Any information on slaves kept by the Lyon family of New Jersey (Zopher, Rev. James, or other relations?)

+6 votes
783 views
Researching our ancestors who were slaves of the Lyon family. Only documented slave/owner match is Rev. James Lyon who was born in Newark NJ and moved to Machias Maine to preach. Rev James brought along his "servant" named London Atus who was his slave before recently buying his own freedom. After London Atus bought his freedom he stayed employed by Rev James and moved with him to Machias and started his own family there and founded a small, short lived black community in Machias. Since tracing ancestors who were slaves is very difficult because they are usually not documented with names- I am reaching out to the Lyon family in hopes that any one has a story or any information on slaves owned by the Lyon family in New Jersey in the 1700s. There was also a man who joined the Atus community shortly after Lyon and Atus moved to Machias. His name was Peter Henry and he came from New Jersey or New York but was not documented until moving to Machias and marrying in with the Atus clan. Peter Henry is listed as "black" on all the census records- so we figure he must have been a freed or escaped slave who may have also been with the Lyon family. My husband who is white by all appearance, took a DNA test and he has blood from West Africa- no Native American.

I am hoping to find any information about our ancestors- good or bad!

Thank you!
WikiTree profile: James Lyon
in Genealogy Help by Pete Witham G2G Crew (310 points)
I don't know how much I can help but I am descended from the Lyon family and Rev James Lyon did have several stories that refer to London Atus. His marriage to Eunice is in my research. Rev james is the son of Zopher Lyon 1714-1744 . Rev James did live in machias and was the pastor . London lived in machias and I have his gravestone picture. He reportedly was a local hero and there are some stories of his role in the war as a messenger . Peter Henry married Sophronia who was one of 10 children of Eunice/Atus .

1 Answer

+3 votes

Dear Pete,

    There is a burial record for a Zophar Lyons who is too young to be the father of Rev. James.  Maybe a relative, though. His dates are 1769-1844 and he was buried originally at the Lyons Farm Baptist Churchyard. This is from FindAGrave.com:

Lyons Farms Baptist Church was organized on April 16, 1769. It was located at Elizabeth Avenue and Lyons Avenue, Newark, NJ. It later became the Elizabeth Avenue Baptist Church.  

The Church was organized by eight men and four women, eleven of whom brought certificates from the Scotch Plains Baptist Church and one from the First Baptist Church of New York City.  

The church building was completed in 1793 even though the edifice was built in 1768. During the American Revolution the church was used as a hospital. The building saw the second edifice in 1871 and the third in 1907.  

A burying ground accompanied the church with the oldest tombstone bearing the name Ichabod Grummon, who died October 29, 1794. The last burial was made in 1865.

Since then the internments have been moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, Union, NJ.
Hope this helps! -NGP

by Nanette Pezzutti G2G6 Mach 6 (63.3k points)
Interesting. Zopher is listed as the father of Rev. James Lyon. Zopher has a death year of 1744.

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