The Lyonses

Thomas Moore Lyons was born in Ohio in 1824, to parents who were born in Virginia. Nancy R. Lyons was born in Ohio in 1834-35; her parents were born in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Local records do not indicate when Thomas and Nancy Lyons were married or identify their residence and activities before they settled in Pittsburgh.

The Lyons family moved to the Pittsburgh area in or shortly before 1865, when Thomas M. Lyons and John C. Elliott formed Elliott & Lyons, merchant tailors, at 53 Federal Street in Allegheny City (on the western side of Federal Street a short distance north of the present site of PNC Park). John C. Elliott, then 46, was also an Ohio native and new to the Pittsburgh area, and it is possible that the two men had been acquainted or in business together in their native state.

In 1865, Thomas and Nancy Lyons had at least one child, Harry M., who was born in 1864. Their later children were Cora, born in 1866, Morris, born in 1869, Josephine in 1873-74, and Louisa in 1878-79.

In Allegheny City, the Lyons family initially lived above the tailor shop on Federal Street. In 1867-1868, the family moved to the newly constructed house at 858 Beech Avenue.

The 1870 population census was the first census taken following construction of 858 Beech Avenue. The census enumerated Thomas Lyons, 46, as a merchant tailor, and Nancy Lyons, 35, with no occupation. Their children were Harry, six, Cora, four, and Morris, one. Census records also show that a servant, Mary Hidley, lived with the Lyons family. Hidley, 20, had been born in Ohio.

The 1870 census, the last census to provide information on assets of persons enumerated, reported that Thomas M. Lyons owned no real estate and had a personal estate of $300. The census was taken before Thomas M. Lyons acquired title to the lot at 858 Beech Avenue in August 1870.

Records of the 1870 census of manufactures document the activities of Elliott & Lyons. In 1870, Elliott & Lyons employed three adult males, one adult female, and no children, and paid $2000 in total annual wages. The firm had a capital investment of $5000. It manufactured coats, vests, and other clothing items that were worth an annual total of $15,000. The value of Elliott & Lyons’ annual output was third among the six tailoring establishments operating in Allegheny City’s First Ward. The annual production of the six tailor shops ranged from $5760 to $23,000.

In 1874, Thomas M. Lyons and John C. Elliott purchased a building at 17 Federal Street (on the present site of PNC Park) for $9500. Lyons and Elliott then moved their business to that address. At around the same time, John C. Elliott and his family moved from Arch Street in the Mexican War Streets area to a rented house at 1017 Galveston Avenue, a short distance from 858 Beech Avenue.

The 1880 census enumerated seven members of the Lyons family at 858 Beech Avenue: Thomas M., a merchant tailor; Nancy R., keeping house; and Harry, 15, Cora, 13, Morris, 10, Josephine, six, and Louisa, one. The family employed one servant who lived at 858 Beech Avenue. She was Agnes, 24, who had been born in Pennsylvania and was of Irish descent. Her last name is illegible in hand-written census records.

The partnership of Elliott & Lyons continued until about 1881. Directories published after 1881 listed Thomas M. Lyons as a merchant tailor but did not identify his workplace. John C. Elliott formed J.C. Elliott & Son, merchant tailors, in the former Elliott & Lyons shop at 17 Federal Street. The Elliott family moved around the same time from Galveston Avenue to Brighton Place.

Thomas M. Lyons died on February 22, 1884. The cause of his death, at age 59, is not known.

Nancy R. Lyons and her children left Pittsburgh within a short time after Thomas Lyons died. Local records do not indicate whether they immediately moved to Cincinnati, where Nancy Lyons and her children lived when they sold 858 Beech Avenue in 1902. The family used 858 Beech Avenue as a rental property between 1884 and 1902. In 1902, Nancy Lyons and her surviving children sold 858 Beech Avenue to Dennis Hayes, a commission merchant with offices in Downtown Pittsburgh and Allegheny City.