George Lyrene

Biography of
George Andrew Lyrene

     George’s father, Charles Magnus Lyrene, was born in Red Wing, Minnesota (b. July 5, 1877, d. December 2, 1943), and his mother, Anna Louise Berthold, in Austria (b. November 12, 1879, d. January 12, 1962). His mother came to the United States with her family, for the purpose of representing their country at the World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893. George said his mother spoke fluent German, English, and Swedish.

     Charles worked for the Kimball Piano Company in Chicago and lived in a boarding house that his sister owned. Anna worked at the boarding house and that is how the two met.

Charles Lyrene with one of his prize citrus trees. - Click to Enlarge.

Charles Lyrene and Minnie (Anna) Berthold marriage certificate. - Click to Enlarge.

     About two years after their marriage on August 23, 1902, the couple and their first child Martha, moved to the largely unsettled country in Baldwin County in Southern Alabama. The land was covered with forest and dense growth and, according to George, sold for around $5.00 per acre.

     Charles Lyrene had saved enough money with which to purchase 60 acres two miles west of Silverhill. The idea was to raise sheep on the land. This plan, however, was soon abandoned for lack of funds and manpower with which to clear the land, not to mention money for stock.

Charles Lyrene home west of Silverhill. - Click to Enlarge.

Charles Lyrene with one of his prize satsuma trees. - Click to Enlarge.

     According to George, the land was very poor, very sandy and would be hard to raise pasture for feeding the stock. As money ran out, Charles had to return to Chicago and his old job at the piano factory in order for the family to survive.

     He left behind his brother Pete Lyrene, their father Andrew Lyrene, Charles' wife Anna, and by now, three children, Martha, Edna, and Edward (Ed) Lyrene. George had not yet been born. Charles Lyrene worked and saved, sending money to the family in Silverhill until he returned permanently several years later.

Lyrene's Pecan orchard.
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Lyrene's cattle and pasture.
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     On November 14, 1912 George was born in Silverhill, Alabama.

     When the children were young, the family attended the Swedish Baptist church in Silverhill, now the Silverhill First Baptist Church. While in high school, George started attending the Evangelical Covenant Church. He graduated from high school in Robertsdale in 1930 and then went on to the University of Alabama; however, he was just short of graduation when he had to return home because of personal illness. He did return to school before coming home to settle into work on the family farm.

     It was during this period that his brother Ed, whom George described as a “risk taker” purchased a chicken incubator with the idea in mind to hatch, raise and sell baby chicks. George said the incubator had pipes in which water passed that was heated with “coke”. “It was very hard to regulate the temperature”, he said. Eventually this old incubator was upgraded with more modern equipment.

     When Ed married and moved away to farm property he had purchased nearby, George took over the operation of the farm. The hatchery became very successful. Thousands of chicks were hatched. Many were raised and kept as laying hens. Hundreds of dozens of eggs were produced and sold. Thousands of chicks were sold around Baldwin and surrounding counties. Many were shipped out of state.

Ed Lyrene after a fishing trip. - Click to Enlarge.

     George had 2 sisters and one brother. Martha, the oldest sister was married to Jim Swoboda, and together they had 4 children, Jim, Louise, Charles and George. Both Martha and Jim are now deceased.

     Edward, George’s only brother, married Agnes Edhegard, sister to George’s wife Hazeline. Together Ed and Agnes had 4 children, Ed Jr., Conway, Raymond and Michael. Ed Jr., is a Baptist minister, and Raymond is a medical doctor.

     Edna, the other sister, married Frank Sturma, and together they had 4 children, Edward, Jane, John and Charles. Charlie as he was known, was killed in Vietnam just days before his scheduled return to the United States.

Outside the Chicken house.
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Inside the Chicken house.
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     In Fairhope, Alabama on August 25, 1943, George married Florence Hazeltine (Tina) Edhegard, the daughter of Nils Sixten Edhegard and Grace Ellen Miller of Silverhill. George and Tina built a home on the original 60-acre piece of property purchased by his father.

     George and Tina raised three sons on the farm: George Allan Lyrene, a medical doctor, Paul Magnus Lyrene, also a doctor in the field of plant breeding, and Steve Arthur Lyrene, a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry.

Damage to the Lyrene property caused by hurricane Fredrick on September 12, 1979.
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Son George Allan Lyrene and father George gather persimmons on September 20, 1998.
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     Over the years, George added to the farm and bought additional land. The Perone Creek Farm, as it was called, provided summer employment for many high school youth. And many fondly remember the “Ole Swimmin’ Hole” on the Lyrene place.

Written April 1998 by Paul Edhegard for The Covenanter Newsletter, updated May 2003.

Listen to Tina and George Lyrene telling how the Lyrene family got their name and read along below. Use the below console buttons to control the recording.


    Wasn’t your dad’s name – grandfather’s name Pearson?
    Pearson, yea. When he came over, there were so many Pearsons in Minnesota there, in Redwing, Minnesota, he was gonna pick out a name that nobody had. They found out there was nobody else – never found another one…
    Nobody’s had it since…

Source: taped recordings made by Don Sweeney in 1992.