Volume 4, Number 1 - Fall 1970

A School Teacher
A Letter Sent by Lyman Bennett

Cherokee County, Kansas Ter., May 7th, ‘60. (1860)

Mrs. E. A. Lyon, & Sister:

Your letters of April 25th are rec’d and I hasten to answer your interrogatories as far as I can. The first acquaintance I made with your father was on Wednesday, 14th of Dec. He called at my house on the business of finding a situation for a small school. He told me he had been in Missouri but could find none but the district schools to engage in and his health was not sufficient to enable him to do justice in a large school. My wife was absent. I told him if he would stay till I could council with her I would probably give him employment, and he remained with me until the morning of the 15th of Dec.

I agreed with him to teach my family at the rate of $5.00 per month and furnish board and room with the privilege of his taking in as many as chose to send from the neighborhood. During the evening of the 14th Dec. he informed me of his residence at Moneka, and of having some difficulty with the inn keeper and of afterwards returning on business, was assaulted by the landlord with whom he had boarded, jerked from a buggy in the hard street and most unmercifully beaten with kicks and blows from which he said he never recovered, and during our whole acquaintance attributed his sickness to his beating at Moneka.

Mr. Lyons came to the Spring River country about the 1st Dec. with Mr. Baxter of this county. Mr. Lyon said Mr. Baxter hired him to teach school, was to furnish him with board and comfortable room, neither of which Mr. Lyon was willing to put up with and left after a short trial.

Mr. Lyon commenced on Tuesday before Christmas teaching my family, with a fit of ague every night and a severe cough, which he never got rid of. He continued his school until friday the 20th Jan. On Friday evening before his school hours expired he was attacked with a very severe chill which lasted more than two hours, and on Sat. 21st. Jan. he had another very similar to that of the previous day.

On Thursday morning I went to The Grand Falls to see my favorite physicain, who could not visit him at that time but told me his symptoms were alarming. He recommended me to go for Dr. Espy of Sherwood, Mo. (Late of McLean Co., Ill.), who was absent on a call and did not get to see him, Mr. Lyon, until Friday about 2 o’clock. He, the Doctor, said he thought he would recover but his medicine had no effect and he breathed his last on Sat. morn, about 2 o’clock. Mr. Lyon had to sit in a position leaning forward on pillows from Wednesday morning until Friday night about 8 o’clock in the P. M.

On Thursday night Mrs. Graves, a neighbor, asked Mr. Lyon in case he should die whether he had any word he wished sent to his family. He answered no, but if he lived till tomorrow he would make some distribution of what he had. On Friday morning I asked him of his family and connections but on account of his severe pain or some other cause he seemed to evade conversing about them. On Friday evening Mrs. Smith, a neighbor, asked him of his family. He answered Oh Dear and shook his head. Mr. Lyon commenced making a will which he had only commenced on the arrival of the doctor and it was not afterwards named, all he named was a box of bed & bedding which it was his will should be given to a widow lady by name Melinda Tubbs. My wife wrote the will in the presence of Mrs. Smith. It was neither finished, signed nor witnessed.

He retained his proper mind until the last and appeared for more than an hour previous whispering a prayer. He was kind, patient and resigned throughout. He seemed unwilling to have as much attention paid him as was necessary and to all attention shown him he would always say God Bless You, and all was kindness and Humility throughout.

I learned from him he had the ague all fall and his legs and feet badly swelled when he first came here, and a very bad cough troubled him every evening after laying down. I hope it will be a matter of some consolation to know that every kindness was shown both by neighbors & my own family as could have been shown to the nearest relative, my wife and children all being greatly attached to him & showing him every kindness to make him


calm and comfortable if that had been possible under the circumstances.

His burial suit consisted of white Cravat, Black cloth coat, Pants and vest. His appearance was the most natural after death of any corpse I ever beheld. His face assumed a rosy hue and to look at him a person could hardly think he was dead but sleeping. His eyes closed naturally or without help, and it was remarked by all who had become acquainted with him that death produced a smile upon his contenance. His Coffin was a plain walnut, as is common to bury in here. He was followed to the grave by the whole neighborhood and a sense of deep feeling seemed to pervade, and although a stranger in a strange land yet he was not uncared for as is so common in our cities when death is an every day occurrence.

He was buried late on Saturday the 28th Jan. at or near sunset, on a beautiful eminence on the East side of Spring River overlooking the valley, and West in plain view are to be seen the vast Prairies of Kansas above the thick forest which overhang the river and spread over a portion of its valley. It is one of the most beautiful spots of creation and this place was remarked by Mr. Lyon as being the most enchanting place he had seen in Kansas.

This country is as yet new, and but six persons are buried at the site described. It is situated about 1 1/2 miles from the state line of Missouri in formerly known as McGee, now Cherokee County, Kansas Ter., the S. E. County, and about 6 miles North of the Southern Boundary of Kansas.

I now proceed to give you a statement of all the effects found in his valise, Carpet sack, Trunk &, c. In his Pocket Book we found in cash $2.38; in his valise I found the watch described by you, together with two other silver watches of about equal value. I found in his vest pocket a heavy gold pencil and several old pocket knives. Among quite a bunch letters, receipts & c, I found a certificate of 5 shares S. Western Texas Rail Road stock. I also found Capt, Weavers Receipt and a discharge which I send you. I find no titles to land nor any papers which I think would be worth anything to you. Mr. Lyons had in his possession a fine Breast pin which he said he designed giving his youngest Daughter, I think he said he found in Kansas. Of Books I find a Hymn Book; Am. Rail Road Guide; Memoirs of David William Bell; Bible Students Manual; Practical Piety; Sermons on the divinity of Christ: Hymns; view of scripture History; Light on Masonry; Power of Religion on the mind; Discourses from the Spirit World; The Gospels with notes; a Brief Concordage to the Holy Scriptures; The Christian Inheritance Gospel Light; Origin of all things in two parts; Womens Rights; Pacific Railway and Texas Western Rail Road; Wyatts Repository of Sacred Music; An Outline of Universal Government; The Bible Reader; the Reformed Botanic; and Indian Physician.

Of clothing; 3 coats, 3 vests, 2 pairs pants, 1 Blk. silk Cravat. 1 Silk Pocket handkerchief, 2 red Comforts, 2 shirts, 1 cotton & 1 linen shirt, 1 pair Indian Rubber shoes, stockings, Hat, Mits, & C. The clothing as a general thing is well worn & except a few pieces, not of much value; 2 bottles Ague medicine, and numerous other things of small consequence. He was buried in the best clothes in his possession.

A Letter for him reached Grand Falls, which I took from the office and opened in the presence of the P. M. It gives some account of his bed. I also inclose it and the Breast pin. The writing you find on his discharge and receipt from Capt. Weaver was done by Mr. Lyons order previous to the commencement of the Will. She, Mrs. Rawles, did not learn who the assignment was designed to be made to.

A. L. Piercy who made his coffin, A/c $5.00

Dr. Espy $3.00

My charges for all trouble including Two days spent for him previous to his confinement $4.00

Amnt. due Mr. Lyons as teacher $5.00

It is necessary to remark there was no outside Scholars Mr. Lyon refused to accept on account of his health. His disease was, as said by his physician, Lung Fever; I think inflamation of the lungs. The address of Mr. Jones is Mound City, Kansas Ter. There are 5 or 6 letters which Mr. Lyon rec’d before leaving Ill. from a Magician in which the receipt of about $50.00 is acknowledged. The Magician’s name is Roback and resides in the city of Boston. It appears the magician undertook to recover property for Mr. Lyon in Edinburgh. I think them of little use to you.

Any kindness I could show his family I will cheerfully attend to by request. I remain very Respectfully, your obt. Servant.


To Mr. E. A. Lyon, &

Mrs. Melissa E. L. Bennitt.


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