The Lucius Lyon papers contain the public correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Letter writers include Michigan governors, legislators, postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians, as well as residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana, and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.
The Lucius Lyon papers (12 linear feet) contain the public and private correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Lyon received letters from southern Michigan governors and legislators, as well as postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians. Other contributors include residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana; easterners interested in land speculation, settlement, and Michigan politics; and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.
The Correspondence Series comprises the bulk of the Lyon papers. Topics discussed in the Chronological Correspondence Subseries include Michigan statehood, Wisconsin statehood, Indian relations, government appointments, and local politics. Also included are numerous proposals and requests to the United States government for investments and improvements for harbors, lighthouses, roads and mail routes, safety, and protection on the Great Lakes. As well as letters from government officials, Lyon received letters from citizens of virtually every county in Michigan. Several of these letters relate to pension or bounty lands owed to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans and their families (e.g. January 13, 1834; December 8, 1834; January 24, 1835; March 22, 1838; January 3, 1844; November 30, 1844). Letters written during and following the boundary dispute over Toledo provide an on-the-ground view of how residents of the region experienced the conflict and its subsequent effects. A letter written April 9, 1835, accuses the Toledo Postmaster of designating his office as being in Ohio, which was seen as "having taken an improper part in the controversy now pending, between that State & Michigan Territory, which has created much excitement & dissatisfaction among the people." Though the bulk of the letters are official in nature, the collection also contains personal letters to and from Addison, Anna, Asa, Daniel, Edward, Enos, Ira, Lucretia, Mary, Orson, Sarah Atwater, Truman H., and Worthington S. Lyon. Notably, Lucretia Lyon wrote 111 letters to her brother Lucius between 1827 and 1850.
As a Michigan official and surveyor, Lyon dealt regularly with matters concerning Native Americans and their interactions with settlers and the United States government. Much of this material concerns treaties, such as the 1833 Treaty of Chicago and the 1837 Treaty of St. Peters, as well as claims made by and against Native Americans (see for example August 3, 1838; September 24, 1838; December 28, 1838; and an undated letter signed by [Musk]Rat's Liver, also known as Wazhashkokon). Tribes involved include the Choctaw, Fox, Oneida, Potawatomi, Sac (Sauk), Lakota/Dakota, Saganaw, and Ho-Chunk. Also discussed is the Shawnee Prophet (September 2, 1834) and payments to white doctors who vaccinated the Indians against smallpox (March 8, May, 30, and June 12, 1834). Several letters relate to the Second Seminole War and reference Thomas Jesup, Winfield Scott, and Sam Jones (July 26, 1836; February 8, 1838; March 25, 1838; and April 23, 1838).
Lyon also received 14 anonymous love letters (including one undated Valentine housed in the Miscellaneous series) in 1849 and 1850 signed “Mignonette.” One of these letters by the fellow Swedenborgian admirer is signed L.A. Northup whose possible identity could be Laura Adeline Northrup, daughter of a local blacksmith that Lyon visited at least once. A typescript copy of Lyon’s final reply to this woman indicates that she was much younger than him and that he would prefer to remain friends.
The Typed Copies Subseries contains 32 typed transcripts of letters to and from Lucius Lyon and members of the Ingersoll family not present in original format in collection. Some copies note the location of originals at the time they were made. Original letters date from 1833 to 1850 as well as undated.
The Caroline Portman Campbell and James H. Campbell Correspondence Subseries consists of letters relating to Caroline Belzora Portman Campbell, who donated the Lyon Papers to the University of Michigan, and her husband, James H. Campbell, a lawyer in the Grand Rapids area. Campbell (1859-1926) was active in civic and historical organizations including those related to the history of the state of Michigan. The earliest piece of correspondence is a June 30, 1770, letter written by a Quaker woman, Hannah Jackson, which was previously in the possession of Caroline Portman Campbell’s stepmother, Jennie A. Baley Portman. There is also a January 21, 1849, letter written by Portman Campbell’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Latham, and great-uncle. Other material relates to James H. Campbell's law practice and Caroline Campbell's historical research as well as ownership and donation of the Lucius Lyon papers to the University of Michigan. The bulk of the material is from 1884-1924.
The Native American Treaty Documents Series contains material primarily related to the 1837 Treaty of St Peters (alternatively known as the Treaty with the Chippewa or White Pine Treaty) as well as additional papers related to other contemporary treaties with Native American tribes in the Midwest. The 1837 Treaty Claims Subseries contains the 189 numbered claims and various un-numbered claims submitted by the Ojibwa who ceded a large plot of land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin to the United States in the Treaty of St. Peters (Treaty with the Chippewa or the White Pine Treaty) on July 29, 1837. There are two types of claims for financial compensation per the treaty stipulations. The first type of claims, the Article 3 Claims Sub-subseries, are those made by members of the tribe who were of mixed European and Native American ancestry. The second, the Article 4 Claims Sub-subseries, are claims made by those owed money by the Ojibwa. Also present are powers of attorney for claimants, lists of names of claimants, and other related documentation in the Other Treaty Documents Subseries.
The Notebooks, Recipe Book, and Writings Series contains the following eleven volumes:
- Manuscript account of Jonathan Kearsley's military service during the War of 1812.
Written in Lucius Lyon's hand. Kearsley described his job removing dead bodies from the battlegrounds and recounted the death of Major Ludowick Morgan near Lake Erie.
- Lucius Lyon memo book, 1830-1843
- Lucius Lyon notebook, 1838
- Lucius Lyon memo book, 1842-1843
- Oraculum (manuscript fortunetelling book)
- Berrien County, Michigan, notebook
- "Diagram of Salt Wells Sunk at the Rapids of Grand River, Michigan"
- Lucretia Lyon receipt book
Lurectia Lyon's receipt book includes recipes for biscuits, cookies, gingerbread, and cakes (palate cake, diet cake, perpetual cake) and household goods such as nankeen dye, food preserves, and cures for cholera morbus, deafness, warts and corns, poisonous vine infections, and dysentery.
- Account notebook, April 1850-February 1851
- Eliza Smith / Pamelia Thayer account book, 1835-1849
- Isaac Bronson Account Book
The Land, Legal, Business, and Financial Papers Series contains documents related to Lyon's business interests spanning 1820 through his death in 1851, along with papers relating to his family's finances after his death. Included are legal documents involving Lyon or officiated by him (these are largely from Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin) as well as Lyon's personal and professional financial records, including receipts, bills, invoices, and account lists (1820s-1840s). An early document is an account of sundries taken by the British and allies after surrender of Detroit on October 16, 1812. The series is organized into a Chronological Subseries, Financial Bundles Subseries, and a Petitions Subseries.
The Printed Items and Ephemera Series contains printed legal and legislative documents, advertisements and regulations, invitations, and blank forms, among other items. It also includes newspaper pages and clippings dating from 1833 to 1937.
The Miscellaneous Series contains various items, including Lyon's commissions as a Regent of the University of Michigan and Surveyor General of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan; undated caucus ballots; a 1905 typed biographical sketch of Lewis Cass, and more.
Manuscripts in the series include, among others:
- A description of the village of Lyons
- The charter of the Illinois and Michigan Canal & Railroad Company
- List of officers employed in the Quarter Masters Department
- Proceedings relative to the admission of the State of Tennesse into the Union
- An undated Knigts of Templar address
- A sample of wallpaper
- Various receipes
- A Valentine sent in 1850
- Knitting directions
In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a List of Contributors for the Lucius Lyon papers. For more information on contributors see the Clements Library card catalog.