Friday, November 2, 2012

In the Footsteps of Priscilla Cooper Tyler

The author of Priscilla Cooper Tyler's biography had included the exact addresses in Bristol, PA of where Priscilla had grown up and also where she lived with her husband and children after she was White House hostess. Since Bristol is only a little over an hour away, my mother and I decided to visit the places mentioned. Thankfully, we just happened to pick Historic Bristol Day to visit so a lot more was open in the town than what would have been had we picked any other day of the year!

First we came upon St. James Episcopal Church where Priscilla and her family attended. The congregation itself was was founded in 1712, but the building we visited was erected in 1857. Priscilla and her husband Robert Tyler attended the church at the time.

The front door of the Episcopal Church. The church is still used for worship today.

Inside the front door is the baptismal font used when the church first opened. The biography said that Priscilla's baby, Robert Tyler, Jr, was the first baptized in this church. However, a local historian we met that day said Robert Jr was actually the fourth baby baptized. Either way, it was in this font. I could just picture Priscilla holding her little baby on his special day right in this very church!

I knew Priscilla's father, Thomas Cooper, was buried somewhere in the vast cemetary. We set out to search for his stone and found it in the first row we walked down! The stone was not readable, but there was a little green flag set out to mark the stone because it was Bristol Day. Thomas Cooper was America's first prominent Shakespearean actor and the first idol of American theater. He died in 1849. His wife, Mary Fairlie, is buried in the same plot but there is no headstone. Also in 1849, Priscilla and Robert's two year old son died. He is buried in the same plot according to the biography, so the rector looked in her old cemetary records for us, but there was no mention of the baby's burial.

Next we went to 610 Radcliffe St which is the house that Priscilla and Robert rented from Captain Hutchinson when they lived in Bristol sometime after leaving the White House until 1861 when they were forced to flee a lynchmob who was after Robert Tyler. At the time he was a prominent state politician and was also vocal that he was in favor of state's rights.

 When the Tylers rented the home, it was a simple Federal style home. Now it is the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Museum and is elaborately set in the Victorian manner and greatly expanded. This picture is the back of the home which faces the Delaware River. 

Here I am standing in front of what was 722 Radcliffe St. which was where Priscilla grew up. Legend has it that Thomas Cooper won the property and the little cottage that stood on it while gambling at cards in Paris.

When the Cooper family out grew the little cottage at 722 Radcliffe St., Thomas Cooper bought this property next door and built this "white house" to house the children and the governess while Thomas and Mary remained in the cottage.

 This huge tree must have been in the yard when Priscilla was a girl. I could picture her swinging on a swing there or just playing in its shade on a hot day.

 This has nothing to do with Priscilla, but it is a stone trough that is engraved on the front with "Free drink" and on the end with "1874." I have never seen anything like it before.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a neat always puts history in such perspective when you can see houses/buildings and the surrounding landscape! So glad you got to see these neat things...and that trough is something! I've never seen anything like that before, either!