Oscar Fitzallen Lyons was born in Nauvoo in 1840, the oldest child of Caleb Washington and Sarah Bigler Lyons.
After being driven out of Nauvoo the family moved to Quincey, Illinois, where Caleb worked on the steamboat Edward Bates until he was killed in a boiler explosion in 1848.
In 1849 Sarah’s brother brought Sarah and her four children to Council Bluffs, and from there they crossed the plains in 1850 in the Edward Hunter Company, the first Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company.
Sarah married Thomas Evans Taylor in 1851 and the family made their home in Salt Lake, although Oscar travelled a good deal – to California in 1859 and on mission to England in 1863. From 1867 to 1869 he worked as a civil engineer on the Western Pacific Railroad, as well as the Utah Central Railroad, and helped build the first racetrack in Denver, Colorado. He taught school in Provo as well as working for the Deseret News, the Daily Telegraph, Salt Lake Tribune and Herald.
On the lighter side, Oscar was also a member of the Salt Lake City Dramatic Company and played with Dimick B. Huntington’s martial band.
In 1870 Oscar married Maria Louise Marchant, daughter of Abraham and Lydia Lidiard Johnson Marchant.
Their first home in Peoa was very humble
but by 1880 he had built a much grander building for his family.
The house is built using “plank-on-plank” construction, and is the only recorded example of the technique in Utah. There is a tradition that the house was built by George Criddle of Morgan, but research shows that he worked in stone, not wood, and his son, who was a carpenter, and who married Oscar’s daughter Amy, is too young to have built the house.
Oscar was active in the public life of the county, serving two terms as Prosecuting Attorney and as Notary Public from 1884. He was Secretary of the South Bench Irrigation Company, the first president of the Peoa YMMIA and assistant superintendant of the Sunday Schools. In 1905 he was arrested for financial irregularities in regards to his role as postmaster, but was acquitted.
He and Maria had eleven children, eight of whom survived to adulthood.
He died in of pneumonia in 1908 and is buried in Peoa. Maria and the remaining unmarried children went to live with her son Herbert in Salt Lake after Oscar’s death. She died in 1917 and is buried in Peoa.
The house then passed to Oscar and Maria’s oldest daughter, Maria Louisa “Lute”. She was born in Provo in 1873 and in 1893 married Albert Miles, son of Benjamin Adrian and Rachel Mahulda Lockhart Miles.
Albert built a small log home on her father’s property, where they raised ten children, seven of whom survived.
Lute made ice cream to sell in the summer, using ice cut from the river in winter and stored in sawdust in an ice house on the property. Their house burned down in 1918 and Albert bought the big house, although Lute did not live to enjoy it long. She died of tuberculosis in 1923. Albert died in 1930. They are both buried in Peoa.
The house was then bought by Albert and Lute’s second son, Emory (front row, third from left in the picture above), who ran a beer parlor in a little log house on the property. He moved to San Diego some time after 1940 and sold the property to his sister Chloe and her husband.
Chloe Afton Miles (top left in the picture) was the oldest daughter of Lute and Albert, born in 1900. She married Reuben Lawrence Jensen, son of Ola and Christina Petersdotter Jonsson, in 1921. Their first child was born in Peoa in 1922, after which couple tried their luck in California, where several siblings were living, but returned home in 1926. They shared the house with Chloe’s brother Milton until his marriage in 1940. Reuben worked for the State Road Commission until 1943 when he was drafted to become a federal trapper, and Chloe hung wallpaper throughout the county. Eventually the family moved to Alaska, where Chloe died in 1975 and Reuben in 1979. They are both buried in Peoa.
The Lyons House is on the National Historic Register.