Michigan State University

Tyree, Marion Cabell

Marion Fontaine Cabell Tyree, the last surviving granddaughter of Virginia statesman Patrick Henry, was born in Virginia in 1826, the daughter of Spotswood Henry. On her mother's side she was descended from the Cabells, and was the great granddaughter of Col. John Cabell, prominent figure in the Revolutionary War. She married Samuel Tyree of Lynchburg, a successful businessman, "and the couple had a beautiful and comfortable home in which they dispensed in the most gracious and genial manner that hospitality for which old Virginia was famous," according to her obituary notice. During the Civil War, Tyree cared for the Confederate sick and wounded who were far from home and family, managing to provide them with food and medical remedies despite wartime blockades and shortages.

Her friends, impressed with her aptitude for domestic economy, encouraged her to compile a cookbook, and in 1877 she published Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Originally published in New York, it was reissued the following year in Richmond, Virginia. Nearly 250 ladies contributed to the book, many of them from prominent families of the day. In her preface, Tyree recounts the patriotism of Virginia's leading ladies; during the Revolutionary War, they tore "the glittering arms of King George from their sideboards, and casting them, with their costly plate and jewels, as offerings into the lap of the Continental Congress," they introduced a new style that did away with extravagance but retained grace. Combining "the thrifty frugality of New England with the less rigid style of Carolina," Tyree suggests Virginia perfected the domestic art of housekeeping and entertaining, and she reveals some of its details within Housekeeping in Old Virginia.

The last surviving member of her family, Tyree died in 1912, just short of her eighty-sixth birthday.

Sources

  • Tyree, Marion Fontaine Cabell, Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Richmond, VA: J.W. Randolph & English, 1878.

     

  • "Death of Mrs. Samuel Tyree," unidentified newspaper clipping, hand-dated January 11, 1912, from scrapbook (1895 - 1920) of Elizabeth Watkins Henry Lyons (1855 - 1920), p. 44, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia. Special thanks go to the Virginia Historical Society for making this material available.

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