History and Biography of Henry Tyson – Patriarch of the Tyson’s of York County, PA
Henry Tyson is the patriarch of the Tyson family in York County, PA. He was born October 5, 1742 in what is now present day Montgomery County and he died March 24, 1817 in York County, PA. Henry was married to Sarah, at this time her last name is unknown and it is unclear where she was born, raised or where her and Henry met and were married at. According to her tombstone, Sarah was born August 5, 1743 and died March 27, 1821 in York County, PA. It is unclear when they married, but the their oldest daughter Hannah was born in 1764, and based on their ages it is very likely they were not married long before she was conceived.
Henry’s great-grandfather, Cornelius Tyson, was born in Krefeld, Germany in 1652. Cornelius was the son of Matthias Doors. As you can see, Cornelius and Matthias have different last names. It is unclear why this happened, but there is an explanation for it. Matthias went by the name “Theis”, and his male offspring were referred to as “Theis’s son”. Early records in Pennsylvania show Cornelius spelled his last name Tiesen, which was the phonetic way of saying Theis’s son. The name later became anglicized to Tyson.
Cornelius’s brother Reynier was among the original 13 families that crossed the Atlantic on the ship Concord in 1683 and founded the settlement of Germantown, which is now located within the city limits of Philadelphia. It is unclear when Cornelius brought his family over, but according to the book Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania by John W. Jordan, Cornelius himself was a resident of Germantown in 1703. While his brother Reynier converted to Quakerism, Cornelius remained a follower of Menno Simon, founder of the Mennonites. Along this line, Cornelius is buried at Axe’s Burial Grounds, also known as the Upper Burial Grounds in Germantown, PA. More than likely, the Tyson’s originated from Holland. The book postulates that his tombstone is probably the oldest in existence over a German buried in Pennsylvania.
Cornelius’s oldest son Matthias was born in 1682 in Krefeld, Germany and made the trip to Pennsylvania with his parents. He married Barbara Sellen, daughter of Hendrick Sellen. Hendrick was also a native of Krefeld, Germany and was one of the first trustees of the First Mennonite Church in Germantown, PA. Matthias owned 280 acres in Perkiomen Twp, Montgomery County, which he passed along to his oldest son Cornelius Sellen Tyson. Matthias died on April 8, 1766 and is buried at Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery, in Skippack Twp, Montgomery County, PA.
Cornelius Sellen Tyson, oldest son of Matthias, was born about 1712 in Pennsylvania. On March 30, 1738, he married Barbara Pennypacker, daughter of Hendrick Pennypacker, the founder of the Pennypacker family in Pennsylvania. The most famous Pennypacker descendant is Samuel Pennypacker, Governor of PA from 1903 to 1907. Cornelius and Barbara are the parents of Henry Tyson, the person featured in this biography. In the mid-1700’s Cornelius purchased 295 acres in Windsor Township, York County, PA and then several years later Cornelius deeded that land to his sons Henry and Benjamin.
Both Henry and his brother Benjamin moved to York County. In regards to his younger brother Benjamin, he was elected assessor of Windsor Twp in 1780 and 1781, plus he was delegate to the second state constitutional convention in 1790. Benjamin appears to have shortly left York County after 1790, as he is not listed in the 1793 Septennial census nor the 1800 Federal Census in York County. Being that his brother was born in 1751 and left York County in the early 1790’s when his children were probably no older then teenagers, it appears he took his entire family with him, as the remaining Tyson’s in York County are descended from Henry. It is unclear where he moved to, but there is record of a Benja Tyson living in Sharpsburg, MD in the 1800 and 1810 census. Records for a property called the “Piper House” in Sharpsburg indicate it was purchased by Benjamin Tyson in 1792 or 1793, which would fit into the timeframe of him leaving York County between 1790 and 1793. Unfortunately, we have no other evidence as to whether this was Henry’s brother or not.
When Henry moved to York County isn’t clear, but it was sometime before 1770. Henry was elected as assessor for Windsor Twp from 1769-1772. It seems likely that Henry was probably living in York County for at least some time before getting that position in 1769. Henry had a long line in public service, having served in the following positions:
- 1769-1772 – Assessor for Windsor Township
- 1772-1773 – Assessor for York County
- 1773-1776 – County Commission for York County (elected on October 20, 1773)
- 1779-1780 – Assistant Assessor for Windsor Township
- 1784-1785 – Member of the Ninth General Assembly of Pennsylvania
- 1785-1786 – Member of the Tenth General Assembly of Pennsylvania
- 1786-1787 – Member of the Eleventh General Assembly of Pennsylvania
- 1788-1789 – Member of the Thirteenth General Assembly of Pennsylvania
- 1790-1791 – Member of the First House of Representatives of Pennsylvania
- 1791-1792 – Member of the Second House of Representatives of Pennsylvania
- April 10, 1793 – Commissioned Justice of the Peace for the 12th district of York County
When he was serving in the newly constituted PA House of Representatives, he was able to have dinner with President George Washington and his wife Martha in the nation’s Capitol, which at that time was Philadelphia. According to the diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer, a fellow Representative, he wrote “This afternoon (September 5, 1791) went to the President’s house on Market Street and there dined with him and his lady, four members of his family, besides the following members of the House …”. Among those members, he listed Tyson as well as several other Representatives from York County.
Several official documents refer to Henry as either Henry Tyson, Eqsuire or Squire Tyson. This is probably due to the fact he was Justice of the Peace, as his name appears on many estate and Orphans Court documents.
Henry also served his new country in the Revloutionary War, where he was a Private First Class, Fifth Company of Captain Andrew Liggett, Third Battalion in 1778. He remained a member of this unit when it became the the Fifth Company of Peter Imschweiler, First Battalion in 1780. In 1782 he is listed in the same Company under the command of Captain Peter Fry.
Cornelius Tyson, father of Henry and Benjamin, purchased 295 acres in Windsor Twp on May 29, 1766 from John Knisley. It appears both brothers settled on this land, probably not long after Cornelius bought it. Then on October 8, 1774, Cornelius split the land and sold it to this sons. There is a recorded deed transaction for that date at the York County Archives between Cornelius and Benjamin, showing that Benjamin received 140 acres. I could not locate a recorded transaction between Cornelius and Henry, but the transaction with Benjamin does reference the remaining land being divided off and given to Henry on the same date. It isn’t clear exactly how many acres Henry received, as that is not mentioned. Eventually Henry owned at least 211 acres, and by 1781 had a grist mill and saw mill located on his property. The following are tax records that show what property Henry was taxed for owning:
- 1780 – 214 acres, 3 horses, 4 cows
- 1781 – 214 acres, 4 horses, 4 cows, 2 mills
- 1782 – 214 acres, 3 horses, 3 cows, 8 sheep, 2 mills
- 1783 – 214 acres, 1 house, 1 outhouse, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill and 10 occupants
- 1785 – 211 acres, 3 horses, 4 cows, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1786 – 211 acres, 3 horses, 4 cows, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1787 – 211 acres, 4 horses, 4 cows, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1788 – 211 acres, 4 horses, 4 cows, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1789 – 211 acres, 4 horses, 5 cows, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1798 – 209 acres, 1 40′ x 20′ log house, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
- 1810 through 1817 – 211 acres, 1 Grist Mill, 1 Saw Mill
Henry’s property was located in the northern portion of Windsor Township, near the current intersection of Freysville Road and East Prospect Road. The mills were located just south of East Prospect Rd along Freysville Rd, on the south side of Kreutz Creek. The mill burned in 1903, but tradition that has been passed down says it was rebuilt using the same stones from the original mill. When Henry passed away in 1817, it took until the mid 1820’s for the estate to be settled due to the deaths of his son’s Isaac and Jacob and a disagreement over the valuation of the land. Eventually 113 acres of land, including the mills were sold to Samuel Stoner and most of the remaining land went to his daughters Hannah and Rebecca, which was not common for 2 single females at that time to be property owners.
Henry and Sarah had 9 children that reached adulthood and were living when he passed away in 1817. No church records exist for the birth or baptism of any of these children, which if Henry was still a Mennonite would make sense as there are no Mennonite Church records for York County that exist during this time frame. Orphans Court records list his 9 children as Hannah, Jehu, Isaac, Jacob, Henry, Sarah (wife of William Patterson), Rachel (wife of Henry Reichard), Rebecca and Susanna (wife of Peter Dietz).
In regards Hannah and Rebecca, neither of them ever married. After their parent’s death, they jointly received about 130 acres of land from their parents. When Hannah died in 1839 she still owned 105 acres. Hannah passed away in 1839 and is buried with her parents in Freysville Cemetery in Windsor Twp. Rebecca later moved in with her brother Jacob’s grandson, Jacob Goodling and his family down in Springfield Township. She passed away in 1862 and is buried in Winter Cemetery in Springfield Twp.
Their daughter Sarah Tyson married William Patterson and it appears they lived just over the county line in Adams County, PA. Census records indicate a William Patterson living in Berwick Twp, Adams County in 1798 and 1800 and in 1830 he was living in Hamilton Twp (which was formed from Berwick Twp in 1810). I have also located a tombstone for William Patterson in East Berlin Union Cemetery, showing he passed away in 1843 at what appears to be 68 years of age. There is also a tombstone in the same cemetery for Sarah Patterson, wife of William, who was born June 15, 1775 and died April 20, 1839. The date of birth for Sarah fits in with her expected date of birth given the order in which she was listed in the Orphans Court record for her father.
Henry Tyson born October 5, 1742 in Perkiomen Twp, Montgomery County, PA, died March 24, 1817 in Windsor Twp, York County, PA and buried at Freysville Cemetery in Windsor Twp, York County, PA. He married Sarah (unknown) born August 5, 1743, died March 27, 1821 in York County, PA and buried at Freysville Cemetery in Windsor Twp, York County, PA.
Children of Henry Tyson and his wife Sarah:
- Hannah Tyson (September 7, 1764 – January 8, 1839)
- Jehu Tyson (born about 1766 – unknown) married Maria Magdalena Miller (January 3, 1767 – unknown)
- Isaac Tyson (about 1768 – about 1817) married Margaret (October 13, 1769 – August 11, 1849)
- Jacob Tyson (March 24, 1770 – August 4, 1822) married Elizabeth Lehman (November 2, 1775 – October 13, 1850)
- Henry Tyson (about 1774 – between 1820 and 1830) married Catherine Heckert (1772 – October 2, 1855)
- Sarah Tyson (June 15, 1775 – April 20, 1839) married William Patterson (about 1775 – March 20, 1843)
- Rachel Tyson (February 13, 1778 – April 18, 1855) married Henry Reichard (May 4, 1781 – April 2, 1832)
- Rebecca Tyson (April 15, 1781 – April 1, 1862)
- Susanna Tyson (September 1, 1787 – April 22, 1871) married Peter Dietz (August 30, 1770 – April 20, 1859)