Tag Archives: Jessie Tyler

New Blog: A Complete Library of Entertainment, Amusement and Instruction

Another item I brought back from my mom’s house is a book called A Complete Library of Entertainment, Amusement, and Instruction. This book is all one needed in 1903 to be entertained, amused and instructed. For instance, it gives detailed instructions on how to throw dozens of socials, from an advertisement social to a bird social to a beheading social. It also provides guidance on throwing parties including a progressive soap bubble party, a children’s Valentine party and a brownie party. It gives instruction on how to play ping-pong, how to do various exercises and explains both American football and English football rules. Several of the socials, parties, and instructions are accompanied with “full-page half-tone images” and others are paired with simple line drawings.

Three women dressed in warm clothes for a "Northern Social"
An example of the images from the book

I remember looking at this book various times in my life, but it never caught my attention until I took a closer look at the images and some of the content.

So, thought I, what a great idea for a NEW BLOG! Maybe I will actually keep this one going beyond a few posts!

I’m slowly adding content to the new blog, with little, if any commentary. So far you can learn how to put on a Carnival of Nations or a Reunion of Characters from Charles Dickens’ novels. You can also learn how to host a Cat Social, a Bird Social, an All Fools’ Social and a Broken Hearts Social.

Jessie Tyler’s Ivanhoe

Several years ago I wrote about my connection to my great-grandmother, Jessie Tyler Green Harris and mentioned a book that I had in my bedroom that bore her name. I thought it was in a copy of Ivanhoe, but it was not in either of our old books with that title.

I finally found the book in the attic at my mom’s house. It was, as I recalled, in Ivanhoe. I was wrong about her age being written the book though.


My grandfather’s elusive father

Albert Green
Albert Green

I’ve known my maternal grandfather’s lineage from his mother’s side for a very long time. It made such a huge impact on me that I vowed to be married in the church that our ancestors built near Elgin and loved to tell people that the creek that flows on the West side of Elgin is named after the Tyler branch of my family.

I knew very little about my grandfather’s father, however except that he divorced his wife and was out of the picture early in my grandfather’s life. Apparently, he knew his mother’s second husband, Frank Harris, as a father.

Yesterday, however, I discovered more than I’d ever hoped about that great grandfather’s family.

Harold, Hildur, Amanda, Albert

His name was Albert Green and was the son of Swedish immigrants. His father, Emil Green married Amanda Johnson on March 19, 1887, in Cook County, Illinois. His occupation is listed as a carpenter. He was 22 and she was 24. Emil and Amanda had two other children besides Albert. Their first child, a girl named Hildur was born on November 19, 1888, and they lived at 6005 May Street in the Englewood part of Chicago when she was born, according to her birth certificate. Albert was their second child, born on February 25, 1891. Their third child, Harold, was born April 2, 1898. Emil died of Typhoid fever on June 17, 1899, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery. Amanda died in Elgin on August 8, 1934, and is buried at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin.

Albert married Jessie May Tyler on May 5th, 1909. My grandfather, Walter Tyler Green was born January 31, 1910. And according to the census of 1910, both Albert and Jessie lived with her parents (and brother and his wife) at the house on Highland Avenue (615 West) in Elgin.

Albert died on October 19, 1921, in South Elgin, Illinois. The family story is that he was struck by a train on the railroad tracks in South Elgin, but the death record does not tell the cause of death. He was a roofer. He is buried at Bluff City Cemetery.

Jessie married Frank Harris, a German who arrived in the United States in 1900, by the 1930 census because he is listed as being the son-in-law of Jessie’s father with whom he, Jessie and my grandfather lived.

I cannot find a record of Jessie’s or Frank’s death, but according to John McCornack, Jessie died in 1949 and Frank died in 1958. According to family legend Jessie was struck by a car while crossing the street and Frank hanged himself out of grief over Jessie’s death. However, 9 years is a long time to grieve and then commit suicide. Something doesn’t seem right.

More About Jessie

Jesse Tyler -- my great grandmother
My great grandmother, Jessie (Tyler) Green

After writing the post about my great grandmother, Jessie Tyler, I talked to my mother on the phone. She had more information, that I probably knew already, but had forgotten it.

First of all, she identified a couple more photographs on the Old Photographs blog as being her grandmother. Upon careful inspection, I agree with her. She has my grandfather’s nose.

Jesse Tyler -- my great grandmother
My great grandmother, Jessie (Tyler) Green. This photograph often made me think of the Wicked Witch of the West

Then my mom assured me that she didn’t dislike her grandmother, and told me that she and her brothers and sisters used to eagerly anticipate the arrival of their grandmother and her husband, Frank Harris each Sunday when they’d come to my grandparent’s house for dinner. She did admit that her mother wasn’t all that pleased that her in-laws came for dinner every Sunday — perhaps it just got old. Mom said that her grandmother would tell them all stories and that she loved that.

Mom also mentioned the divorce — that Jessie divorced her first husband who was my grandfather’s father. Since that was highly unusual back then, I suppose it left a mark on Jessie.

It is impossible for me to know, now, if Jessie was married to my great-grandfather when these photos were taken, or not married at all or perhaps married to Frank Harris.

This all has a tragic ending though. Three tragic endings, actually.

Grandpa Green and Woman
Grandpa Green and his grandmother

My great grandfather, (I think his name was Walter Green, just like my grandfather) Albert Green, was killed on the train track in South Elgin. I’m not sure if he was in a car at the time or if he was killed when walking across the track. I used to think he threw himself in front of the train, but it was an accident.

Frank Harris, Jessie’s second husband, did kill himself though. He hanged himself. I don’t know if this was before or after Jesse died though.

Jessie herself did not die an old woman in bed surrounded by her family. She was struck by a car in Elgin.

It surprises me that I didn’t know any of this — or at least didn’t remember any of it or tie it all together. But looking carefully at the photo of Jessie with her son, she does not look like that defiant, teasing woman whose photo I adopted. She looks very sad.

Edited 4.30.09 — Mom corrected me on two things 1) Jessie’s husband Frank committed suicide after Jessie was struck by an automobile and 2) the photo of my grandfather and the woman — the woman is not his mother. Mom doesn’t know who she is, but is sure she is not Jessie.

Edited 4.15.17 — 1) Changed the spelling of Jessie’s name based on her signature in a book she owned and 2) added Albert Green’s name, crossed out speculation about his name being Walter Green.

Connections from beyond the grave

I love happy endings. I love connections. This is about both.

When I was a child I found a book that belonged to my grandfather’s mother, Jessie Tyler. I knew it was hers because she’d written her name inside the book. She may even have written her age — I seem to recall that she was 12 when she wrote it. However, that may have simply been part of my fantasy, because, fantasize I did. I wondered what her life was like and what she looked like when she wrote her name in neat script on the inside of the book. I wondered how she liked the book — although I don’t remember the title (I thought it was The Secret Garden — but when I looked now, all I saw was some graffiti from pre-WWI Elgin High School students). I also looked in Ivanhoe, but neither of our copies of Ivanhoe have writing in them. I suspect that either the book is long gone or somewhere else in the house or the writing has faded so much that I cannot see it anymore. I even had imaginary conversations in my mind with young Jessie.

When I first saw the name in the book, I asked my mother if she knew who Jessie Tyler was. She told me it was her grandmother — her dad’s mother. I asked my mom about her — hoping to learn that Jesse was a sweet and loving grandmother who doted on her grandchildren. My mom didn’t have a lot of good things to say about her grandmother, however. She mostly remembered her as being selfish or something. [Mom — if you read this, remind me what you said about Jessie Tyler.] She was married twice — the first ending in divorce, I believe. (For years I thought she was a widow but found mention of the divorce on the Internet).

I knew the name Tyler though. I knew my ancestors were named Tyler and Tyler Creek in Elgin was named after our Tylers. Jessie’s father, Dr. Alexander Tyler, was a veterinarian and my grandfather had many of his grandfather’s instruments in his basement. My grandfather’s middle name was Tyler.

Jesse Tyler -- my great grandmother
Jesse May Tyler

Last year I began scanning some photographs that I took from my mother’s house and uploading them to another blog. Some of the people in the photographs I knew, but others I did not. One photograph that I especially liked was of a woman, arms akimbo, standing in front of greenery. I recently made that photo the background for my twitter profile as well as the gravatar icon for one of my email addresses. I even looked into registering “akimbo.org” or “akimbo.net” but they were both taken. If I had been successful, I would have used the photograph of this unknown woman as my “brand”.

Something about this photograph called to me — the look on her face perhaps, or her posture maybe? Sort of teasing — kind of defiant? Whatever it was, I liked the photo enough to make it a part of me.

Last night, just before I went to bed I checked my email once more and noticed that someone had commented on my Old Photographs blog. It was my mom. She’d finally gotten around to looking at the photos there and commented that one of the photos of ancestors I didn’t know was her father, my grandfather and that the photo of the woman in the white hat, arms akimbo, was my great grandmother, Jessie Tyler. The same woman whose book I owned. The same woman who spoke to me as a child.

Looking back at this photograph and another taken the same day, there is no doubt in my mind that Jesse wanted connect with me. First through the name in the book and then through the photograph. Why not? We both loved her son — and I’ve dreamed of connecting with him again, after all.

I’ve often written about the connections I’ve found on the Internet and this is just one more example.

Edited 4.15.17: Changed the spelling of Jessie’s name based on the signature in the book mentioned here.