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THOMAS J. LYON.—The Lyon family are of Scotch descent, three brothers—Samuel, David, and James—having left the land of their nativity before the war of the Revolution and settled,—David in New Jersey, Samuel in Connecticut, and James in the Empire State, from whence he later removed to Ohio. David chose a location at Orange, Essex Co., N.J., where his children—Daniel, Moses, Henry, and Sarah—were born; all of whom are now deceased. Henry resided upon the homestead during his lifetime, where he was both agriculturist and distiller, and later became a manufacturer. He participated actively in the war of 1812, for which he enjoyed a pension until the date of his death in his seventy-eighth year. Mr. Lyon was, in the year 1808, united in marriage to Miss Eunice, daughter of Thomas Harrison, of Orange, N.J., a soldier with the rank of colonel in the war of the Revolution, and also a pensioner until his death in his ninety-eighth year. To Mr. and Mrs. Lyon nine children were born, of whom the survivors are Dr. S.S. Lyon, of Newark, N.J.; William Lyon, of Lyon’s Farms, N.J.; Thomas J. Lyon, of Port Jervis; John W. Lyon, of San Francisco, Cal.; and Mrs. Ann Steel, of Dayton, Ohio.
Thomas J., whose career is here traced, was born in Caldwell, Essex Co., N.J., June 20, 1816, and spent the early years of his life at the home of his parents. The common schools of the neighborhood afforded him an opportunity of acquiring the rudiments of an education, and a subsequent period spent at the Montclair Seminary, in the same county, supplemented this with more substantial acquirements. A brief period was spent in teaching, after which Mr. Lyon entered the ministry and joined the Methodist Episcopal Conference of New Jersey. After a season of clerical labor in New Jersey, he was assigned by the Conference in 1840 to the Port Jervis charge, which place has since been his residence. At the expiration of his fourth year Mr. Lyon voluntarily requested and received a local relation without any change in his religious convictions, and began the study of law, Nathan Westcott, of Goshen, N.Y., having been his preceptor. An office was established by the latter gentleman in Port Jervis, of which Mr. Lyon was given the charge. He began his professional labors in the Justices’ Court, and continued so to practice until his admission to all the courts of New York State in 1849, his examination having occurred in the city of Brooklyn, N.Y. Mr. Lyon has since that time been actively engaged in the duties of his profession. He was employed by the New York and Erie Railroad Company as one of their counselors, and acted in that capacity from the period of the construction of the road until 1867. As a trial lawyer Mr. Lyon has been especially successful. He has on many occasions displayed superior talents as an advocate, his clear, decisive arguments having gained for him many legal victories. His mental powers are acute and comprehensive, his self-possession perfect, and his command of language both forcible and striking. He was commissioned as postmaster under the Polk administration, and also during the Presidential term of Franklin Pierce. In 1869 and 1870, Mr. Lyon was elected to the Legislature of the State, and his abilities utilized as one of the committee on Ways and Means, on the Judiciary, and as chairman of the committee on Federal Relations. He is an unflinching Democrat, and has attained some distinction as an ardent worker and speaker in the cause of Democracy.
Mr. Lyon was married Dec. 31, 1840, to Miss Jemima Westfall, of Deerpark, and became the parent of eight children, of whom Sarah E., Annie M. (Mrs. E.A. Brown, of Newburgh), and John W., a practicing lawyer in Port Jervis, survive. By a second marriage, to Miss Miriam V. Osterhout, he has five children,—Thomas J., Jr., Wallen, Edwin F., Mary E., and Frederick, all of whom are living.