Senator and government surveyor Lucius Lyon (1800-1851) was born in Shelburne, Vermont. He trained as a civil engineer, and in 1821 moved to Bronson, Michigan, to survey public lands in what is now Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The 1833 Territorial Democratic Convention elected Lyon its non-voting representative in the United States Congress, and he served in the state constitutional convention in 1835. Michigan elected him their first United States senator, an office he held from 1837 to 1839. During that time Lyon also served on the board of regents at the University of Michigan. He helped settle the border dispute between Ohio and Michigan over Toledo, and orchestrated the admission of the upper peninsula to the state. Instead of seeking reelection in 1839, Lyon moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and accepted an appointment as Indian commissioner at La Pointe, Wisconsin. Lyon served one term as a Democrat in the Twenty-eighth Congress (1843-1845), and President Polk appointed him surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, a position he held from 1845 to 1850.
During his career, Lyon purchased extensive tracts of land in Michigan and Wisconsin. In his many roles, he advocated for a variety of internal improvements: the Detroit water works; the Galena, Illinois, lead mines; the development of St. Joseph Harbor; and the promotion of building canals and railroads in Michigan. He helped establish sinking salt wells near Grand Rapids, pioneered raising sugar beets on one of his farms, and supported the development of Michigan's banking and logging industries. His interests included new agricultural methods, educational movements, Swedenborgianism, temperance, and Indian affairs. Lyon never married; he died in Detroit in 1851.