Sanders: My grandpa Moses
We have always known that my paternal grandfather, Lyston Wyatt, was adopted. Of course that made us curious who his birth parents were, their lineage and such.
With the advent of old newspaper searches online, I tried that angle to no avail. Part of the equation was we weren’t sure if he was born in Santa Rosa or in Stockton, both in California. I found entries in the old papers about adoptions but they were scarce and never the one I was seeking. The smaller town newspapers came and went which added to the confusion.
My sister and her husband had business in San Francisco so she contacted the library there and found out they have an active genealogical society and made an appointment. They struck gold.
The San Francisco newspaper held the key as apparently it was big news, even for that place and time. Here is the story in a nutshell.
Newton and Anna Wyatt had just settled down to sleep when he heard what sounded like a baby crying. As he followed the sound he opened the outside door and found a baby boy, crying lustily. The baby was in a basket that also contained baby clothes and a can of milk along with two bottles.
Newton took him in and they began to care for the little one. Somehow they determined he was no more than 6 days old. How that conclusion was reached isn’t mentioned but perhaps it had to do with the state of the umbilical cord’s remains. Something gave them a reason to assume his age. With no other specific date, Newton and Anna set his “birth” date on the calendar as the day Lyston was abandoned on their doorstep.
The Wyatts announced they would keep him and would adopt him. An article in the newspaper asked the birth parents to somehow (yet anonymously) sign papers giving up their rights.
The search ended there, due to time constraints. As in soap operas the questions remain: Were the birth parents someone the Wyatts knew? If so, did they know them well enough to realize the Wyatts were unable to have their own children? Was it just happenstance that they baby was left with them? Did they find birth parents to sign the papers? Did the state intervene and take the baby for a time until the questions were resolved? Did they legally adopt the baby or simply consider him theirs? Was there a particular reason for his name? Why is his name written alternately as Lyston Lloyd or Lloyd Lyston in various references? He went by Lyston all of the time I knew him, which was a scant five years as he died in 1957 of leukemia.
Then there is the question of how did he end up in South Dakota? That one we know. One of his former teachers was Grace Stewart who grew up, and was again living, near Cascade. Lyston was taking a trip to Chicago and stopped to see his teacher. Grace had a lovely sister, Fern. She turned his head and he never did go on to Chicago. ❖