J. Henry Welsh
Posted by Janet on Sat, 17 Feb 2001
Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., WI, by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge, pg. 425
James A. Lyons, a well known, farmer, residing in the village of Loyal, was born in Towanda Township, Erie County, state of New York, Oct. 11, 1851, his parents being John Dewitt and Lucy Ann (Portelow) Lyons. The father was a native of New England, where he was employed in lumber mills, but in 1869 he and his family left the East for Wisconsin. After stopping three weeks in Madison, they set out with a team of horses for Clark County, the party consisting of the father and mother, an uncle, named George Dutton, with his wife, Minerva, and daughter, Laura, later the wife of Al Brown, and a sister of Al Lyons, named Alida.
After arriving at Neillsville John D. Lyons secured eighty acres in section 6, Grant Township, all of which was wild land. A log cabin was built in December, lumber for the floor and roofing being procured at Mason's mill. For two or three years Mr. Lyons had nothing but his hands with which to work, except a few small tools, but he finally bought a team of horses, and after that things progressed more rapidly. The sister became one of the early school teachers, following that vocation in the schoolhouse west of where the present brick schoolhouse now stands, the building being then made of logs. After being three years on this farm the father traded some lumber for a cow, which was the first one they owned, and its acquisition was source of joy and pride to the family.
For some time Mr. Lyons had to carry supplies from Neillsville on his back. In time he built a frame house and otherwise improved his property, the circumstances of the family gradually becoming more comfortable. He was not, however, spared to enjoy his prosperity until old age, as death called him at the age of 62, about 1889.
James A. Lyons acquired his early schooling in New York state. After coming to Clark County he spent the first winter lumbering in the woods, and hauled camp supplies through what are now the main thoroughfares of Loyal and Greenwood villages. In that work he was engaged for some eight or ten winters, after which he took over the old homestead in Grant Township. For some time he worked out raking and mowing hay by hand, for the farmers, and continued improving the homestead when not thus engaged in other occupation, thus for two years, he drove the stage between Neillsville and Humbird, often having Judge O'Neill as a passenger. He also carried the mail and express, sometimes having thousands of dollars in his care. Among his industrial activities he helped to turnpike many roads in Clark county, and to widen them, sometimes making use of oxen which he found running wild, and whose owners as they passed by failed to recognize them.
In April, 1879, Mr. Lyons married Nellie Breed, and in the same spring, he rented the county farm for one year, but while living on it was burned out and lost everything, he had but a pair of overalls and a coat. After this misfortune he worked one year for James Hewitt in order to earn money to make a new start, subsequently going back to the old homestead. Mr. Lyons, first wife, Mrs. Nellie Lyons, died on the old home place, leaving one child, Beulah. The latter is now the wife of L. F. Schnell of Wyoming, and has four children-Beth, Corlie, Lester and Harland. For his second wife Mr. Lyons married Idella J. Shafer, of Sheboygan County, Wis., in 1895, but has no children by this marriage. He resided on the old homestead until about 1905, at which time he sold the property and moved to a location east of Loyal, where he bought a farm of thirty-seven acres. This he operated until two years ago, at, which time he and his family came to Loyal, where they had a small farm of ten acres. For twenty-two years he has been a member of the order of Woodmen, and of the Methodist Church at Neillsville, formerly serving as a member of the board of trustees. For awhile he served as a member of the school board of York and Grant, joint district.
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