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James Hoge Tyler

James Hoge Tyler served on the board of visitors from 1887 to 1890 and was rector from 1887 to 1889.

Tyler, Virginia governor from 1898 to 1902, was born at the Tyler family farm, called Blenheim, in Caroline County, Va., on Aug. 11, 1846. He was the son of George Tyler (1817-1889), who was a representative of Caroline County, and Eliza Hoge (1815-1846), the daughter of Gen. James Hoge. His mother having died during his birth, the young Tyler was reared by his grandparents, James and Eleanor Howe Hoge at Hayfield, their Pulaski County, Va., home. Tyler was educated in Pulaski County before attending the school of Franklin Minor in Albermarle County, Va.

Tyler left school at the age of 16 to join the Confederate army and served as a private in the Signal Corps throughout the Civil War. (His later rank of "major" was apparently a post-war honorific.) After the war, Tyler returned to Pulaski County, where he had inherited the Hoge farm. He would rename the farm Belle Hampton and become a successful farmer, raising Durham cattle and serving as president of the Virginia Stock Farmers' Institute and of the Southwest Virginia Live Stock Association. His other business interests would come to include a store, a gristmill, a sawmill, the Belle Hampton Coal Mining Co. (sold in 1902 to a New York company), and the Radford Development Co.

Tyler married Sue Montgomery Hammet (daughter of Edward and Clementina Craig Hammet, who built the first home in what it now Radford, Va.) on Nov. 16, 1868. While living at Belle Hampton, the Tylers had eight children: Edward H., James H. Jr., Stockton H., Lucy Belle, Sue H., Henry C. "Hal," Eliza "Lily," and Eleanor Howe, who died in infancy. In 1891, the family moved to Halwick, their home in Radford.

In 1877, Tyler was elected to the state senate, serving one term and advocating retrenchment and reform. He maintained an active role in civic affairs, serving on the state debt commission. He served on the board of visitors of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College from 1887 to 1890 and served as rector from 1887 to 1889.

During the 1880s, he mounted two unsuccessful congressional campaigns. Tyler also launched an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1889 but secured the second place on the Democratic ticket that year and served as lieutenant governor from 1890 to 1894. While serving as lieutenant governor, Tyler again ran for the governorship in 1893, losing to Charles T. O'Ferrall. In 1897, Tyler successfully campaigned for governor and served from 1898 to 1902.

Tyler's gubernatorial administration was marked by a concern with adjustment of Virginia's state debt. He was a strong supporter of bi-metallism, and was a personal friend of William Jennings Bryan. The American Historical Society's History of Virginia (1926) summarized Tyler's governorship thus: "Governor Tyler's administration was marked by the settlement of the long vexed oyster question, for it was largely through his efforts that the LeCato bill was made effective and the oyster beds of the state made to yield an income to the state instead of an annual deficit. As governor he secured the reduction of taxes and the state debt and the increase of the public school fund and the literary fund. Other measures credited to his administration are the establishment of the Farm Bureau, the reorganization of the agricultural department, a conditional pardon system and the settlement of the Virginia-Tennessee boundary question."

While serving as governor, Tyler launched an unsuccessful campaign for the U. S. Senate seat of incumbent Thomas S. Martin. His unsuccessful 1899 campaign would be Tyler's last, though he would continue to be somewhat active in state politics, playing the role of elder statesman and considering various pleas that he again seek office. During World War I, he served as food administrator for Radford and Montgomery County.

James Hoge Tyler died Jan. 3, 1925. Sue Hammet Tyler, born July 16, 1845, died April 24, 1927.