Lucius Lyon papers  1770-1934 (bulk 1833-1851)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Lucius Lyon papers (12 linear feet) contain the public correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Lyon received letters from southern Michigan governors and legislators, as well as postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians. Other contributors include residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana; easterners interested in land speculation, settlement, and Michigan politics; and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.

The Correspondence series comprises the bulk of the Lyon papers. Topics discussed are Michigan statehood, Wisconsin statehood, Indian relations, and proposals and requests to the United States government for investments and improvements for harbors, lighthouses, safety, and protection on the Great Lakes. As well as letters from government officials, Lyon received letters from citizens of virtually every county in Michigan. Though the bulk of the letters are official in nature, the collection also contains personal letters to and from Addison, Anna, Asa, Daniel, Edward, Enos, Ira, Lucretia, Mary, Orson, Sarah Atwater, Truman H., and Worthington S. Lyon. Notably, Lucretia Lyon wrote 111 letters to her brother Lucius between 1827 and 1850.

As a Michigan official and surveyor, Lyon dealt constantly with matters concerning Native Americans, and their interactions with settlers and the United States government. Much of this material concerns treaties (such as the 1833 Treaty of Chicago and the 1837 Treaty of St. Peters), and claims made by and against Indians. Tribes involved include the Black Hawk, Choctaw, Fox, Oneida, Potawatomie, Sac (Sauk), Sioux, Saganaw, and Winnebago Indians. Also discussed is the Shawnee Prophet (September 2, 1834), and payments to white doctors who vaccinated the Indians against smallpox (March 8, May, 30, and June 12, 1834).

Of note is a manuscript account, in the hand of Lyon, of Jonathan Kearsley's military service during the War of 1812. Kearsley described his job removing dead bodies from the battlegrounds, and recounted the death of Major Ludowick Morgan near Lake Erie.

The Chippewa Claims series contains the 189 numbered claims and various un-numbered claims submitted by the Ojibwa Indians who ceded a large plot of land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin to the United States in the Treaty of St. Peters (Treaty with the Chippewa or the White Pine Treaty) on July 29, 1837. Also present are powers of attorney for "half-breed" members of the Chippewa Nation (many of whom were women), lists of the names of those who made claims, and other related documentation.

The Notebooks and Account books series contains the following nine volumes:

  • Lucius Lyon memo book, 1830-1843
  • Lucius Lyon notebook, 1838
  • Lucius Lyon memo book, 1842-1843
  • Oraculum (manuscript fortunetelling book)
  • Berrien County, Michigan, notebook
  • "Diagram of Salt Wells Sunk at the Rapids of Grand River, Michigan"
  • Lucretia Lyon receipt book
  • Account notebook, April 1850-February 1851
  • Eliza Smith account book, 1835-1849

The Business Papers series contains documents related to Lyon's business interests spanning 1820 through his death in 1851, along with papers relating to his family's finances after his death.

The Legal Papers series is made up of four subseries. The Legal Agreements subseries contains Lyon's legal papers. The James H. Campbell Legal Correspondence subseries consists of letters relating to Campbell, a lawyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his dealings around the state (1874-1934). The Petitions and Wills subseries and the Indentures and Deeds subseries are made up of legal documents involving Lyon or officiated by him. These are largely from Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The Accounts series contains Lyon's personal and professional financial records, including receipts, bills, invoices, and account lists (1820s-1840s).

The Miscellaneous series contains various items, including signed bills from the United States House of Representatives, documents from Lyon's service as a Michigan congressmanand University of Michigan regent, and newspaper clippings from the Democratic Free Press.

Other items include:

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a List of Contributors for the Lucius Lyon papers . For more information on contributors see the Clements Library card catalog.

Show all series level scope and content notes