With the midterm elections less than a week away, I can’t help but get carried away in the political fever. It makes me think about those ancestors who, not only rode the red or blue wave, but helped to steer the ship. Perhaps most notable of these is my 5th great-grandfather and member of the House of Representatives, Aaron Lyle.
Aaron Lyle was born in Forks Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania on November 17, 1759. He was the eighth of 10 children born to Irish immigrant Robert Lyle and Mary Gilleland from New Jersey (though her roots went back to Scotland through her grandparents).
Physically, he was described as a well built and fine looking person of medium height. He was cheerful and nervous with a “sanguine” disposition, either eluding to his happy, humorous personality, resulting in big belly laughs that reddened his skin, a ruddy complexion, or a mixture of both. It was said that he only lost his temper twice in 40 years, being naturally disposed to an explosive temper, but learning early on to keep it in check (generally considered a valuable trait for someone entering into politics, despite our current POTUS).
In 1776, he jumped at the chance to join up with the soldiers fighting in the American Revolutionary War. The sixteen year old fought in the battle of Long Island in August then again in the battle of Ft. Washington in November, narrowly avoiding death. He was a hardy, clever sort who hated tyranny and was often used as a scout.
Six years later, Aaron Lyle married Eleanor Moore and they also had 10 children (the first of whom, Moses Lyle, was my 4th great-grandfather). In 1784, he and his young family moved across Pennsylvania to Mt. Pleasant Township, then in 1790 he purchased 350 acres of land in Cross Creek Township, where they would remain until his death. He built a log house there, extravagant for the standards of the day, with four rooms, a large stone chimney, porches, and a kitchen. His political rivals would later latch on to this as an example of his lofty, aristocratic tendencies.
But Aaron Lyle was an everyman who longed to be of service to his country, despite his perceived taste for luxury. In 1792 he was elected Captain of the Third Company of the Third Battalion of the Washington County militia. From 1806-1809 he served as a Washington county commissioner. Following this, he was elected to the House of Representatives of the United States Congress during James Madison’s entire run as President. He was elected by a majority and served four terms in succession: two terms in the Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district as a Republican from 1809-1813 and two terms in the 12th congressional district as a Republican from 1813-1817. He tended to agree with Madison and, like him, was strongly opposed to Great Britain’s influence. Aaron Lyle was not one who liked to be under someone’s thumb. He was a fiercely patriotic American and supporter of American industry and independence. He was a trustee of Jefferson (later Washington and Jefferson) College in Washington, Pennsylvania.
In 1817, at age 58, he retreated from public service and turned his focus to his large family. He died at his home in Cross Creek in 1825.
My grandfather, Harold Lyle Brown, was always especially proud of his Lyle family line, the interest probably passed down from his mother, Mary Amanda Frederick, whose grandmother was a Lyle. After doing some research on Aaron Lyle, I can see why he felt that way. My grandfather was a Republican, as was Aaron Lyle. He was conservative and traditional in his values and suffered fools never. They both shared a love of their country and fought for America’s freedom, Aaron Lyle’s military service detailed above, while Harold Lyle Brown served as a U.S.A.F. navigator in World War 2 and the Korean War.
He would pass the Lyle middle name to my father, too. Mugs with the Lyle surname written in fancy script sat behind glass in a dining room hutch. Sometime after he moved to a retirement home, he discovered that a Lyle was living down the hall from him and was excited to figure out their connection. When I asked to look at his Lyle genealogy book, he happily allowed me to borrow it. It was my first look at the Lyle history and it eventually ended up in my hands again after he passed way in 2017.
I’m related to Aaron Lyle as follows:
White, Alvin D.. The Lyles of Washington County, Pennsylvania : being an account of the origin, migrations and generations of the family. Carlisle, Pa.: Baker & Gussman, 1934.