Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Were You Lyon Then, Or Are You Lyon Now?

I’ve moved from my 6x greats to 7x, but I almost missed one 6x great-grandmother because the last name is the same as a 7x time great-grandmother (although from different lines).  I’m going to slip back to the six level for this post.

I found little information about my 6x great-grandmother, Joanna Lyon, other than that she was born to Benjamin Lyon and Bethia Condit in Lyons Farms, NJ, probably around 1691.  Most of the biographical sources actually were more about her husband, Joseph Prudden, than about her.   She was married before 1720 when her married name appears in her father’s will.  Her father gave her land and 15 pounds.  She died sometime before her husband’s death in 1776 (in 1761 according to the Lyon(s) Families Association), inferred from the fact that she was not mentioned in her husband's will.

Benjamin was born about 1668 in Elizabethtown or Newark, NJ to Henry Lyon and Elizabeth Bateman.  He was an influential citizen--a surveyor of Elizabethtown, a member of the Assembly, a Justice of the Peace--all over a ten year period.  Based on his will, he also owned a significant amount of land.

According to published genealogies, Henry Lyon was born in 1628 in Perthshire, Scotland, but I’m not confident that the date and location have actually been documented. Henry does appear in the records of the First Church of Milford, CT in 1649 when he became a member.  He later traveled to Fairfield where his brother, Richard, lived and there married Elizabeth Bateman in 1652.  He was dismissed to the Fairfield Church in 1654.  From there, Henry and his family moved to New Jersey.  He was Newark NJ’s first Treasurer and first innkeeper.  Then on to Elizabethtown, where in 1675 he was a General Assembly member, later a judge, Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner, among other public positions.  He owned land in Newark and Elizabeth, and between the two an area known as Lyons Farms.  He died in 1703.

It is now known the three volumes of the Lyon Memorial have errors, not surprising because family tradition and assumption is the basis for much of the early years.  The Lyon(s) Families Association has sponsored DNA analysis, so I know efforts are being made to evaluate Lyon lineage.  At one time it was thought Henry was a brother to another of my Lyon ancestors, Thomas, but DNA results show that is not true.  So many town records have been lost as a result of war, fire, and other disasters, I’m not not sure it will ever be possible to know the truth with any sense of reliability.

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