return to the William A. Lyles page | modified 05/01//2000 

Who was Joseph Lyles Jr's father?

Joseph Jr's deeds

Joseph Jr. and Rock Springs Baptist Church

Joseph Lyles Senior's will and probate

Joseph Lyles, Junior, was either one of the many sons of Hugh Isham Lyles (born about 1795) or a son of the elder Joseph Lyles (1792-1870). In 1861 at age 43, he enlisted in the 2nd South Carolina Rifles, Company C, though he was sent home again after a few months because of his asthma, which his army doctor called "incurable." His doctor notwithstanding, Joseph Jr. lived another 38 years. (See his army discharge.) His family flourished, and his descendants still live in Oconee County and nearby today. He was probably a close kinsman of William Albert Lyles, perhaps a cousin or even a brother. Whatever the family ties were, after the mid-1850s when William A. Lyles moved up to Mountain Rest, S.C, the two kinsmen and their descendants apparently had little contact with each other.

The 1868 Oconee tax records list Joseph Lyles Jr. as "Joseph W. Liles."  For a while we were uncertain as to which family name the "W" referred:  William or Wesley.  Recently, we have been in contact with the great-granddaughter of Jonas Lyles.  His first son, her grandfather, was named Joseph William Lyles after his grandfather.

the children of Joseph and Letty Ann Lyles 

Jonas (or Jonah) Lyles. May 26, 1846 to ?? In 1864, he joined Company C, 2nd South Carolina Rifles and was later parolled at Appomattox in April 1865. In 1866, he was listed as a member of Rock Springs Baptist Church, just west of Westminster, SC. He married Mary Matissa Hendrix and moved to Texas at the end of 1878 or the beginning of 1879. They had five children--Joseph W. Lyles (Jan. 13, 1879 to July 28, 1964), Ora Lyles Keathly, Cora Bell Lyles Inman, Arlie J. Lyles, and Armentia Lyles Lisby.


Vermelia Arrinda Lyles. June 15, 1848 to April 4, 1880. She married William Rains on May 3, 1879.


Rebecca Frances Lyles. July 9, 1850 to ??. She married Joseph Pitts on August 15, 1873. 
Letty Ann Arzilla Lyles. September 21, 1852 to June 21, 1855. (Does her name echo the names of Zilla Ward Lyles, wife of Joseph, Sr, and of Zillah Lyles, the younger daughter of William A. Lyles?) 
Nancy Jane Lyles. September 1854 to ?? 
Deborah Ann Salina Lyles. February 11, 1857 to ?? She married John Harvey on April 5, 1874. 
Martha Rachel Lyles. May 10, 1860 to ?? She married Jess Honeycutt. 
John William (Bill) Lyles. May 1, 1862 to November 7, 1937. He married Mary Louisa Brown, and they had two known children--Paul Jones (Bud) Lyles and Pearle Lyles Pitts. 

the children of Joseph and Elizabeth Ann Lyles


Mary Ellen Lyles. July 26, 1865 to June 25, 1958. She married Robert A. Adams (October 1864 to ??). 

Julia Pickens Lyles. April 20, 1868 to ??. She married Colonel Chambers.


Samuel Jason Lyles. January 5, 1870 to 1952. He married Dora (Rosabelle) Carter (September 1858 to 1930).


Letty Ann Lyles. July 18, 1872 to ?? She married Oscar Carter.


Sally Louisa Lyles. March 7, 1874. She married William Smith.


Hettie Josephine Lyles. October 8, 1877 to ?? She married John Henry Long.



Who was the father of Joseph Lyles Junior--
Hugh Isham Lyles or Joseph Lyles, Senior?
At first glance, there's no question about Joseph Lyles Junior's parentage. After all, Joseph Lyles Senior's probate names Hugh Isham Liles as the father of Joseph Junior. But one of Joseph Junior's grandsons testifies otherwise. He says that his own father, Samuel Jason Lyles, did not hestiate to name Joseph Liles Senior as his grandfather. 
Since Amy's notes state that our William Albert Lyles had a brother Joseph and since we are inclined to believe that Samuel Jason Lyles was likely to know the identity of his own grandfather, we have continued gathering evidence on the puzzle of the Joseph Senior-Joseph Junior-William Albert relationship. This page presents what we know so far. 
The Probate of Joseph Lyles Senior 
Even though Joseph Lyles Senior's probate record is the explicit authority for the notion that Joseph Junior was a son of Hugh Isham and Jenny Lyles, we don't trust it very far. 
In his will, Joseph Liles Senior explicitly named only his wife Zillah; he lumped all the other family members as "my legal Heirs." Whether he used this term because he expected everyone to know who his legal heirs were or because he had other reasons, we can't tell. 
Why indeed did Joseph Senior write a will at all? In our research in Oconee County, we have been struck by just how few people wrote wills or had their estates put through probate. For example, the Oconee County probate books show only one Lyles entry between 1870 (Joseph Senior's will) and 1948 (William Clifton Lyles). It appears that the only time folk wrote wills--so it seems--is when they suspected that the natural course of inheritance would not produce the desired results. Why then did Joseph write a will? Was it because Zillah, thirty years old when she married the 57-year-old Joseph, wanted a will to thwart Joseph's estate from going to his children? 
A right fair odor of strangeness surrounds the will and the probate. In the will and codicil devised (by Joseph Senior or someone else) in December 1869 and January 1870, Joseph appointed E. P. Verner his executor. Yet when one J.J. Norton appeared on behalf of Verner before Styles P. Dendy, Judge of Probate Court, he spoke as if there were no will at all of "Joseph Liles of the County and State aforesaid who died INTESTATE." Huh? There WAS a will. Did he and the judge suspect something was wrong it? Or Norton was simply very confused? After all, he went on to declare that Joseph was "unmarried"--a contention that Norton's client, Verner, and probably most of Westminster knew was not so. 
Even more peculiar, neither the will nor the probate documents ever mentioned William Albert Lyles, although he was clearly a member of the family and well known to Verner. And even curiouser and curiouser, Zillah seemed deliberately to thumb her nose at the rest of the family by selling the real estate for a pittance so that the heirs' legacy dwindled to a meager handful of dollars. 
The probate stretched out over at least 24 years. In going through the probate records there is a clue to the end of the travails of Joseph Liles, Sr. At the point when Joseph Lyles Junior became the ADMINISTRATOR of the estate there is a clue is in the line "amt rec from EST of E. P. Verner." The Oconee Cemetery records show that Ebenezer Pettigrew Verner died 27 Jan 1891 and was buried at the old Retreat Presbyterian Church. So the final action took place after that date and before 1894, when Martha A. Liles signed a receipt for her share. This was probably the first payout that the family--other than Zillah--had received. 
In the end, the Judge of Probate abrogated the peculiar will. By 1894, Zillah was dead (she was born about 1815), and the court appointed an intestate administrator (not an executor), Joseph, Jr., who followed his instructions and made a 1/3 distribution to the heirs of two brothers and the one known sister. Joseph Jr's fee as administrator apparently came from Hugh Isham's share. 
The Census records of 1840 and 1850 
The censuses of 1840 and 1850 make us suspect that Joseph Jr was not from the Hugh Isham Lyles family. Hugh Isham Liles himself does not appear in the census records until 1840 (where was he in 1830?), and although the 1840 records do not give the names of the household members, we can make some interesting inferences by comparing the 1840 and 1850 records. 
The particular question that we wish to ask is "where was Joseph Junior in 1840?" Based on analyzing the census records we suspect that he was NOT in Hugh Isham's household. The reasoning involves constructing an 1840 census record based on 1850's census, then comparing the actual and constructed records: 

H. Isham Lyles 55 M 
Jenny 50 F 
Hugh 27 M 
Martha 25 F 
Samuel 23 M 
Lewis 21 M 
William 18 M 
John 13 M 
Deborah 11 F 
James 10 M 
Joshua 9 M 
Nancy Jane 8 F 
inferred ages 1840 
44 M 
40 F 
17 M 
15 F 
13 M 
11 M 
8 M 
3 M 
1 F 
1 M? (born 1839) 
would not appear? 
would not appear? 
actual 1840 ages 
1 (Male 40-50 yr) Hugh 
1 (Female 40-50 yr) Jenny 
1 (Male 15-20 yr) Hugh Jr. 
1 (Female 10-15 yr) Martha 
1 (Male 10-15 yr) Samuel 
1 (Male 5-10 yr) Lewis? 
1 (Male 5-10 yr) William? 
1 (Male 5-10 yr) John? 
1 (Female 5-10 yr) ? 
1 (Male under 5 yr) James? 
1 (Male under 5 yr) 
1 (Female under 5 yr) Deborah? 

total: 10 children should be 8 but, children often died in those days, especially younger ones. 
One point is obvious. Joseph Junior was 21 years old in 1840 and there is no evidence for a 21-year-old in Hugh Isham's household. Moreover, if Joseph, Jr. had been an older child of Isham, and assuming no infant deaths, there would have been about four years between Joseph and Hugh. Not reasonable since in the 1850 census the children are spread 2-3 years apart. 
Joseph, Jr. and wife Lettyanne were not married until July 1845, thus you would expect Joseph Junior to be present in the 1840 census. However, there is no room for Joseph in 1840. There is a complete match for the older males between the inferred 1840 census and the actual census. 
Joseph Junior was not in Hugh Isham Liles' household in 1840. 
Did Joseph Junior's convert late from the Methodists to the Baptists? 
The elder Joseph Lyles and William Albert Lyles were among the early Methodists in a county full of Baptists. So Joseph Junior's church affiliation was worth noting. Although he ultimately became an important member of Rock Springs Baptist Church, he evidently wasn't always a Baptist. The records of Rock Springs Baptist church show that he joined "by experience" during the July term of 1853 when he was 34 years old. (Coincidentally, this was about the time that Salem Methodist Church might have broken up.) Had Joseph Junior been a Baptist prior to 1853 he would have joined the church "by letter." We do not know in which church or churches Westley or Hugh Isham Liles were members, and we do not know where Joseph Junior was prior to 1853 (and we are researching these matters), but it is not unreasonable to suspect that he may have been a Methodist, which would have been consistent with his being from the family of the elder Joseph Lyles. 
Joseph Junior was literate 
David Lyles, Joseph Lyles Senior, and William Albert Lyles were all literate, as we can tell from their signatures on various document, especially deeds, while the older people in the households of Hugh Isham Lyles and Wesley Lyles could not read and write, according to the census records. Because the census of 1850 lists Joseph Junior as illiterate, we at first supposed that he didn't not fit into the family of Joseph Senior. But we now know the 1850 census was incorrect; Joseph Junior could read and write. Late in his life, he was secretary at Rock Springs Baptist Church, and the records show him to have a fine hand. He also served as Administrator for Joseph Senior's estate after E.P. Verner died. In that role he would have had to be literate. But there is no evidence that Hugh Isham or his older children were literate, so Joseph Junior doesn't seem to fit in that household.