The Lyon Brothers

Cyrus Lyon

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain
and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Victoria Norton.

Sanford Lyon

Cyrus and Sanford Lyon were twin brothers born on November 20, 1831 in Machias, Maine. Their parents were Henry and Betsy Lyon (see the Eight Generations of Lyon webpage here). In 1849, they sailed to San Francisco from Nantucket around Cape Horn on the ship "Oxnard." They soon made their way south to Los Angeles and worked as clerks for David W. Alexander & Francis Mellus, a merchantile store. Francis and Henry Mellus were first cousins to the Lyons. Alexander & Mellus brought goods around Cape Horn, exchanging them for hides and tallow (a form of beef or mutton fat). A few years after the Mexican War (1846-48), they went out of business.

On the 1850 U.S. Census for the City of Los Angeles taken on January 20, Cyrus and Sanford appear to be living together:

Horace Bell
In 1853, the Los Angeles Rangers were formed by the Alcalde (or mayor) of Los Angeles Don Ignacio del Valle. Some of its members were Horace Bell, William Reader, William W. Jenkins, and Cyrus Lyon. Cyrus became quite well known and well respected. In the 1881 book "Reminiscences of a Ranger" by Major Horace Bell, Bell shows his respect:

Of our gallant comrade, Cyrus Lyon, the language of the immortal Byron can be well applied:
"Of all our band,
Though firm of heart and strong of hand,
In skirmish, march, or forage, none
Can less have said or more have done."

Victoria Carrillo Norton, a great, great, granddaughter of Cyrus, has kindly provided me with family information and scans pertaining to Cyrus and has checked over the accuracy of my statements on this and the Lyon family webpage. (Of course, I am responsible for any errors that may exist.) Thanks Vickie. She has also donated a "Lyon Family Album" to the Santa Clarita Historical Society. In her December 2007 "My Ancestors" story on the Somos Primos website Vickie writes:
Cyrus Lyon stayed mainly in Los Angeles. With all the lawlessness in the pueblo of Los Angeles, a strong law enforcement group was needed to keep order. The Los Angeles Rangers were appointed by Don Ignacio del Valle, the mayor of Los Angeles to put a stop to the disorder. Cyrus Lyon at 21 yrs old was appointed a captain under Horace Bell and was one of their most efficient rangers.

Cyrus Lyon also followed first cousin Francis Mellus and partner David Alexander’s lead in becoming one of the first Americans to own property in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. During the 1850’s he owned property in Rancho Cahuenga, Rancho Los Feliz, and Rancho Providencia. It was during this time that Cyrus became the father of Jose Enrique "Henry" Lyon. Henry’s mother was Nicolasa Triunfo who was descended from the Basilio Rosas family, one of the original eleven families that settled the Pueblo of Los Angeles in 1781. Nicolasa Triunfo was the daughter of Jose Miguel Triunfo who was an ex-San Fernando Mission Indian born around 1810. He had been granted Rancho Cahuenga by Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena in 1843 for services performed at the Mission. He traded this property with Francisco and Pedro Lopez a few years later for Rancho Tujunga. Francisco Lopez is the same individual that discovered gold in Placerita Canyon in 1842. Jose Miguel Triunfo was one of the few Indians that were able to obtain and keep property. His wife, Maria Rafaela (Canedo) Arriola was a "Gente de Razon", that being a member of the established Christian community. Miguel and wife Rafaela can be found in the 1850 census of Los Angeles.

No marriage record between Cyrus and Nicolasa Triunfo has been found. Their sons Henry and Albert Lyon were considered "hijo naturales" because their parents were not married in the church. Cyrus was apparently also involved with Matilda Ortega, with whom he had two children. On the 1880 US Census, 48-year old Cyrus is married to 19-year old Ynez Cota and have one child, Rebecca. The census taker first wrote down "daughter" as Ynez's relationship to Cyrus, but crossed that out when he realized his mistake.

Cyrus would eventually have 11 children with Nicolasa, Matilda, and Ynez. He was evidently a responsible parent because all his children were given the Lyon last name, even the ones where there was no official marriage. See the
Lyon family webpage here for a list of his children.

Church record of the October 21, 1876, marriage of 44-year old Cyrus (badly misspelled) and 15-year old Ynez

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Victoria Norton.

The family of Cyrus around 1900. Top row left to right - Albert (mother Nicolasa Triunfo), Cyrus A., Robert. Bottom row left to right - Arthur E., Alice, Ynez Cota (mother of the others), and Rebecca.

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Victoria Norton.

For the state election of the first Wednesday of September, 1855, Cyrus Lyon was appointed an election judge for the precinct of San Fernando to be held at the house of Andres Pico (Los Angeles Star, August 18, August 25, September 1, and September 8, 1855).

In 1856, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors appointed Cyrus Lyon a Judge of the Plain for Rancho Cahuenga for the term of one year (Los Angeles Star, June 21, 1856).

For the state election of November 4th, 1856, Sanford Lyon was again appointed as an election judge in the city of San Fernando (From the Los Angeles Star of October 25 and November 8, 1856).

Jenkins writes (in "History of the Development of Placer Mining in California" pp. 71-72) that "in the year 1858, W.W. Jenkins and Cyrus Lyon purchased from Jose Espenosa one nugget from which was realized $1,928, which was the largest piece known to have been taken from this locality." That locality was either the San Feliciana, Castaic or the San Francisquito placer field.

On July 9, 1859, Sanford was empaneled on the Court of Sessions Grand Jury (Los Angeles Star, July 9, 1859).

On the 1860 census, Sanford and Cyrus are living together in the Los Angeles Township under the Los Angeles Post Office.

According to a document called Maine Marriages 1771-1907, Sanford Lyon married Annie T. Hanscom on October 23, 1862. Annie was born in Maine. I do not know why they were married in Maine, but maybe he knew her before he came to California in 1849 and finally returned in 1862 to marry her, bringing her to California after the marriage.

On the Great Register of Los Angeles County (Voter Registrations 1866-1898), Sanford registered on August 13, 1866. He was 34 years old, from Maine, was a miner, and lived in Los Angeles. Cyrus registered on March 16, 1866. He was 36 (error-he would be 34 like Sanford) years old, from Maine, was a rancher, and also lived in Los Angeles. Sanford was not living at Petroliopolis or Lyon's Station yet.

Also on the Great Register, Cyrus was registered to vote in Los Angeles on March 16, 1867.

In 1869, Sanford Lyon, with Henry Hancock and a Lockwood, dug a spring-pole well in Pico Canyon to 140 feet. The claim was held by Robert F. Baker and E. F. Beale.

It is hard to tell when the Lyons (but probably just Sanford) purchased the land that would eventually contain Lyon's Station. A.B. Perkins wrote (in Rancho San Francisco, June 1957, The Quarterly of the Southern California Historical Society) that "It was probably opened by Henry Wiley and Jose Ygnacia del Valle in the early fifties." However, his source is the memory of a very old person: "The late Mrs. J.T. Gifford once told writer that the stage station was opened by Henry Wiley, son-in-law of Andres Pico, and Jose Ygnacio del Valle, a younger step-brother of Ygnacio del Valle, in the very early Fifties." Also, Henry Wiley didn't come to Los Angeles until 1858 (see his biography on the Wiley Canyon page). Early newpaper accounts and railroad stops consistently say Hart's from about 1858 to 1860. Josiah Hart (1794-1872 lived around Newhall at that time (Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, California, p. 341) and kept a "public stopping place". (Henry C.) Wiley's is mentioned for 1865-1866 in documents and letters. Petroliopolis comes up from about 1867-1875. Lyon's Station is not mentioned until the early 1870's.

However, Harris Newmark, writing about 55 years later and relying on memory, writes of Lyon's Station for the year 1856 in "Sixty Years in Southern California". Based on the documents I have seen (some mentioned above), I believe he had the date wrong. Here is what he wrote:
During the summer, I had occasion to go to Fort Tejón to see George C. Alexander, a customer, and I again asked Sam Meyer if he would accompany me. Such a proposition was always agreeable to Sam; and, having procured horses, we started, the distance being about one hundred and fifteen miles.

We left Los Angeles early one afternoon, and made our first stop at Lyons's Station, where we put up for the night. One of the brothers, after whom the place was named, prepared supper. Having to draw some thick blackstrap from a keg, he used a pitcher to catch the treacle; and as the liquid ran very slowly, our sociable host sat down to talk a bit, and soon forgot all about what he had started to do. The molasses, however, although it ran pretty slowly, ran steadily, and finally, like the mush in the fairy-tale of the enchanted bowl, overflowed the top of the receptacle and spread itself over the dirt floor. When Lyons had finished his chat, he saw, to his intense chagrin, a new job upon his hands, and one likely to busy him for some time.

Departing next morning at five o'clock we met Cy Lyons, who had come to Los Angeles in 1849 and was then engaged with his brother Sanford in raising sheep in that neighborhood. Cy was on horseback and had two pack animals, loaded with provisions. “Hello, boys! where are you bound?” he asked; and when we told him that we were on our way to Fort Tejón, he said that he was also going there, and volunteered to save us forty miles by guiding us over the trail. Such a shortening of our journey appealed to us as a good prospect, and we fell in behind the mounted guide.

It was one of those red-hot summer days characteristic of that region and season, and in a couple of hours we began to get very thirsty. Noticing this, Cy told us that no water would be found until we got to the Rancho de la Liebre, and that we could not possibly reach there until evening. Having no bota de agua handy, I took an onion from Lyons's pack and ate it, and that afforded me some relief; but Sam, whose decisions were always as lasting as the fragrance of that aromatic bulb, would not try the experiment. To make a long story short, when we at last reached the ranch, Sam, completely fagged out, and unable to alight from his horse, toppled off into our arms. The chewing of the onion had refreshed me to some extent, but just the same the day's journey proved one of the most miserable experiences through which I have ever passed.

The night was so hot at the ranch that we decided to sleep outdoors in one of the wagons; and being worn out with the day's exposure and fatigue, we soon fell asleep. The soundness of our slumbers did not prevent us from hearing, in the middle of the night, a snarling bear, scratching in the immediate neighborhood. A bear generally means business; and you may depend upon it that neither Sam, myself nor even Cy were very long in bundling out of the wagon and making a dash for the more protecting house. Early next morning, we recommenced our journey toward Fort Tejón, and reached there without any further adventures worth relating.

Coming back, we stopped for the night at Gordon's Station, and the next day rode fully seventy miles-not so inconsiderable an accomplishment, perhaps, for those not accustomed to regular saddle exercise.

A few months later, I met Cy on the street. “Harris, said he, “do you know that once, on that hot day going to Fort Tejón, we were within three hundred feet of a fine, cool spring?” “Then why in the devil,” I retorted, “didn't you take us to it?” To which Cy, with a chuckle, answered: “Well, I just wanted to see what would happen to you!”

The 1870 census shows Sanford (I could not find Cyrus on this census but I'm sure he still lived in Los Angeles) in the Los Angeles Township but this time at the Petropolis (Petroliopolis) Post Office. The Petroliopolis Post Office operated from 1867-1871. Christopher Leaming was appointed the first postmaster on April 1, 1867. Richard N. Hosmer was appointed on November 21, 1867. Sanford Lyon was then appointed on July 23, 1869 (from early postmaster appointments in LA county). Petroliopolis became Lyon's Station at some time, probably in 1869 after Sanford moved in. The 1870 census also shows Lyon's wife Anna. The Petroliopolis Post Office was discontinued on December 6, 1871.

Lyon's Station marker at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California. It was probably not bought by the Lyons in 1855.

Lyons Station
This site was the location of a combination store,
post office, telegraph office, tavern and stage
depot accommodating travelers during the Kern
River gold rush in the early 1850's. A regular stop
for Butterfield and other early California stage
lines, it was purchased by Sanford and Cyrus Lyons
in 1855 and became known as Lyons Station. By 1868
at least twenty families lived here. Eternal
Valley Memorial Park has memorialized their
final resting place as "the Garden of the Pioneers".

California Registered Historical
Landmark No. 688

Plaque placed by the California State Park Commission in
cooperation with Eternal Valley Memorial Park; The History
and Landmarks Association of the San Fernando and
Antelope Valley Parlors, Native Sons and Native Daughters
of the Golden West; and San Fernando Mission Parlor No. 280,
Native Daughters of the Golden West, November 22, 1959.

Besides oil, Sanford Lyon also had other mining interests. From the Signal August 5, 1954, The Story of Our Valley by AB Perkins
Land office records for May 1870 for patent applications:

George Gleason, Sanford Lyon, Alexander DeWitt and George J. Clark, know as "Lyon Mining Co." - apply for 1800 feet on the Lyon Lode, land and water privileges, Township 4N, R12W San Bernardino meridian, in the Gleason district.

George J. Clarke, George Gleason, H. H. W. Clarke, Sanford Lyon, Christopher Leaming, Benjamin C. Truman, ask for 1000 feet on the Eureka lode in the Soledad mining district.
The Los Angeles Daily News of March 27, 1872 reports that in Petroliopolis the Owens Valley earthquake of March 26, 1872 was severely felt and the Daily Alta of the same date reported that clocks stopped.

Sanford Lyon sold his interest in Lyon's Station to Adam Malezewski in 1873. The Andrew Kraszynski vs. the Los Angeles Petroleum Refining Company cases of 1874 and 1875 (see my early court cases webpage) report that the owner in 1873 was Adam Malezewski. Sanford probably moved to his Lyon Canyon claim soon afterwards. He would eventually purchase his claim in 1880. Oddly, Malezewski would commit suicide in 1876.

Sanford and Anna would eventually have six children. See the Lyon family webpage here for a list of Sanford's children.

According the Great Register, Sanford registed to vote in Newhall on June 25, 1879. Cyrus registered in Los Angeles on June 19, 1879.

In 1880, Sanford unsuccessfully ran for the office of county supervisor.

The 1870 census of Petroliopolis. Cyrus was not living at Lyon's Station. Sanford had $3000 worth of land and $300 worth of other property. James and Otis were relatives of Sanford. Note the Adam above Sanford. That is probably Adam Malezewski with his last name spelled wrong.

This photo is from the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society from around 1870. It is only identified as the "Lyon Station gang" with the little black boy named "Ashbridge". However, I have added the photos of Sanford and Cyrus Lyon next to what I believe to be them. The likeness is just too much to ignore. If I am right, then two of the women are probably their wives. I'm also guessing that the two men on the left are James and Otis Lyon, relatives of Sanford living at Lyon's Station in 1870. The child on the left could be Lewis, Sanford's 6 year old son.

Sanford Lyon's house is shown on this 1876 survey plat map in the future Lyon Canyon. The Andrew Kraszynski vs. the Los Angeles Petroleum Refining Company cases of 1874 and 1875 (see my early court cases webpage) report that the owner in 1873 was Adam Malezewski. Probably by 1874 Lyon was living in Lyon Canyon. He was also spending a lot of time in Pico Canyon working his own well and working for Robert S. Baker and E.F. Beale, the owners of the Pico Oil Springs claim. When Albert Ruxton did his survey of the Pico Oil Springs Mine in 1877, in the field notes for that survey he reported a house for Lyon near Lyon's well. Of course the house was probably a one-room shack.

On 9/10/1880, Sanford Lyon purchased about 110 acres for cash at the mouth of today's Lyon Canyon from the federal government. Info from the BLM/GLO land patent search webpage.

More details

Plat map with Lyon's land enclosed in yellow

Map showing also showing Lyon's land at the mouth of Lyon Canyon

Adam Malezewski owned Lyon's Station starting in 1873. I am not sure if he still owned it when he committed suicide. From the Los Angeles Herald of January 29, 1876. On the Great Register of Los Angeles County (Voter Registrations 1866-1898), Malezewski (spelled as Malazewsky) registered on October 19, 1872. He was 63 years old, originally from Poland, and living in San Fernando. His occupation was laborer. He was naturalized on October 21, 1872.

Coming back to the Great Register of Los Angeles County (Voter Registrations 1866-1898), we find that Sanford registered on June 25, 1879. He was 47 years old, from Maine, was a farmer, and lived in Newhall. Cyrus registered on June 19, 1879. He was 47, from Maine, was a rancher, and lived in Los Angeles.

On June 5, 1881, Frank M. Lyon, Sanford's six year old son, was kicked in the chest by a horse and died two days later.

Sanford Lyon died on November 30, 1882, at the young age of 51. He is buried at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California, which is located just behind the supposed location of Lyon's Station.

According the Great Register, Cyrus registered to vote in Los Angeles on April 19, 1884.

Cyrus Lyon died on May 20, 1892, at the age of 61 in Los Angeles. He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

From the Los Angeles Herald of December 16, 1892:
Judge Van Dyke rendered judgment for plaintiff in the case of Ynez Cota de Lyon vs. D. W. Field, administrator of the estate of Cyrus Lyon, deceased, a suit to quiet title to lots 6 and 7, in the Ballesteros Vineyard tract.

In 1893, the state of California passed an act to pay Cyrus Lyon $1000 dollars for the 1855 capture of Anastacio Garcia. Unfortunately, Cyrus died in 1892. Whether his widow Ynez received the money is unknown.

Lyon Street in Los Angeles was named for Cyrus Lyon. In 1953, Pico Road in Newhall was changed to Lyons Avenue by the County of Los Angeles Surveying Department. Whether they meant to name it for Sanford Lyon and mistakenly added the "s" is not known. I'd like to believe that they meant both Sanford and Cyrus.

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Victoria Norton.

Here is the Sanford Lyon gravesite at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California. This cemetery is right behind the long-gone site of Lyon's Station on Sierra Highway. This is location 124-D in the Garden of the Pioneers.

The gravestone on the right of the above photo is Sanford Lyon's marker. It says:

Sanford Lyon
A Native of
Machias Maine
Died Nov 30 1882
Aged 51 Yrs 10 Ds

The small gravestone says:

Frank M
son of
Annie T and Sanford Lyon
June 7 1881
6 Yrs 2 Mos 9 Dys

The larger stone in the middle says:

Sanford Lyon
1831 - 1882
Anna T. Lyon Devendorf
1843 - 1911
Frank M Lyon
1875 - 1881
Sanford L Lyon
1882 - 1933

The back of the larger stone shows that this is also the resting place of Annie's second husband Seth and some of his family. They were married around 1885.

Seth M Devendorf
1848 - 1918
Charles Devendorf
1855 - 1893
Caroline L Devendorf
1869 - 1894
Charles Devendorf Jr
1891 - 1891

Large sign in front of the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, California. About Lyon Station it says (incorrectly):

A stage coach stop called Lyon Station,
was established here in 1854 & by the end
of the Civil War interments had been made
in this cemetery.

Cyrus Lyon died on May 20, 1892 in Los Angeles ten years after his brother Sanford died. (Clipping from the Los Angeles Herald of 5/22/1892.)

The grave marker of Cyrus Lyon (11/20/1831 - 5/20/1892) in Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Family oral history says that his son Cyrus A. (1883 - 12/25/1926) was cremated and his urn was buried in his father's grave

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Victoria Norton.

From the Los Angeles Herald of June 8, 1881

From the Los Angeles Herald of July 2, 1886. Addi Warren Lyon was born on March 25, 1873, and died on February 25, 1951. He married Edith Lawrence Stevens (1881-1963) on May 5, 1904, and they had one son Lawrence Addi Lyon (6/13/1909 - 2006)

Los Angeles Herald, July 2, 1886

Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1886

Addi Warren Lyon was born on March 25, 1873, and died on February 25, 1951. He married Edith Lawrence Stevens (1881-1963) on May 5, 1904, and they had one son Lawrence Addi Lyon (6/13/1909 - 2006)