Joseph Cloud Lyon & Mary Lavalette Dudley

This week’s prompt was “weather” and that got me thinking of my second great-grandfather whose name was Joseph Cloud Lyon.   Now “Cloud” would relate to weather!  When I first discovered this ancestor, I really wondered why his middle name would be Cloud.  Was he Native American or was it a misspelling?  However, delving deeper, I found that his mother’s birth surname was Cloud and they used her surname as his middle name.  Since then, I have found other ancestors who had their mother’s surname as middle names.  It was more common than I realized!  I also noted that he used the surname “Lyon” not “Lyons”.  His son, my great grandfather, George, used “Lyons.”  I have found the surname Lyons and Lyon were used interchangeably for Joseph throughout my research.

Joseph Cloud Lyon was born in September of 1821 in Stokes County, North Carolina.  Stokes County is on the border with Virginia as indicated in the map below.

Stokes County NC 001

He was the son of James Alexander Lyon and Lucinda “Lucy” Cloud.   The first record I did find was on Find A Grave and a notation stated that he was a “Private, 4th Va infantry, CSA, Grandson of Col. Lyon, distinguished officer of the Revolutionary War and trusted conferee of George Washington”  So now I had some valuable clues – birth, death, burial and that Joseph was a Confederate war veteran and grandson of a Col. Lyon.  He was buried in the East End Cemetery in Wytheville, Wythe County, Virginia and died 17 Jan 1906.  He lived to 84 years old.  He also must have been about 40 years old when he fought in the Civil War.

As I researched, I found that the Cloud Family in Virginia and North Carolina was and is still, quite extensive!  Surely I will have to find out later how his mother Lucy fits into the Cloud family line.  In the 1850 Federal Census for his father James Lyon, I found the family was living in the 48th District in the county of Pulaski, Virginia.  His father was a tailor and he and Lucinda had 9 children listed, including Joseph, who was 24 years old.  Joseph and 2 of his brothers, Francis and Edmund, were “Wheelwrights.”   He had sisters named Mary, Eliza, Lucinda and Eugenia and 2 more brothers, James and George.  My great-grandfather may have been named after Joseph’s brother George!  Eugenia was the youngest at 12 years old.

At age 25, Joseph married Mary Lavalette Dudley on 14 September of 1851.  The marriage took place in Pulaski County, Virginia and was performed by J. G. Cecil, Minister.  Mary Lavalette  was the daughter of James Ransome Dudley and Jane Mallory Lyon.  She was born 16 September in Virginia and was 22 years old when she married Joseph.  I have started to trace the Dudley line and it extends back to the British Isles.  More information will be forthcoming in future blogs!

Nine years later, Joseph and Mary Lyons are living in Giles County, Virginia and their post office is White Gate but the little town was called Walker’s Creek.  According to the 1860 census, Joseph’s occupation is blacksmith and he is 34 and Mary is 32.  They have 5 children: Mary Elizabeth, age 9; William, 7; Susan, 6; and the twins, Lucinda (Lucy) and Catherine who are 3.  The value of their personal estate was $2370.  This census was taken on August 23, 1860 and 5 days later, on August 28, son George Edward Lyons, my great-grandfather,  was born!  Sadly, their son William died that year after the census.

Things were changing for the family as the Civil War began and Joseph entered the 4th Virginia Infantry and served in the 82nd Militia, 86th Militia and the 87th Militia.   I imagine Joseph’s skills as a blacksmith may have been an asset serving in the Militia.  Son Jessie was born in 1861 but died before 1870.  In 1862 of November,  a son, John Lee Lyons, was born and another son, Charles Guilford Lyons was born in 1864.  In 1867, Joseph’s father, James Alexander Lyons, died on the 2nd of January and 2 days later his mother, Lucinda Cloud Lyons dies!  It makes me wonder if the cause of their deaths was something like smallpox or another ailment as they died within 2 days of each other.

The family moved by 1870 and were living on a farm in Newbern Township, Pulaski County, Virginia.  Joseph was a blacksmith and 44 years old.  Mary was 42.  Two more children were listed, Willie Anna who was 2 and Thomas Houston, 1.  (Willie Anna Lyons later married William German Ashlin and were the subjects of one of my previous blogs) Catherine, one of the twins, was not listed and died before 1870.   Son William Lyons was also not listed and he would have been 17.  I have not found his records yet so he may have also died before 1870.  The rest of the children included Mary Elizabeth, Susan, Lucy, George, John, and Charles.  Also listed for the household were 3 boarders:  Robert Whittaker, 23 and Stuart Morton, 15, who were farm laborers; and, John F Colbe, born in Germany, age 30 and was a Cooper (barrel maker).

Two more children were born after this census.  They were Walter in 1873 and Emma Lockett Elevette Lyons in 1874.  In all, I counted 13 children born to Joseph and Mary.  Below is a Virginia County map which has some of the counties they lived in outlined in blue.

map of virginia 2 001

The next information I found was the death of Mary Lavalette Dudley Lyons in 1877 on February 6th.  She was buried in the East End Cemetery, Wytheville, Wythe County, VA.    Cause of death is unknown.  Sadly, she left behind small children.  In the 1880 Census, the family is still in Wytheville and Joseph is listed as widowed and 58 and a farmer.  Daughter Susan took over the housekeeping and she is 28.  Lucy is 23 and is a seamstress.  The 3 sons, George, John and Charles “work on the farm”.  Willie is just 12, Thomas is 10, Walter is 7 and Emma Locket is 6.

Also in 1880, on 10 Sep. , Joseph remarries at age 61.  He married a widow named Frances (Fannie) Jane Smith Pattison.  Fannie was the daughter of Larken Smith and Elizabeth Myer.  However, this marriage lasted only 7 years as Fannie died on 15 June of 1887.  Joseph was a widower once again.   Since the 1890 census records were destroyed by fire,  I have a gap in Joseph’s information.

In 1900, Joseph was listed as widowed and lived in Gladeville District in Wise County, VA with his daughter Mary Elizabeth Lyon, 45,  and grandson Joseph A Lyon, 10 years old  (evidentially named after him).  Joseph is again plying his trade as a blacksmith at age 78.   Joseph passed away on the 17th of January in 1906 in Norton, Norton City, VA at the age of 84.  He was buried in the East End Cemetery in Wytheville with Mary Lavalette Dudley Lyons, his first wife.   I was able to gather information on their children and will save some of those surprises for another blog!

Lyon, Joseph Cloud, Grave Stone 3 001




Find A Grave, database and images, memorial page for Joseph Cloud Lyon, Find A Grave Memorial no. 165301248., 1850 United States Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research comp., Virginia Marriages, 1851-1929 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2000.

United States Census, 1960, database, FamilySearch, citing p. 113, household 706, NARA microfilm Publication M653; FHL microfilm 806,345.

Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865, database, FamilySearch, NARA microfilm publication M324, Roll 1050.

United States Census, 1870, database with images, FamilySearch, citing p. 18, family 119, NARA microfilm publication M593; FHL microfilm 553,173.

United States Census, 1880, database with images, FamilySearch, Wytheville Magisterial District, Wythe, Virginia; citing enumeration district 111, sheet 496A, ARA microfilm pub. T9, roll 1395; FHL microfilm 1,255,395. Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA; Operations, Inc., 2014.  (FHL Film Number 34255).

Year: 1900; Census Place: Gladeville, Wise, Virginia, Page: 9; Enumeration District: 0124.

Murder in a Taxi Cab

This weeks prompt is taxes, which is close enough to “taxi”.  I recently came across a death certificate for Bryl Dewey Ashlin, a taxi cab driver,  dated December 2, 1947 and was stunned at the cause of death!

AShlin, Dewey cause of death 001

The cause of death was “Cerebral laceration and hemorrhage due to a gunshot wound”  Bryl Dewey Ashlin was pronounced “Dead on arrival”    The certificate also noted that this was a homicide (?), ( a question mark was added in parenthesis) and that the injury was from a “Romantic escapade(?)”  This was something I felt I really had to investigate further.

Byrl Dewey was usually just called “Dewey” and was my first cousin, twice removed.  He was the son of William German Ashlin and Willie Anna Lyons and grandson of Columbus Perry Ashlin and Mary Ann James.  Columbus and Mary Ann are also my paternal 2nd great-grandparents.  Dewey was just 47 years old when he was shot and was married with eight children.  I just had to know more about his story!

At first, what I found sounded like a pretty normal life.  The death certificate stated that Dewey was born on the 9th of May in 1900 but other records list his birth as 20 May of 1899.  He was the seventh of eleven children of William German and Willie Anna Ashlin.  The Ashlin family lived near Sugar Grove, Smyth County Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They had a farm on Mountain Road in St. Clair and many relatives, including grandparents lived close by.  Sounds like it was a good place to grow up.  However, they had to deal with the Great Depression in that era.  Later, around 1935 to 1940, the parents moved to Bluefield in Mercer County, West Virginia where they bought another farm.

According to his World War I Draft Registration card in 1917, Byrl Dewey was born in 1899 and he was 19 years old.  He was then living in Pocahontas, Tazewell County, Virginia and working as a laborer for an employer named Gillin.  Here I found out the Dewey was tall and slender and had brown eyes and dark hair.

By 1940 Dewey had married Margie Lee Grogan and they had 7 children.  Daughter Ruby Lea was born in 1923, Audrey  in 1924, Alfred Robert in 1928, William Everette in 1930, Nellie Helen in 1933, Bryl Dewey, Jr. in 1936, Ollie Marie in 1938.   Another son,  Bruce Eugene, was born later in 1946.  Sadly, one son, Thomas Wilburn Ashlin died at 6 months old in 1927.   The family lived in Yards, Virginia.  Dewey  was doing quite well as he owned a taxi cab business operating out of Pocahontas, Virginia and a partnership cab business with his brother Gilbert in Bluefield, West Virginia.  The map below shows how close the towns were as they were along the Virginia-West Virginia borders.

map of bluefieldWV 001

About 1935, his wife, Margie, contracted tuberculosis.  She went to the Catawba Hospital in Roanoke County, Virginia, the first Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Virginia, for treatment.  The mountain air and sulphur and limestone springs on Catawba Mountain were claimed to be valuable in curing lung diseases.   It worked for Margie and her treatment was successful and she returned home in 1936.

Catawba Tuberculosis center VA 001

Things seemed to be going pretty good for Dewey up to then.  But then, I found information on Dewey through in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph of December 4, 1947 and it was front page news!

“Authorities are continuing their investigation into the gunshot death of Dewey Ashlin, 49-year-old father of eight children of Yards, Va., who was found dead in his own taxicab at Coopers, W. Va., about 9 o’clock Tuesday night, in what officers termed the result of a triangle love affair.  Ashlin’s car was found in a hollow about 100 yards off the main highway at Coopers…Police Chief W. F. Shumate of Pocahontas, Va., who was in on the investigation with West Virginia officers, said Ashlin had been shot through the head by a German Luger pistol, which, with the empty cartridge, was found in the taxicab.  Shumate said the bullet entered the man’s head and came out the left forehead.”

The article went on to describe how Dewey and his brother Gilbert were friends with the same girl.  The girl, Gladys Carter, 18 or 19, told police that Dewey came to her house and tooted the horn.  She went out to talk to him and he asked her for a date but she refused and told him to go back to his wife and children and Dewey said he “would end it all.”  Gladys added that she started to walk back to her house when she heard a gun shot.  Then Gladys and some of her family went to get Dewey’s brother and the police.  However, I am puzzled why his car was found down in a hollow – how did it get there if he shot himself in front of her house?

Meanwhile, Dewey’s wife didn’t learn of her husband’s death until the next morning when officers questioned her.  Margie explained that Dewey left to go to Bluefield to borrow money and took the deed to their home in order to obtain a loan so he could buy out his brother’s part in the taxicab business they owned together.  The Chief revealed that Dewey did have the deed on his person and a sum of money.  Margie had been beside herself with worry as she had asked Dewey what was wrong before he left home and he replied that he “hoped she’d never find out” what was wrong.  (The mystery deepens!)  The Police called in experts on powder burns and continued their investigation.

Eight days later, this article appeared in the Charleston Gazette on December 12, 1947, Page 12 and in the Raleigh Register, Beckley, West Virginia, p. 9.  (Translation below)

Ashlin, Byrl Dewey death, newspaper clip 001

“PRINCETON   Gladys Carter, 19-year-old daughter of a coal miner at Coopers, was held today on a murder charge in the fatal shooting of a taxi cab driver whose body was found in his cab Tuesday night, Sheriff Perry L. Dye reported.  Her arrest, he said, followed an investigation of the death of Byrl Dewey Ashlin, 49, of Yards, Va., who owned a taxi company at Pocahontas, Va.

Ashlin’s body was sprawled in the front seat of the car parked near the Carter home at Coopers, 10 miles west of Bluefield.  Officers said he died of a single bullet wound.  An automatic revolver was in the seat…The warrant for her arrest was sworn out by Mrs. Audrie Baum, one of Ashlin’s six children.” ( There are a few mistakes in the article – Dewey was 47 and had eight children.)

Another newspaper article from the Kingsport News of Kingsport, Tennessee, also reported on the incident.  This was evidently multi-state news!

Girl Is Charged With Cab Driver’s Slaying

Princeton, W.Va   Attractive 18-year-old Gladys Carter was held in Mercer County jail Wednesday night on a murder charge in the shooting of a taxi driver whose body was found sprawled on the front seat of his cab last week, Sheriff Perry L. Dye reported.  Dye said the girl’s arrest by state and county officers at her home at Coopers, about 10 miles from Bluefield, climaxed a week of investigation into the death of Byrl Dewey Ashlin 49, of Yards Va., married and father of eight.

The funeral for Dewey Ashlin was held on December 7, 1947 at the Midway Methodist church at Yards.  The obituary lists his children, parents and brothers and sisters.  It mentions he was a member of the U. M. W. A. and the Knights of Pythias Lodge No. 60, Pocahontas, VA.  Pythias served as pall bearers and flower bearers were the Sunday school class of the Midway church at Yards. Dewey was buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Bluewell, Mercer County, West Virginia.  (Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 6, 1947, page 2).

I am so far unsuccessful in trying to find results of the arrest of Gladys Marie Carter.  I could not find any information of whether she was released or convicted or if the death was ruled a homicide or suicide after a thorough search on, Ancestry and other sources.  So we are left with further questions!  I will continue to pursue this!   However, I found that in 1960, Gladys was married to Robert Eugene Uphold and that she died on 14 March of 1999 in West Virginia.  Whether she was convicted and served time is uncertain.    Dewey’s wife, Margie, was left with 5 children at home to raise at the time of Dewey’s death and they ranged from age 1 to age 17.  She did not remarry until 23 June 1955, 10 years later.   At age 49, she married John Thomas who was born in Thomaselli Giovanni, Italy and who had been divorced twice.  Margie died in July of 1979 in Yards, Virginia.

So ends the story but more research is beginning!


Bluefield Daily Telegraph, West Virginia, 16 Aug, 1936, p. 4. (Margie Ashlin returns from Catawba after successful treatment).

Certificate of Marriage, Commonwealth of Virginia, John Thomas and Margie Lee Ashlin, 23 June 1955, County of Tazewell, No. 17205.

Certificate of Death, Commonwealth of Virginia, Thomas Wilburn Ashlin, 16 Aug 1927, Pocahontas, Tazewell County, Virginia, Reg. Dist. 1921, Reg. No. 27.

Certificate of Death, West Virginia State Dept. of Health, County of Mercer, Byrl Dewey Ashlin, Dist. no. 280, Serial No. 692., Online Services: Origin of Catawba Hospital.

Ancestry. com, U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Virginia, County of Tazewell, Byrl Dewey Ashlin, [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA., Ancestry. com Operations, Inc.,  2005.

Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917, index, FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 2,046,968.

United States Federal Census, 1900, Blue Springs District, Smyth, Virginia, FHL microfilm 1,241,728.

United States Federal Census, 1930, Pocohontas, Tazewell, Virginia; Page: 8A, Enumeration District 0003.

National Archives and Records Administration, Virginia 1910 Census Miracode Index, [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2000.

United States, Find A Grave,, Memorial 84151169, Byrl Dewey Ashlin.






John A B Swanson and Mary Frances Burks: 2nd Great-Grandparents

This week’s prompt is supposed to be about a “maiden aunt” but since I haven’t come across one in my research yet, I choose to share some of what I have found about John A B Swanson and Mary Frances Burks.  Wondering who they are?  They are my 2nd great-grandparents, being the parents of William Domman Swanson, my great grandfather on my father’s side.    I wrote the story of William Swanson in a recent blog entitled “A Fireman’s Story: My great-grandfather”  ”  So perhaps you would like to review the story of William, also.  See it here:A Fireman’s Story: My great-grandfather

J A B Swanson chart 001

I ran into two problems in researching John A B Swanson and Mary Francis Burks.  For one thing, John and Mary are very common first names and Swanson is a very common surname!  I had no idea there were so many “John Swansons” in Virginia!  To complicate things, John A B Swanson’s father was also named John Swanson!   Lucky for me, my John Swanson usually used “John A B” or just “J A B” Swanson so that did help in record searches.  I still have not discovered what the A and the B stand for!  For simplicity, I will just call him John A B!

The  second problem in researching this couple occurs because the 1890 Federal Census records are non-existent, being destroyed in a mysterious fire.  This left a 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900   The children of John A B and Mary were born in the 1860s and 1870s and came of age for marriages around the 1890’s.  It was difficult to find marriage and death records of the children so the information I have is incomplete.

John A B was born in 1834 or 1835 in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of John Swanson and Margaret Gooden.  His parents, John and Margaret, were married on 23 July of 1833 in Rockbridge County VA.  I am fairly certain that John A B’s father was born about 1809 died when he was about 40 years old and before 1850.  In the 1850 census for Amherst County, Virginia, his wife, Margaret, and son, John A B, were living with her mother, Eliza E Gooden, age 62.   John A B is listed as age 15 so he lost his father before he was 15 years old.  Margaret’s father, George Gooden, is also not listed in this 1850 census and presumably has died also.   The two widows and John A B were living with Elisha, Richard and Agnes Gooden which may have been sisters and brothers to Margaret.  This census did not record family relationships.

On the 3rd of December in 1860, John A B Swanson married Mary Frances Burks in Amherst County, Virginia.   John was about 26 years old and Mary was about 20 years old.  Mary Frances was the daughter of George and Margaret D. Burks.  Now what are the odds that the mother of John A B and the mother of Mary were both named Margaret!  This Margaret Burks died about 1891 but her husband, George Burks, died probably before 1880.

Times were trying for the newlyweds as this was the beginning of the Civil War – the war that changed everyone’s life in Virginia in the 1860s.   Their first child was born in 1861, a daughter named Margaret after both their mothers.   Their second child was my great-grandfather, William Domman Swanson born in May of 1862.  A month before William’s birth, John A B enlisted in the 10th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, Co. C 2, as a private on April 10, 1862.

This Confederate unit was called “The Botetourt Artillery”  and records from the first edition listed John A B Swanson as a member.    In the records I found, he was absent, sick, from May 16, 1862, a month after joining, until September of that year so he may have been home sick at the time of William’s birth.  In October of 1862, he was assigned to the Detailed Nitre Works in Richmond, Virginia.  Nitre was used in making explosives.  Other records listed him as a camp guard, camp of instruction, in Dublin, Virginia in March and October of 1864.  During 1863, he was  with his unit in the Vicksburg Campaign as far as I can determine from his records.

There is a series written about the Botetourt Artillery in which a touching tribute is made to them.  It reads as follows:  “The Botetourt Artillery was the only Virginia Unit to serve during the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign.  While their fellow kinsmen served with glory in the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee at Chancellorsville and charged with Picket at Gettysburg, the Botetourt Artillery fought and died at Port Gibson, Champions Hill and suffered through forty-seven days of siege at Vicksburg…The men never faltered nor complained.  Cramped in narrow trenches, parched by the sun, chilled by the night dews, without covering without food, without rest, without ammunition, without hope, they endured…for forty-seven days and nights they fought until their ammunition was all spent, until starvation was upon them, until all their strength was gone.  They were surrounded and outnumbered, and help was far, far away.  On the Fourth of July the city was surrendered.  These men of the Botetourt Artillery along with other Southern heroes have achieved their everlasting place in history.”

After the Civil War, I found John A B and Mary living on a farm in Peddler Township in Amherst County, VA.  It was 1870 and John was a Iron Worker and 36 years old.  His wife Mary was 30 and they had added to their family.  Margaret was now 9 years old and William was 7.  The other children were Alonzo, age 6, Mary Melissa, age 3 and Ella, age 1.  In 1880, the family was still on the same farm and there were more daughters – Florence, Lula, Mary Melison, Sallie, Minnie, and Cammie J (namesake for my paternal grandmother) and a son, Howard.  Daughter named May was born in 1882.  .  All together John and Mary had 13 known children!

However, the family suffered tragic losses several times.  Their oldest daughter, Margaret , had married James T Martin in 1881 and they had three children – Charles, Maury and Maud Mary Martin.  Sadly, Margaret did on 18 May of 1886 at the age of 25 leaving  behind a husband and 3 small children.   The children were found to be living with William, her brother, and his family in 1900.   The next loss for John A B and Mary’s family came when their son Alonzo died at age 23 in September of 1887.   John and Mary had to see two of their grown children die and be buried in a two year period.  In addition, it is possible 2 more daughters may have died young, Sallie and May.  Records are inconclusive.

Alonzo Swanson grave marker 001

Before 1897, John and Mary had moved from the farm to Lynchburg and lived in an area called Cotton Hill.  John and 3 of his grown daughters- Cammie, Idella and Minnie– all worked in a cotton mill.   They rented a home at 706 Fillmore, Lynchburg City in 1899.  Their son, William and his family lived nearby on Dearing St. and William worked at the Glamorgan Pipe Company which made fire plugs.  Interesting since William later became a fireman!.

In 1899, my second great-grandmother Mary Frances Swanson passed away.  The last record of her was in the 1899 City Directory for Lynchburg and in the 1900 Census, John A B, was living with William and his family and was listed as widowed.  They had been married for 39 years.

John A B Swanson was not listed in any 1910 census and no death records or burial records have been found as yet so I assume he died before 1910.   More research ahead!   However, I recently found a picture posted on Ancestry of his granddaughter, Maud Mary Martin Milstead.  She was the daughter of Margaret, John A B and Mary’s first child.   She died in 1961 in Norfolk, Virginia at age 77 from pneumonia due to a fractured right hip and humerus.  She fell 10 days before her death by slipping on a scatter rug–  A very sad ending.  Her young picture is hauntingly beautiful!

Maud Mary Martin Milstead 001




Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940, Rockbridge County Virginia, FHL microfilm 33,799.

Dodd, Jordan R, et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, Bountiful, UT, USA; Precision Indexing Publishers.

United States Federal Census 1850, District 51 and a half, Rockbridge, Virginia; Roll: M432_973; Page: 363A; Image: 310.

Virginia, Marriages 1785-1940, Index, FamilySearch, citing Amherst Co., Virginia, FHL microfilm 30.311.

United State Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865, Database, FamilySearch, J A B Swanson, Private, Company C, 10th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, Confederate; FHL microfilm 881,448.

Historical Data Systems, Comp.  U. S Civil War Regiments, 1861-1866, (database on-line), Provo, UT, USA, Operations Ins. 1999.

United States Federal Census 1870 and 1880, FHL microfilms 553,132 and 1,255,353

U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995, (database on-line) Provo UT, USA, Operations Inc., 2011.

Find a Grave,, Memorial 102225953.