Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Michael Lyon

One of my favorite tenants of the Owen Block was the Michael Lyon family. About 15-20 years ago Ruth Lyon, wife of Michael,  had been the focus of a research project involving an autograph book belonging to Capt. John Strother Chapman during the Civil War. Through that project I learned that Ruth David, daughter of William and Barilla David of Uniontown, Kentucky, had married Michael Lyon in 1863. They later moved to Evansville and lived on Chestnut Street  in what I called the Blue Building, but is  now known as the Owen Block.

Michael Lyon was born in New York City in 1833 and moved to Ohio where he studied law before moving to Evansville about 1856. Michael Lyon was a man of many talents. Shortly after his marriage, he opened a private bank, known as "the Continental Bank under the firm name of M. Lyon & Co., Mrs. Lyon being the company."[1] The latter part of 1865 he went to New York, where he engaged in gold speculation. Unfortunately, this did not work out and he lost over $100,000.[2]

Lyon returned to Evansville, where he went into the clothing business, becoming the first ready- made clothier in the city. It was in the clothing and tailoring business that he achieved his greatest financial success.  At the time of his death,  M. Lyon, Clothier was located at 228-230 Main Street.

Before moving to the Owen Block, the Lyon family lived at the St. George Hotel, where the now-closed McCurdy Hotel is located. The family moved into 123 Chestnut Street (Owen Block) by 1891, where they were living when Michael Lyon died of "congestion of the brain"[3] 24 May 1893. The funeral took place at the home on Chestnut Street  with the Rev. Charles Morris of the nearby St. Paul's Episcopal Church officiating.  Survivors of Michael Lyon included his widow, Ruth, and two sons, William and Robert, the youngest  son, Webb, having drowned in 1882 while visiting relatives in Union County, Kentucky.

Ruth Lyon continued to live at the Owen Block another year after her husband's death and then moved to 816 Upper 1st Street. [4] A few months later, Ruth Lyon entered into a partnership with Charles A. Habbe to conduct a clothing business under the name of M. Lyon Clothing Store.[5] The partnership was to remain in effect  until the 1st day of August 1903, but a Notice of Dissolution, effective 12 June 1900, appeared in the local newspaper.[6]

For the rest of her life, Ruth Lyon divided her time between Citronelle, Mobile County, Alabama and Evansville. In 1911, her  son. Robert, died in Citronelle and, on 9 February 1921, Ruth Lyon passed away in Evansville from pneumonia and old age. She had been born in 1840 in Union County, Kentucky. Her only survivors were a son, Will Lyon, and a younger sister.  Will Lyon would pass away just two years later.

A beautiful monument  in Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville marks the burial places of the entire Lyon family. Only the names of Michael and Webb Lyon are engraved on the monument, but cemetery records show that Ruth and her sons, Robert and Will, are also buried there.

Michael Lyon Family Monument
Oak Hill Cemetery
Evansville, Indiana

[1] "A Brief Illness," Evansville Journal, 25 May 1893, p. 2.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4]  1894 Evansville City Directory,  p. 401
[5] "Certificate of Limited Partnership," Evansville Courier, 26 August 1893, p. 5.
[6] "Notice of Dissolution," Evansville Courier, 13 June 1900, p. 6

Published 28 March 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind,

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