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Harrison Lyons
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Birth: May 31, 1841
Chautauqua County
New York, USA
Death: Apr. 25, 1925
Wadena County
Minnesota, USA

Harrison Lyons was born in Chautaqua County, New York on May 31, 1841. In 1855, the family moved to Shakopee, MN. When he was about 16 or 17, Harrison was part of a party that chased the Indian chief, Inkpaduta, who had massacred many dozens of white settlers in Iowa and Minnesota.

He was the third of four brothers, all of whom served during the Civil War. Stephan, the oldest, (1839) & Harrison served together in company A of the 1st Minnesota Infantry. George F (1841) served in the 9th Minnesota and John L, the youngest (1847) served in the 11th Minnesota.

At 6' 2" tall, Harrison was one of the taller enlisted men in the regiment. Colonel William Colvill was 6' 5". Harrison was 19 years old, had a fair complexion, light colored hair and blue eyes.

On June 29, 1862, at Savage Station, while charging a Confederate artillery battery, he was wounded by a piece of shell cutting the right side of his right knee. The regiment retreated. He was left on the field and eventually captured. The hospitals were full of sick and wounded. He lay on the battlefield without shelter for 10 days, all the time being exposed to heat, cold and rain. He was then moved the Libby prison hospital in Richmond. He was exchanged six weeks after his capture.

Harrison was sent to recover at the hospital located at 4th and George Streets in Philadelphia. He was there during August and September, 1862. Dr Gross, who treated him, told him that he would have a weak knee for the rest of his life.

Both Harrison and his brother, Stephen, were wounded at Gettysburg; Stephen on July 2nd and Harrison on the 3rd. They were both mustered out with the regiment on May 5, 1864, though Harrison was absent sick at the time.

Shortly thereafter, he enlisted as a substitute for someone who had been drafted. That person would have paid Harrison a cash fee of some amount for Harrison to take his place in the Army. He was placed in the 9th Minnesota Infantry, thus serving with his brother, George. Harrison was the drillmaster for the 9th. He was mustered out at Fort Snelling, for the second and final time, on May 11, 1865.

After the war he settled back into the life of a farmer. He lived in Shakopee for awhile. On Dec 3, 1866, Harrison was married to Miss Sarah Elizabeth Moore. He and Sarah settled in Duluth, MN. They had three children. In 1876, they decided to move to Wadena. Sarah died in Wayzata, on October 20, 1875, during the trip.

Harrison started his farm in the small community of Aldrich, Wadena Co. He soon married an Irish girl named Ann Gillespie. There were no children by that marriage. Later he divorced Ann.

Harrison developed rheumatism as a result of his war time injury. By 1887 he was not able to work as a farmer more than half the time. In 1888, he was confined to his bed for most of the winter. In 1889, he was stricken again and laid up for nearly a year. With that he gave up farming all together and moved from his farm to the village of Verndale.

On March 6, 1890, he married a Flora Wright, in Hubbard, Mn. He was 49. Having been born in 1853, she was 37. They had two children. Minnie died, as an infant, on June 13, 1890. The other, Isaac Lyons, grew up to also be a soldier. Unfortunately, Isaac died in battle in the Argonne Forest during World War I. The only child to survive Harrison was Effie (Lyons) Castle, from his first marriage. She lived in Woodburn, Oregon.

Harrison lived for awhile at the Soldiers Home in Minneapolis. he was there from June 5th to June 15th, 1890. Apparently he had difficulty writing because of a bad arm. His handwriting on the admission papers was practically illegible. At the time the doctor wrote that "unless God intervenes in a dramatic way he (Harrison) will lose his arm at the shoulder." But Harrison didn't lose his arm. He kept it for the remaining 35 years of his life. He asked to be discharged after only 10 days and returned to his home near Verndale, just outside the town of Wadena.

Harrison was an influential member of the Verndale community. He was County Commissioner for Wadena from 1876 through 1917. He sold property, farmed, was a County Clerk and Justice of the Peace. Charles Parker, a comrade from their days in the First Minnesota, also lived in Verndale and they were best of friends. The two of them went on exploratory excursions in northern Minnesota as they surveyed much of the land up there. Lyons State Forest is named after Harrison.

He became destitute when his health prevented him from working his jobs. By the late 1880's his circumstances were so bad that the First Minnesota association collected money to aid him (see Assoc papers). He attended many reunions and is pictured in several of the reunion photos. He was a Commander of the CC Parker GAR Post in Verndale. He enjoyed attending the reunions of the First Minnesota veterans. His last reunion was in 1923, when only three veterans attended. They had a large bottle of wine the "Last Man" was to open and drink a final toast to his comrades. The last three decided it would be a shame if they all died in the same year so they opened it to have a toast together. Once they had opened the bottle and sampled the wine they were disappointed to find out that it had turned sour! That bottle of wine is now on display in a glass case at the state capital in St Paul.

Harrison died at the Wesley Hospital in Wadena, Mn, on April 25, 1925. He was 83 years old. He was buried in the Verndale Cemetery, Section S4, Lot 46. The local newspaper, The Verndale Sun, called him "The Grand Old Man of Wadena County".


Pioneer Journal, April 30, 1925.

Harrison Lyons Passes Beyond. Dies at Wesley Hospital at Ripe Old Age-A Notable Pioneer of Wadena County.

Harrison Lyons, of Verndale, one of the notable pioneers of Wadena county, indeed one of the notable pioneers of Minnesota, died last Sunday morning about 4:00 o'clock at the Wesley Hospital. Mrs Lyons was with him at the time. The cause of his death was a bad cold, possibly influenza, with which he had been sufering for several weeks. For several days he had been unconscious, with the exception of a few short minutes just a few hours previous to his demise, when he seemed to rouse from his stupor long enough to ask a few intelligible questions.

Mr Lyons was one of the outstanding figures in the life and history of Wadena county. He has been in public life for nearly half a century and served nearly all that time as a member of the board of commissioners.

Harrison Lyons was a product of the sturdy old days and it is owing to such as he that this section of the state has been able to make such progress. He was known to practically every man and woman in the county and each will feel that a good friend, a good citizen and an honest official has passed beyond.

Harrison Lyons was born in Chautauqua county, N Y, May 21, 1841, and was therefore just a month less than 84 years of age at the time of his demise. After a few years spent in New York and Pennsylvania he came, with his parents, to Minnesota, settling in LeSeuer county before Minnesota became a state. He lived some time at Shakopee, where he enlisted before he was 20 years of age in Comapny A, First Minnesota Infantry. He saw much service in the Civil War and participated in many battles, some of them important and historical. The regiment took part in the campaigns along the Potomac, including the famous battle of Gettysburg, where the First Minnesota made its famous stand and helped drive back the Confederate army and saved Washington from capture. Mr Lyons was wounded at Savage (Station), a bullet penetrating his knee, laming him for life, and he was taken prisoner and immured in the infamous Libby prison, from which he was released after six weeks on an exchange of prisoners. He came out of the war commissioned a first lieutenant, a title which he never attempted to be known by in the after years, for he was of a modest disposition in matters relating to his war record.

At the conclusion of the war he returned to Minnesota and took up the duties of a civilian. At Minneapolis, in 1867, he wedded Miss Sarah Moore. She died in 1877, after giving birth to five children, one of whom is still living, Miss Effie Castle, of Woodburn, Oregon.

Mr Lyons came to Verndale shortly after the death of his wife and took up a homestead in Thomastown township. He married Miss Ann Gillelspie, from whom he was later divorced. In 1890 he married Miss Flora Wright, who survives him, and removed to Verndale, where he resided until his death. To this union was born three children, Mrs Minnie Anderson, of McCloud, California, who was unable to get here before her father's demise, but who was present at the funeral. Isaac, who was killed in the world war just a few days before the armistice, and a baby who died in infancy.

Mr Lyons was prominent in local public and political life. He was a stauch Republican and took part in all the political battles in this county for the past fifty years or more. For more than forty years he served as a member of the board of commissioners, which is doubtless a record for the state. He attended many political conventions as a delegate. He also served at times as township clerk and recorder. In the Verndale district he was held in profound respect and could usually control the stand taken by the Republicans in that section. Mr Lyons was not a member of any church nor of any lodge. He was an active member of the GAR and often said that the GAR was his church and his lodge. Each year, until two years ago, he was constant in his attendance at the annual reunion of the veterans of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg. At the last reunion which he attended there were but two other members of the regiment present, and for that reason he quit going.

The funeral services were held Monday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock at the Methodist church at verndale, with pastor, Rev Welch, in charge of the services. There was a large attendance from all sections of the county, many old timers being in evidence. Rev Welch delivered a splendid sermon in which he dwelt at length upon the distinguished war service of the departed and his splendid record as a citizen. The honorary pallbearers included the two remaining Civil War veterans still living in Verndale and four members of the Verndale Legion post. The services at the cemetery were under the auspices of the Legion with Rev Welch delivering a brief prayer and sermon. Taps were blown, as becoming to the last honors paid a veteran.

Family links: 
  Eliza A. Lyons (1811 - 1888)
  Flora Emili Lyons (1853 - 1933)*
  Isaac H. Lyons (1892 - 1918)*
  Stephen Lyons (1838 - 1907)*
  Harrison Lyons (1841 - 1925)
*Calculated relationship
Greenlawn Cemetery
Wadena County
Minnesota, USA
Created by: DaveVang
Record added: May 05, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36766931
Harrison Lyons
Added by: Anonymous
Harrison Lyons
Added by: Anonymous
Harrison Lyons
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