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Lyman family papers

Identifier: 00128

Scope and Contents

The Lyman family papers include correspondence, diaries, property deeds, newspapers, photographs, and other materials for the family of Liberty Lyman and Lucinda Sikes Lyman covering the years 1812-1910.The bulk of the family correspondence consists of letters to Lucinda Lyman from her sons and daughters, as well as letters from friends and relatives in Massachusetts. Especially interesting are the letters of the Lyman sons in California. Many vivid details are given on life in California during the Gold Rush. Comments on mining and agricultural activities are also of interest. The correspondence of the Civil War years reveal the Lyman's strong Unionist sentiments in their observations on social issues of the era.

The entries in the diaries are often sketchy and difficult to read but they convey many useful details of the family farm. James Lyman's diary of 1863-1864 is useful for details on Civil War campaigns.

The folders of land deeds are useful in showing the gradual expansion of the original family plot and the consolidation of the land by Edson Lyman. Of particular interest is the original federal grant of land dated 1837.

Three newspaper clippings deal with the deaths of Liberty and Romanzo Lyman and the fire in Forest City, California which destroyed Romanzo's home.

Miscellaneous materials of special interest are a poem by J. Garagen of the Third Michigan Cavalry dealing with the Battle of Corinth, an 1822 silhouette of Liberty and Lucinda Lyman, obituaries, and a "Five Generations of the Lyman and Related Families" document by John Mark Lamberton.

Sources for biographical information: Vol. 32 Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections articles on the early history of Shiawassee County; Clinton and Shiawassee Counties Chicago Chapman Brothers 1891 p. 416 article on Burt Lyman, a son of Pliny Lyman; Biographical information in donor correspondence file.


  • Creation: 1812 - 1910

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

After their marriage Liberty and Lucinda Lyman settled in Blanford, Massachusetts where they had ten children. Their sons were Sylvester, Romanzo, Sereno, James, Pliny, Edson, and Calvin. The daughters were named Catherine, Arua, and Lucinda.

In the spring of 1837 the entire family as well as Lucinda's mother, Lucina Sikes, moved to Shiawassee County in Michigan. The Lymans established a farm southeast of Bancroft on government land.

In 1849 Sylvester and Romanzo traveled overland to California during the Gold Rush. Sylvester was involved in both mining ventures and agriculture, eventually setting up a farm in Santa Clara. Romanzo returned east in 1856 to marry Mary Alderman and subsequently returned to his farm in Forest City, California. In 1858, the two brothers were joined by Sereno who also settled in California.

Lucinda Lyman attended school in Ann Arbor in the early 1850s and eventually taught at an Indian school in Shiawassee County in 1852. She was the last teacher to receive pay from the United States government in Shiawassee County. Lucinda married Russell J. Hastings and settled in Guliford, Ohio.

Pliny Lyman became a businessman in 1844 when he established the "Corunna Woolen Factory" in Corunna, Michigan. He served as the first town clerk of Corunna as well as having two terms as county treasurer. He was also active in local politics until his death in 1868.

James Lyman enlisted as a member of the Third Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. His regiment saw action in the Western theatre at the siege of Corinth and the battles of Iuka and Corinth. In the later stages of the war the Third was involved in several skirmishes in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas. While in the service, James rose in rank from Sergeant to Second Lieutenant. The Lyman brothers in California drilled in militia units but saw no actual fighting.

In 1863, Liberty Lyman died. Edson Lyman succeeded him in running the farm by purchasing most of the original land from the other family heirs.

Romanzo moved from California to Illinois in 1870. He lived on a farm in Lemong, Illinois until his death in 1887.

Sylvester remained in California and became part owner in the Arrowhead Lodge, a spa in San Bernadino, California.

In 1910 Edson Lyman became a member of the Michigan Historical Commission. His application and correspondence with the Historical Commission is shown in the final correspondence folder.


1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of R.G. Curtis

Eloise Lyman, 1977-08-30, 1978-04-11.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Lyman Family Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
W. McDaid
May 1978
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US