Biography of Judge J. P. Lyman
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies





Judge J. P. Lyman, who since January, 1909, has occupied the bench of the superior court of the city of Grinnell, and who for many years previous was regarded as one of the ablest and most distinguished representatives of the bar of central Iowa, was born in Arcade, Wyoming county, New York, on the 14th of February, 1844, a son of Ralston W. and Harriet N. (Tracy) Lyman, both of whom were natives of New England. Their marriage, however, occurred in the Empire state, to which they had removed during the period of youth. On reaching manhood Ralston W. Lyman became identified with mercantile interests to which he gave his attention throughout the years of his active business life, being at different times located in the towns of Friendship, Castile, Arcade and Yorkshire, his death occurring in Arcade in 1900, when he had reached an advanced age. The mother passed away there some years prior to her husband's death.

Judge Lyman was reared at home, acquiring his education in the public schools of Arcade and in the academy of that place. The west seemed to offer better opportunities to young men than could be found in the older and more conservative east, and in 186o he and his brother, Robert R. Lyman, made their way to Poweshiek county, Iowa, where their uncle, Alonzo Steel, had acquired some land. It was the intention of the brothers to locate upon this tract and engage in its cultivation, but J. P. Lyman did not remain on the farm with his brother after the summer had passed, coming to Grinnell in the fall and here continuing his education under Professor L. F. Parker. In 1863 he entered Iowa College, from which he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the class of 1867. During his college course he taught school through the vacations and following his graduation continued in the profession of teaching for three years. It was his intention at that time to take up the practice of medicine and in fact while engaged in teaching' he gave much time to the reading of medical text books in his leisure hours. Changing his plans, however, he entered the law department of the Iowa State University at Iowa City, in 1870, and was graduated with the class of 1871. Following his admission to the bar he returned to Grinnell where he formed a partnership with R. M. Haines, with whom he was associated in active practice under the style of Haines & Lyman until the death of the senior member of the firm in 1902. Subsequent to that time Judge Lyman continued in practice alone until after his son's graduation from Harvard, when he became a member of the firm under the style of Lyman & Lyman. Almost from the outset of his professional career Judge Lyman was accorded a large practice for he soon demonstrated his ability to handle the intricate problems of the law. He carefully prepared his cases and his presentation has always been full and comprehensive yet not to the extent of redundancy. He marshals the facts of the case with the precision of a military commander and his clear and cogent reasoning has always commanded the attention of the jury, counsel and the court. In the fall of 1908 there came to him recognition of his ability in his election to the superior court bench, in which position he is now ably serving, his course upon the bench being in harmony with his record as a man and lawyer, distinguished by the utmost loyalty and by a masterful grasp of every problem presented for solution.

Other official honors have come to Judge Lyman through political channels. He has always been a stalwart republican in politics and was elected upon the party ticket to the office of county attorney, which position he filled for four years. He also represented his district in the twenty eighth and twenty ninth general assemblies of the Iowa legislature. He has served almost continuously for years in some official capacity in Grinnell, acting as city attorney, as a member of the town council and as mayor, while at the present time he is a member of the school board. His fidelity to his country was further manifested by his enlistment in 1864 for one hundred days service in the Civil war with Company B, Forty sixth Iowa Regiment, of which company Professor L. F. Parker was first lieutenant.

In October, 1873, Judge Lyman was married to Miss Elizabeth L. Little, of Grinnell, whose parents came to this city in 1867 from Kewanee, Illinois. Their only child, Henry G., is a graduate of the Harvard Law School of the class of 1906. He was first associated in practice with his father but since Judge Lyman's elevation to the bench he has become a partner of W. C. Rayburn, practicing under the firm name of Rayburn & Lyman. He married Miss. Fae La Grange, of Storm Lake, Iowa. The death of Mrs. Elizabeth Lyman occurred in 1906 and was the occasion of deep and wide spread regret throughout Grinnell and Poweshiek county.

Judge Lyman maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in Gordon Granger Post, No. 64, G. A. R., of Grinnell. He is a member of the Congregational church and chairman of its board of trustees. Interested in the material, intellectual, political and moral progress of his city, he does all in his power to further its interests and upbuilding, and, being a man of influence, his example is followed by many and thus he has become a potent force for good in the city with which he has been identified throughout the greater period of his residence in the west.

From:
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911


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