Elizabeth Sardenia <I>Campbell</I> Lyon


Elizabeth Sardenia Campbell Lyon

Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky, USA
Death 29 Dec 1941 (aged 84)
Ballard County, Kentucky, USA
Burial Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky, USA
Memorial ID 29715279 View Source

daughter of Charles Gilbert and Susan Crawford (Ackerman) Campbell, wife of Oscar Demarcus Lyon, and mother of the Lyon Quintuplets.

The Lyon quintuplets are the first American quintuplets that were all born alive and survived more than 24 hours. A set of five identical boys had been born to Edward & Edna Kanouse in Watertown, WI, on February 13, 1875, but even though all five appeared to be properly developed, none lived more than a few hours, and one was stillborn.

On April 29, 1896, the world's first recorded set of same sex quintuplets was born in Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky. The five baby boys born to Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Demarcus Lyon were considered such a wonder that people from all over West Kentucky and beyond flocked into the home to view the babies.

Mrs. Lyon had dreamt that she would have five baby boys and that she should name them Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. Some passengers on the nearby train even persuaded the engineer to make an unscheduled stop so they could see the home.

Dr. S. J. Mathews, the delivering physician, began to worry about the uncontrolled crowds of people coming in at all hours of the day and night to view the babies. He arranged for a guard to be placed at the home to control the crowds. It was even reported at the time that President Grover Cleveland and Queen Victoria of England paid tributes to the babies.

During the 1890s it was not in vogue to bottle feed infants, so a wet nurse was obtained to help feed the babies. This would not prove to be enough, as the babies did not thrive, either because they did not receive enough nourishment or they received too much exposure.

By the fourth day, one of the babies had died. Not long after a second died and another day two died leaving only the strongest one. He was to survive only two weeks. The first to die was supposedly buried briefly, and later exhumed and he and his brothers were preserved by a Paducah funeral home.

For a period of two years, Dr. Mathews displayed the mummified babies, contained in glass cases, at county fairs in a three state area. While being stored in his office someone stole them and had them shipped by rail to Louisville, however they were quickly returned to Mayfield and hidden.

After the doctor's death the babies were kept in the Lyon home for a while, and Mrs. Lyon requested that the quints were to be buried with her, but she withdrew this request as the rumors of body snatchers continued. In 1915, she wrote to President Woodrow Wilson stating that, although she had been approached many times to sell the quintuplets, she wanted the government to have them. She cited their safety and their potential for scientific and educational use as her reasoning. Mrs. Lyon's letter eventually arrived at the Army Medical Museum. After negotiating the details of the transaction, the museum purchased the mummified bodies in 1916.

from Trigg County Miscellaneous Historical Clippings, Volume 2:
April 30, 1896
The wife of Mr. Oscar Lyon at Mayfield, on the 30th ult. Gave birth to five sons, each weighing 5 ½ pounds. Mother and children reported as coming on nicely. The proud mother has named her babies, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul.

from Trigg County Miscellaneous Historical Clippings, Volume 2:
Five At A Clip
A Den of Living Lyons at Mayfield
Mayfield, Ky., April 30, 1896
EDITOR TELEPHONE – Last Thursday April 30th , Mrs. Oscar Lyon, of this place, gave birth to five boys. They are all living and at this time doing well. Their weight ranged from 4 to 5 pounds – the five 21 ¾. Their father is 46 years old, their mother 37. Mrs. Lyon already had five boys and one girl. I have been to see the little Lyons. It's a sight to see five little black headed babies lying across a bed and all exactly alike. People have been flocking there in crowds to see them, but Dr. Matthews, the attending physician, said last night the place would be guarded today by two officers to keep away the crowds. Congratulation have been wired them from many places.
L. L. Johnson

From the medical information provided by Dr. S.J. Matthews, there was one placenta, and five umbilical cords, making the twins identical.

From the medical information provided by Dr. S.J. Matthews, total birth weight of all five babies was 21.75 pounds. If equally divided, this puts each baby at 4.35 pounds at birth.

Mrs Lyons had a total of thirteen children, including the quintuplets, with seven being born before the quints, and one more child born after the quints.

See more photos, newspaper clippings, and more at The Lyon Quintuplets


I have read in different places that there are no stones for Mr. or Mrs Lyon, but do not know if this is fact.

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