Title: Lucius Lyon papers Creator: Thayer, George W. Inclusive dates: 1770-1934 Bulk dates: 1833-1851 Extent: 12 linear feet Abstract:
The Lucius Lyon papers contain the public correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Letter writers include Michigan governors, legislators, postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians, as well as residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana, and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
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.
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, government appointments, and local politics. Also included are numerous proposals and requests to the United States government for investments and improvements for harbors, lighthouses, roads and mail routes, 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. Several of these letters relate to pension or bounty lands owed to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans and their families (e.g. January 13, 1834; December 8, 1834; January 24, 1835; March 22, 1838; January 3, 1844; November 30, 1844). Letters written during and following the boundary dispute over Toledo provide an on-the-ground view of how residents of the region experienced the conflict and its subsequent effects. A letter written April 9, 1835, accuses the Toledo Postmaster of designating his office as being in Ohio, which was seen as "having taken an improper part in the controversy now pending, between that State & Michigan Territory, which has created much excitement & dissatisfaction among the people." 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 regularly 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). Several letters relate to the Second Seminole War and reference Thomas Jesup, Winfield Scott, and Sam Jones (July 26, 1836; February 8, 1838; March 25, 1838; and April 23, 1838).
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:
November 20, 1834: A broadside public letter from Stevens T. Mason to the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan, printed by the Democratic Free Press as an "Extra MESSAGE of the Acting Governor."
February 5, 1835: Document nominating Edward Clark, Register of Probate in Washtenaw County, Signed by Stevens T. Mason (Acting Governor of Michigan Territory) and by Clark on verso.