Watch CBS News

President John Tyler's great genes

We're saying "Hail To The Chiefs" on this Presidents' Day Eve, to some who are not on anybody's short list of greats. Mo Rocca reports:

If Payne and Harrison Tyler seem especially at home at Sherwood Forest, the plantation of John Tyler, who became president in 1841 after William Henry Harrison dropped dead, that's because Harrison Tyler is President Tyler's grandson.

Not great-grandson. Grandson!

Yep, you heard that right. President John Tyler, who was born the year after George Washington took the oath of office.

So how can he have a living grandson?

"Well, my grandfather was born in 1790, my father was born in 1853, and I was born in 1928," Harrison Tyler explained.

Three generations, spanning 222 years and counting . . .


John Tyler was 63 years old at that time his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born. "And then my father was 75 when I was born," said Harrison Tyler. "Now, I'm 83 or 84, whichever it is, so that's how we get to where we are!" he laughed.

The Tylers are related to seemingly everyone in Virginia's historic Tidewater region . . . President Thomas Jefferson, Presidents Benjamin and William Henry Harrison, and at least a half-dozen Jamestown settlers...

"And, of course, I'm descended from Pocahontas, which goes back before Jamestown," Harrison Tyler laughed.

Of course, not everyone named Tyler is related..

"Do you think that you're related to Steven Tyler?" Rocca asked. "You're not a fan of 'American Idol' or Aerosmith?"

"He's the biggest-looking jerk I ever laid eyes on," Harrison Tyler said.

"Harrison, you don't want to say that," Payne Tyler said. "Cut that out and let's try again."

"I will say the same thing!" Harrison laughed.

John Tyler established the precedent that a VP succeeds a president on his death. Yet he's the only president not officially mourned in Washington.

When Tyler died, during the Civil War, he was a member of the Confederate Congress!

"Forgive me if this sounds a little indelicate, but I mean, for a man to sire a child in his 60s, and then another man to sire a child in his 70s - and this is pre-Viagra, I mean that's extraordinary. Those are great genes!"

And Harrison's father had a third son by this marriage when he was 81.

"It would be so cool if you two had another baby," said Rocca.

"Those were second wives, I'm still the first!" said Payne.

"But I must say, the two of you look fantastic, and I can't lie. It would be awesome if you had a kid, another one," Rocca said.

"Oh, thank you so much, that's very kind," said Payne.

"Well, I'm ready!" Harrison said.

"Don't ask me," she laughed. "We'll get another candidate for that."

For more info:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.