Early Reminiscences of Mower County: Lyle Township

Article Type: 
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, May 21, 1902
Publication Date Is Approx: 
Referenced Places: 


Hon. B. F. Langworthy of Brownsdale, One of the
Earliest Settlers of the County, Continues
His Series of Interesting Articles.

LYLE TOWNSHIP in 1856 received many substantial settlers, among them being Ezra D. Ames, Rev. Alanson Beach, John Beach, Wilson Beach, Erastus Bedford, Chester and Edward Colwell, Calvin H. Owen, Lewis Ebers, William Schellbach, Rev. Samuel Loomis, Henry Roberts, A. M. St. John, Joseph Thompson, William West, William M. Pace, Robert Lyle and Samuel Surface. E. D. Ames was a native of New York state moving to DeKalb county, Ind., when about 15 years old. He came to Cedar Rapids in 1855 and to Lyle in March, 1856, preempting on section 21 but the same year buying his present place on 19. He has made great success as an apple raiser, some years selling large quantities. The Beaches were also from York state. They settled in sections 26 and 33 near Woodbury creek. The father was an ordained M. E. minister. He and his family came west to Fulton while Wilson started from York state with three horses, a wagon and a buggy. He took a canal boat from Albany to Buffalo then took steamer to Chicago and drove overland to Fulton to meet the rest of the family. There was a large log house on the land, which they bought of Benjamin Coe, with puncheon floor and a stone chimney on the outside. A large frame house was afterwards built. The father was count commissioner for eight years and later John Beach held the same position. Wilson Beach served in the war in Co. H, Mounted Rangers, being engaged especially with the Sioux Indians. Samuel Loomis was in the same company. Bedford was a native of Michigan but was reared by an uncle in Rensselarville, N. Y. In January, 1856, he came to Lyle and worked for Orlando Wilder and took a claim on section 30. The Colwells settled in sections 30. The Colwells settled in sections 30 and 19 but two years later moved to Kansas. Louis Ebbers and William Schellbach, his son-in-law, natives of Germany, came early in the year and settled on section 34, Minnereka. Mr. Ebbers died the first summer. Calvin H. Owen was a native of Duchess county, N. Y. He was married Jan. 27, 1846, to Miss Sarah A. Crandell. They lived in Duchess county until 1856, when they came to Decorah and then to Mitchell county. He bought in the fall on section 30 in Lyle, and after wintering at Otranto returned to York state for his family. Mr. Owen is now one of the largest land owners in Lyle. Rev. Loomis, an M. E. minister, preempted in section 19. He enlisted in Co. K, Fourth Minn. Vols., and was discharged in October, 1862, on account of disability and died in December. Henry Roberts, an Englishmen, came late in the year and bought Carrier's claim on section 20. He now has large land holdings in Lyle. Joseph Thompson settled in section 27 but remained but two years and then moved to Iowa. William West, a native of Stockton, N. Y., came west in 1855, coming to Galena, Ill., by rail, then to McGregor by boat and then by foot to Otranto, where he worked in a sawmill. He met his family at McGregor in the fall and they wintered in Mitchell county. The next summer they kept tavern in the Beach house for several months and built a log house on their claim on section 34, Minnereka, where they moved in the fall, and where their home was for many years. Samuel Surface, a Hoosier, preempted land in sections 28 and 29. He died in the service, being a member of Co. K, Fourth Minn. Vols. The township was named from Robert Lyle, who settled just west of the Cedar in 1856. He was a native of Ohio. He was elected Judge of Probate in 1860, and was court commissioner. He represented this district in the first state legislature, which met in special session in July, 1858. He moved to Missouri in 1868. William M. Pace, a native of Perry county, Ohio, sold out there in 1856 and located on section 21, town of Lyle, later moving to section 22. Like other pioneers his nearest shipping point was at McGregor 120 miles distant. Many a load of wheat did he haul to Rochester with ox teams selling it for fifty and sixty cents a bushel and camping on the way to save expense of hotel. He served three years in Co. K, Fourth Minn. Vols.

David Gekler, a native of Germany, came to Lyle in 1857, later moving to section 14, which he took as a homestead. C. R. Hughson was a native of New York, coming out to Milwaukee in 1849, he made a trip to California by way of Panama. After being in business with his brother at Albany, N. Y., for six years, he came to Lyle township, settling on section 25. Capt. Robert Mooers, of the famous Co. K, 4th Minn. Vols., opened up a land office at Otranto at an early date coming to section 30 in Lyle just before the war broke out. He was killed in the service. His widow and daughter now live in Austin. S. H. Trowbridge came from Racine county, Wis., in 1863. His son, Capt. Miles M. was in the 1st Wis. Inf'ty and was severely wounded at Perrysville. He reenlisted after recovery. He was Register of Deeds for six years in Mower county. Henry C. Trowbridge, a brother of Miles served in Co. I, 11th Ill. Cavalry, during the war. He still resides on section 9. Thomas A. Hotson, a native of Norfolk, England, bought 160 acres in section 10 in 1862. They sailed from Liverpool in Oct., 1854, and were six weeks and four days on the passage to New Orleans. He settled for several years in St. Clare county, Ill., before coming to Lyle. Stephen A. Martin came to section 29 from Chautauqua county, N. Y. in March, 1865. J. S. Bowers, a native of Canada came to section 17 in 1871.

There have been many changes since but they are more familiar to the present generation. The first white child born in Lyle township was in J. Stilson's family early in 1855, the next was Isaac Moshier, son of Dilarzon Moshier, born Aug. 16, 1855. Mrs. Margary Bean, mother of Mrs. O. Wilder, was the first white person who died in the town and was buried in the limits of Woodbury cemetery long before it was surveyed. The second death was that of Louis Ebbers. The first person married in the town was Miss Rosa Woodbury to Mr. Southerland. The first school taught was by Miss Maria Vaughan of Lansing, afterwards Mrs. N. M. Wilder, in a log cabin on Matthew St. John's land in the summer of 1856. Zilllah Beach, Thomas Parker and Rev. Samuel Loomis were other pioneer teachers in the town. The township organization was effected in 1858 with the following officers: Board of supervisors, Orlando Wilder, W.W. Allen, R. B. Foster; town clerk, Thomas Parker; treasurer, M. Teeter; assessor, C. R. Hughson; Justices of Peace, David West, R. B. Foster; constables, Wm. Phelps, Joe Thompson.

The village of Lyle near the state line was platted in 1870 when the railroad went through. Previously the Cedar Valley Land Co. had built quite a centre at Otranto and fully expected the new railroad to make that point, keeping west of the Cedar river, but the railroad crossed the river below them and Otranto and Cedar City were left to decay. The first house built in Lyle village was by Thomas H. Irgens in 1870, he using the ground floor for a store. John O. Myhre and George Anderson and C. H. Cole built and opened for business the same year. The post office was established in 1871 with Mr. Irgens postmaster. The village was incorporated in March, 1875, with the following officers: Mayor, L. W. Sherman; councilman, John Trodler, O. H. Lucken, Phil McLaughlin; treasurer, Thos. H. Irgens; recorder, John C. Taskerud; justice of peace, L. W. Sherman; marshal, P. Knudson; assessor, P. McLaughlin. L. W. Sherman, a native of Chatauqua Co. N. Y., came to the village in 1871 as agent for Bassett, Hunting & Co., and built up a large lumber and coal business, devoting part of his time to agricultural pursuits. He served during the war in Co. G, 38th Wis., and was wounded and sent to the hospital in Washington and was there when Lincoln was assassinated. Andrew O. Myhre came to Lyle in 1872 having come to Beloit, Wis., from Norway in 1864. B. D. Hedemark came in 1873 and engaged in the boot and shoe business. Capt. Wm. Stanley, who was in the U. S. army for nearly twenty years, came to Lyle in August, 1875, and in 1881, he and his son bought out the drug business of Frank Jerabek. Peter Hanson moved his harness business from Cedar Falls in 1874. O. T. Lund came in 1882 and E. H. Ahrens and Ed. Johnson in 1883. O. N. Darling was the first station agent, commencing in 1870. Lyle village has pushed to the front as a railroad and business centre, with the Milwaukee, the Illinois Central and the Great Western railroads there, with strong banks and business houses and enterprising citizens and excellent schools.