future completely - both of his biological parents unexpectedly died. But he was taken in by a young, local couple who kindly raised him as their own to manhood. While serving his country in its great civil war, on the bloodiest field of battle of it, he was detailed to help carry off the wounded thus removing him from the worst of the exposure to death flying objects that filled the air at Gettysburg. Late in life, as poor health and the ravages of age reduced his condition to dependency on others for care and comfort, he had a loving daughter at his side to give him assistance and support. Yes, Hiram Tyler had a guardian angel by his side who never deserted him in all of his eighty years.
Since Hiramís natural father and mother could not be identified, it was not surprising that his date of birth could also not be precisely pinpointed either. Some said he was born in 1826 while others said it was in 1827. His death certificate stated he was born April 2, 1828. His biological parents died when he was very young (maybe around ten or twelve). Details surrounding their death (when, where, how) were not available. What was known was that Hiram had four brothers and sisters at the time of his parentsí death. Fortunately for Hiram, there was a local couple in Weybridge willing to take him into their home and raise him. They were not able to care for all of Hiramís siblings, however. It seemed that they were placed with other families in the community to be cared for.
The new family Hiram was taken into was headed by Zenas (aka Lemas) Abbott (1799-1879), a blacksmith by trade in Weybridge. His wife was Polly Cobb (1799-1859). They had a daughter named Mary E. (1838-1918). Hiram grew up learning the blacksmith trade from Zenas and the two of them served the community as "smiths" until Zenas got too old and retired. Zenas was not a native of Weybridge. He hailed from Claremont, New Hampshire. His wife, Polly, was born in Waltham, Vermont. Apparently, Zenas had arrived in Weybridge with his parents, Elisha Abbott (1770-1822) and Mchitable Parmele (1773-1860), about 1822. By 1830, Zenas was a well-established businessman in a vital frontier trade, providing the community of Weybridge with a very important service. Eight years later, he was married and, in 1838, had his only child, Mary E., born into the family. From available information, it appeared that Hiram became a member of Zenasí family sometime after 1838 when Mary E. was born and when he was between ten and twelve years old. Even though Hiram had to be separated from his siblings, he was lucky enough to find a new home with a loving family who cared deeply for him and gave him a compassionate and Christian upbringing.
By 1850, at the age of twenty-two, Hiram, still working alongside Zenas in the smithy, married. His wifeís name was Elizabeth H. Davis (1824-1916). She was the daughter of Samuel Jackman Davis (1787-1879) and Mary Young (1788-1861) from Barre, Vermont. According to the Census Bureau, Samuel and his family of nine other individuals, seven of whom were under the age of twenty, were living in Weybridge in 1830. Within three years of their marriage date, Hiram, thirty-one, and Elizabeth, thirty-five, had their first child. It was a boy they named Clinton Lucius Tyler (1853-1897). He was born June 20 in Weybridge. Hiram continued to work in the blacksmith shop along with his adoptive father and mentor, Zenas. Neither of them was getting rich at the trade, but the service they provided to the community was invaluable. The shop kept busy. In 1860, Zenasí estate was listed as worth $950. Hiramís assets were set slightly higher at $1,200. Between the two of them, they were doing a brisk enough business to need the help of a third blacksmith. They hired a twenty-two-year-old named Edward Fisk who was listed in the 1860 census as a member of Hiramís household. Seven-year-old Clinton was still the only child in the family.
But soon Hiramís very comfortable and serene lifestyle was shaken to its very roots. The politicking of the 1850s had failed to hold the individual states together into one union. For years prior to 1861, rhetoric had gradually disintegrated into physical violence. Even the most respected public figures of the day could not hold the nation together. It had become obvious to most, especially after events such as John Brownís raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, that the issues which divided the country were not going to be resolved with speeches; that only the spilling of blood was going to resolve the deeply emotional rifts between the North and the South. Diplomacy in 1861 was a flaccid strategy. The fever was too high. Nothing short of a shooting war was going to decide the fate of the experiment in democracy. Were we to be a loose confederation of independent states who had complete autonomy and self-government, or were we to be a united nation of separate states ruled by a single, central government who had supreme authority over all? Of all the growing pains this newly formed United States of America had thus far faced in its struggle for independence and its expansion westward, this civil war was the greatest challenge to its survival to date.
April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m. was the official starting bell of the contest. That was when an old, grizzled man, Edmund Ruffin, a staunch secessionist from Virginia, pulled the lanyard on the first canon to fire a shot in anger at Charleston Harbor. With it began four long years of the worse killing spree of young Americans in the short history of the United States. Even though there had been years of warning signs, no one really was prepared for an all-out war. Only a small standing army existed, left over from the War of 1812. Although every state had a militia, it wasnít very well regulated. Most local militias had disbanded by 1860. The few who were still in existence rarely met let alone drilled. Once in a while, the local militia might march in a parade. Vermont was typical in its unpreparedness for war. The militia were volunteer civilians with no prior experience or training in the arts of warfare. The Stateís armory contained a few old smoothbore flintlock muskets, no bayonets, and perhaps a dozen poorly maintained flintlock pistols. There were no uniforms, tents or other necessary accouterments for soldiers. No powder magazines existed anywhere in the State. If small arms were in short supply, field canon were non-existent, not to mention there was no stockpile of shells the guns needed for firing. But, there was no going back now. The line had been crossed when Fort Sumter surrendered. The gauntlet had been thrown and, reluctantly, picked up.
Washington sent out a call to the loyal statesí governors for regiments of militia to be raised. Mobilization was furious and rapid. Vermontís legislature met in emergency session to consider an appropriation for war expenses. Half a million dollars was proposed. That was amended to one million! It passed unanimously.  The Assembly also passed legislation to pay each private an additional $7 per month on top of the Federal Governmentís rate of $13. Vermontís legislators were the first in the nation to provide for widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.
Hiram was not part of the early charge of volunteers who flocked eagerly to the nearest recruiter to pledge loyalty and obedience to the Federal Government. He was not as excitable at thirty-two as he might have been at eighteen. He had other responsibilities to consider. There was Elizabeth, his wife, and his eight-year-old son to think about. And then there was Zenas, a widower, alone and elderly along with the blacksmith business that was beginning to pay off. He was a husband, a father and an important businessman in the community. He wasnít just answerable to himself any longer like a single teenager. His decisions needed to be carefully thought out and deliberately made. Besides, everyone knew this war was going to be over before the shiny new recruits could get their uniforms on and get to the front lines. But that interpretation was very short-lived. The results of the first pitched battle of the American Civil War, First Bull Run, quickly shredded the idea of a quick resolution to the current events question of the day. Mr. Lincolnís call for another 300,000 volunteers stood testimony to the fact that this conflict was going to be a long and very costly affair. The first year passed and the boys in blue continued to be trounced by the boys in grey. One Union defeat after another emboldened the Confederates and fed their sense of being invincible. It deflated the Northís morale. Lincoln searched high and low for a leader who would whip the Rebels.
The newspapers of the nation were anxious for news from the "front". Reading the published casualty lists after every battle became the new national pastime. With more and more veteran soldiers returning home ill, disabled and maimed, it became harder and harder for districts to fill their quotas of volunteers. Consequently, bonus money for enlisting rose higher and higher as an extra incentive to don a uniform. Ugly rumors in 1862 about a draft system to fill quotas began to be heard in the grapevine. After reviewing his own options, Hiram finally made up his mind about his role in this historic event. He went to Middlebury on the 30th of August, 1862 and found Captain E. Rich with whom he signed up to serve in Company E of the Fourteenth Regiment Vermont Infantry. The five feet eleven and one-quarter inch thirty-three-year-old blacksmith with a dark complexion, light eyes and brown hair from Weybridge pledged to obey his superior officers for a term of nine months. The nine months offer for a term of service, which normally was three years or the duration of the war, was part of a strategy on the part of the Union high command and the governors of several key states of the North to end the war. The plan was to consolidate as many of the veteran troops with combat experience as possible into a single attack force which would then strike the Confederates at various key positions and by sheer force of overwhelming numbers crush all Rebel resistance. To do so, these veterans had to be relieved from the non-combat duties like guard and fatigue. The nine months men were to be used for that purpose. This short-term commitment was very attractive to eligible volunteers who had, up until now, held back on enlisting for three year hitches. The greater bonuses and the very limited time allowed many reluctant men the ideal chance to honorably serve their country in its time of need and to look good to their relatives and neighbors at the same time while not committing themselves to a long term deal. Two months later, on October 21, 1862, in Brattleboro, Vermont, Hiram joined the rest of the Fourteenth volunteers to be inducted into the Army of the United States.
Once again Hiramís patron saint preserved him. In an environment where two of every three deaths were attributable to a disease of one type or another, Private Tyler managed to remain healthy and fit for duty during his entire nine month term of service. Well, almost through all of it. There was one small happening at a place called Gettysburg that ruined a perfect term of service. The Second Vermont Brigade consisting of five regiments (12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th) were sent to Gettysburg. The 13th, 14th and 16th were the only ones in combat there in July of 1863. Considering the massive amount of casualties inflicted in that three day battle (over 50,000 Union and Confederate including about 10,000 corpses left on the field) and estimating that over 30 million small arms rounds were fired in the course of the three day battle along with over ten thousand (seven thousand estimated just in the cannonade before Pickettís Charge on July 3) rounds of artillery ammunition, it was a minor miracle that Private Tyler only received two minor gunshot wounds in the leg while detailed to carry the wounded of his Regiment from the battlefield while being exposed to the fire of the enemy. Many of Hiramís Regiment did not fare as well. The Fourteenth lost nineteen killed, seventy-six wounded or missing at Gettysburg. Based on the 647 men it took into the action, that amounted to about 1.5 percent casualties. Other regiments on the fields of Gettysburg suffered far worse outcomes in this epic clash. For example, one Minnesota regiment called upon to fill a gap in the defensive line of the Federals known as the "Fish Hook", charged the attacking 1,600 Rebels with only 262 men. Within five minutes, the gap was closed but the Minnesota regiment had suffered 215 casualties. This was an 82% loss, the largest percentage loss for any Union regiment in any single action of the war. It stands as infamous testimony to the severity of the fighting at times at Gettysburg.
But being shot was not a pleasurable experience either. However, Private Tylerís injuries could have been much more severe than they were. He was, again, very fortunate. The Minnie balls that entered his leg missed any bone which was the good part. The bullets used in the muskets of the Civil War were huge in size. Most were over one-half inch in diameter (about the size of the end of your thumb), weighed about one once and were cast of soft lead. As long as the bullet hit only flesh, it did not flatten out very fast. Should it hit hard bone, it might shatter into multiple fragments becoming, essentially, many bullets passing through the body simultaneously. The worst case was that the huge projectile would hit hard bone, mushroom into an even bigger chunk of lead mangling everything in its path as it tore its way out of the body. The exit wound might be as big as a baseball. Regardless of its entry/exit point, the shock to oneís system was so great that almost any wound in a vital area of the body would result in a lingering, painful death. Private Tylerís wounds were not of such a nature and he was successfully treated in the field hospitals in and around Gettysburg. He avoided any infections and diseases lurking in the wards of the hospital tents. In fact, he was able to attend the mustering-out of the Fourteenth Vermont on July 30, 1863, in Brattleboro, Vermont standing on his own two legs. He would carry the Confederate Minnie balls in his leg for the remainder of his life, however.
Like a majority of veterans returning home to civilian life, Hiram went back to his hometown and the family he had left there and tried to pick up his life as he remembered it. He returned to the blacksmith shop. He even expanded the business to include carriage making after his mentor and partner, Zenas, retired. This experience proved very successful for Hiram and it kept him very busy; but not out of trouble.
It seemed that Hiramís war-time experiences, although mild compared to the horrors of other veterans, had adversely affected him to the point where he needed to self-medicate himself to get through a normal day. Alcohol was his medicine of choice. Exactly when he started drinking heavily was unknown, but by April 22, 1869, Hiram took his libation of the devilís brew to a new and publicly embarrassing level. His over-the-top behavior made the local newspapers: "Hiram Tyler, of Weybridge, was found lying on the sidewalk that runs around the park in our village, in a state of beastly intoxication, the 13th inst., and was taken to jail, when, after a night lodging, he was brought before Justice Simmons upon a charge of drunkenness, and fined $5 and costs." In contrast to the righteous tone of the Rutland paper, the Burlington Free Press chose to present Hiramís miscarriage of good sense and decorum in a slightly lighter vein: "Hiram Tyler for getting drunk and lying crosswise on the sidewalk was recently fined $5 and costs, and Lewis Dory for indulging in the same sport, barriní the flying crosswise, paid a similar penalty." Of course, this incident by itself, was not proof that Hiram was suffering some sort of post-war trauma. It could have been just two drinking buddies getting a little carried away celebrating or reliving some event of the past. Apparently, the humiliation it caused him was sufficient to ward off similar questionable behavior as in the future as this is the only occurrence of this type to be reported by the local press.
In fact, three years after his court appearance for public intoxication, he and his wife, Elizabeth, hosted a "Valentine And Neck-tie Party" at their hotel in Weybridge on the 14th of February, 1872. For $1 per couple, the Tylerís promised good company, good supper, good music, and dance for a grand time. Two things about this announcement were informative. First, Hiram had branched out as a businessman in Weybridge. He now owned and operated a hotel in town (the old Otter Creek hotel) as well as running his smithy and carriage shop. The second informative piece of information was that he and his wife had become leading socialites in Weybridge capable of hosting a large holiday gathering. Life for Hiram was indeed looking quite good in the early 1870s. His businesses had raised his net worth to $4,500. He had a healthy son, Clinton, age seventeen and a daughter, Jessie E., age seven. He was able to support his eighty-six-year-old father-in-law, a retired pump maker, as well as his own family. And he had apparently put behind him any threat alcohol posed to the security of himself and his family to become a leading citizen and businessman in the community.
Every aspect of Hiramís life was not blissful, however. In 1874, serious ailments began to surface which gave Hiram some real trouble. In March of 1814, he was confined to his home by a major bout of rheumatism. That confinement may actually have protected his general health as there was an epidemic of scarlet fever and "erysipelas" making its rounds through Weybridge at the time. At some point in their early marriage years, before the birth of Jessie E. in 1862, Hiram and Elizabeth had their first daughter. However, she died in infancy being buried in the family plot in the West Cemetery under a stone that simply read "Baby Tyler" This infant, most likely, was also a victim of some contagious disease that swept through the village.
Hiram continued to be listed in the Federal Censuses as a blacksmith, never as a hotel owner. Jessie E. was the only child listed in the household by 1880. Her brother, Clinton, had married a woman named Maggie E., age twenty. She was a dressmaker and both she and Hiram lived with Hiram and Elizabeth. Clinton had followed his father into the blacksmith trade. In November of 1881, Hiram and Elizabeth celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in fine style at their home in Weybridge with family and friends. Along about 1886, Hiram began drawing a Federal pension of $4 per month. At the same time, he was awarded between $800 and $900 in "arrearages" by Washington. That same year, Hiram was reported as doing some repairs to the Otter Creek hotel he owned. The following April (1887), the Middlebury Register gleefully reported that "Forty or more of the friends and neighbors of Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Tyler called at their residence on Court Street to congratulate them on the return of the birthday of Mr. Tyler, who that day (Friday of last week) completed his 59th year. The appearance of the small army was a complete surprise to them; but they were equal to the occasion and greeted all in their usual pleasant way."
The 1890 Special Schedule of surviving soldiers, sailors, Marines and Widows listed Hiram as a resident of Middlebury with no mention of any disabilities incurred while in the service. However, it did confirm his eleven-month military service as a member of Company E of the Fourteenth Vermont. In June of 1892, Hiram received good news from the Government. His monthly pension payments were doubled to $8 per month. Sometime during 1896, Hiram and his wife moved their residence to Burlington, Vermont. Hiram was declining significantly in health and needed more care than Elizabeth could provide, so they moved to Burlington to be with his daughter, Jessie, and her husband, James G. Downing. They kept the home in Weybridge and spent the hot summer months vacationing there. It was also around this time that Hiram retired from blacksmithing and running a hotel. Not long after moving to Burlington, the house they rented was broken into and ransacked. Apparently, someone left a window open in the rear of the home and the thief gained access to the home through it in the daytime hours. The burglar found nothing of much value to steal except for $30 of Jessieís cash money. She and her adopted brother, Carroll, were supposed to be keeping an eye on the home while Hiram and Elizabeth were away.
By 1900, seventy-two-year-old Hiram and seventy-four-year-old Elizabeth were regularly spending winters in Burlington and summers in Weybridge. They were enjoying their retirement years, being assisted by their daughter, Jessie, and their adopted son, Carroll. They shared their Burlington home with strangers as well as family. Jessie E. in 1900 was listed as single and working as a salesperson in a dry goods store. At twenty-six she was either divorced or widowed. Carroll, nineteen, was married, made a living painting houses but was employed only half of the year. Curiously, he was identified as the "adopted son" of Hiram. His birthdate was given as April 1881. To round out this odd pairing, there was a boarder whose name was listed as Blanch Peufrew (spelling suspect due to poor penmanship). He was widowed at twenty-nine and worked as a bookkeeper in a hardware store. He apparently had no children. The Barre Evening Telegram in April of 1902 reported that Vermonters were to have their pensions adjusted again. Hiram was to receive $17 per month. The Middlebury Register also reported on the pension increases, but couched the announcement in a bit more flamboyant style: "The many friends of Hiram Tyler of Burlington, a former resident, will be pleased to learn that he has had his pension increased to $17." Those same friends might not have been so happy when they realized their taxes would also increase to pay for those higher pension amounts.
The 1900 Federal Census was the last one Hiram participated in. He was ill and in poor health the last few years of his life. Elizabeth, two years older, was not in much better shape. Jessie spent increasing amounts of time and energy attending to the needs of her infirm parents. The end came for Hiram in February 1908 when he caught the "grippe" which resulted in heart failure and death on February 24, 1908, in his Burlington home. His funeral was held on the next day at his home on 97 North Street. Since it was in the middle of the winter, Hiramí burial had to wait until spring. His body was placed in a vault in the Lake View Cemetery in Burlington until he could be taken home to be buried. Early in May 1908, Elizabeth preceded Hiramís casket to Weybridge. His remains followed by train on May 20 and he was interred in the West Cemetery family plot. Elizabeth eventually returned to 97 North Street in Burlington where she lived under the watchful eye of Jessie, her daughter. When she and her husband, James, moved to Jericho, Vermont, Elizabeth went with them and spent the remainder of her years living in that community. Around 1912 her health vigorously began to fail her at eighty-eight. In the last few months of her life, Elizabeth deteriorated rapidly, passing away at ninety-two on October 17, 1916, of senility.
NOTES1. www.ancestry.com, Norsic-Hugeback-Schwab-Durand Family Tree for Hiram Tyler.Contributed by Bernie Noble.
2. www.familysearch.org, Vermont, Vital Records, 1732-2005 for Hiram Tyler.
3. www.newspapers.com, Burlington Daily News, Tue., Feb. 25, 1908.
4. Ibid., Middlebury Register, Feb. 25, 1908.
5. Ibid., www. ancestry.com, OíHaver Family Tree for Zenas Abbott.
7. www.ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1909-2008, Death for Elizabeth (Davis) Tyler.
8. Ibid., 1830 U.S. Federal Census for Samuel Davis.
9. Ibid., 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Hiram Tyler.
10. The Civil War: An Illustrated History by George C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990, p. 39.
11. www.newspapers.com, The St. Johnsbury Caledonian, Fri., Apr. 26, 1861.
12. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record Of Union Soldiers Who Served In Organizations From The State Of Vermont, p, 3, image 312309890. Hereinafter referred to as Compiled Service Records.
13. Ibid., p. 4, image 312309891.
14. www.newspapers.com, Middlebury Register, Feb. 28, 1908.
16. The Civil War: An Illustrated History by George C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990, p. 225.
17. www.fold 3.com, Compiled Service Record, p. 10, image 312309897; www.newspapers.com, Middlebury Register, Feb. 28, 1908.
18. www.newspapers.com, Rutland Weekly Herald, Thu. Apr. 22, 1869.
19. Ibid., The Burlington Free Press, Thu., Apr. 22, 1869.
20. Ibid., The Enterprise and Vermonter, Fri., Feb. 9, 1872.
21. Ibid., Rutland Daily Herald, Thu., Apr. 8, 1886.
22. Ibid., Middlebury Register, Tues., Mar. 3, 1874.
23. www.ancstry.com, Norsic-Hugeback-Schwab-Durand Family Tree for Hiram Tyler.
24. www.newspapers.com, Addison County Journal, Fri., Nov. 25, 1881.
25. Ibid., Burlington Weekly Free Press, Fri., Feb. 19. 1886.
26. Ibid., Rutland Herald, Thu., Apr. 8, 1886.
27. Ibid., Middlebury Register, Fri., Apr. 8, 1887.
28. www.ancestry.com, 1890 Special Veterans Schedule for Hiram Tyler.
29. www. newspapers.com, Rutland Daily Herald, Wed., Jun. 8, 1892.
30. Ibid., Burlington Weekly Free Press, Thu., Sep. 29, 1898.
31. www.ancestry.com, 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Hiram Tyler.
32. www.newspapers.com, Barre Evening Telegram, Tues., Apr. 1, 1902.
33. Ibid., Middlebury Register, Fri., Apr. 4, 1902.
34. www.ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Hiram Tyler.
35. www.newspapers.com, Rutland Weekly Herald, Thu., May 21, 1908.
36. www.ancestry.com, Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008 for Elizabeth Tyler.
WEYBRIDGE --- Mr. Hiram Tyler, who died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jessie Downing, on North Street, Burlington, on Monday last, was born near our village 80 years ago. His parents died when he was quite young, and he was taken into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Lemas Abbott. Where he lived until his manhood. Mr. Abbott carried on the blacksmithing business, and Mr. Tyler learned the trade, and together they continued the business until old age made it necessary for Mr. Abbott to retire. Mr, Tyler then enlarged and added carriage-making to the trade, doing a large business for a country town.
At the call for nine months men he enlisted in Co. E., 14th Vt., and served faithfully until his term expired. At the Gettysburg fight, he was detailed to carry the wounded from the field and was exposed to fire of the enemy most of the time. Heo balls in his leg, which he carried with him afterward.
Twelve years ago he removed to Burlington, where he has since resided. Old age and infirmities rendered him unfit for hard service His home there has been with his daughter, Mrs, Jessie Downing on North Street, who had tenderly cared for him. He is survived by his wife and daughter, and Carlo Taylor, a distant relative. Mrs. Tyler's maiden name was Elizabeth Davis, also of this place. He was a good neighbor, obliging in all his ways, a man of few words and free from controversy., We shall miss his usual amount of summer visits at the old home here, where Mr. and Mrs. Tyler, now more than 80 years of age, have enjoyed the quiet of our village during the hot months of summer.
Source: Middlebury Register, Feb. 28, 1908
Courtesy of Deanna French