Dee Lyday

and Family Land


    In 1891 D. E. [De Evans] Lyday, aged twenty-three, received his inheritance of farmland in the Hardin Hart survey. From Mulberry afterwards, for almost thirty years, he gave distinctive expression to “populist” views in the Bonham News where they were occasionally ridiculed.

    Start here to trace the formative experiences of D. E. Lyday’s life:

    It was on January 21, 1885, if my memory is correct, at the noon recess...a little band of four as gay and careless lads as old Fannin College [Bonham] contained...reference to the sad death of Ollie Bridges, reminds me that the full story of that accident has never been printed.

    ...skating on the R.R. honey-combed and rotten and the lake deserted...under Powder Creek bridge.... He was not at all alarmed even then but came up laughing and climbed up on the edge of the ice which broke under his weight.... Ollie had climbed out of the ice two or three times, only to have it break and submerge him each time.... I soon saw that he would inevitably drown before either of the other boys, or any one else could reach him, so I ran out on the ice and jumped into the water behind him, catching him by the back of his overcoat. I assisted him out of the ice, time after time, but always with the same results.... The violence of his struggle had utterly exhausted him, and he threw up his hands and sank, carrying me with him.... 

    I answered feebly that Ollie had sunk.... Through all these years neither he nor I have ever mentioned to the other a word about that fearful day, the nerve racking, soul wrenching agony of super human effort and the sickening knowledge that our efforts were vain...seared on my memory as with the lightning flash.

    My main object in this communication is to acknowledge my indebtedness to Bascom Adams, that our old schoolmates should know him as he was on that dark winter day, and I feel that this tribute has been too long delayed; had he quailed in the face of death, faltered or hesitated to count the cost, even for a few moments, the icy lake had claimed another victim and this letter would never have been written.


    D. E. Lyday’s life did end in October 1937 in Kemp, Oklahoma, across the river from Mulberry. He was buried at Ravenna.

    Mr. Lyday was well known to the people of Fannin County, having lived here most of his life. He was a son of the late Col. H. W. Lyday, and was born in Bonham, Oct. 4, 1868. He received an education in the schools here.

    For a number of years he took a prominent part in politics, being active in the old People’s Party. He also served as president of the State Farmers Union. Under Gov. Hobby’s administration [1917-21] he was appointed Commissioner of Weights and Measures....

    His father was a good lawyer and his mother was an English woman of unusual ability.  Dee showed in his boyhood days elements of leadership, and after attaining his majority he naturally drifted into politics. He was a speaker of no mean ability. For sometime he had a big farm on Red River at Mulberry, land that he inherited from his father’s estate.... Survived by his wife, one son, S. D. Lyday, of Kemp, and one daughter, Miss Florence, of Durant....

    Fort Lyday in the southern part of Fannin County near present-day Ladonia was built in 1838, with Isaac Lyday as commander. As many as thirty families could take shelter in the fort when the moon was bright and Indian raids most likely.

    [from family notes] The ship “Adventurer” arrived at the Port of Philadelphia on October 2, 1727. Aboard were Jacob Leidy and his family, immigrants from the Palatinate, now Germany; they settled in Pennsylvania. A connection between this family and the family of Henry Washington Lyday (1821-90) “has not been proved,” but another Jacob Lyday served in the British Army in the American Revolutionary War, settled in North Carolina and was buried in his British redcoat. William, a brother of Jacob, served in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry in the war, was captured by the British on October 4, 1777 and imprisoned until the war ended.  There were three other brothers, Henry, Abraham and Andrew. The descendants of Andrew settled in Fannin County.


    1846 February 16: A letter was waiting for Andrew at the post office in Bonham. According to the chronicler Neville, another Jacob in the Republic of Texas was “surety” for a justice who received money from the sale of public lands. “Miss Lora Lyday” became the second wife of Col. W. D. Oliphant, and D. E. Lyday inherited land in Mulberry.

    My uncle Willie still spoke of “the old Dee Lyday place” long after he was gone.

    1869 August 4: Ephriam Woodrow sold half the Hardin Hart survey to Henry

Washington Lyday, Robert H. Taylor and Charles D. Grace, all lawyers in Bonham. Before moving to Texas, Henry Washington Lyday served in the Missouri Senate. As “treasurer of the state” he was

    ....instructed to transport the Missouri state treasures to Charleston, South Carolina, where he was to release them for payment of Confederate war debts to the British, and he undertook the trip. Nearing Charleston, he learned that it was blockaded by the Union Navy.  He headed for Bonham, Texas, turned in the treasures there and settled down. Here he was near his brother Isaac and his family.... 

    [Another account] The question of [Missouri’s] secession having arisen, his [Lyday’s] prominence placed him in a peculiar position and he quit the State in 1861 and came to Texas.  In 1861 he took an active part in the secession cause, became colonel in the Confederate army and afterward paymaster, and served until the close. His first wife was Elizabeth N. Wynn, who bore him the following children—Laura L. [married W. D. Oliphant as his second wife], James H., Edward F., Elden H., and Travis O.  His second wife, Annie Turley, bore him three children—De Evans [known in Mulberry as “Dee”], Alley and Mamie.

    [Concluding with a sketch of Edward F. Lyday] ...born in Grundy County, Missouri on October 13, 1852...came to Texas with his father in 1861 and was reared on the home farm in Fannin County. When old enough, he assisted in managing the farm and the negroes, and later began driving stock north to Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Since reaching manhood, he has improved four farms in Fannin County and now conducts a large farm, giving especial attention to the improving of live stock, raising Norman horses and cultivating mixed crops, having relinquished growing cotton, of which he was formerly an extensive cultivator. Mr. Lyday married Anna P. Smith, a daughter of Colonel Gid. Smith of Alabama [and Mulberry].

    1891 December 10: Three heirs of H. W. Lyday agreed to a partition deed in the Hardin Hart survey. D. E. Lyday got 219 acres; Mary Alice (Fleming) and Annie May, almost 100 acres each—100 acres more “not in cultivation to the banks of Red River...covered with timber...being owned by all the parties.”

    1904 August 5: (Bonham NewsExcitement Sunday Night.  The Intentions of a Strange Man
, It Is Thought Was to Outrage a Ten-Year Old Girl. For several days a tented meeting has been in progress in South Bonham. The farewell service took place Sunday night and an immense audience was present. Mrs. Dee Lyday [Isadora, pictured] and her daughter, probably 10 years old, were here from Ravenna to attend the meeting. Sunday the little girl had a chill and was very unwell at night. Just a few steps from where the tent was pitched is a vacant house, which has been occupied by those visitors to the meeting who desired to do so. In this house the child was resting on a cot, alone and asleep. While the church people were singing and shaking the farewell hands of the preachers, Mrs. Lyday, a gentleman and his wife went to look after the child. They entered the house at the rear door, struck a match and discovered a strange man in the room. In alarm he made his escape through the front door. The clothing of the little girl was unfastened and indications pointed to evil intent on her person, but fortunately, if that was the intention, she was saved just in the nick of time. She was still sleeping and had not been awakened by the man. The mother rushed screaming from the house out into the audience and loudly proclaimed the rescue of her daughter, then fell to the ground in a dead faint. Officers went in search immediately after the escaped intruder, but failed to locate him.

    1912 January 23: Cecil Lyday, the fourteen year old daughter of D. Lyday of Mulberry passed away.... For many months she has been in the doctor’s care with dropsy.

912 May 21: Resolution of Respect. Whereas, it has pleased an all-wise providence to terminate the earthly career of brother John E. Roach, Jr.

    Resolved by Mulberry Farmer’s Union No. 1441: That in the death of brother Roach our Union lost one of its most active, energetic and influential members; our order, a true and faithful exponent of its principles; and our community, perhaps the brightest and most promising of its younger citizenship. Brother Roach was an ardent advocate of the principles of our order, and the originator of the organization at this place. He was a genial, lovable character, and every member feels that he has lost a personal friend, in whom none ever trusted amiss.  Brother Roach was just in the first flush of early manhood, and cherishing youth’s high ideals, indulging its sanguine hopes and aspirations; his friends confidently predicted for him, a career of usefulness and beauty; but alas! it was not to be, the object of our love and friendship, his beautiful ideals, his lofty aspirations are shrouded in the dust and silence of the conquering crypt.

    Resolved, That we tender our heartfelt sympathy to the stricken family and commend them to Him, who seeth even the sparrows as they fall, for that comfort and consolation, which He alone can give the sorrowing, broken heart.... D. E. Lyday [pictured above], Chairman [and] E. M. Price, Secretary.

    1912 August 2: (Bonham NewsD. E. Lyday, of Mulberry, was in Bonham Monday and in strong terms expressed himself as being in opposition to changing the name of [the Bonham creek] Pig Branch. We have not been able to understand fully the grounds for his opposing this reform, but suppose that is is because he is a lover of the porcine animal. Some have suggested that his politics had something to do with it. We are not certain, but we have been told that he was once a Populist. If this be true it accounts for a good many of his frailties. The sentiment seems to be, however, that the name should be obliterated and that a comely name [Grace’s Brook], which would harmonize with the attractive way in which the Bonham ladies have transformed the park, should be substituted.

    1913  April 29:  D. E. Lyday is in New Orleans, collecting further information concerning the rates to shippers of cotton....

    1914 February 24: Mr. D. E. Lyday Declines the Honor [to attend Prohibition Democratic meeting in Fort Worth as a delegate.]  Does Not Believe in Making Prohibition an Issue. [His letter to] Editors, Bonham News.

    Gentlemen: ...the disgraceful lack of rural educational facilities, is forcing thousands of Texas children to grow up in ignorance, multitudes of them each year starting on life’s voyage utterly unprepared for its duties and responsibilities, these cannot wait while we evade the passing politics; there is no greater duty than to conserve the boys and girls of our nation....

    Our higher educational institutions are crippled and their service impaired for want of funds, yet the legislature composed very largely of politicians who lose no opportunity to shout aloud their loyalty to prohibition...has steadily refused them relief.

    Our penitentiary system is rotten, inefficient, disorganized and seemingly in a state of complete chaos. Our insane languish in the county jails for months and months before accommodations can be furnished at the asylums. Thus heaping confusion and ignominy on the heads of these unfortunates who are guilty of no crime, yet in the face of this inefficiency and failure, our state institutions are swallowing up the people’s tax money as the mountain canyon swallows the rainfall; the taxes were raised this year some 33 1/3 per cent....

    The farmers have long suffered under grievous regulation, unjust exactions and extortionate charges in the marketing of their products, such exaction being estimated as high as twenty million of dollars a year taken from the poorest paid labor in the state. The enormity of their burdens can only be appreciated when we survey the results. We see 220,000 farmers of Texas, homelessly shifting tenants, which have forced a hundred thousand mothers with suckling babes at their breasts, to labor in the cotton fields for a scant and insuffieient living, even though they carry with them a half million children of tender years, who labor with them in the painful effort to keep the wolf from the door, conditions which have resulted in the loss each year for the last decade of 2400 farm home owners, who have gone to swell the ever increasing swarm of homeless tenantry in Texas.

    I cannot help but feel that the tender solicitude we are so accustomed to express for the poor wrecks of intemperance, ought to bring to our minds a sense of our responsibility to those much worthier classes, yet I see but little evidence of any such sentiment; no mass meetings have been called for their benefit, if we accept [except] the efforts of the Farmers Union on their behalf. When the Farmers Union committee went before the legislature asking for relief, the legislature turned down the most important measure presented in years in order that they might have time to make some more Prohibition speeches for home consumption....

    I stand unqualifiedly for State and National Prohibition, and at any time a vote can be had, and an opportunity to settle the matter offers, I shall vote that way. But I feel that when so many thousands of good men can look calmly on the destitution of the farming class and the overpowering tragedy of their lives, for the loss of 2400 homes each year IS A TRAGEDY, not only to the homeless ones, but to the state. Then perhaps I may not be considered an entire barbarian if I fail to become unduly agitated about prohibition....

    Respectfully yours, D. E. Lyday

A Letter from Chairman Lyday

April 18, 1919

To the People of Fannin County and Texas:

    On behalf of the local relief committee and the people of Mulberry community, I desire to express to the public our heartfelt gratitude for the aid and comfort so generously extended to our people who suffered so severely in the recent disastrous cyclone....

    1924 November 23: D. E. Lyday and wife—“Lilla”—sold slightly more than 200 acres in the Hardin Hart survey, including nearly 2 acres he bought from Ella Provine, to J. T. Woodard.

The start of a tangled web...

    1926 September 14: The heirs of W. M. “Bill” Cox sold three tracts totaling 180 acres in the Hart survey to Edward F. Lyday. This was land partitioned in 1891 as part of the H. W. Lyday estate, and subsequently sold. When Edward bought it back he assumed payments on a note Cox gave the Federal Land Bank of Houston in 1920.

    1927 November 23: Edward Lyday died; two sons (Fred and Elbert) became the executors of his estate. Seven children received land: 525 acres lay in the Hardin Hart survey.

    1929 April 16: The Houston bank assigned the Lyday note to the Bonham National Farm Loan Association, and 180 acres were sold at auction on September 3 to

J. M. and Mittie Lamb.

    1932 September 22: Federal Land Bank of Houston in suit against J. M. Lamb, Fred Lyday and other heirs of Edward F. Lyday: in Original petition —The bank claimed it was owner of three tracts (180 acres) on May 3, 1932 when the defendants “unlawfully entered and dispossessed [it] of such premises.” And in another suit against Fred Lyday [pictured below] and wife for 280 acres, John Palmore “was in the possession of lands and premises [when they] on 19th Day of August, 1932, unlawfully entered upon said land and premises and ejected [him].” Fearing they would “injure the property,” Palmore petitioned for a “Writ of Sequestration.”

The Lydays countered:

[Dallas Joint Stock Land Bank] entered into a conspiracy with J. W. cheat, defraud and rob [them]...out of their interest in the property.... Palmore and [the bank] unlawfully... dispossessed... ejected [them]... and threw their household and kitchen furniture, wearing apparel, pictures, personal effects, etc., out into the public highway, forcing them away from their home and exposing the elements, knowing...that it was...a scheme and a conspiracy to unlawfully obtain possession of said property.... Exhibit A showed Fred Lyday’s “time and expense” on behalf of the E. F. Lyday estate beginning March 1928, including doctor’s bill from E. F. Lyday’s “last  sickness” ($10.00) and “Funeral bill” ($28.00), “car hire to river...paper for main house, paint, nails.” Subpoenaed for October 31, 1932 was “Joaquin Barintz,” on the Palmore place. Judgment on July 17, 1933, “a jury having being demanded”: “We find for the plaintiff [Palmore]... recover...280 acres of the Hardin Hart survey...recover all costs incurred by him....” Next month Fred Lyday appealed to the Court of Civil Appeals in Texarkana.... By reason of said ejection...damaged in the sum of five thousand dollars.

    [They would] also show to the Court...Palmore has further damaged [them] by causing to be closed a public road...running to Red River north from Mulberry prevent the lawful ingress and egress to the land owned by the E. F. Lyday Estate, and being immediately north of the Bill Cox which is now owned and claimed by [them], Fred Lyday and Mrs. Fred Lyday.... Palmore knew at the time... it would damage and injure [them]...done for the express purpose of harassing and injuring in the rightful and lawful use of the property...said highway and public used by the public...for more than forty years...petition to the Commissioners’ Court...asking that said road be re-opened.... Court endorsed on said application ‘Petition ordered tabled, 10/10/32.’ ...J. W. Palmore, exercising his their further damage...pray that they have judgment for the amount of their debt against... Palmore of damages...$13,483.01.

    1934 February 9: A jury favored the bank when Federal Land Bank of Houston vs. J. M. Lamb (and others) came to trial in Bonham. Fred Lyday said he would appeal; the bank (March 24) said it “has no adequate remedy at law...defendants are financially unable to respond to damages [but it sought] an injunction preventing and restraining [them] from entering upon said lands and premises after they have been removed....” In December the Court ruled for the bank again.