Lincoln Blogs

John Tyler
September 26, 2005, 4:33 pm
Filed under: School Papers

Here’s a story about my great-great uncle John W. Tyler (shown here with his father, Don Tyler) that I wrote for my writing class:

John Waldo Tyler, son of Donald Marsh Tyler and Ima Irwin Tyler, was born on December 17, 1917 in Bartlesville. He married Mary Margaret Swain in 1941; they had five children. He later married Louise (Timmie) Cortner. Tyler, whose family owned the Dewey Portland Cement Company, was a rancher, independent oilman, businessman, and banker, and he was active in politics. He died at the age of 50 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He is interred in the Tyler family mausoleum south of Bartlesville.

Although Tyler was never a professional politician, he was known for what he accomplished in Oklahoma politics. He served as Washington County GOP chairman and later as state GOP chairman, a job which Henry Bellmon described as “a hopeless, payless, thankless job that only a political martyr would take.” Tyler later went on to serve as Republican National Committeeman from Oklahoma. His leadership in Oklahoma politics helped pave the way for the election of Bellmon, Oklahoma’s first Republican governor, who later held the office of United States Senator. As Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise political reporter Ralph L. Smith wrote, “No one can deny that [Tyler] laid the foundation, brick by brick, on which the state’s first Republican governor was elected.”

Bellmon himself wrote in his autobiography, “Of all the people I have known in politics, John Tyler had the greatest influence on my activities. Single-handedly, he made me state Republican chairman; he was the first to identify me as a potential candidate for governor … John Tyler, my political mentor, never expected or received anything even remotely resembling financial advantage from his political work nor did he in any way receive the kind of honor and attention which he genuinely deserved.” Tyler was skilled in many ways, but he was most proud of his political accomplishments.

One afternoon during Bellmon’s first term as governor, three prominent Oklahoma businessmen – Dean McGee, Walt Helmerich, and Boots Adams – had an appointment with the governor. (Boots Adams was president of Phillips Petroleum and was the “reigning czar” of Bartlesville, in Bellmon’s words.) That day, Tyler stopped by Bellmon’s office for one of his unannounced visits and was leafing through Bellmon’s schedule. When he saw who was scheduled for an appointment, he quickly shooed the governor out of his office. When Bellmon asked what was going on, Tyler hurriedly answered, “Don’t ask questions, just get out of here because I am going to take over your office.” Bellmon complied and later found out that Tyler got a newspaper, took off his shoes and was reclining in the governor’s chair with his feet on the desk when Boots Adams walked in for his meeting with the governor.

“Helping elect a Republican governor so John could be sitting in the governor’s chair with his feet propped up on the governor’s desk to greet Boots Adams must have given Tyler great satisfaction,” Bellmon wrote. “It was almost reward enough for all the work he had done in building the Oklahoma Republican Party.”