FAIRFIELD COUNTY — A replay of the family reunion of Liles/Lyles descendants that has been celebrated every two to three years in the rural Feasterville/Blair area (historically called Lyles settlement) of Fairfield County will be held this weekend, Oct. 9 and Oct. 10.
As in the past, they will set up in the Old Feasterville School Boarding house (circa 1840) in the rural area where many of the 18th century ancestors settled and passed through on the great migration of colonial Americans seeking the dreams of expansion and prosperity.
According to Pelham Lyles, there were waves of Irish settlers with the same name derivatives who came in through the Augusta/Shenandoah region of central western Virginia.
Although the DNA studies differentiate origins from either Celtic or Norman-English strains, Lyles said they have also connected through DNA to African-American relatives who descended through blood connections during the early plantation/slavery systems that stirred the big melting pot of America.
Several of the lines track through Native American Indian ancestry that also shows up in a DNA project managed by Bill and Charlie Liles, one of whom will present findings during the reunion presentation evening.
“The coming together of Lyles connections every few years here delights those of us who want to know more about the flowering of our ancestral tree through the generations of settlement in America,” Pelham Lyles stated in a reunion letter.
A brief synopsis of the origins of the Norman-English Lisle/l’isle/Liles/Lyles family:
The earliest settlers in the lines had come to the Colony of Virginia from England by 1626. The earliest documented Virginia ancestor to begin moving southward from the James River area settlements in Virginia was John Lisle of Henrico County who, when coming of age, moved down the trading paths to obtain land on Buckskin Creek in Prince George County (now in present Dinwiddie County near McKenney and I-85).
Some early Lyles land grants are also found in the Nutbush Creek area of North Carolina (formerly Brunswick County, Va.) and Anson County, N.C.
Ephraim Lyles (Liles) and two brothers, John and Williamson (along with some other half brothers possibly), migrated to the Broad River valley areas in South Carolina around present-day Union, Chester, Fairfield, and Newberry counties and settled on both sides of the river around 1745.
John was granted land in what is now Newberry County. Ephraim was supposed to have been killed by Cherokee Indians in present-day Fairfield County around 1761 or 1762, leaving his wife and several children.
Williamson settled west of the Broad River in Newberry County also and his hand-carved gravestone (1797) was found a few years ago during a family foray.
Ephraim’s fieldstone-marked grave is said to be one of the approximate 100 depression/fieldstone graves on the little wooded hilltop near the Broad River valley where Lyleses first set down roots in South Carolina.
Interesting Lyles facts:
• Sue Lyles Eakin, who documented and annotated the diary of Solomon Northrup, is from a Louisiana branch of the family. The movie, Twelve Years a Slave, was produced about this important work.
• Sr. George Lisle was a Royalist martyr of the English Civil War, executed August 28, 1648. In addition, there was a John Lisle, who was on the complete opposite side of the conflict assisting Cromwell, and was one of the judges who decided to behead King Charles I. After Cromwell’s death and the restoration of Charles II, John had fled to Switzerland where he was assassinated in 1664 by an Irish Royalist. His wife Lady Alice was later beheaded for treason.
• Allison Feaster is a great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Minter Lyles, as his son Belton had two children in his union with a slave, Rachel Foote. After freedom, Rachel was a household servant in the home of another prominent area family from whom she inherited over 500 acres and the surname Feaster.
• Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton complained about the “treachery of John Lisle” who had been caught in Charleston when it surrendered to British command in January 1781. They attacked the British outpost at Rocky Mount in June of 1781 and this was considered one of the first successes in the Carolina Backcountry war effort that led to the defeats of the British at Guilford Courthouse and the ensuing surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.