Lyons once was described by an urban development consultant as what residents of large cities yearn for in their search for an improved quality of life; most significantly, a feeling of space that permeates the community. This sense of openness millions of Americans must travel several miles to experience is just a sampling of what makes Lyons uniquely capable of offering a lifestyle in the heartland that is set apart. For those pondering a move, or just an interesting visit, Lyons is worth considering.
The Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs East to West through Rice County along Highway 56, and throughout the years many artifacts left by both the Native Americans and the pioneers have been found along the trail. These artifacts are being preserved and exhibited in the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Lyons.
Lyons was named for Truman J. Lyon, the man who gave 160 acres of land to the new city of Lyons for a town and courthouse site. The “s” was not used originally, but was later adopted for the sake of euphony.
The formation of Lyons actually came about as the resolve of a county seat debate between the then town of Atlanta and Sterling in the southern part of the county. Atlanta thought it would be to their advantage to locate at the exact center of the county which was only about 2 miles away where they could easily relocate their businesses. In fact, materials of the Atlanta Hotel, and Atlanta School were used to build business structures in Lyons. An interesting story recalls how the Atlantans literally “stole” the courthouse at Atlanta to relocate it in Lyons!
Two Men “Stole” The Courthouse
When it came time to move the courthouse a Mr. Pool and George Mowrey were employed, to take it apart carefully so the lumber could be used again. Atlanta was located on AT&SF property and J.H. Ricksecker of Sterling was the agent for the company as well as their attorney. Therefore, the building was on railroad property and according to law, buildings erected on another man’s property cannot be removed without the consent of the owner as it is considered a permanent improvement. Pool and Mowrey were dismantling the building one day when Ricksecker appeared in town and asked them what they were doing. After he learned of the nature of their task he informed them that they were under arrest. The men were taken before Earl Joslyn, Justice of the Peace, and a trial was set for the next day at 1 p.m.. Pool and Mowrey didn’t have anyone to pay their bond and Joslyn didn’t want to put them in jail. So they were released and told to at least show up one hour before the trial.
Word spread fast and that night men came from everywhere to Atlanta, and it was not long before the building was torn down and hauled to Lyons, all done before morning. Justice Joslyn conveniently thought his watch was an hour slow that morning and set it ahead an hour. Pool and Mowrey were there on time, as promised, one hour early. The case was called promptly on time by Joslyn’s watch. After waiting a few minutes for Ricksecker to appear, the case was dismissed and the defendants allowed to go home. An hour later, Ricksecker appeared, and being informed of what had happened, that he had not been there to look after it, he threatened to carry the case up, being in a furious rage. But Ricksecker did not pursue it further and the courthouse was then rebuilt on the south side of the Lyons Square. In 1910, the present day red-brick courthouse was built in the center of the square.