John L. and Nancy Jane Ruby Leyburn

John L. Leyburn was born about 1831 in Pittsburg, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. His father was also named John. I have not discovered the surname of his mother, but her given name may have been Ann. John L. Leyburn’s wife was Nancy Jane Ruby, born about 1834 in Indiana. They married in 1852 in Edwardsport, Knox, Indiana and may have had eight children, but only six have been identified –  Lucy Ann “Annie”, Franklin “Frank” I., Mary E., Fannie, Willie and Jennie.

John and Nancy’s youngest daughter, Jennie Leyburn Harris, wrote a lovely memoir – The History of my family and events in my own life. Here is an excerpt telling about her parents.

My father, John Leyburn, (an only child), was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was only two years old when my grandfather Leyburn was stricken with yellow fever, so prevalent in those days, and died. Grandmother would often tell us children how they carried his body out after midnight and buried it, the disease being so contagious. Two years later my grandmother married Benjamin Irving, a native of Scotland, possessing all the characteristics of a true Scotsman. So my father was brought up in a much disciplined household. My grandmother, also very strict, and a perfect housekeeper. – As far as order was concerned – ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place.’ So my father grew up in that cold, stern atmosphere which his mother and stepfather possessed. He grew up a very quiet boy. Grandfather Leyburn was a cabinet maker, making beautiful furniture by hand. This furniture has been handed down through the generations. (His name was John also.)

 When my father was about 12 years old, his stepfather and mother moved to Indiana when the state was new. They settled on a small tract of land called a homestead, near the town of Edwardsport. Here my father grew to manhood. He attended school in Vincennes. As he grew older, coming from a long line of architects, contractors, designers, and builders, he soon found it too was running in his veins to do likewise. So at an early age, he took up designing and contracting. Many of the old homes in Edwardsport he designed and built.

 About the age of 25, he met my mother, Miss Nancy Jane Ruby, given up to be the belle of Edwardsport. He fell in love with her and they were married in a quaint little church, which a few years ago was still standing. This was in the fifties.

 To them were born 8 children – 3 were born in Edwardsport, and 4 in Vincennes – and I, the youngest, was born in Flora, Illinois. My father’s work caused them to go to different places, but before going to Flora, he built a home there, expecting to stay as the town was new and had lots of work. (pp. 1-2)

Using information from the memoir, it looks like John, Nancy and their children lived in Edwardsport until the late 1850s. I have found only one census record for John, the 1860 United States Federal Census. The family was living in Vigo, Knox, Indiana. Those recorded on the census are John L., 29, Nancy J., 26, Lucy A., 5, Franken I., 3, and Mary E., 1. Evidently, four other children were born in the 1860s while in Knox County, Indiana. Two of those children were Fannie and Willie. Jennie Leyburn Harris mentions the town Vincennes.

John moved his family to Flora, Clay, Illinois before 1872. I have not found John on the 1870 census, so it is difficult to know exactly when they made the move. Their youngest daughter, Jennie, was born there about 1872.

In the mid 1870s, Nancy’s health began to fail and her physician advised John to take her south to a warmer climate. He decided Tennessee would be the best place for them to move. The Leyburn family, including John’s stepfather and mother, moved to Loudon, Loudon, Tennessee. Their oldest daughter, Annie, married before the move so did not move with them.

In her memoir, Jennie Leyburn Harris describes events following the move to Tennessee.

 The change, however, was not to her what my father had hoped for, and in a few months, she passed away leaving him in a strange land with his little children. He could not rise above the sorrow and loss of one he loved so dearly. She had meant so much to him, smoothing out the rough places in life. The first years of their married life had been very prosperous and happy, but when the years of adversity came, she met them with her same sweet and gentle manner.

Our coming south so soon after the close of the war between the north and south was looked on as a very foolish move by our northern friends and relatives -The south being so hostile toward the north. We were very fortunate to settle in a community where they were very generous to us. And the short time my mother lived, she made many friends with her charming personality. As I have already said, my father could not rise from this great disappointment and sorrow. Life meant nothing to him. He loved us children, and as I remember, he was very affectionate. I can remember sitting on his lap, and how he would run his thin white hands through my curls. And at night, he would have brother Willie and me to come to his bed and say our prayers. He would whisper something to us about our mother. I never remember seeing him smile-just a sad face. He was taken to different health resorts, but to no avail. Grief robbed his body of the health it could have had. We children were soon separated. (pp. 2,3)

Nancy Jane died about 1873 and John in about 1875 or 1876 in Loudon, Tennessee. After his death, his daughter, Fannie, married William Churchill Waller on March 14, 1877. Frank Leyburn left for Knoxville to study architecture. Willie and Jennie were left to live with their grandparents, Benjamin and Ann Irving. The 1880 United States Federal Census shows a J.R. Irving (not Benjamin ?), N.A. Irving, F.I. Leyburn, W.H. Leyburn, and J.M Leyburn in Loudon, Loudon, Tennessee. I think this is definitely the grandparents along with John and Nancy’s children, Frank, Willie, and Jennie. Jennie Leyburn Harris does not mention her sister, Mary, in her memoir or the other two unnamed siblings. It is possible they died in childhood.

Sources 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. All use is subject to the limited use license and other terms and conditions applicable to this site.

Harris, Jennie Leyburn, History of my family and events in my own life.



Lucy Ann Leyburn LeBus

I begin this narrative on a personal note. I was named for my paternal grandmother, Lucy Ann Woodward Nance. Much to my surprise, it was not until about 1988 that I found I had another ancestor by the name of Lucy Ann. I was perusing some of my mother’s mementos, scrapbooks, and photo albums and came across a list of her family including the names of her grandparents. There was the name of my great grandmother, Lucy Ann Leyburn LeBus. I could not believe my mother had never told me, but perhaps she did not know much about her to share.

With that being said, I make this disclaimer: Most of the information I have about Lucy Ann “Annie” Leyburn has been gleaned from the United States Federal Census records. Therefore, it was necessary for me to make some assumptions since census information does not always give us all that we want to know about a person. Another Leyburn ancestor sent me a copy of a memoir written by Lucy Ann”s sister Jennie which gave me a bit of information about their parents.

The first place I found Lucy Ann Leyburn was on the 1860 census, living with her parents and two siblings in Vigo Township, Knox County, Indiana. The census enumerator spells the name “Leyborn”. Lucy Ann was the first child of John L. and Nancy Jane Ruby Leyburn. Her age is recorded as 5 years old and birthplace was Indiana. Her two siblings were Franken I. (3) and Mary E. (1) and both were also born in Indiana. John Leyborn (29) was a carpenter and was born in Pennsylvania. Nancy Leyborn (26) was born in Indiana.

Not long after Lucy Ann’s birth the United States became engaged in the Civil War. Indiana was a part of the Union despite the fact that a large part of the population was sympathetic to the Confederate cause. I found no military record for John Leyburn but it is likely he was called upon to lend his support in some way. As all families, the Leyburns must have felt the upheaval, danger, and distress of a country at war. It is likely they had friends and family who served in the military and died in the war.

Even though I have not found the John Leyburn family on the 1870 United States Federal Census, I have this information from the memoir by Jennie Leyburn Harris (Lucy’s youngest sister).

When I was about 2 years old, my mother’s health began to fail. After the doctors had done all they could for her, they advised my father to take her south to a warmer climate. So sunny Tennessee (as it was called in the north) was thought the best place for her. My grandfather Irving, still living near Edwardsport, on hearing the doctor’s decision, would not permit my father to move until he (my grandfather) came and looked the country over. He liked Tennessee so much he came back and sold his place, and we all came together in ’73. On the eve of our departure, my older sister Anne, ran away and married so she might stay in the north – a great sorrow to my mother and father. The change, however, was not to her what my father had hoped for, and in a few months, she passed away leaving him in a strange land with his little children. He could not rise above the sorrow and loss of one he loved so dearly. She had meant so much to him, smoothing out the rough places in life.

The first years of their marriage had been very prosperous and happy, but when the years of adversity came, she met them with her same sweet and gentle manner. (Harris, pp. 2-3)

Another Leyburn family researcher, Susan Keeling, shared information that John and Nancy Leyburn had eight children, the last born in 1872. Her information shows three children were born in Edwardsport, Knox, Indiana; four born in Vincennes, Knox, Indiana, and one in Flora, Clay, Illinois. To date (2013) six names have been found – Lucy Ann, Fanny, Franklin, Mary, Willie and Jennie.


I feel safe in saying that Annie met her future husband, John Blackburn LeBus, sometime before 1872 in Flora, Clay County, Illinois. They married October 6, 1872 in Flora, Illinois. By 1874 they had started their family with the birth of a daughter, Maggie. During the next six years their family grew even more with the births of George Franklin, December 14, 1876; Archie, 1877; and Laura, 1878.

Marriage record for John B. LeBus and Lucy Ann Leyburn.

By 1880 John, Annie, and their family were living in Loudon, Tennessee. Perhaps they moved there to be near her siblings. From information on the 1880 United States Federal Census, John (listed as J.A. Lebus) is continuing his trade as a blacksmith. Along with Annie (24) the children are listed as Marie (should be Maggie), Archie, George and Leif (should be Link).This fourth child, Lincoln, was given the nickname “Link.” For some reason, their daughter Laura is not shown on the census record.

I was able to find that three of Lucy’s siblings were also living in Loudon, Tennessee at the time of the 1880 United States Federal Census. They were residing with their paternal step grandfather and grandmother listed as J.R. Irving and N.A. Irving. J.R (probably J.B.) was 72 years old, born in Scotland and was a wool manufacturer. N.A. was 72 years old and was born in Pennsylvania.

Note: After the death of John L. Leyburn’s father, his mother remarried J.B. or Benjamin Irving.

The 1890 United States Federal Census is no longer in existence. Only a few fragments survived a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. on January 10, 1921. Neither Indiana nor Illinois have records serving as a census substitute. Therefore, there is a large span of time where I have no recorded information for John and Annie LeBus.

There is no record of when the LeBus family returned to Illinois or where they resided, but from information on the 1900 United States Federal Census, we know that three more of their children were born in Illinois. John Ervin was born December 24, 1881; Ruby was born 1886; and Goldie was born 1888.


By 1900 the LeBus family is living in Perry, Noble County, Oklahoma. The family name is shown on the 1900 United States Federal Census as Labus. Listed are John B. Labus (50), Anna Labus (45), Ruby Labus (13), Golle (misspelling of Goldie, (11), Beatrice Labus (7), Irene Labus (4), and John Labus (19). Both Beatrice and Irene were born in Oklahoma.

There is an interesting bit of information found on the 1900 census. Two of the questions asked are: “Mother of how many children?” and “Number of those children living?” Annie’s answers give us information that she and John had thirteen children but only eleven living children. We have no record of the names of the other two children or the dates of birth and death.

Lucy Ann “Annie” Leyburn LeBus died July 16, 1905 in Perry, Oklahoma, and was buried beside her husband, John, in Grace Hill Cemetery (Perry, Oklahoma).

Grace Hill Cemetery
Grave marker for Lucy Ann LeBus.

Getting a glimpse into the life of my ancestor, Lucy Ann Leyburn LeBus, has been quite a challenge. It seems quite likely that her family experienced a harsh existence. When Annie was a young teen her mother was quite ill, so it is likely she had to assume added household and childcare responsibilities. Annie married when she was 17 years old. By our standards this seems quite young, even though it was more common at that time. Her sister, Jennie, says in her memoir that this marriage greatly upset their parents. Annie gave birth to 13 children within twenty-six years, losing two of those children to death. During those years John and Annie moved several times and we know how difficult travel was at that time – long and arduous.

Note: When naming a first born son, it was often the custom to use the paternal grandmother’s maiden surname. George and Ethel “Pa and Ma” LeBus named their first son, Frank Leyburn.

When I consider what life would have been like for women like Annie, I am astounded at their strength and bravery. Most women were as courageous and hard-working as the men. Their daily tasks were basic but necessary – rearing children, cooking meals, fetching water, sewing clothes, growing gardens, and washing laundry. Even though I know so little about Annie’s life, much less her personality or temperament, I would like to think that she was like the wife described in Proverbs.

A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31: 10-12

Sources 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. 1880 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.

Clay County, marriage certificate, Clay County Clerk’s Office, Louisville, Illinois.

Harris, Jennie Leyburn, “History of my family and events in my own life.”

Keeling, Susan, “Notes on the Leyburn Family.”

Web: Oklahoma, Find A Grave Index, 1800-2012.

Wikipedia, the free enclyclopedia, “Indiana in the American Civil War,”

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft 2010, Updated November 2013.