The Lyons

Thomas Rice and Harriet Wade (Rice) Lyon

Thomas (1854 – 1909) was from Ohio and Harriet (1856 – 1936) from New York, but they met and married in Michigan. Thomas — who it seems may have come from family money (and at least his family seems to have been very well established, dating back to before the Revolution) — was a successful lumber baron, and together they had six children, four surviving to adulthood.

It’s unclear if Thomas took Rice as part of his name upon marrying Harriet, but I suspect this is the case. Both his family and Harriet’s regularly used maternal maiden names as middle names, so it might have been a nod to her family. It may also be that the two shared Rice as a family name.

On the 1900 census, Thomas’s occupation was listed as Capitalist. This was a classification meant to be used for people who were living off their wealth, and the Lyons certainly had that. Probate records from a few different states turn up for him as well as a lengthy and very specific will. The probate document filed in Cook County valued his estate at $3 million in 1909 — which is the equivalent of more than $93 million today. If each state or locality dealt with funds from those locations separately, his wealth might have been well beyond that.

Harriet lived another 27 years before she joined her husband at Graceland, some of that spent traveling abroad to various parts of Europe. She maintained the family home at Astor St until sometime around 1930 and was living in Glencoe (a posh north shore suburb) at the time of her death.

This monument is unexpected and serene. I love how it doesn’t conform to any traditional ideas of what a headstone should be. It’s just a lovely, ornate wishing well sitting beside the lake, only the plaques around it indicating it memorializes anything. I find the pineapple sitting in its center both charming and a bit curious. Centuries before Thomas’s death when pineapples were new to Europe and very rare, they came to symbolize wealth as only the rich could afford them. Later, they also came to symbolize hospitality. Perhaps that’s the message intended here — a welcome to any visitors who happen by this resting place.

RIP Lyons

Please visit my Instagram for any questions or comments on this post!

error: Content is protected !!