Lyons Obits and News

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Blrnd02.gif (70 bytes)    JOHN R. LYONS 100 YEARS OLD MONDAY, "The Searchlight Messenger"  Marissa, Ill. (Sept. 18, 1914)

Many Relatives and Friends Gathered at the Home Monday

Afternoon and Assisted in the Celebration

Aged Resident is in Excellent State of Health

Through the kindness of Providence, John R. Lyons enjoyed the rare distinction Monday of celebrating his one-hundredth birthday.

This honor that comes to but one man in ten thousand, was bestowed upon the venerable Marissa citizen in a manner fitting the occasion, on the lawn of his palatial home.

The Marissa Regimental Band, with a few appropriate selections, opened the impressive program. Wm. M.K. Lyons, the only surviving son of the honored patriarch, who was in charge of the exercises, read a number of congratulatory communications, representative of a collection of a hundred of more from relatives and friends and former neighbors of Mr. Lyons, now scattered to the corners of the earth, who were unable to greet him in person of the memorable occasion.

Rev. Wm. Patterson, pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, eulogized Mr. Lyons as a staunch and consistent supporter of His work and complimented him most highly upon the wisdom and generosity, not paraded, but evident in his many philanthropic enterprises. He expressed his preference toward lauding the living rather than the dead, and thereby won the approval and applause of the audience.

Ex-Senator Hamilton's remarks, containing reminiscences of the political affiliations of Mr. Lyons, were of much historic interest. The crude manner of exercising man's prerogative when John R. Lyon's chin was fuzzy compared with present polling procedure, and the evident dependence upon common honesty of the two eras was not complimentary to the men of modern times. Mr. Lyons cast out his first Presidential vote in 1840, for William Henry Harrison, "The Henry of Tippiecanoe". His polling place was then Sparta, though he lived in Elkhorn Prairie, north of Marissa. He was a Whig until that party passed into history. He then supported the Grand Old Party until John P. St. John was the Prohibition candidate, and has since voted the Prohibition ticket. It is hoped that he may be able and inclined to return to the Republican ranks in 1916.

Rev. W.J. Smiley of Sparta, an authority in the denomination with which Mr. Lyons has been so long and honorably connected, gave a glowing account of the ecclesiastical career of the estimable Christian character.

The exercises were closed with a touch of merriment evoked by the witty remarks of Dr. James Lyons Chestnut of Coulterville. He praised the Irish - the sturdy stock from whence came this pioneer. He also expressed the public's appreciation of the tender, loving attention that Miss Maggie Lyons has bestowed upon her aged uncle continuously during his years of borrowed time, enabling him to reach the longed-for century mark.

A social hour, with refreshments followed, and the three hundred assembled admirers congratulated the host, who greeted them in his cheery manner, expressing his great pleasure in the honor bestowed him.

Although it is familiar to many, a brief sketch of this long and useful career is in order at this time:

John R. Lyons was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, Sept. 14, 1814, of County Antrim Irish parents, who had emigrated, seeking religious liberty but a few years before his birth. In a little country Church yard, back on the Beloved Isle, there stand the gravestones of several ancestors of Mr. Lyons, who lived useful lives, some nearing, some passing the Centenary time. When he as a lad of nineteen, his parents came to Illinois, and settled in the southern border of Elkhorn Prairie. His young manhood was spent there, and experiences common to the settlers of that period were his. The state was but fifteen years old then. Many interesting narratives might be related concerning his environment at that period. Land here, at that time, sold for $1.25 per acre. Move the decimal to the right of the 25 to approximate the present valuation.

Until comparatively recent years, her farmed near this city and succeeded. Among the other developments of the century he has survived, Marissa has grown up under his observation. Within it's peaceful confines, enjoying to the fullest extent that blessed religious freedom his forefathers sought, he has founded a home wherein he enjoys the years of well-earned ease that Providence has allotted him.

Miss Mary A. McKee, the wife of John R. Lyons, was a native of Kentucky, but a resident of Randolph county, near Sparta, at the time of their marriage.

Six children were born to them. Two sons died in infancy and the oldest son died in the services of his country during the Civil War. The other son is the well known druggist and businessman of Marissa, who has a record of over forty years continuous business here.

The two daughters grew to womanhood in the home, and were happily married early in life. both died before reaching a mature age. Each left a family consisting of a husband and three children.

The grandchildren, nine in number, have all reached the years of maturity, and are filling positions of responsibility in their different useful spheres. All hold their illustrious grandfather in high esteem, and he takes great pleasure in meeting all his grandchildren from time to time in a social way.


Blrnd02.gif (70 bytes)    Centenarian of St. Clair County Dies, "The Sparta Plaindealer" (May 28, 1915)

John R. Lyons, Who Celebrated His Century Birthday Sept. 14, Last,

Passed Away Last Friday Evening


John R. Lyons, whose one hundredth birthday The Plaindealer publishers helped to celebrate at his home in Marissa September 14, 1914, over 8 months ago, died at his home Friday evening, May 21, 1915. The Plaindealer gave an extended biography of it's fifty years subscriber and friend on this occasion. For many years of his life he was acquainted with most of the Sparta people, and did trading here. He was brother of Mrs. McGuire, mother of President E.B. McGuire of the First National Bank.

The funeral was held Monday afternoon from the R.P. Church, of which he had been a leading member for 60 years. The service was in charge of his pastor, Rev. Wm. Patterson, who preached the sermon, and was assisted by Rev. W.J. Smiley, of Sparta, a friend for fifty years, Rev. Douglas of the U.P. Church, and Rev. Hearn, of the M.E. Church.

Accompanied by a photograph of himself and his only surviving child, W.M.K. Lyons, and his grandson and great-grandson, in a group, he last April provided Lasalle's Weekly with the following sketch of his life written by himself, and the reader will find it very interesting and highly instructive.

"I will attempt to give a brief sketch of my career and narrate some of the many changes that have taken place during my life, which in some ways seems to be brief, even now. I was born in Winnsboro, S.C. on Sept. 14, 1814, of Scotch Irish parents, who emigrated to America in 1805. Not finding conditions in South Carolina congenial, our family moved to Illinois in 1833. Illinois at that time was only 15 years old and very little of the land had been taken up by settlers. I settled in the southern part of St. Clair county, in Marissa township and have lived there continuously in this locality for 81 years. My first dwelling was of logs and had no windows. As there were no cooking stoves then, the open fireplace was used for cooking and heating. St. Louis, Mo., at that time was only a very small river town, and Chicago had very recently found a place on the map.

When I was a boy no steamboat had ever been seen on the Mississippi or any of the Western rivers. No steamship had ever crossed the ocean. The first railroad had not been built, and there was no faster means of transportation than the old stage coach. The lazy canal boat was the luxurious mode of travel in that day. The telegraph was an unheard of thing, and postage stamps and envelopes had not come into use nor were matches, lead pencils, nor steel pens in existence. I did not own or ride in a buggy until middle life.

The one hundred years of my life certainly comprises the greatest century of progress the world has ever seen. The changes in farm life during the past seventy-five years have been marvelous. Our first wheat crops were harvested by hand, men doing the cutting with scythe and cradle. The first power harvesting machine was introduced during the 1850 period and was a very crude affair. A few years later the McCormick reaper made it's appearance, followed later by the McCormick self raking machine. In the 1870 period a binder attachment was perfected and the wheat harvesting business was in a large measure revolutionized. Our first wheat crops were threshed by horses treading out same. Later horse power separators were introduced, which could turn out two or three hundred bushels a day, while now with a progressive steam threshing outfit one thousand bushels is often threshed in half a day.

In January, 1843, I was married to Miss Mary McKee, of Randolph county, who proved to be a most valuable helpmate in every phase of pioneer life. Six children were born, all of whom have since died except one son, William McKee Lyons, a prominent businessman of Marissa, Ill. The oldest son gave his life for his country in 1863, during the war between the States.

I have always lived the simple life, always very regular in my habits - ate three square meals a day, drank no intoxicating liquor, and never worked hard enough to break down my constitution. I was never a robust man, and many of my friends of early days predicted that I would not live to be half a hundred years old. They have all long passed away. I believe the Lord has a purpose in prolonging my life."

Miss Maggie E. Lyons became a member of deceased's household twenty years ago, and by her thoughtful and kind attentions succeeded in assisting greatly in making the declining years of his life a time of happiness and contentment.

Blrnd02.gif (70 bytes)     William McKee Lyons Prominent Citizen of Marissa Died, "The Marissa Monitor" (August 17, 1934)

Former Druggist Who Was for 60 Years Active in Business

Circles of This Community Buried Here Wednesday

William McKee Lyons, age 87, one of the oldest and most prominent retired citizens of Marissa, passed away at the home of his son, Ralph Lyons, on Monday, August 13, 1934 shortly after 11 o'clock.

Mr. Lyons who was injured in a fall on the pavement several weeks ago was moved to the home of his son when his wife suffered a fall in their home on August 4th. Grieved over the condition of his wife who is a patient in the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville, Mr. Lyons developed pneumonia last week which resulted in his death.

Mr. and Mrs. Lyons would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary on Aug. 19 of this year.

They were among the oldest residents of this city and Mr. Lyons has figured prominently in the affairs and upbuilding of the community.

He was at one time Mayor of the city and also served many years on the Town Board. He was a member of the Board of Education at the time the first grade school was constructed in Marissa. He had served as President of the Marissa Building and Loan Association and was director at the time of this death.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of the First National Bank. Mr. Lyons was actively engaged in the drug business in this city for over 45 years and was one of the oldest druggist in St. Clair county. He started in business in 1873 and sold his interest to Jensen and Hays in 1918.

Mr. Lyons was an active worker in the U.P. Church in which he was an Elder. He took an unusual interest in community affairs lending his liberal support and aid in the program of this city.

Mr. Lyons was born on Feb. 28, 1847, in Marissa, a son of the late John R. and Mary (McKee) Lyons. His father who was born in Kentucky lived to the age of 101 and died in 1915. His mother was born in South Carolina.

He married Sarah J. Patton of Sparta on Aug. 19, 1875. He is survived by his widow, one son, James Ralph Lyons and one daughter, Mae, wife of J.R. McMurdo of East St. Louis, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services were held from the home on Wednesday at 2 o'clock. Interment was made in the Marissa cemetery.

Mrs. Lyons, who is slowly recovering from a broken hip in St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville, was told of his death on Tuesday.

Blrnd02.gif (70 bytes)    Mrs. Sarah Lyons, Prominent Marissa Lady Died Sunday, "The Marissa Messenger" (March 11, 1938)

Mrs. Lyons Was an Active Member in the U.P. Church for 62 Years;

Would Have Been 91 in July

One of Marissa's oldest citizens, Mrs. Sarah Jane Lyons died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J.R. McMurdo in East St. Louis on Sunday, March 6th at the age of 90 years, 8 months.

Mrs. Lyons had been in failing health the past few months, but up until her last illness was active and alert for her 90 years.

Mrs. Lyons was the widow of the late W.M.K. Lyons who died three years ago. He was a prominent druggist and businessman here for more than sixty years.

Mrs. Sarah Jane Lyons was born near Sparta, Ill., July 6, 1847. She was the eldest and last surviving member of the family of the late Joseph and Margaret (Kingston) Patton.

On Aug. 19, 1875 she was married to William McKee Lyons of Marissa, who preceded her in death three years ago after 59 years of married life. Two sons also preceded her, one son, James Birney, dying in infancy and Willard McKee, who died at the age of 25.

On coming to Marissa to make her home she transferred her membership in the Sparta United Presbyterian Church to the Marissa congregation where she has remained a member for more than 62 years.

During her active years she gave much of her time to the various interests of the Church and was especially interested in the work of the Sabbath School.

Surviving her are one son, J.Ralph Lyons, and one daughter, May Lyons McMurdo, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday March 8 at 2 o'clock from the United Presbyterian Church in Marissa with Rev. T.R. Aikin pastor at Kell, Illinois, former pastor of the church, officiating. Interment in Marissa Cemetery, Finger and Son Funeral Directors of Marissa were in charge of the service.

Blrnd02.gif (70 bytes)    John Ralph Lyons Prominent in Business Here Dies, "The Marissa Messenger" (Jan. 11, 1946)

Member of Pioneer Family Succumbs Thursday at Missouri Baptist Hospital

After Extended Illness; Funeral Saturday Afternoon

John Ralph Lyons, 67, member of a pioneer family and prominent in business and church life of Marissa died at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., following an extended illness.

He had been in failing health for the past three months, but his condition grew serious last week.

Mr. Lyons, an electrical appliance dealer was also a director in the First National Bank of this city and a leader in the United Presbyterian Church of which he was a life-long member. He was an active worker in his church where he was an elder and assistant Sunday School superintendent and was treasurer of the Illinois Synod of the United Presbyterian Church for the past eight years.

During his life he had acted as superintendent and held most offices in the church, where he was a member of the Session for 25 years and during which time he had never missed a communion service. He was responsible for the promotion of Sunday school work at White Oak and in increasing the membership. He was also active in civic affairs and had served several times as a member of the grade school board of education.

Mr. Lyons, born and raised here, had lived all his life in Marissa with the exception of a short time he was employed in St. Louis. He was a graduate of the Marissa Academy in 1887 and Monmouth College and Dixon Business College. In 1909 he founded the Marissa Creamery Company, which he operated until 1932 when he entered the electrical appliance business.

Ralph Lyons was born March 19, 1878 in Marissa, the son of the late William McKee Lyons and Sarah Jane Patton Lyons. His grandparents, the late Mr. and Mrs. John R. Lyons were pioneer residents of this city. He married Martha Madella Frazer in Sparta, June 28, 1905.

Surviving besides his wife are two children, Mrs. Mary May Bollmeier of this city and William Harold Lyons of Urbana; one sister, Mrs. J.R. McMurdo of East St. Louis and three grandchildren, Don Howard Bollmeier and James Ralph and William David Lyons. He was preceded in death by one brother who died in infancy, a brother Willard, and his parents.

Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the United Presbyterian Church with Rev. C.C. McNary officiating. The body is at the Finger and Son Funeral Home. Burial will be made in the Marissa Cemetery.

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