Lyle Luther Rathbun
Lyle Luther Rathbun

Introduction: Lyle Luther Rathbun died in November of 1988 at the age of 86. During the preparations for his funeral, the transcriber of this document note that all 3 of Lyle’s Grandsons, David Bruce Hatton, James Lyle Rathbun & Michael Robert Rathbun were gathered in the den of the 747 North Euclid Avenue house. They were having a hilarious time which seemed highly inappropriate considering the circumstances. A quiet investigation revealed that they were telling “Grand Pa Lyle Stories”.

It needs to be explained that “Grand Pa Lyle Stories” was something that they had been exposed to their entire lives. These stories were random recollections told spontaneously by Lyle at various family functions or during one on one conversations over the years. They ranged from an oral family genealogy to various incidents in Lyle’s long life that covered a wide range of his life experiences.

It was evident that each Grandson and only heard only a portion of the stories and was just then getting a full exposure to a unique life. Some stories may have been withheld as they were age sensitive or perhaps it was his plan all along that they be shared at this time?? No problems with  the laughter! Do you remember the one about ____ ____ __?

Lyle had attended classes in genealogy during which it was suggested that everyone should write their own autobiography. Lyle took this idea to heart. The following is taken from his TWO handwritten autobiography(s) as translated and will be identified by quotation marks. The verbal stories will be related as best his son Robert can remember them. The Grandsons should take this as a starting point and add their own recollections and their own stories.

The thing that is missing is the delivery style of the story. Feet propped up on either side of the television (ball game on) or perhaps reclining on the couch. An occasional interruption to comment on the game, world events or the appearance of the people passing by outside on Euclid Avenue. A digression into another story and then a quick return to the topic at hand.

Introductive addendum: While working on this document about random events in the life of a person who could, hypothetically, have seen everything from Teddy Roosevelt, the Kitty Hawk flight, 2 World Wars, Flight to the Man on the Moon, the writer decided to add some additions.

Robert Ruark, an American Author, did a series of short stories called “The Old Man and the Boy”, a partial autobiography, in which he attributes his education to a single “Super” Grand Parent . Mr. Ruark freely admitted that the composite character included parents, Grand Parents, Uncles, Honorary and directly related, white and black. I will be adding some side stories, but will attempt to identify their relationship to our extended family.

The following is a combination of Lyle’s autobiography and the remembered “GrandPa Lyle Stories” and significant others.

Lyle Rathbun, Bessie Pearl Engle Rathbun, Glen Rathbun, Ozro Guay Rathbun
Lyle Rathbun, Bessie Pearl Engle Rathbun, Glen Rathbun, Ozro Guay Rathbun

I, Lyle Luther Rathbun ,was born in Eaton, Indiana (February 20, 1902). It was a country town of 200 people in 1902 and has a population of 200 in 1977.. It is now a suburb of Muncie, Indiana some times called Middletown, U.S.A.”

I was born in a small 4 room house (PHOTO AVAILABLE) and from all accounts the Medical Doctor was drunk. (Lyle did not have a formal birth certificate, just a letter signed by a relative indicating that he had been born).

My Mother was Bessie Pearl Engle Rathbun. Her parents were Robert Engle, a former school teacher and Datie Ferguson; both were of the Quaker faith. Datie was an attractive Woman about 5 feet in height and her family were farmers in Wayne County, Indiana”.

My father, Ozro Guay Rathbun. His father, Alfred Rathun was born in Athens County, Ohio. His Mother was Sarah Elizabeth Allen who was born in Greenville, Ohio on April 2, 1840. Alfred and Sarah owned and ran various farms in Jay County, Indiana. Alfred died at age 32 leaving Sarah with 4 sons, ages 10 to 1. Sarah became a mid-wife in the Red Key-Dunkirk, Ridgeville area and delivered over 500 babies.

The four boys worked on farms in the area.” There were actually 5 children: Lydia Bell Rathbun (1862-1874), Ulysses Grant Rathbun (1865-1965), Alden Clark Rathbun (1867-1959, Ozro Guay Rathbun (1870-1946, and Alfred Lewis Rathbun (1873-1894).

At age 14, my father, Ozro Guay Rathbun worked at a glass factory and became a glass blower.

Apparently Ozro ‘s company was making glass chimneys for kerosene lights. One day, they got the perfect mix, at the right temperature under perfect conditions; the lamp chimneys would bounce when dropped, so the sales representative used that lot as “samples”, but actual sent the regular chimneys out in the order.

In 1888, Ozro migrated to Colorado and became a lumberjack and foreman for a railroad tie cutting crew for the Denver and Cripple Creek Rail Road. These activities made him a strong 150 pound man. He trained as a boxer under the original Kid McCoy who was the national welter(??) weight champion. Ozro ultimately became the Colorado State Champion at that weight.

In the early 1960s, the Rathbun family visited Cripple Creek on a family vacation. Lyle and Robert attempted to locate some newspapers that might document the boxing career. The local museum did not have them, but an older man, who had been in Cripple Creek back in the day, looked at Lyle and said, “He was about your size, but had more slope to his shoulders”. Lyle replied that was a good description. The older man indicated that the fights were held in the “Red Light District” to which Lyle replied “that’s him”.

Note: A famous news correspondent from the early to mid 2oth Century named Lowell Thomas wrote a book entitled “Cripple Creek Days” that was his autobiography as a youth in a rip roaring gold/silver camp about the same period that Ozro was there. An interesting read.

In 1898, Ozro returned to Indiana and ran a grocery store in Red Key.

“On 6th of December, 1899, he married Bessie Pearl Engle and in 1900 started a store called “The Rocket Store”, a predecessor of the five and dime stores that followed, in Eaton, Indiana.”

“In 1905, he (Ozro) sold the Eaton store and purchased a general store in Geneva, Adams County, Indiana which was an oil and gas boom town with a population of 1,000. In 1911, Ozro sold the Geneva store and be came a representative of Carson Peirre Scott and traveled to the trade in Indiana and Ohio.”

Lyle’s younger brother, Glen Dee Rathbun was born in 1910.

‘In 1912, Ozro traded property for a second hand store on Merdian Street, across from the Court House for Randoph County, Indiana. The store expanded into a piano store and a Singer Sewing Machine distributorship. This store was sold and joined the Men’s & Furniture Departments of the “M.L. Mills Department Store”

Lyle Rathbun Stories

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