Jack Brubaker

Jack Brubaker

Dear Dr. Scribblerprez:

Someone recently told me that James Buchanan was not the only president who owned property in Lancaster, that John Tyler owned property here as well. Do you know anything about this?

Deborah Marko

Mount Joy

Dear Deborah:

The Scribbler can find no evidence that John Tyler ever owned property in Lancaster County. On the other hand, the Scribbler as a young teenager purchased a bit of Australia and who knows about that besides everyone now reading this column?

But we can assume that Tyler, born, bred and buried in Virginia, did not own property here. He never even came here, according to a list of presidents who visited Lancaster while in office or at any other time in their lives. The Scribbler’s former LNP | LancasterOnline colleague Ernest Schreiber compiled the list.

The 10th president’s absence probably was not Lancaster’s loss. Tyler is often ranked among the worst presidents, usually not as low as Lancaster’s James Buchanan, but among the bottom dwellers.

Called “His Accidency” by his detractors, Tyler ascended to the presidency because William Henry Harrison served for only a month until he died. Vice President Tyler was playing marbles with his children in Williamsburg, Virginia, when he received the news that he was the new chief executive.

Tyler served as president for the rest of Harrison’s term and left the White House, without complaining, in 1845.

Here are two insensitive paragraphs characterizing his life and accomplishments.

The first is from John and Alice Durant’s “Pictorial History of American Presidents,” published in 1955. The Scribbler practically memorized the book in his youth.

The Durants said of Tyler, “He served without distinction as governor of Virginia and United States senator, and had it not been for Harrison’s death his name would be buried in oblivion.”

The other paragraph comes from the website of Statista, a data compiler. Statista made a graph of the number of Africans enslaved by each president. John Tyler enslaved 70 people, hardly comparable to Thomas Jefferson’s record number: 600.

Here’s the paragraph Statista uses to sum up Tyler’s views on slavery: “John Tyler publicly decried slavery and claimed that it was evil, although he owned slaves as he said this and his political actions in his later life actually supported the institution of slavery. (Tyler is notably the only U.S. president whose death was not mourned officially as he was involved in the government of the Confederacy at the time.)”

Tyler was serving in the Confederate Congress when he died in 1862 and is the only U.S. president whose funeral was held in Richmond, Virginia, not Washington, D.C.

Now, aren’t you glad you asked that question, Deborah?

Dear Dr. Scribblercar:

When I was a child in the ’30s, there was a popular rhyme:

“Buy a Ford, they’re the best;

Ride a mile and walk the rest!”

The jingle resonates in the recesses of my mind. Who created it?

Bob Horst

Manheim Township

Dear Bob:

“Anonymous” must be the creator of this rhyme that later was applied to other makes of automobiles that did not always function up to par. Also, in the 1970s, the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. apparently suffered the same abuse: “Buy a Harley, buy the best...” and so on.

No doubt, somewhere in Amishland, someone has applied the jingle to one of the standardbred racehorses (formerly used for harness racing) that many Amish use to pull their buggies: “Buy a racehorse, buy the best... .”

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Sunday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.