Albert R. Lyman’s Swallow’s Nest dedicated
On Sunday November 5, San Juan County, friends and family of Albert R. Lyman participated in the dedication of Lyman’s beloved Swallows Nest as an historical site by the International Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
The program began at 2 p.m. at the Blanding Visitors Center. The Blanding Primrose Camp of the DUP has spearheaded this commemorative event.
International DUP President Cheryl Searle and Second VP Katherine Brimhall attended the dedication and Stan Bronson performed in honor of Albert R. Lyman.
Primrose Camp Captain Relva Bowring said, “Many people have helped make this happen. We especially appreciate the help of Blanding City Councilman Robert Ogle, and the city workers who set the stone for the plaque, which came from Madge Shumway.
“Taylor Palmer attached the plaque to the stone, and Angela Hurst’s First Ward Cub Scouts did a major clean up project.
“Kelly Pugh donated a painting, which John Helquist framed, and it is featured in the Swallows Nest.”
She added, “We especially appreciate the pie makers and those who supported our Fourth of July booth. That gave us the funds we needed to help pay for the project.”
Vice Captain Gayle Shumway added, “This was truly an historic event.”
Albert Robison Lyman was born on January 10, 1880 in Fillmore, UT to Platte D. Lyman and Adelia Robison.
His son, Karl Lyman, wrote, “Albert’s early life was spent in Bluff, San Juan County, which his parents helped settle. In 1884, the family moved to Scipio, UT. Three years later, they returned to live in Bluff in a very small log house with a mud roof.
“As a youth he assisted his father in tending their cattle and also engaged in making shoes. Life was difficult for the Lymans’ and everyone else living in San Juan County, Native and Anglo alike.”
His father Platte D. was called to preside over the European LDS Mission, and Albert served under him in the British Isles.
Upon his return, he began to court Mary Ellen Perkins, known as Lell, with whom he had corresponded during his mission. They were married on June 26, 1902 in Salt Lake City.
In 1905, they made their new home on White Mesa by grubbing out a site for a tent and became the founders of what would eventually be called Grayson. They raised a large posterity of 15 children.
Albert cultivated a farm, operated a small mercantile, and began a written record of every important thought or impression he had. This record, aptly named “Thots”, eventually occupied 70 volumes.
Albert was active both professionally and ecclesiastically in the community, eventually to be renamed Blanding. In 1908, he was appointed as Superintendent of Schools for San Juan County and served in many other important ways.
Tragedy struck in 1935 when Lell became seriously ill and was forced to relocate to Salt Lake City to receive medical treatment.
In 1938, Albert moved his family there to be with her until the end.
Just before her death on May 13, 1939, Lell instructed him to marry her widowed sister, Gladys, so she could watch over him and the children. He acted accordingly, and they married on June 14, 1939.
In October, 1940 he was called to be patriarch of the Salt Lake Stake. However, he yearned for the wilderness of Southern Utah, and in 1942 moved back to Blanding.
In 1944 and 1945, he and Gladys were called on a short-term mission to the Native Americans in the Navajo-Zuni Mission.
The following year they were called on a permanent basis to serve the Indian communities around Blanding, where they were influential in establishing schools for the Indian children until their release in 1949.
He was also influential with the youth of Blanding as a seminary teacher until 1954.
Throughout his life, Albert followed a quest for knowledge in all fields of study.
BYU Studies states: “During his life Lyman wrote extensively including biographies of Amasa R. Lyman, Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr., Benjamin Perkins, Francis M. Lyman, Jens Nielson, Dick Butt, and Posey; histories of San Juan County: Indians and Outlaws, Edge of the Cedars; romantic Western novels; a history of Blanding, UT; and an historical column for the San Juan Record.
“By the 1960’s he was one of the last surviving original settlers of San Juan County. He became both part of the county’s history and also that history’s purveyor.”
Albert kept his writings intact during his lifetime, storing them in a grain crib behind his home in Blanding. Upon his death, his son and daughter, Karl Lyman and Gwen Lyman Smith, donated the collection to the Harold B. Lee Library, and they are open to the public.
The collection consists of 118 volumes of the personal writings of Albert Robison Lyman (1880-1973). Many of his books are also available on Amazon.
Wallace Stegnar wrote, “A place is not a place until people have been born in it, grown up, lived in it, know it, and have died in it; until they have shaped it through their experiences as individuals, families, communities; until things that have happened are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, and in monuments.”