This week’s writing prompt for 52 Ancestors is Extended Family. We often focus on those people from whom we descend. But what about their siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins? They played a role in our ancestors’ lives, just like those people play a role in our own lives. This is a good week to explore the lives of these other people in the family tree. I chose to write about my 2nd great granduncle William G. Lyons. The mining industry in Northern California and especially in Nevada played a big part in his life.
He was the son of James W. Lyons and Catherine Ann Barton. His father was born in New Jersey and was of a New Jersey Lyons family, but his line remains a brick wall. His mother was the daughter of Thomas Barton, and the family was of Bristol and New Britain in Bucks County Pennsylvania. DNA has given some clues to the Barton family origins, but it mostly remains a brick wall. But Catherine Barton’s mother was Rebecca Cooper who was descended on her paternal side from Pennsylvania Quakers. On Rebecca Cooper’s maternal side, she was descended from early German and Dutch settlers in New York.
James W. Lyons and Catherine Barton had several children including:
- Elizabeth “Betsy” Lyons born about November 1817 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is listed as a female aged under 10 years old in the 1820 Census and as a female aged 20 to 29 in the household of her father in the 1840 Census. She’s not living with her parents in the 1850 Census. She may have married, but I haven’t found a marriage record for her. Or she died prior to 1850. Little is known about her.
- Daughter Lyons born about 1818/1819 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is one of two females under the age of 10 listed in the 1820 Census and is most likely the female listed as aged 15 to 19 in the household of her father in the 1840 Census. She is not living with her parents in the 1850 Census. She may have died prior to 1850.
- Catherine Ann Lyons born 26 December 1825 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died 1903 in Fletcher, Miami County, Ohio. She married/1 on 28 March 1847 in Hamilton County, Ohio to Albert Addis. After his death she married/2 on 25 October 1850 in Lost Creek, Miami County, Ohio to Isaac H. Stinsman.
- Henrietta Frances “Nettie” Lyons born 24 April 1828 in Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died 7 December 1910 in Milford, Clermont County, Ohio. She married on 25 February 1847 in Hamilton County, Ohio to Marshall Davis Armstrong.
- William G. Lyons born 4 September 1830 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died 10 June 1904 in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona. He never married.
- Daughter Lyons born about 1832 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is listed as a female aged 5 to 9 years old in the 1840 Census.
- James W. Lyons, Jr. born about 1833 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died after 1880 and before the 1900 census. He married on 20 February 1864 in Butler County, Ohio to Anna M. Fisher.
- Daughter Lyons born about 1836 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is listed as one of two females aged under 5 years old in the 1840 Census. She is not found in the 1850 Census with her parents and siblings. She may have died prior to 1850. The other female under 5 years old is Martha.
- Martha A. Knight Lyons born 3 October 1838 in Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died 15 August 1928 in Benton, Butler County, Kansas. She married on 15 October 1856 in Miami County, Ohio to Bradford Carroll Armstrong, as his third wife. (They are my direct ancestors). Marshall Davis Armstrong and Bradford Carroll Armstrong were brothers, so two Lyons sisters married two Armstrong brothers.
There are a few Lyons brides found in the Miami County, Ohio marriage records that do not belong to the other Lyons families known to be in Miami County at the same times as my Lyons ancestors. Here are the marriage records that may include the unknown named Lyons daughters above:
Sarah Lyons who marries Jeremiah Terry on 9 July 1847 in Miami County, Ohio. I have been unable to locate either of them in additional records, nor have I been able to find anyone researching this couple. This couple may have been part of the group of settlers that were Randolph Slaves that settled in Miami County during the summer of 1846. And as such would not be connected to my Lyons ancestors. It appears that the word colored was written in the marriage record, although I do not find a record listing them among the names of the settlers.
Mary M. Lyons who marries Dimick/Derick B. Ten Eick on 17 December 1848 in Miami County, Ohio. There is a Derick Teneick that died on 19 Mar 1849 in Miami County, Ohio. He was 3 months shy of his 22nd birthday. He is buried in Kepper Cemetery in Tipp City, Miami County, Ohio. If this is the same man in the marriage record, then he died 3 months after his marriage. I have not found anyone listing that he was married in their family trees. His name is listed as Derick Teneick on his headstone, but his name is also found in records as Derick TenEyck/Ten Eick. He was the son of Henry P TenEyck (Teneick) and Eleanor Baracalow.
Most of the siblings stayed in Ohio for some decades with a few later venturing to Kansas. Only William G. Lyons decided to venture further west.
There are no known photos of William G. Lyons. In the 1850 census he is found living near, but not with, his family in Lost Creek, Miami County, Ohio. He is aged 20 years old and is working as a laborer.
But by 1855 he had ventured to Placer County, California. According to his obituary he came to California from his eastern home during the ’49 excitement and followed placer mining there for a number of years. Placer County, California was at the heart of the 1848 California Gold Rush.
The same obituary states he didn’t come to Nevada until 1869, but I find him in directories in Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada in 1861 and in Dayton, Lyons County, Nevada in 1868-1869. Also included in his obituary is the following: The deceased was one of the pioneers of Nevada and especially of White Pine County, having been prominently identified with the mining industry in this section since the early days of Mineral City in the 70’s. [He] Was one of the original locators of the Monitor mine at Taylor, which was sold to the New Eberhardt Co. of London, England. He was also one of the locators of the Chainman mine here [White Pine County]. The Chainman mine was primarily a gold mine but was secondarily a silver mine. Moving to Virginia City during the palmy Comstock days, from which place he came to White Pines in ’69.
I was unable to locate him in any records for the time period he was in Placer County, California, when he was engaged in the mining industry there.
I was able to locate him in the 1870 Nevada territorial Census index for Gold Hill, Storey County, Nevada, but the image of the census was unavailable. Census records for Nevada, prior to the 1875 Nevada state census and the 1880 US Federal Census, are spotty at best.
I believe I did find him in state historical records which included the listing of businesses in Mineral City, White Pine County, Nevada in 1874 as “MITCHEL & LYONS – Lived at this time at what was later known as the OLE HANSON ranch.” Today, Mineral City is listed as a former populated place located along US highway 50. A former mining boom town founded in 1869 with a population of about 600 by 1872. (1)
It was just west of Ely, Nevada, and named Mineral City until 1876. It was the first mining camp in the Robinson District. Since Mineral City lay on the Central Overland Route, a stagecoach stop followed, and by 1872, the boomtown had a post office, a ten-stamp mill, mercantile stores, an express office, six saloons, hotels, four boarding houses, restaurants, livery stables, and a blacksmith shop. In 1896 the town was renamed Lane City for Charles D. Lane, following his purchase of Chainman, a major local mining and milling operation. It continued into the twentieth century, but as of 2014 the town (lying along what is now US 50) is abandoned and only a few structures and foundations remain. (2 & 3) Remember that William G. Lyons was one of the locators of the Chainman Mine. A locator was one who locates and establishes a mining claim.
He did quite well in the mining industry and in the 1880 Census for Ward, White Pine County, Nevada, his occupation is listed as Mine Superintendent. In 1883 he was the postmaster of the post office in Taylor in White Pine County, Nevada. Also see further down his business dealings in 1886 with W. N. McGill. In the 1900 Census for Ely, White Pine County, Nevada, his occupation is listed as Capitalist, he is living alone, and he owns his home free and clear. He is listed in the White Pine Newspaper several times in the listings of registered voters.
Luckily, his obituary also tells us a bit more about him as a person. He is described as one of the most kind-hearted and generous of bachelors, and while his presence will be greatly missed from among us, still his many kind deeds and acts of benevolence shall live forever after in the minds of scores he has be-friended.
Also, according to his obituary, he always enjoyed good health until two years prior to his death, but the early vicissitudes of pioneer life began to tell upon him and, although he sought restoration in the climate of California and Arizona, it was to no avail. He died at Stone’s Sanitarium in Phoenix, Arizona. He appears to have died of tuberculosis. His mining and capitalists’ ventures left him well off financially for only affluent patients were cared for at these sanitariums in Pheonix.
The last view lines of his obituary tell us about his living relatives and that he only had two known living relatives, his two sisters Henrietta Frances “Nettie” Lyons Armstrong and Martha A. Knight Lyons Armstrong both of Kansas. Actually, his sister Nettie at the time of his death was living in Milford, Clemont County, Ohio, but Martha was living in Kansas. His remains were shipped to Kansas, and his final resting place is found in Downs Cemetery in Osbourne County, Kansas.
A final note, I did find in the White Pine Newspaper for July 28, 1904, a notice of hearing of petition for probate of the will and for issuance of letters of testamentary in the matter of the Estate of William G. Lyons. W. N. McGill filed a petition for the probate of the last will of William G. Lyons.
I have been unable as of yet to view the last will and testament of William G. Lyons. But researching W. N. McGill, it appears they were in business together. W. N. McGill’s full name was William Neil McGill. In the 1900 Census for Ely, White Pine County, Nevada, he is listed as a farmer, albeit a quite well to do farmer, with a wife and several children, as well as a servant and several employees. By 1910 he is a widower and living with him are his sister, several of his adult children, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter, as well as two servants. His occupation is now listed as Stock Grower.
On the Nevada Adventures website of exploring ghost towns and mining camps in Nevada, I was able to find the following: William Neil McGill and his partner, William Lyons, bought Cowger’s Ranch in 1886, and soon the ranch was one of the most prosperous in the county [White Pine County]. Lyons had been the co-discoverer of Taylor in 1885, and because of his interests there, he sold out to McGill in late 1886. (4)
John Cowger established Cowger’s Ranch in 1872 and soon had extensive grain fields. By 1880 he had become the sole owner of the area’s water rights. An unsubstantiated rumor has it that Jesse James and his gang ate there while escaping from a sheriff’s posse. (4)
In 1886, William Neil McGill acquired full control of the ranch, and along with former Nevada governor Jewett Adams began one of the largest livestock operations in the state. Their strong partnership continued into the 20th century, until Adams died in June 1920, followed by McGill in April 1923, after which their empire fell. (5)
On the death certificate of William McGill of March of 1923, it states he was the manager of Adams & McGill Co., and the nature of the industry is listing as raising of silver stocks. He is found in the Who’s Who of the Pacific Coast, 1913, and it states he was Pres. of Campton Commercial Co., Ely Packing Co.; member of firm, Adam & McGill; Dir. First Nat’l Bank of Ely, Natl. Copper Bank of Salt Lake.
William G. Lyons and William Neil “Billy” McGill may have known each other in Ohio, as well as their business dealings in Nevada. Both the families lived in Miami County, Ohio and both had family connections to Hamilton County, Ohio and further back to New Jersey.
Whereas William Neil “Billy” McGill is listed in the Who’s Who and written up in newspapers for perseverance and its importance as a “must” to survive, and his many accomplishments, William G. Lyons, who was also quite successful in his financial ventures, was remembered for his kindness, generosity, and friendships.
- Mineral City, Robinson Mining District, White Pine Co., Nevada, USA at Mindat.org which is run by the not-for-profit Hudson Institute of Mineralogy.
- Lane City, Nevada. Greatbasinheritage.org via Internet Archive.
- Lane City/Mineral City, Nevada. wikipedia.org.
- McGill (Smelter) (Axhandle Springs). nevadadventures.com.
- McGill, White Pine County nvexpeditions.com.
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