Etta Belle Lyon1,2

(23 November 1872 - 28 August 1955)
Etta Belle Lyon|b. 23 Nov 1872\nd. 28 Aug 1955|p49.htm|Charles Wesley Lyon|b. 1 Jan 1845\nd. 26 Jul 1903|p52.htm|Serena Maria Viles|b. 1851\nd. 1895|p782.htm|William K. Lyon|b. 6 Jan 1820\nd. 11 Nov 1889|p54.htm|Charlotte Lawrence|b. c 1821\nd. 7 Feb 1921|p55.htm|Jotham S. Viles|b. 8 Dec 1827\nd. 2 Nov 1890|p784.htm|Mary A. Leach|b. 1829\nd. Nov 1859|p821.htm|
Appears on the following charts:
Descendants of Cyrus Day
Descendants of William Lyon
Descendants of Joseph Viles
Descendants of John Morford
Morford Ancestry
Descendents of Joseph Norton
Etta Belle (Lyon) Morford
     Etta Belle Lyon was born on 23 Nov 1872 in Newman Grove, Madison County, Nebraska,, daughter of Charles Wesley Lyon and Serena Maria Viles.4,2 She was included in a group photo taken circa 1885. Pictured are her parents Charles and Serena (on the ends) with Walter, Charlotte, Elsie, and Etta Belle between them. This is probably the only existing photo of her sister Charlotte, who died a few years later at age 14. Etta's childhood was spent on the prairies of Nebraska, where her father was a farmer. A baby sister, Grace Altana, was born when Etta was two and died three years later; another, Charlotte, arrived the year after Grace died. Charlotte was followed by sister Elsie and brother Harry. There was a wide age disparity between the siblings, and her mother was still having babies even after Etta married and left home.
     The details of their courtship are not known, but Etta Belle must have met her future husband in Nebraska where she grew up and attended school. She married Francis Arlando Morford, son of Francis Marion Morford and Cordelia Day, in 1891 in Newman Grove, Madison County, Nebraska.3 Etta and Francis "were married in the first year of a four year drought. They sank everything into stocking their farm, and by the time the drought was over they'd lost everything."5 Etta and Francis would spend the next several years moving wherever Francis could find work that might support his family. During these migrations, Etta gave birth to a stillborn son; from family stories, possibly a rare case of lithopedia. In 1892 she received word that her 14-year-old sister Charlotte had died in Nebraska, and later of the birth of a new baby brother, Hugh. In July 1894 her sister Myrtle Leotta was born. In 1895, her mother passed away, probably in Newman Grove, Madison County, Nebraska where the family lived in 1900.6,7 Following their mother's death, Etta and her husband took in Etta's infant sister Myrtle, who was 11 months older than her own newborn daughter Audrey. "Aunt Myrtle" and her niece and nephews grew up almost as siblings, though Etta never allowed Myrtle to call her "Mama."1 She and Francis Arlando Morford lived in Texas in 1899, where he picked cotton to support his family. Their son Rexford was born there.5 She and Francis Arlando Morford moved to Malvern, Mills County, Iowa, in 1900.5 She and Francis Arlando Morford lived in Tabor, Mills County, Iowa, from 1901 to 1902.8 From 1902 to 1903Etta Belle Morford and Francis Arlando Morford returned to Gordon, Sheridan County, Nebraska, where he was the foreman of Bell ranch.8 This move back to Nebraska kept her at hand for her sister Elsie's wedding, and possibly also for the birth of her half-sister Frances following her father's remarriage. It must have been a relief to Etta to be close to family and childhood friends again, but if she was feeling more settled, the feeling would not last long. Etta Belle was left a widow when Francis died suddenly of pneumonia on 3 Apr 1903 in Gordon, Sheridan County, Nebraska, leaving her with three young children and a fourth on the way..8
     The summer of 1903 would prove to be one of the most difficult of Etta's life. Broken-hearted and very pregnant, she moved in with her sister Elsie and Elsie's husband Matt. Etta and Francis's last son, Kenneth Arlando, was born in Gordon, Sheridan County, Nebraska in July. One week later, Elsie and Etta's father Charles Lyon passed away. The next day, Elsie's husband Matt succumbed to typhoid.9
     Etta must have felt battered and bereft after this string of catastrophes. She may have moved in with her late husband's parents for a time. But Etta was a capable woman who made do for her family, even without a husband to provide for them. She saw to it that they had a cozy home, a safe existence, and a good education.9 She bought a homestead, and received some milk cows and a hog in the deal, which insured her young brood would have milk and meat.10 She was included in a group photo taken circa 1905. She married second Silas James Morford, son of Francis Marion Morford and Cordelia Day, and brother of her late husband circa 1906.11
     There are inconsistencies in the little reporting that exists of Etta Belle's second marriage. Family stories seem to verify Ms. Adams's undocumented information in the Morford Historian, but neither provides anything more than hearsay. Etta's 1910 census provides the most reliable information, as she reported herself as 4 years into her second marriage. She does not indicate a divorce, but Silas reports himself in the same census (while living with his father) as single. In the 1930 census Etta Belle reports herself as widowed, which must be a reference to her first husband, as Silas is still very much alive. Indications are that in Etta Belle's mind it had been simply wiped away. (It must have been a singularly unpleasant union, for whatever reason.). She and Silas James Morford were divorced circa 1910.
     Some time in 1910, Etta took everything she had and moved her family down to Seymour, Missouri in the Ozarks. Her family doctor had advised her that she would would feel much better if she could "just get away to the mountains." She spent several years in the remote Ozark town of Tigres (now extinct) in Douglas County. Not quite a year after the move, her daughter was married.12 The newlyweds lived with her for a little over a year before moving back to live with John's family in Iowa, long enough, at least for Etta to welcome her first grandchild, Enid Irene Stubbart, in October of 1912.12 She moved to Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, in 1916 with her sons, about the time that Audrey and John took out a homestead in Wyoming.4 She was a member of the Walnut Park RLDS Church there.4
     Gradually, the boys married off and scattered. On 12 Jul 1955, Etta Belle Lyon sustained what would prove to be a life-ending injury when she broke her back in a fall at her home. The break ruptured her right kidney.2 Etta Belle died several weeks later of acute peritonitis in the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on 28 Aug 1955 at 82 years, 9 months and 5 days of age.2 She was buried in Mound Grove Cemetery.4,2

Last Edited=July 20, 2008

Children of Etta Belle Lyon and Francis Arlando Morford


  1. Unknown author, Family Stories (n.p.:, unknown publish date).
  2. Etta Belle Morford, Death Certificate 26606 (9 Sep 1955), Missouri State Archives, 600 W.Main St./P O Box 1747, Jefferson City, Missouri.
  3. Unknown subject, 1 Jan 1948, researcher's files, Laguna Niguel, Orange County, California, p. 4.
  4. Mrs. Etta Morford's Funeral Wednesday, Independence Examiner, Independence, Missouri, 25 August 1955, unknown.
  5. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century by the Americans Who Lived It (New York: Farrar, Strass and Giroux, 1999), p. 12.
  6. Unknown subject, 1 Jan 1948 researcher's files, p. 3.
  7. E.D. 130, Sheet 4, Shill Creek Precinct, family 84, dwelling 84, line 12 household, 1900 United States Census, Nebraska, Madison County, unknown cd2. NARA. T623.
  8. "Obituary (Fred Morford)," Transcription of article in The Leader, Malvern, Iowa, 19 Apr 1903, p. 1, in an e-mail message from Vicky Winfield to this researcher, 6 Jun 2001.
  9. Audrey Stubbart, The Centenarians (n.p.: HCOA, unknown publish date), p. 1..
  10. Audrey Stubbart, Roush, The Centenarians, p. 2.
  11. Unknown author, Morford Historian: Records and News of All Branches of the Morford Family of America, Vol. 1, no. 2 (October 1980), p. 10. Hereinafter cited as "Morford Historian".
  12. Bernard Edelman, Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century, p. 128.