Mississippi

The Populist Party in Jasper County, Mississippi, 1894

Here’s a wonderful document sent to me by independent researcher Ralph Poore. It’s a reminder of the vibrant third-party political movements that emerged for a time in post-Civil War Mississippi. I’m especially intrigued by the names “R. A. Welborn,” “Dr. Lyon,” and “C. J.” and “D.A. Lightsey,” as those surnames are all connected in some way with Jones County Unionists and/or Populists. Perhaps readers can help identify possible kinships across county lines.

Vikki Bynum, Moderator


Jasper County Review

October 3, 1894 2:4

Resolutions of Populite [Populist] mass meeting.

Mass meeting of People’s Party of Jasper County held at courthouse in Paulding on September 20, 1894.

J. C. Rodgers chairman of the executive committee elected chairman of the meeting.

John White, secretary.

R. M. Read, Sr.

Committee of Ten: R. M. Read, Jr., A. W. Atwood, A. G. B. Graham, J. J. McNeill, John Simms, F.C. Thornton, R. A. Welborn, Dr. Lyon, W. E. Cook, C. J. Lightsey, D. A. Lightsey.

“Resolved, That we, the People’s party in mass meeting assembled, recognize the fact that the Democratic party has signally failed to carry out its promises. Therefore, be it

“Resolved, That we condemn the action of the present administration as subversive of the rights and interests of the people.

“2nd. That we condemn the action of Grover Cleveland in regard to the silver bill. We favor the government issuing greenbacks and paying the public debt and doing away with national banks, that general bankrupts may be averted.

“3rd. That we have been and still are in favor of Jeffersonian Democracy, and that our faith has never been shaken nor our courage diminished.

“4th. We recognize the People’s party as the only hope for relief, and that we ask all true reformers to go with us in this, the hour of our country’s peril.

“5th. That we are in the fight to stay until the battle for reform has been gained and the people emancipated from the rule of mammon.

“6th. That we are bound by no machine nor governed by no party lash, but believe more in moral honesty and competency in the discharge of official duties than the political epithets with which false men would beguile the people.

“7th. When a party becomes corrupt it is time to abandon it and build upon the ruins thereof truth and honor.

“8th. Believing in the righteousness of our cause and in the integrity of the American people, we invoke the aid of the God of justice on the success of our cause.

“9th. Resolved, That we reindorse the Omaha platform and the action of the Forest convention.

“Resolved, That we ask the Vindicator and all other reform papers to publish the above report, and on motion the Jasper County Review was requested to publish the proceedings of the meeting.”

JASPER COUNTY PEOPLES’ PARTY

Name Party Position Business Location Birth year
Rodgers, J. C. Chairman of the executive committee Juror
White, John secretary Election manager Twist Wood
Read, R. M., Sr. Confederate veteran
Read, R. M., Jr. Committee of Ten Election manager Missionary
Atwood, A. W. Committee of Ten farmer President, Jasper County Farmers’ Alliance 1852
Graham, A. G. B. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Cross Roads
McNeill, J. J. Committee of Ten
Simms, John Committee of Ten
Thornton, F.C. Committee of Ten Leonia
Welborn, R. A. Committee of Ten farmer P. K. 1867
Lyon, Dr. Committee of Ten
Cook, W. E. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Claiborne 1861
Lightsey, C. J. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Paulding 1841
Lightsey, D. A. Committee of Ten 1894, candidate for Coroner and Ranger Paulding
Heidelberg, W. W. State senator
JASPER COUNTY FARMERS’ ALLIANCE
Name Position Business Location
Atwood, Augustus W. President Farmer TWP 3, Range 13 East
Long, W. P. Secretary
November 6, 1894 5th Congressional District election in Jasper County

Jasper County Review, Nov. 7, 1894 2:3

Precinct Williams (Democrat) Ratliff (Populist)
Paulding 20 6
Missionary 24 7
Antioch 22 7
Palestine 15 10
Twistwood 42 8
Hopewell 14 4
Fellowship 29
Garlandsville 18 1
Randal Hill 6
Montrose 34 2
Mt. Zion 39 10
P. K. 20 16
Cross Roads 27 23
Claiborne 23 17
Heidelberg 47 2
Vossburg 18 1
Rawl’s Mill 17 1
Total 415 115

Ratliff received 120 votes in 1892.

19 replies »

  1. Vikki

    I was also intrigued abt the R A Welborn reference. I believe he is Rufus Allen Welborn .b 1867 in Erata. He is the son of Pendleton Welborn and Sarah Allen of Jasper Co and the grandson of James Lawrence Welborn and Tabitha Welch.

    R A Welborn’s GGrandparents were Aaron Welborn and Lucy Stevenson.

    Aaron Welborn and Moses Welborn were brothers.

    Joel E Welborn (my GG Grandfather) was the son of Moses Welborn and Sarah Halbert. Joel E Welborn and Martha Bowen were the parents of Mary Jane Welborn, my GGrandmother and the wife of Edmond Maclin DeVall, sheriff of Jones County during the Civil War).

    Cousins against cousins and brothers against cousins.

    Happy to see you are blogging again. I REALLY enjoy all the posts.

    Cindy

    • It’s good to hear from you, Cindy! Thank you so much for the identifications.

      You are so right about it being “cousins against cousins and brothers against cousins.” What’s interesting is that, while a number of Civil War Unionists and their descendants were attracted to political movements such as populism after the war, there were also switches in alliances. Former Confederates were also attracted to populism, causing some families to patch up their differences over the war in order to support postwar political reform movements.

      I hope someone will identify “Dr. Lyon,” especially since Jasper Collins’s daughter, Theodocia, married Thomas Lyon.

      Vikki

  2. Vikki: This fascinating post is a useful reminder that Southern Populists through the mid-1890s fully embraced the Omaha Platform. My particular research interest was/is James B. Weaver, the Iowa agrarian radical who ran at the head of the Populist ticket and who courageously took the party’s campaign into the south in 1892. Weaver fought with an Iowa infantry regiment during the war and claims to have coined the phrase “bloody shirt” during the 1850s, but in both of his presidential campaigns (he ran as the Greenback-Labor nominee in 1880) he stressed the importance of sectional unity even as he remained proud of his service in preserving the Union. Thanks for the post.

    • Thank you, Robert, for your attention to populist leader James Weaver. The struggle to build sectional unity so soon after the Civil War was an incredible challenge for the populists. Add to that the need to ally former Unionists and confederates from WITHIN the South, as well as whites and blacks, and it’s not hard to imagine why the movement ultimately failed.

      One question: you say that Weaver “courageously took the party’s campaign into the south in 1892,” but didn’t the movement actually begin in Texas?

      Vikki

  3. Vikki: You’re absolutely right, of course. The populist movement of the 1890s can trace its roots to disgruntled farmers of Lampasas County, Texas. I was referring to the presidential campaign of 1892. Challenging the political taboos of the era, Weaver actually toured the country to speak to voters. Bourbon Democrats did everything possible to demonize him; in Macon, Ga., Weaver’s wife, Clarissa, was struck by rotten eggs hurled by angry local rowdies. If you or the readers of this blog are interested, I invite you to check out my book, “Skirmisher: The Life, Times, and Political Career of James B. Weaver” (Edinborough Press), winner of the 2009 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award from the State Historical Society of Iowa.

  4. Thanks for the clarification, Robert. Your book sounds fascinating, and I definitely need to read it. I’m sure Renegade South’s reader’s will want to, too.

    Congratulations on winning the Shambaugh Award!

    Vikki

  5. Vikki

    I did some more research in Jasper Co and discovered that Dr Lyon was Elijah D Lyon who was a dentist in Jasper Co. He was born in 1838 and died in 1918. He is buried in Ebenezer Cemetery (also known as Evergreen Cemetery) in Jasper Co.
    He invented a tooth powder called Dr Lyon’s tooth powder.

    Elizah was married to Frances Morgan,dau of Mahlon Morgan and Mary Jane McCord.

    Elijah served as a sgt in Co “F” of the 11th Ohio Cavalry. I have no idea how he got to Jasper Co. or who his father and mother were. There is a Nicholas Lyon who was in Jasper Co buying some land in 1839. Maybe his father.

    The cemetery is located near Heidleberg and there are a number of Morgans in the cemetery.

    Just found out that Nicholas Lyon was from Abbeville, SC and his mother was a Harper.

    Cindy

    • Elisha Lyon servd in Company H, 27th Mississippi Infantry until he was captured and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio. On 3 June 1863 he enlisted in Company F, 11th Ohio Cavalry. Company F, 11th Ohio Cavalry consisted of 36 Union soldiers and 67 CSA POW’s. These were part of the more than 100 CSA POW’s to enlist in the 11th Ohio Cavalry for service on the Overland Trail in the dakota Territory.

    • Nicholas Lyon Was the son of Edward Lyon and Jamima Harper.
      Nicholas’ brother was Thomas Lyon married Lucy Donald. Their son Alexander married Matilda Welborn whose son Thomas married Theodocia Collins.

  6. Fascinating, Cindy. I wonder if Elijah’s branch of Lyons is related to that descended from William Alexander Lyon of Jones County, who died as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. William A. Lyon’s son, Thomas J. Lyon, married Theodocia Collins, daughter of Jasper J. Collins, so that was an interesting blend of Confederate and Unionist families.

    Later in life, Thomas J. Lyon was a strong member of third party movements (a generation younger than Dr. Lyon, he was a socialist rather than a populist). That might suggest a possible connection between the two branches of Lyons; however, I see no overlap of first names or ancestors to confirm it.

    Thank you again for sharing your research discoveries!

    Vikki

  7. Vikki

    OK,here is some more information I found. Elijah Lyon’s father was indeed Nicholas Lyon and Nicholas was a brother to Thomas Lyon ,the father of Wm A Lyon .

    Thomas and Nicholas came from Abbeville,SC into the Covington,Jones Co area around the same time. The Mottes, Lyons and Pooles and DeValls were all connected back in SC and Georgia.

    William A Lyon and Elijah were therefore 1st cousins and again we have the Collins and the Lyon and the Welborn clans all in the mix.

    Were there Morgans with Newt Knight and his band? There were some strong ties between Lyons and Morgans in Jasper County.

    An interesting aside: I found out recently that Jasper Collins and my GGrandfather, Edmond Maclin DeVall were both Masons and in the same lodge. I can just imagine the discussions that must have gone on among those men. Edmond Maclin died in 1902 and Jasper in 1913.

    Cindy

  8. Thanks again, Cindy!

    I remembered yesterday that a Collins-Lyon descendant had sent me some extensive family charts years ago, and so I went and dug them out of my files.

    I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these charts, but they list Elijah and William A. Lyon as brothers rather than cousins. There is no Nicholas on them. “Elisha” Lyon is listed as born in 1800 to Thomas Lyon, b. 1780 in Abbeville, SC, and Lucy Donald. Wm. A. Lyon, b. 1830 (m. Matilda Welborn), is identified as Elisha’s youngest brother. Other siblings include Thomas Jr., b. 1804, m. Mary Watters (Walters?); Mary, b. 1810, m. Davis Morgan; Elizabeth, b. 1820, m. Joseph Pool; and Nancy, b. 1822, m. Alfred Pool.

    As you can see, there are fairly large gaps between the children’s birth years and thirty years between the births of Elijah and William A. Lyon. Still, it’s not impossible, and there may have been children who died in between. There may also have been more than one wife for Thomas Lyon Sr. Still, I wonder if two families–perhaps those of Thomas and Nicholas–have not been merged on the chart I have.

    I also found in my files an interesting court case involving Thomas Lyon, Jr., listed as a sibling of Elijah and William. In 1857, this Thomas and his son, Thomas Morgan Lyon, were charged along with James Hightower in the murder of Charles Landrum. I’m going to have to write a special post on that case!

    Vikki

  9. Vikki

    Jones Co’s History Book “Echoes” has a submission (pgs 437-438) that suggests that Thomas Lyon (1780-1849)was married 2x’s and had 11 children of whom 5 lived to adulthood.

    Elisha, and Mary were the 1st wife and Elizabeth,Nancy and Wm Alexander were 2nd wife,Lucy Donald.

    I came across some files abt 5 years ago that were family files for Lyon,Poole,Mott(e) and DeVall that had some of the same info you have abt Elisha (b 1800-SC) Mary(b 1810-SC) Elizabeth(b 1820-SC) Nancy (b 1822-SC) and Wm Alexander (b 1830-SC)

    The marriages are the same for the children ,but with 2 wives and 11 possible children there could be quite a bit of confusion abt who belonged where. I will continue to research because this is indeed an intriguing situation.

    Interesting reflection abt the 1860 enumerator considering Thomas and family to be “Convicted”. I do believe my GGrandfather was a very complex man.I am eager to learn more about what made him respond the way he did to those difficult times.

    Cindy

    • Thanks for the clarifications, Cindy. I agree that it’s interesting that your GGrandfather may have taken advantage of his position as census enumerator to declare the Lyons guilty–one can certainly understand his frustration if two guilty men got off scot free!

      Vikki

  10. My thanks to Keith Lyon and his father, Donnis, for submitting the following genealogical data on Nicholas Lyon and his son, Elijah W. Lyon:

    Nicholas Lyon was born 11/1804 in Abbeyville Co., South
    Carolina, and died 08/16/1858 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi. He married Nancy Cox Bef.
    1839 in South Carolina, daughter of Elijah Cox and Alice. She was born 11/15/1810 in Abbeyville Co.,
    South Carolina, and died 01/15/1903 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi.

    More About Nicholas Lyon:
    Burial: Unknown, west of Heidelberg, Jasper Co., MS – Ebenezer or Evergreen Cem.
    More About Nancy Cox:
    Burial: Unknown, west of Heidelberg, Jasper Co., MS – Evergreen or Ebenezer Cem.
    Children of Nicholas Lyon and Nancy Cox are:
    i. Elijah W. Lyon, born 06/17/1839 in Jasper Co., Mississippi; died 03/17/1915.
    ii. Jonathan Calhoun Lyon, born 01/09/1844 in Jasper Co., Mississippi; died
    01/01/1913 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi.
    iii. Jefferson D. Lyon, born 1848 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi; died 1919 in
    Jones Co., Mississippi.
    iv. Benjamin H. Lyon (twin of Jefferson), born 1848 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi; died Bef.
    1875 in Mississippi. He married Martha Minerva Morris 12/22/1872 in
    Mississippi; born 03/01/1849 in Davisville, Jasper Co., Mississippi; died
    07/02/1943 in Ft. Worth, Tarrant Co., Texas.
    v. Rufus Uranius Lyon, born 08/17/1851 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi; died
    05/18/1938 in Ft. Smith, Sebastian Co., Arkansas.
    vi. Martha V. Lyon, born Abt. 1854 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi. She
    married Henry Price.

    Elijah W. Lyon, son of Nicholas, was born 06/17/1839 in Jasper Co.,
    Mississippi, and died 03/17/1915. He married Frances Morgan. She was born 02/20/1843 in Jasper
    Co., Mississippi, and died 10/22/1903 in Heidelberg, Jasper Co., Mississippi.
    More About Elijah W. Lyon:
    Burial: Unknown, west of Heidelberg, Jasper Co., MS – Ebenezer Cem.
    Burial Note: Evergreen Cem.?
    Occupation: Dentist? Invented Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder?
    More About Frances Morgan:
    Burial: Unknown, west of Heidelberg, Jasper Co., MS – Ebenezer Cem.
    Child of Elijah Lyon and Frances Morgan is:
    i. Rufus Lyon, born 07/16/1867 in Jasper Co., Mississippi; died 05/06/1942 in
    Jasper Co., Mississippi.

  11. Tryin to establish lineage from my grandfather Celestus Augustus Lyon married to Nellie Collins suposedly from the Jones County area.

  12. I’ve found some interesting connections here as well with the Lyon’s, Cook’s, and Thornton’s. This election is only 4 years after the political assassination of Frederick Marshall Bethier “Marsh” Cook. Marsh was the Republican candidate in 1890. Dr. E. W. Lyon was a friend and collegue of Marsh’s brother, Dr. John H. Cook, from Taylorsville, who was also a dentist. Frederick Cook Thornton was Marsh’s 1st cousin. William Elijah Cook was the son of Marsh’s brother Philiip G. Cook who was killed in the Civil War.

    • Thank you for supplying these interesting connections, Robert! An important part of figuring out the elements of a local movement is determining both the kinship and friendship ties among its members. That’s why I’ve learned so much from Jones County researchers/descendants such as yourself who have contacted me over the years.

      Vikki

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