ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting North America»
  • United States

Lyles Station

Updated on December 22, 2015
Joshua Lyles, founder of Lyles Station
Joshua Lyles, founder of Lyles Station | Source

Lyles Station is located in southwestern Indiana, not far from the Wabash River which separates Indiana and Illinois. Like a lot of small towns, its glory days are behind it. The population that once numbered 800 is down to a handful of families. Most of the buildings are gone, but a school, church and grain elevator are still standing. Back in 1900 and earlier, most of America was involved in agriculture, and travel was difficult unless you were traveling by rail. This meant the countryside was dotted with small towns to serve the nearby farmers. Lyles Station is much like other small towns, except its citizens are black, which is very rare in rural Indiana. The vast majority of Indiana's African-Americans live in large and mid-size cities.

Town History

Lyles Station's beginnings trace back to when Joshua and Sanford Lyles bought farmland there in 1849, with some help from Quakers. It is often reported they were freed slaves, but historical records in Tennessee indicate they were both born free. After the Civil War, they went back to Tennessee to recruit former slaves to come to the area and farm. Apparently they were good recruiters, because the settlement grew rapidly. At its peak, the town had a school, two churches, two general stores and a lumber mill which served a community of about 800 residents. To speed growth, Joshua Lyles donated six acres of land to a railroad. In exchange, the railroad built a station in the town. When the town was incorporated in 1886, it was named Lyles Station in honor of Joshua Lyles.

Farming was always the heartbeat of the town. Then, as now, corn was the most important crop. In the late 19th century, with hard work a farmer might get 50 bushels per acre. Today's farmers get about three times as much per acre. Some of that corn was used to feed hogs, which were the most common livestock. Cattle were also raised, and horses were needed to provide power for plowing and other farm tasks,.The sandy soil in the area made it excellent for growing melons. Many cantaloupes and watermelons were grown at Lyles Station and shipped out by rail.

Lyles Station did pretty well until the Great flood of 1913, which affected several Midwestern states. Many homes were destroyed, along with a great deal of livestock. Some residents decided to leave the area and move to nearby cities like Evansville and Terre Haute. This started a long downhill slide for the town. It suffered another blow when the local school was closed in 1958. Today only a handful of families still live in Lyles Station.

The former Lyles Station School is now a Museum
The former Lyles Station School is now a Museum | Source

Famous Lyles Station Residents

Several notable people lived in Lyles Station. In 1886, the same year the town was incorporated, it also obtained a post office. Local resident William Roundtree became the first African-American postmaster north of the Mason-Dixon line. Aaron Fisher served as an Army lieutenant in World War I. In September of 1918 he was severely wounded during an enemy attack, but refused to leave the field and continued to fight and direct his soldiers. For his bravery, Fisher was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the U.S. Army and the Croix de Guerre with gold star by the French Army.

The best known Lyles Station native is Alonzo Fields. Born in Lyles Station, he was as a butler on the White House staff for 21 years. Fields served during the Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations. After his retirement, he wrote My 21 Years in the White House, which described his experience. His story was later made into a one man play entitled Looking Over the President's Shoulder.

Lyles Station native Alonzo Fields served as White House butler for 21 years
Lyles Station native Alonzo Fields served as White House butler for 21 years | Source

Lyles Station Historical School & Museum

The Lyles Station School was built in 1919, and closed in 1958. The Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation was formed in 1997. The school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, but by then it was in sad shape. The Historic Landmarks Foundation listed it as one of Indiana's Ten Most Endangered Places the same year. Fortunately the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation was able to raise the necessary funds and began restoration in 2001. Today it serves as a museum.

Lyles Station School before restoration
Lyles Station School before restoration | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)