Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Curious Case of Lytle


I have spent a lot of time looking at the significance of names in my genealogy research.  Many times I find a son in a family named after either the paternal grandfather or maternal grandfather.  Sometimes that same son has the mother’s maiden name as his first name.  Those are fairly easy to recognize…but I have always been curious as to the significance of the name “Lytle Woods” our Johnson family.

I would make the assumption that the individual has something to do with the trip that my great great grandparents made in the middle of night.  They left Tennessee to avoid being roped into the Civil War and brought their children up north to Iowa, where Washington Abraham’s brother, Henderson lived.  I know that the family was in Kirkman, Shelby Co., Iowa by December 1865 and that they were still in Jefferson Co., TN in June of 1861.  However, when their son Lytle Woods Johnson was barn on 1 Oct 1863 – I don’t know if he was born in Jasper Co., IA where Henderson lived or if they had moved to Shelby Co., IA by that point.  I’ve always suspected that a Lytle Woods possibly helped the Johnson family move north, perhaps hid them from the army or gave them food for their family and shelter.  I may never know…but whatever the story was – his name shows up in the family a few times.

  • Lytle Woods Johnson b. 1 Oct 1863 in IA d. 28 Apr 1915, Hill City, Camas Co., ID – never married (Son of Washington Abraham Johnson & Mary Ann Smith)
  • Lytle William Johnson b. 8 Jun 1889 Manilla, Crawford Co., IA d. 28 Feb 1976, Shelton, Mason Co., WA (Son of William Edward Johnson and Nancy Eudora McMillan)
  • Edward Lytle Johnson b. 19 Apr 1916 in ND d. 10 Sept 1995 Hoodsport, Mason Co., WA (son of Lytle William and Helen Albrecht)


Lytle Woods Johnson moved out to Idaho sometime before 1910 as he is recorded in the census in Soldier, Blaine Co., ID as a Livery worker.  I suspect he came out with the railroad perhaps as early as the 1890’s, but since I have been unable to find him in the census in 1900, I am unsure.  I know that his older sister came out with her family and first lived in Colfax, Whitman Co., WA but later ended up in Hill City, ID.  You wouldn’t know it by what is there today, but at one point Hill City was one of the largest sheep stations in the United States and there was quite a rail line there.  I suspect that Lytle came out west as did his older brother, John Sira Johnson.  None of them lived very long.  Lytle died on 28 Apr 1915 in Hill City, Camas Co., ID and John and Nanny both died 1918.  I think that the flu epidemic took John Sira Johnson and Nanny Eleanor Johnson Gill – but I am not sure what Lytle Woods Johnson died of.  I can find no cemetery stone or marker at all.  I suspect that all three are buried at the Hill City Cemetery but it is almost impossible to tell as most of the graves are unmarked.  I suspect that the flu epidemic might have hit this community quite hard and it might never have recovered.

Not too long ago, I was looking at a photo of Lytle Woods Johnson that was taken probably around 1912.  It was a postcard that was sent back to a family member in North Dakota or Iowa and showed Lytle Woods Johnson driving Idaho Governor Hawley in a car – my car experts tell me that they think it is 1912 Chrysler and scribble on the top is Lytle’s name identifying him in the car.  I think it is rather interesting that the only picture I have of Lytle as an older man is taken in a car with the Governor of Idaho sitting in the back.  I suppose this is what happened to someone who worked in the livery in 1910 – they became drivers for other people.