Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Historic Lyon's Falls

source:  Mansfield Semi-Weekly News:  22 November 1898, Vol. 14, No. 96


Submitted by Amy


There are traditions that are not historically correct.  For years past, it has been generally believed in these parts that Lyon's Falls were named for the old Indian chieftain Capt. Tom Lyons.  

It may seem like uncalled for iconoclasm to dispel belief in such a mythical personage as Lily Pipe, or to rob Lyon's Falls of Indian traditions.  But history should be accurately given, and its correct narration is more instructive and can be as entertainingly told as though its warp were woven with the woof of fiction.

Lyon's Falls are situated about 15 miles southeast of Mansfield.  There are two falls, and the place, which has been a noted picnic resort for many years, is wild in its primitive forest and grand in its rugged picturesqueness.  During the past summer a party of ladies and gentlemen, whose names are conspicuous on the list of Mansfield's "400", took a day's outing at these falls, and a grave was pointed out to them as that of "the noted Lyons", and like many others they inferred that the Lyons buried there was the celebrated Indian chieftain of that name.  Upon their return to Mansfield they told entertainingly of the wooded hills and sylvan dells, of the over-hanging rocks and of the 80-foot leap of the waters from the edge of the precipice to the basin at the bottom of the chasm, casting its sprays into the cool grottos which the hand of nature chiseled out of the everlasting rocks.  And the further fact that the party had seen the grave of the great warrior, lent additional interest to the story and to the locality.

With such allurements it was not long until another detachment of the "400" also visited these noted falls, and the gentlemen of the party fired volleys over the grave, danced a war-dance and gave Indian funeral whoops and came home satisfied that they had held suitable commemorative ceremony over the earthly resting place of the body of an Indian chieftain.

Tom Lyons, the Indian, who took a prominent part in the Wyoming massacre (1778), and was afterwards a noted character in the early history of Richland County, was killed by a young man named Joe Haynes, to avenge the murder of a kinsman and he buried the old chief in Leedy's swamp in the southern part of Jefferson Township.

The Lyons buried at the falls was Paul Lyons, a white man.  He was not a hermit, as one tradition states, for he took to himself a wife, who bore him a son, and he did not particularly shun his neighbors, although he did not admit them into his confidence.

What Paul Lyons' object and motives were for leaving the civilization of the east and seeking a home amid the rocks and hills of that wild and uninhabited part of the country are matters only of conjecture, for he never gave his antecedents, and refused to explain or to give reasons for hiding himself away in the forest and leading such a retired life.  He had "squatted" on land too rough to till, and he never attempted to clear off the timber nor to cultivate the rocky soil.  He simply built a cabin amid the trees and passed his time principally in hunting and fishing, but as the country became settled around him, and farmers needed help to harvest their crops, he often assisted them in such work.  He never made any exhibition of money, yet always paid cash for what he bought.  He has been described as a large man, and that he had ability and education is shown by the statement of a lady now living, who says that he was an intelligent and entertaining conversationalist and that at the funeral of a neighbor he read a chapter and sang a hymn, and that it was the best reading and singing she ever heard.  

In about 1856 Lyons, while assisting in hauling logs, met with an accident which resulted in his death, and he was buried upon the hill, between the two water-falls.

The late Rosella Rice had a headboard, painted and lettered, put up at the grave, but visitors shot marks at the board until it was riddled into slivers by bullets, and later the body was exhumed and the skeleton mounted by a physician.  A slight depression in the ground is now the only sign showing where the body had been interred.  

Lyons' wife was not an intellectual woman and it is said that she was sent away and died in an asylum.  It is also reported that the boy was taken to an eleemosynary institution after his father's death, and that when he grew to manhood he went west and prospered.

Lewis Lusk

The most noted personage for the past 25 years in the region of the falls is Lewis M. Lusk, the fiddler, who has played for hundreds of dances.  In past seasons there were dancing floors at the falls and Lusk furnished the music with his "fiddle and his bow", while the dancers kept step to its enlivening strains.  

Lewis Lusk's Home

Mr. Lusk is now paralyzed and the sands of his life seem to be well-nigh run, but tourists will long remember of seeing him sitting in the door or in the yard of his cabin, playing his fiddle, while the ripples of the waters of the Mohican seemed to echo the refrain of the music as the current of the stream swept around its graceful bends in front of the humble dwelling, the rugged rocks forming a rustic background to the picture framed by the encircling hills, all combining to impress the passersby with the thoughts, how sweet is music, how dear is home, and how inspiring is all the handiwork of the Creator.

-- A.J. Baughman

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