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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.
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Tombstone Tuesday: Bishop Evans Tyree

This past week or two, I’ve been contacted by several descendants of Bishop Evans Tyree whom I first encountered while walking Greenwood Cemetery.  After doing some research on him I started building his family tree and it was recently found by them.  I’m delighted in their interest and am glad they found the information of use! Before them, I’d even had a distant relative of his wife contact me as well. 



Bishop Evans Tyree was from Dekalb County, Tennesse.  There is an article from the Library 0f Congress’ Chronicling America archive that gives great information about him at http://is.gd/d0r.  This week, I created a FindAGrave memorial for he and his wife – maybe this will help even more descendants locate him. 

Since I occassionally like to look for new information, I’ve just taken a moment to explore Footnote some more and found another newspaper article about him.  In a 1901 article in the Chicago Tribune where he is mentioned as one of several clergy praying for President McKinley (after McKinley was wounded in an assassination attempt from which he would die a week later).


I also found that he was one of 5 complainants in a 1908 lawsuit agains the Interstate Commerce Commission for “unjust and unlawful treatment.”  The article from the February 27, 1908 issue of the Washington Post states that the five men, all Bishops with the AME Church, paid for 1st class accommodations passenger coaches but were given coaches that were “dirty and filthy and are not of first-class quality or description.”  I wonder what became of the suit; more research will be needed. 



Tyree Camp Fifth Anniversary

Nashville Globe
1 Mar 1908

Residence of Mrs. E.G. Coffey Scene of Gala Meeting. Spacious Parlors Crowded to Their Utmost – Members and Friends Listen to Addresses and Reports with Keen Interest – Much Good Accomplished.

Tyree Camp, a branch of an organization of societies of the St. John A.M.E. Church, celebrated its fifth anniversary at the residence of Mrs. E.G. COFFEY on Thirteenth avenue North, last Friday evening. A large number of friends had been invited, and when Mrs. Sara ROSE called the meeting to order the parlors were crowded with the Camp members and the guests. Mrs. RHODES stated the purpose of the meeting, and announced the first number on program which was an instrumental selection by Miss Brucie Mai EWING, the talented organist of the St. John A.M.E. Church. Miss EWING was equal to the occasion, rendering her selection with grace and ease. Prayer was offered by Rev. C.E. ALEXANDER, pastor of the Hubbard Chapel M.E. Church. Miss Mattie E. ALEXANDER, daughter of the Rev. ALEXANDER rendered an instrumental solo which was highly enjoyed by all.

Mrs. E.C. COFFEY, president of the Tyree Camp, was then introduced. She gave a brief history of the camp, noting its accomplishments during the five years it had been in existence. She told of the efforts put forth, and how friends of other churches had helped them in the struggle.

Miss Lizzie DICKERSON was the next to speak. Miss DICKERSON is secretary of all the several camps working in the interest of the church. She gave the statistics of money collected and how the same had been expended. Her statement showed that the camps have raised nearly $2,599 and had paid the whole, less expenses, on the church debt. Mrs. Lula ALLEN, who was one of the first to join in the Camp work, spoke words of praise and encouragement. Dr. M.J. GREGG, D.D., of Jacksonville, Fla., who is the corresponding secretary of the Allen Christian Endeavor Department of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was the next speaker He said the twentieth century promised to be the woman’s age. The coming of Christ brought her emancipation, and in this age she has ceased to be considered as a beast of burden, but as truly man’s companion and helper. He spoke in glowing terms of the great accomplishments by the women of the St. John. A.M.E. Church and wished for them continued success.

Miss Vera L. MOORE, a member of the faculty at Walden University, rendered an instrumental solo. Miss MOORE’s rendition was above the average and brought forth great applause.

Bishop E. TYREE, for whom the Camp is named, was the next speaker. He said he had watched the work of the Camps with much interest and was proud to have his name identified with them. Bishop TYREE said since the time he received a telegram from Dr. WATSON, the secretary of the Church’s Extension Board to represent at the sale of the church, several years ago, and to save the property he had received many for acting as he did; but he considered the telegram from the Church Extension Secretary to mean what it contained and he acted. However, all were compelled to admit now that it was the best investment that had been made by the board during its history. He said the fact that the Baptists and other friends had helped the Camp members to save St. John A.M.E. Church was as it ought to be and it should be so in every struggle the race has. The dominant race has taken everything from us but the churches and school houses, and when one of them is in peril every Negro, irrespective of creed, should put his shoulder to the wheel and help push.

Dr. T.W. HAIGLER, pastor of the church for which the camp is working, was the last speaker. He said he has been given the new name of fussy pastor, but as long as the dollars continued to roll in he would continue fussing. He said he was very much concerned about the “something else” he had heard mentioned and would not be lengthy in his remarks, but would get out of the way for the “something else.”

Miss Vera L. MOORE rendered another of her choice selections and the exercises were brought to a close. The guests were invited to the dining hall where all were served to the sumptuous repast served in buffet style in courses, after which the fifth anniversary of Tyree Camp celebration passed into history.

Trip to Greenwood Cemetery

This past weekend I took a trip to Greenwood Cemetery – a black cemetery here in town. I went looking for the grave sites of the Napier family whom I’ve been researching. I knew there to be at least 12 members of the family there so I wanted to go take pictures of their graves as only three of them were previously on FindAGrave. In tow with me were both Kalonji & Kaleya. Kaleya pretty much has no choice 🙂 but I’m pleasantly surprised whenever Kalonji says he wants to go – i mean really, how many people really like to go hang out in cemeteries!

It was quite an experience. By walking around looking for the Napiers, it was like a who’s who in black Nashville history. The first noticeable grave when you drive into the cemetery is that of Rev. Preston Taylor, the founder of the cemetery who had a big funeral business and was accomplished in many other things as well. I saw the headstone of others I’ve come across in my study of Nashville as well – Bishop Evans Tyree and his wife, Dr. Charles Spurgeon, Dr. Arthur Townsend, Arna Bontemps, both of the Boyds and their families. I also found others that I’ve not yet gotten very familiar with, but make good candidates for the future.

I did not take a lot of pictures, but most of the ones I did take I have added to Find A Grave – here is a link to the listing there. Adding to FindAGrave is wonderful way to contribute to the genealogy online community. I highly encourage others to do it. I am planning to go back out there in a few more weeks to take more pictures.

But, back to the reason I went there – the Napiers. I found everyone I was expecting to find. James Carroll Napier (who I call JC), his wife, Nettie and their adoptive daughter/biological niece Carye were there and already in FindAGrave. This week, I’ve added the most of the rest of their family buried in the family plot-I am realizing now I missed at least one person. The links will take to each person’s FindAGrave page.

Bishop Evans Tyree – part 2

I have continued to do some research on Bishop Evans Tyree. I have constructed the beginnings of his tree as part of my Nashville genealogies database. His specific information is here.

Since the previous post, I think I have finalized the list of all of his children. In addition to Evans Tyree Jr., Carrie B. Tyree, Anna Alberta, and Herman F., he had two other children – a girl named Eugenia and a son named Wayman.

So far, I’ve located Evans and his family in the 1900 & 1910 census records, but none others yet. Evans Sr. died in 1920 and I have found one obituary for him so far from the Chicago Defender.

I’ve also discovered that he’s had associations with the Rev. L. Napoleon Merry, brother of Nelson Merry. This is not surprising to me since they were both clergy. In the July 13, 1876 of the Christian Recorder, an African-American newspaper, Rev. Thomas Whitlock writes in a letter to the editor

…My third Quarterly meeting Conference was held on the 20th and 51st inst. The Presiding Elders, L.N. Murray, Evans Tyree of the Santa Fee mission, and M. Howard of the Ashwood circuit were with us. We had quite a good meeting. We had ten persons added to the church this quarter and we left about forty anxious souls seeking the way of salvation. Our financial report was very poor. My support this quarter all told was $45., and the Presiding Elder’s $40.25; total $55.25. I have baptized 11 this Conference year, and but one of these was slipped; and the Presiding Elder baptized for me five infants. I think sir, that African Methodism has a firm footing now in this hard shell Baptist country. Pray for us. Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., May 20, ’76.

That L.N. Murray should be L.N. MERRY.

Bishop Evans Tyree

The 1903 issue of Meharry News (see the Meharry Library Archives page) features a short article about Bishop Evans Tyree giving a short talk “full of practical suggestions and and humor.” Recognizing the name, I looked through some of the previous posts here on this blog. I found mention of him so far in two places here and here.

Bishop Evans Tyree was born in De Kalb County, Tennessee on August 19, 1854 to slaves Harry & Winnie Tyree. [1, 2] He progressed rapidly in the African Methodist Episcopal church, becoming an elder by the age of 22. The wonderful Documenting the American South collection of the University of North Carolina, has a picture of him from a book by Horace Talbert titled The Sons of Allen: Together with a Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio.

So far, in about 30 minutes of searching, I have learned that he was married to a woman named Ellen and they had at least the following children – Evans Tyree Jr., Carrie B. Tyree, Anna Alberta, and Herman F. I know they had at least one other daughter from Anna’s obit whose first name is not mentioned, but she married a Eugene Allen. It appears that Evan Sr. died here in Davidson County November 12, 1920 [3] It is getting late tonight, so I’m not going to go into the census records quite yet, but let’s just say I have added the Tyree family to my persons of interest now in Black Nashville history 🙂

One last departing image from the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America digitized newspaper collection. This sketch of Bishop Evans is from the July 28, 1900 issue of The Colored American, a newspaper of Washington D.C. It is amazing that they are digitizing their old newspapers like this!

[1] State Library of North Carolina. Selections from An Era of Progress and Promice, 1863-1910. Bishop Evans Tyree, DD, MD – http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/iss/EraOfProgress/Bios/tyree.gif
[2] Leonard, John William and Marquis, Albert Nelson. Who’s Who In America. 1903. http://is.gd/aN3.
[3] TN State Library & Archives. TN Death Index 1920. http://is.gd/aNu.