McLean County, Illinois
JOHN USSELTON LYONS, who became a resident of the Prairie State when a child four years of age, is now pleasantly located in Martin Township on a fine farm of 160 acres. Here he has a tasteful and substantial residence and all the accessories of a first-class country estate. He has proven himself a thorough and progressive farmer and stock-raiser, and has brought his homestead to its present position by the exercise of cultivated tastes and ample means. In the meantime he has also distinguished himself as an honest man and a good citizen, and for many years has been prominent in the affairs of his township and county. He has been the firm friend of religion, education and morality, and has contributed generously of his time and means to whatever enterprise was set on foot for the advancement of the interests of this section.
John U. Lyons was born near Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 22, 1830, and is the son of William and Catharine (Eddings) Lyons. The father of our subject, who was a native of Virginia, removed to the Blue Grass regions when a young man, where he afterward married. After a few years he removed with his family to Indiana, and thence to Edgar County, Ill., where the mother died. He afterward returned to Indiana and died in Switzerland County, in 1860. A short time before the death of his father, John U., our subject, came again to the Prairie State and purchased a farm of 160 acres, but the following year rented his land, taking possession of his farm in 1860. This latter was formerly owned by Dr. Martin. Mr. Lyons, on the 8th of September, 1853, took to himself a wife and helpmeet in the person of Miss Mary J., daughter of Thomas R. and Rhoda (Smith) Wiley. Mrs. Lyons was born in Switzerland County, Ind., Oct. 24, 1837. Her father was a native of Virginia, and her mother of Kentucky. The wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Lyons took place in Switzerland County, Ind., and they settled on a farm near the Ohio River, opposite Warsaw, Ky., where they remained until 1860, then removed to McLean County, Ill.
When Mr. L. purchased his farm in this county he could pay but $400 down and gave a mortgage on it for the balance, but by incessant industry and the exercise of a naturally good judgment and rigid economy, in due time he succeeded in clearing himself from debt. His first crop consisted mainly of onions, he having brought a large quantity of "sets" from Indiana, from which he raised 200 bushels and which repaid him handsomely for his labors. As time progressed he branched out into the various products of the farm, and in his grain raising and other farm operations has uniformly met with success. He has been prominent in the affairs of his township and has served as Road Commissioner two terms. Before the war he was Democratic politically, but during that period considered that he had reason to change his views and cast his Presidential vote first for Lincoln and then for Grant. He was a strong Union man during the war, and contributed generously of his means in aid of its preservation.
The record of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Lyons is as follows: Thomas R. was born Sept. 17, 1854; Rhoda C., March 16, 1856, and is living at home with her parents; John D. was born March 30, 1858; William A., March 14, 1860; Lytle R. W., now deceased, was born Nov. 15, 1862; Ulysses S. G. was born Aug. 11, 1864; Sarah C., now the wife of L. W. Baldwin, of Colfax, was born Aug. 31, 1866; Mary E. was born March 26, 1869, and is living at home with her parents; Emma J. was born Feb. 14, 1871; Hannah M., Jan. 1, 1873, and E. S., April 22, 1876.
Mrs. Lyons is prominently connected with the Methodist Church, of which she was elected a Steward in 1885, and both she and our subject have contributed cheerfully and liberally to the support of the Gospel in this vicinity. John U. Lyons is a forcible illustration of the self-made man, having by the death of both parents been thrown upon the world at the tender age of eleven years. He possessed more than ordinary intelligence, however, and as soon as old enough to reflect decided to obtain a good education. This he accomplished by working days and studying nights, and possesses a fund of practical knowledge which has proved an invaluable aid to his business transactions and has enabled him to secure and maintain a good position as a member of the community. He is universally respected wherever known, and now in the enjoyment of a comfortable home is receiving the reward of his early toil and sacrifices.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 456. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.
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