Among the prominent men of Hancock county who have achieved success and distinction by the alchemy of business, the gentleman whose biography is herewith presented is entitled to much more than passing notice. He has long ranked among the progressive men of this part of the state and business circles here and elsewhere have felt the impress of his personality and this city of Greenfield in many ways has profited by his presence and honorable dealings. Such men as he add strength and tone to the body politic and as potential factors in the world of business the community is promoted and the benefits thus accruing affect directly or indirectly every individual living therein.

The Tyner family, of which the subject is a creditable representative, had its American origin in the old commonwealth of North Carolina. Many years ago there was born in that state on Richard Tyner, who when a young man entered the ministry and became a well-known and successful preacher of the gospel in North Carolina and elsewhere. In an early day he moved his family to Brookville, Indiana, at that time a mere backwoods hamlet, and, purchasing government land near the town, cleared and developed a farm. He was one of the first men to declare publicly the gospel in eastern Indiana and his influence on the early settlements was marked and salutary. He close his life work where he originally settled, and the bodies of himself and wife have long since mouldered into the dreamless dust of another earth.

Among the children of Rev. Richard Tyner was a son by the name of Elijah, whose birth occurred in North Carolina in the year 1800. He accompanied his parents to the wilds of Indiana and in young manhood married April 17, 1819, Miss Martha McCune. According to most reliable information, his arrival here was antedated by that of only a few dozen people. He cut a road from Shelbyville to what is now Blue River township, Hancock county, seven miles southeast of Greenfield and on the line between Hancock and Shelby counties, and after selecting a location, erected a small cabin and began clearing the timber for one of the first orchards ever planted in this part of the state. His house was isolated and many travelers passing through the country on tours of observation found within its walls a generous hospitality which husband and wife knew how to dispense. After a short time, in 1826, Elijah Tyner purchased a small stock of dry goods and groceries, which he offered for sale at his cabin, this beyond doubt being the first store opened in the county of Hancock. As years went by he purchased considerable land, which, advancing in value as population increased made him one of the wealthiest men in his section of the country. At one time he owned one thousand acres, much of which he had improved. His mercantile venture was highly prized by the settlers throughout a large area of surrounding territory. In connection with general farming, Elijah Tyner dealt quite extensively in hogs, cattle and all kinds of live stock, by means of which his fortune was greatly augmented. He was enterprising and progressive in all the terms imply and became not only a successful man from a worldly point of view, but was a leader in all public affairs. He was a local politician of considerable reputation, first as a Whig and later as a Republican, but he never sought official preferment for himself. In an early day he assisted to organize and operate the Richard Tyner Slaughtering Company at Brookville, which proved a very successful enterprise until similar industries were established in the larger cities. During the late rebellion Mr. Tyner was an enthusiastic and untiring supporter of the Union. While the soldiers were at the front battling for the flag, he looked after many of the families with a fatherly interest, supplying them with the necessities of life when such were needed and providing the children with clothing and other articles calculated to render their condition comfortable. He was a man of large heart and generous impulses and doubtless gave away in charity sufficient to have made many a man independent. The death of this good man and honorable citizen occurred in 1872 and the community mourned his loss as that of a philanthropist and true lover of his kind.

Elijah Tyner was three times married, his first marriage, already noted, resulting in the birth of one son, William, late a farmer of Shelby county, who died in March, 1902. His second wife was Miss Mary Nelson, who bore him four children: Charlotte, widow of the late A. C. Miller, of Missouri; Mary J., widow of Jacob Wolf, of Marion county, Indiana; Martha A. married Joseph A. Keith and both are deceased, and Nelson, who is a contractor and builder in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Tyner chose for his third companion Miss Sarah A. Halberstatt, who became the mother of children as follows: George W., deceased, formerly president of the State Bank at Salem, Iowa, also a prominent farmer and stockraiser with large landed interests near the city of Mt. Pleasant, that state; John H. is a merchant at Concordia, Kansas; Oliver H., a solider in the Civil war, member of Company A, Third Indian Battery, was killed in battle at Camden, Arkansas, in the year 1864; James M., late proprietor of a hotel at Morristown, Indiana, who died May 31, 1902., and Elbert, the subject of this review; Alonzo, a farmer and gardener of Center township, this county, and Missouri, who died young. The mother of these children survived her husband nine years, departing this life in 1881.

Elbert Shirk Tyner was born on the old Tyner homestead in Blue River township, December 7 1843. Being one of the youngest of the family, he remained with his parents until his twenty-eighth year, looking after their interests and managing his father’s business affairs, including the store which had been conducted until 1870. When a boy he attended the common schools and made the most of his limited opportunities, but his education is largely of a practical nature obtained later in life by coming in contact with men of the world in various business transactions.

He managed the business until 1873, at which time he went to Morristown, where for a period of nine years he conducted a livery stable in connection with the hardware and drug trade. While this engaged he also dealt quite extensively in livestock and, realizing that money could be made more rapidly in this than in almost any other way, finally disposed of his other enterprises and found a larger and more inviting field at the county seat.

Since moving to Greenfield in 1882 Mr. Tyner has carried on a large and lucrative live-stock business, buying extensively throughout Hancock and adjacent counties and shipping to the eastern markets. He has a wonderful capacity for large transactions and his keen judgment, tact and wise forethought have seldom been at fault in any of the dealing in which he has been engaged. His knowledge of human nature appears to be intuitive, but, strengthened and polished by contact with some of the shrewdest and most successful men in the country, it has been educated to such a degree that failure in anything he undertakes is next to impossible.

Mr. Tyner is an able financier and making money seems to be one of his natural endowments. Success has crowned all of his enterprises, especially the one to which he now devotes his time and energies, and the large fortune which is his has been earned by clearly defined and recognized legitimate methods. He possesses some fine property in both city and country, among the latter being the fine farm of two hundred and twenty acres in Blue River township, and which was a part of his father’s estate and is one of the best improved and most valuable places in the county.

Mr. Tyner was married October 23, 1872, in Shelbyville, Indiana, to Miss Pearl E. Updegraff, a native of Johnson county, this state, and his beautiful and well appointed home in Greenfield is one of the most attractive residences of which the city can boast. In addition to his career as a business man, Mr. Tyner had over a year’s experience as a soldier; he enlisted in Company C., One Hundred and Forty-eighth Indiana Infantry, in 1864, and served with a creditable record until discharged in 1865. Going to the front in the last year of the war, he did not see as much active service as some, yet his record is replete with duty well and faithfully performed. Fraternally, he holds membership with the Masonic brotherhood in which he has taken a number of degrees, including those of chapter and Knight Templar. He belongs to Blue Lodge No. 101, Chapter No. 96 and Commandery No. 39,. All of which meet in the city of Greenfield. He is also connected with the Dunbar Post, G. A. R.

Mr. Tyner is justly regarded as one who has done much towards developing the material interest of Greenfield and Hancock county and is perhaps the superior of the great majority of his fellow citizens in all the elements that constitute the successful man of business. He is adapted by nature and training to inaugurate and carry to completion large enterprises and the impress of his strong personality has been felt in all that concerns the growth of the city and county since he entered upon his active career. By no means an old man, he is looked upon as one of the most useful in Greenfield, noted for his genial manner, pleasing presence and open-handed generosity. He has many warm friends and is altogether quite popular and taking a lively interest in public and political affairs. He could never be induced to stand for office, preferring the claims of business and the happiness and content that come to the private citizen to honor which his fellow citizens can confer. While earnest and progressive in worldly affairs, he has not been unmindful of the high duties which man owes to his Maker.

Both he and wife are attendants of the Methodist Episcopal church of Greenfield, living lives consistent with their religious views and supporting liberally the gospel at home and abroad. After losing their only son in early childhood, Mr. and Mrs. Tyner extended the comforts of home and parental attention to two homeless children who found with them all the advantages conferred upon children in their own homes. They are K. M. Stalard, now the wife of John Felt, of the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, and Joseph Turner, who is now deceased.

Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 366-369.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI September 24, 2002.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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