Matthew Lyon1,2,3

ID# 1470, (1749 - 1822)

Key Events:

Birth: 14 Jul 1749, Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland4,5,6
Marriage: Mary Hosford, 23 Jun 17737
Marriage: Beulah Chittenden, Aug 1784, Vermont8,9,10
Death: 1 Aug 1822, Spadra Bluff, Arkansas11,12,13
Burial: Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky14,15,16

Spouse: Mary Hosford (27 Oct 1751 - 29 Apr 1784)
     Children:

  • Pamelia Lyon59
  • James Lyon60 ( - abt 1824)
  • Ann Lyon61,62 (20 Jan 1774 - )
  • Lorraine Lyon63 (abt 1782 - Aug 1800)

Spouse:Beulah Chittenden (15 May 1764 - 6 Feb 1824)
     Children:

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     
Matthew Lyon
from Matthew Lyon: The Hampden of Congress17
Matthew Lyon was probably born on 14 Jul 1749 near Dublin, County Wicklow, Ireland, although many show the year as 1750, based on a 1900 biography.4,5,6 Matthew immigrated about 1765 to America as an indentured servant when he was about fifteen years old. He was sold at auction in New York City to pay the captain of the ship for his passage from Ireland. While details are unclear, it appears he worked for two different masters in or near Litchfield Co., Connecticut before earning his freedom.18,19,20
     Ethan and Ira Allen, whose uncle was the first husband of Matthew Lyon's mother-in-law, were among the speculators buying land in the "Hampshire Grants" – the area today known as Vermont. They extolled the opportunity to buy land at bargin prices in advertisements in Connecticut newspapers, and many responded. Apparently he decided to join them; in Feb 1773 he drew lots and purchased a parcel in the town of Wallingford, in what would become Rutland Co., Vermont.21
     Matthew married first Mary Hosford, daughter of Samuel Hosford and Mary Grant, on 23 Jun 1773.7 Matthew and Mary moved to Wallingford, probably late in 1773.22,23
     Matthew was commissioned a second lieutenant in the regiment known as the Green Mountain Boys in July 1776. There he served with Ethan Allen who moved to the Green Mountains, which were claimed by both New York and New Hampshire. They captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British during the first offensive battle of the American Revolution and is said to have recovered a million dollars worth of plunder. He then organized a company of militia, and served as adjutant in Colonel Warner’s regiment in Canada.24,25 He continued to fight for the Revolution and rose in rank from Private to Colonel. In 1777, he helped draft the constitution for a new independent state to be called Vermont.26
     Matthew moved to Arlington, Vermont, in 1777.1
     The newly formed state of Vermont continued the practice established by the colonial governors of New Hampshire of granting parcels of land to groups of "proprietors" to form towns. Matthew became a proprietor of seven towns, though it seems clear that in many cases his interest was speculation rather than establishing residence there. His first grant was for the town of Fair Haven, on 27 Oct 1779, by Gov. Thomas Chittenden. He was named as one of 76 "associates of Capt. Ebenezer Allen" who paid £6,930 for the grant. Proprietors were required to cultivate 10 acres of land and build a house at least 18 feet square, or have one family settled on each share, within four years after the "circumstances of the present war...will admit of a settlement with safety." As with the royal grants, pine timber suitable for mast and spars for the Navy were reserved to the state.27
     He bought a 1000-acre tract of land in Rutland County, Vermont in 1783 and founded a town, Fair Haven, on that land. He built a sawmill which was powered by the Castleton River, a brick kiln to make bricks to build the town, iron furnaces, a tannery, and the town inn. In 1784 he took his oldest son James to Philadelphia to study printing and bookmaking under Benjamin Franklin. Five years later he returned to Philadelphia, bought a printing press from Franklin, and brought his son home to Fair Haven. Lyon wanted to realize his boyhood dream to be a publisher, but he lacked any material on which to set print. He discovered a process for making paper from the bark of linden trees, and thus became heavily involved in the print trade. He published the Farmers’ Library, afterward the Fair Haven Gazette, and a biography of Benjamin Franklin.28,29
     His wife died on 29 Apr 1784.30,31
     Matthew married second Beulah Chittenden, daughter of Gov. Thomas Chittenden and Elizabeth Meigs, in Aug 1784 in Vermont.8,9,10
     Vermont was admitted to the Union in 1791, and Lyon served as Delegate in the Vermont General Assembly from its founding until 1796, when he was elected to Congress. While in the Assembly, he is credited with founding the University of Vermont in 1791.32,33
     Matthew Lyon was elected to Congress in 1796, where he served two terms while John Adams was President. Lyon disliked Adams' and the other Federalists' leanings toward a strong centralized government and believed it to be an attempt to stifle the tone of democracy written into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Sparks often flew between Adams and Lyon. Adams desired to be called, "His Excellency the President," and arranged pomp and ceremony in the chambers of Congress much like the political tradition of Great Britain. Lyon flatly refused the ceremony and Adams and his supporters turned to the press to defame Lyon. An article in the Porcupine Gazette attacked Lyon for his views and also for his Irish brogue. Debate and tension increased in the House of Congress until the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to provide a mechanism to officially quiet Lyon. Lyon was found guilty of the Acts without a trial and after pleading "not guilty."34,35
     On 3 Oct 1798 Matthew was indicted on charges of
being a malicious and seditious person, and of a depraved mind and wicked and diabolical disposition, and deceitfully, wickedly, and maliciously contriving to defame the Government of the United States, and with intent and design to defame the said Government of the United States, and John Adams, the President of the United States, and to bring the said Government and President into contempt and disrepute; and with intent and design to excite against the said Government and President the hatred of the good people of the United States, and to stir up sedition in the United States, at Windsor, in said district of Vermont, on the 31st day of July last, did, with force and arms, wickedly, knowingly, and maliciously write, print, utter, and publish...a certain scandalous and seditious writing, or libel, in form of a letter...36
     He was elected to a second term as a Congressman while serving his prison sentence. The Green Mountain Boys raised the $1000 required to satisfy Lyon's fine, and after the prison term was satisfied, Lyon returned to Congress in Philadelphia.34,35 The Electoral College was unable to decide the 1800 Presidential contest, throwing the election into the House of Representatives. Much has been made of the fact that President John Adams lost his bid for a second term when Lyon cast the deciding vote for Thomas Jefferson after 36 ballots. While those facts are true, it was not Lyon who decided the election, and Adams was out of the running long before. The contest in the House was between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Lyon had voted for Jefferson throughout the balloting. But the other Congressman from Vermont, Lewis Morris, had voted for Burr, and with the tie the state's vote could not be counted. For reasons now unknown, Morris was absent for the 36th ballot, allowing Lyon's vote to prevail, and with Vermont's vote, Jefferson was elected. So it was actually Morris, by his absence, who decided the outcome.37,38
     Matthew was impressed with Andrew Jackson's glowing reports of opportunities in the Western Frontier. In the summer of 1799 after Congress adjourned, Lyon traveled south and west through Virginia to Nashville, where Jackson was waiting for him. Returning to Vermont, he sent his grown children and their families on to Kentucky that fall while he stayed in the east to serve in Congress. After completing his term and disposing of his property in Vermont, he led a group of about seventy other people, incuding his second wife Beulah and their young children, from Fair Haven to Eddyville. They traveled by wagon to western Pennsylvania, where they boarded flatbed boats and floated down the Ohio River to the Cumberland River to their new home, arriving 15 Jun 1801.39,40,41 For details, please see The Trek from Vermont to the Kentucky Wilderness.
     In Eddyville he built a sawmill, grist mill, a paper mill, and a tannery. He received government contracts to build boats and had one of the finest boat building yards in the Mississippi Valley.42
     He supposedly discovered how to use fluorspar in the flexing process for steel manufacturing. But no evidence has been found that he was part of the iron and steel industry in the area, leaving that claim very questionable.43,44,45
     Six months after settling in Eddyville, he was elected to the Kentucky Legislature and then in 1802 he was elected to represent Kentucky in Congress. He missed only one Congressional term while moving his family 800 miles. He was reelected three times and served eight years as a Kentucky Congressman. Lyon became the leader of the Jefferson party in Congress until he retired in 1811 due to his opposition to the War of 1812.42,46 On 4 Feb 1806 Matthew was granted 400 acres in Livingston Co., Kentucky, by the county court.47
     Matthew Lyon appeared on the 1810 Federal Census of Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, with a household consisting of one white male under age 10 (Giles), one between 16 and 26 (Mathew Jr.), one between 26 and 45 (perhaps Chittenden, though he was only 23), and one over 45 (Mathew); one female under 10 (Eliza Ann), and one between 10 and 16 (daughter Beulah); and ten slaves.48
     On 24 Aug 1818 Matthew applied for an indigent pension based on his Revolutionary War service, under the act of 18 Mar 1818. His affidavit of application was made before the Caldwell Co., Kentucky County Court. A penson of $20 per month was granted on 20 Apr 1819, including arrears back to the date of application amounting to $247.74.49 He filed the required affidavit about his financial condition in the Caldwell Co. Circuit Court on 28 Jun 1820. In it he stated he had not disposed of any property since the passage of the pension act in order to bring himself within the requirements of the act, nor did anyone owe him any debts. He said his only property was two shares in Eddyville Steam Mill Company, for which he had paid $10 each, and which the court stated were not worth more than $50. He said his occupation was a farmer, but he was unable to work (he was 71), and that he and his wife were living with their children.50
     In 1820 President Monroe, an old friend of Matthew, appointed him to be the United States factor (agent) to the Cherokee Nation in the Arkansas Territory. Matthew and Beulah moved to a two-story log home on the bluff overlooking the Arkansas River, at Sparda Creek, about 100 miles north of Little Rock.51,52,53
     Matthew ran for the office of Delegate to Congress from Arkansas Territory in the election held 6 Aug 1821. A number of accounts report that he was elected but died before taking office. However, the offical returns certified by the acting Governor reported that Matthew's opponent, James Woodson Bates, won by a count of 1,081 votes to 1,020. Matthew contested the election to the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that there were illegal returns from several counties and asking that the election be set aside. His petition was referred to the Committee of Elections, which reported on 19 Dec 1821 that the "Petitioner having produced no testimony whatever in support of the allegations..." it submitted a resolution that the committee be discharged from further consideration. The House adopted that resolution the same day.54,55
     Matthew died on 1 Aug 1822 in Spadra Bluff, Arkansas, at age 73.11,12,13 He was buried at Spadra Bluff, but in 1833 his sons disinterred his body and buried him in Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.14,15,16
     
Research Note, 30 Oct 2009:

Matthew's first wife Mary has been described as Ethan Allen's favorite niece. But it appears she was actually not a close relative to him, although the families apparently were close. Her mother's first husband was Ethan's uncle, brother of his father.56,57,58

Citations

  1. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822).
  2. [S1951] Westerfield, Kentucky Genealogy and Biography, vol. IV, pg 155, shows name as Mathew Lyon.
  3. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7127007, Matthew Lyon.
  4. [S2522] Matthew Lyon invalid pension file, S. 36,689, Revolutionary War Pension Files, affidavit of Mathew Lyon, 28 Jun 1820, shows age as 70 yrs, 11 mo., 16 days.
  5. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pg 7, shows date, as "probably July 14, 1749," country, and states that Matthew S. Lyon, Lyon's grandson, recalls county from seeing his grandfather's handwritten biography before it was lost. States date is based on Lyon's 28 Jun 1820 statement in support of his pension application. Notes that most biographies accept the date of 14 Jul 1750 from J. F. McLaughlin's 1900 biography of Lyon, which was based on a handwritten family record (citing pp 29-33) which that author speculated was entered by Lyon's widow after his death.
  6. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows date, with year as 1749, city, county, and country.
  7. [S2523] Starr, A History of Cornwall, Connecticut, pg 329, shows date.
  8. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, shows month, year, and state.
  9. [S4195] Biographical Encyclopeadia of Vermont, pg 77, shows him as her second husband.
  10. [S3166] Talsott, Chittenden Family, pg 35, shows married.
  11. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows date, town, and state.
  12. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7127007, Matthew Lyon, shows date, and state.
  13. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 32, shows date, and that he died shortly after his return to Sparda Bluff.
  14. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 32, shows buried in Sparda Bluff, then removed in 1833 by his sons and Eddyville friends.
  15. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows buried in Spardra Bluff, then removed to Eddyville Cemetery, Eddyville.
  16. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #7127007, Matthew Lyon, shows cemetery, town, county, as Lyon, and state.
  17. [S4622] McLaughlin, Matthew Lyon: The Hampden of Congress.
  18. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pp 7-11, shows year, as 1764, at age 15, and discusses various source with differing accounts of his indenture, it's length, and his masters.
  19. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pp 22-23, shows year, as 1765, and details of auction.
  20. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows year, as 1765, amd "landed as a redemptioner and worked on a farm in Woodbury, Conn."
  21. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pg 13, citing [Henry Hallock Hosford], Ye Hors[e]forde Book[e:Horsford-Hosford families in the United States of America (Cleveland, Ohio: The Tower press, 1936)], pg 43.
  22. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pg 13, shows he purchased land in Wallingford in Mar 1773, married Mary in June, moved to Wallingford, where he made a second purchase of land on 14 Jan 1774.
  23. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he moved to Wallingford, Vermont, then known as the New hampshire Grants.
  24. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pp 23-4.
  25. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows Lyon's commission with the Green Mountain Boys, and service with Warner.
  26. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 24.
  27. [S4248] Dewart, Charters Granted by the State of Vermont, pp 73-4.
  28. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, citing Odell Walker, Profiles of the Past (1994).
  29. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he founded Fair Haven, build various kinds of mills, established printing office and the Farmers’ Library, later the Fair Haven Gazette.
  30. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #12338518, Mary Lyon, shows date, with year as 1784, and includes photo of tombstone showing same.
  31. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 24, shows year, as 1782.
  32. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he was a member of the State house of representatives 1779-1783 and for ten years during the period 1783-1796.
  33. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pp 24, 26.
  34. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pp 27-28.
  35. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he was elected as a Republican to the Fifth and Sixth Congresses (March 4, 1797-March 3, 1801); was not a candidate for renomination in 1800.
  36. [S2202] American State Papers, Claims, vol 1, pp 737-41.
  37. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 28, shows Lyon cast the deciding vote.
  38. [S3054] Blackwell, "Matthew Lyon, a Forgotten Patriot Recalled,."
  39. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 29.
  40. [S2385] Matthew Lyon letter to Jefferson, 12 Aug 1801, shows date he and the family arrived in Eddyville.
  41. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he moved to Kentucky in 1801 and settled in Caldwell (now Lyon) County.
  42. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 30.
  43. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 30, shows Lyon's discovery of using fluorspar.
  44. [S3168] Odell Walker letter to author, 10 Feb 2011, states he had discussed Lyon's supposed founding of iron works with previous county historian Sam Steger several times, and neither of them has found any record of Lyon starting an iron works.
  45. [S225] Livingston and Caldwell Co. court order books and deed books have been searched for the period of Lyon's life, and no record found indicting any ownership of iron works.
  46. [S4556] Collins and Collins, Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky, 2:776, shows representing Livingston Co. in 1802.
  47. [S2824] Certificates for land granted by the Livingston County Court, 1801-1806,, pg 191, no. 1446, Matthew Lyon.
  48. [S579] Mathew Lyon household, 1810 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  49. [S2522] Matthew Lyon invalid pension file, S. 36,689, Revolutionary War Pension Files, affidavit of Mathew Lyon, 24 Aug 1818, and the outer wrapper of file folder.
  50. [S2522] Matthew Lyon invalid pension file, S. 36,689, Revolutionary War Pension Files, affidavit of Mathew Lyon, 28 Jun 1820.
  51. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 32, describes Lyon's appointment by President Monroe and move to Arkansas.
  52. [S686] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online, record for Lyon, Matthew, (1749 - 1822), shows he was appointed United States factor to the Cherokee Nation in Arkansas Territory in 1820.
  53. [S4543] Battle, Perrin and Kniffin, Kentucky - A History of the State, pg 858, shows he was agent for the Cherokees in Arkansas.
  54. [S4621] Annals of the Congress of the United States, 17th Congress, 1st session, pp 528-9, 564.
  55. [S2211] Journal of the House of Representatives, 17th Congress, 1st session, pp 73-4.
  56. [S1952] Walker, Profiles of the Past, pg 23, shows her as Allen's favorite niece.
  57. [S4559] Campbell, Two Fighters and Two Fines, pp 13-4, shows she was a daughter of a sister of Ethan Allen.
  58. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pg 11, shows Mary's mother was previously married to Daniel Allen, brother of Ethan's father.
  59. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, show her as sister Pamelia, listed after half-brother James Lyon, and half- sister Pamelia, before half-brother Elijah Galusha, so she appears to be Lyon and Hosford's daughter.
  60. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows him as a half-brother, with surname Lyon.
  61. [S2521] Austin, Matthew Lyon: "New Man", pg 13, shows her as Ann, daughter of Matthew and Mary.
  62. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, show her as his eldest half-sister, listed after half-brother James Lyon, and before sister Pamelia half-brother Elijah Galusha, so she appears to be Lyon ans Hosford's daughter.
  63. [S4522] "Eddyville was Settled One Hundred Years Ago," The Courier-Journal, 19 Mar 1899, provides transcription of gravestone inscription.
  64. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998.
  65. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows she was his "own sister," presumably as opposed to the half-siblings also mentioned.
  66. [S875] Caldwell Co. Wills,, B:57-9, Chittenden Lyon Will, 21 Nov 1842, shows her as his sister.
  67. [S4543] Battle, Perrin and Kniffin, Kentucky - A History of the State, pg 858.
  68. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows she was his sister.
  69. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows as his brother.
  70. [S875] Caldwell Co. Wills,, B:57-9, Chittenden Lyon Will, 21 Nov 1842, shows him as his brother.
  71. [S2309] Lyon County Historical Society, Cemeteries of Lyon County, pg 276, show her as daughter of M. Lyon.
  72. [S4522] "Eddyville was Settled One Hundred Years Ago," The Courier-Journal, 19 Mar 1899, provides transcription of gravestone inscription showing her as daughter of M. Lyon.