The Kyle Family: Generations of Patriots
By Judy Deeter
TROY - In 1884, a school named Kyle School opened on South Plum Street in Troy. A school with the Kyle name still operates on the site today, though the original building has been replaced. It was named in honor of Lt. Col. Barton S. Kyle, organizer of the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who died at the Civil War Battle of Shiloh in 1862.
While the story of Col. Kyle’s life is familiar to many Trojans, the civil and military service of his children and grandchildren to America has seemingly been unknown or forgotten. One hundred years after his death, Kyle’s family was still involved in service to the United States—an incredible family legacy.
Col. Kyle’s family was a Miami County pioneer family. His father, Samuel, had come to Miami County from Kentucky in 1803. The Troy Times newspaper of April 24, 1862 describes Samuel Kyle as a minister of the gospel and “favorably known throughout the valley as an able and most successful minister.” A quote sometimes associated with Samuel Kyle says that he came to Miami County “with a Bible and an ax, and was one of the county’s most sturdy and God fearing pioneers.”
Barton Kyle was born in Elizabeth Township to the Rev. Samuel Kyle and his wife, Mary on April 7, 1825. Samuel Kyle passed away when Barton was 11-years-old. Barton’s older brother, Thomas, a well-known school teacher, gave brotherly support and guidance after their father’s death.
Barton Kyle grew up to be a very successful man. When he was 20-years-old (in June 1845), he began working in the Miami County Auditor’s office. By 1857, he was elected Clerk of Courts for Miami County. While in his 20s and 30s, he was a Deputy United States Marshal for Miami County, President of the Troy Board of Education, a bookstore owner and was deeply involved in the local Masonic Lodge (Franklin Lodge No. 24). He married Margaret (“Maggie) Jane McNabb in 1851. They became the parents of four children: Walter, Thomas, Cordelia and Ivy.
Shortly after the war Civil War broke out in 1861, Kyle sought to organize a regiment of men for the war. In September 1861, Ohio Governor Dennison gave Kyle an order to raise a regiment named the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Tod in Troy—the old Miami County fairgrounds on the southeast side of town. Within a few weeks after leaving Troy to fight in the war, Kyle was killed at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862, the day before his 37th birthday. Just after the conclusion of the war in 1866, Col. Kyle’s wife Maggie also died from what was described in the Miami Union newspaper as “an illness of several months.” Care of the Kyle children was given to Troy resident Samuel Harter.
Although a second school was built, Kyle Elementary School in Troy (original school pictured here) is named after Lt. Col. Barton S. Kyle (left), organizer of the 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry who died at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War. He is one in a long line of patriots with roots in Troy and Miami County.
(Photos courtesy of the Troy Historical Society)
Thomas Kyle was six-years-old when his father Col. Kyle was killed at Shiloh. Though challenged by tough times in his early life, he too grew up to be an outstanding man. He graduated from Troy High School in 1876. Following high school, he studied law under local attorney A. R. Byrkett, attended Dartmouth College (class of 1881), and finished his law studies in Salisbury, Vermont. He was admitted to the bar in 1884. It should be noted that in December 1883, he married Miss Lettie Benedict and they soon started a family.
In 1890, he became a prosecuting attorney for Miami County. In this era of his life, he also served three years as President of the Troy Board of Education. As previously mentioned, this was a position also held by his father many years earlier.
The Troy Daily News of April 13, 1915 says of Kyle, “He was a worthy successor of his father and grandfather and possessed a brilliant intellect. He was an excellent speaker and was usually successful in pleas before juries. He gained a wide acquaintance among attorneys and juries of Ohio and was highly regarded.”
In 1900, Kyle was elected as a member of the United States Congress. He served from 1901 to 1905. Troy historian Thomas Wheeler wrote in his book Troy the Nineteenth Century, “Forty-five-year-old Congressman-elect Tom Kyle was waiting for March, 1901, to arrive so that he could take his seat in the House of Representatives. He did not know that he would encounter there many Civil War comrades-in-arms of his father, and that he would become a member of the Congressional (vocal) quartet which often went to the White House to entertain President McKinley and his wife.”
Kyle’s musical talent was familiar to the people of Troy. He was a member of the “famous” Troy Masonic Quartet. The Troy Daily News of April 13, 1915 reported, “The quartet years ago was in a great demand and had more than a local reputation for their splendid singing…Mr. Kyle possessed a remarkably sweet and clear tenor voice. When in Congress he always was asked to lead the occasional singing, especially at the close of sessions.”
Kyle was not re-elected to Congress in 1905. He returned to Troy and the legal profession. In January 1908 he became the Mayor of Troy; he served one term. He died in 1915.
The Kyle family’s patriotic spirit is also found in the family of Noah and Ivy Kyle Yount. Ivy Yount was Col. Barton Kyle’s daughter and Congressman Thomas Kyle’s sister. The Yount’s had four children: Lina, Paul, Isabella and Barton.
Barton Yount, who was born in Troy on January 18, 1884, had an interest in the military early in his life. He graduated from Troy High School in 1901, attended Ohio State University in 1902 and 1903 and then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in 1907. In the years following his graduation, he spent time in several places in the United States, as well as Cuba and China. During World War I, he became involved in military aviation. After the war, he became an early leader in military aviation. He held several important posts in the 1920s and 1930s, including four years as Assistant Military Attache for Aviation in Paris, France (at the American embassy in Paris). A story in the Miami Union newspaper of March 12, 1931 states that he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Corps in 1931.
One of his highest commands was held during World War II. In 1943, he was named as Commanding General, Army Air Force Training Command at Ft. Worth, Texas. The Miami Union of July 11, 1946 says that “…his command instructed more than 2,000,000 men for service as pilots, navigators, bombardiers and gunners, and in other technical specialties required by air forces.” (Note: The number of men trained varies greatly in historical sources from the 2,000,000 cited in the Miami Union story. Most reports do say that hundreds of thousands of men were trained under Yount’s command.)
During the 1930s and 1940s, Yount made at least two trips to Troy. In December 1930, he visited his family in Troy and in November 1942 he spoke at the presentation of the Army-Navy “E” award ceremony at the Hobart Manufacturing Company in Troy. (The “E” award was given to companies for outstanding materials production during the war).
General Yount retired in July 1946. During his career, he had received two Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal. After his retirement, he founded and was the first president of the American Institute for Foreign Trade at Thunderbird Field in Glendale, Arizona. The school is now known as the Thunderbird School of Global Management. It is said to be largest and oldest graduate school in the United States with a mission to train international business leaders.
It should also be noted that in 1938 General Yount’s wife Mildred chaired a committee to choose a song for the Army Air Corps (later the United States Air Force). She is said to have played an important role in choosing the “Air Force Song”/”Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder”.
General Yount died on July 11, 1949 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Barton Yount from a photograph taken in 1931 and Yount in later years.
"One of (Barton Yount's) highest commands was held during World War II. In 1943, he was named as Commanding General, Army Air Force Training Command at Ft. Worth, Texas. The Miami Union of July 11, 1946 says that “'…his command instructed more than 2,000,000 men for service as pilots, navigators, bombardiers and gunners, and in other technical specialties required by
Barton Kyle Yount, Jr.
A child of General Barton K. and Mildred Yount also had a military career. His name was Barton Kyle Yount, Jr. He was born at San Diego, California on June 21, 1919. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1943. A biographical sketch on the Arlington National Cemetery website says: “Bart was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he studied his way into the Academy via Millard Preparatory School. He had the usual difficult plebe year, perhaps gaining a little extra upper class visibility due to his prominent military family. However, his dogged determination never allowed him to falter in his desire to graduate from the Academy.”Some stories say that when World War II broke out, he was anxious to get involved in the war—he looked forward to his graduation so he could participate in the war. He did get involved in the war shortly after his graduation. He joined the Army Air Corps and flew thirty B-29 missions, including the first B-29 mission over Japan. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions he took during these missions.The thirtieth B-29 mission was perhaps his most difficult. His biography on the Arlington National Cemetery Website describes the citations for his first and second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross. The following is a portion of the information about the second Oak Leaf Cluster citation from the website: “On his thirtieth mission in June 1945, Bart’s aircraft lost two engines and all four bomb bay doors malfunctioned. He had to ditch the aircraft with bomb bay doors open into a sea of swells from seven to ten feet high. This feat was accomplished so successfully that all twelve occupants of the aircraft escaped. After ditching, he demonstrated exceptional leadership by personal example, establishing a system of rationing and assuring that injured crewmen were looked after and made comfortable on the overcrowded raft. Not mentioned in the citation was the fact that Bart returned to the sinking aircraft to get another raft that failed to jettison with full knowledge that should the aircraft sink he would be sucked down with the sinking B-29. For this heroic action Bart received his second oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross….”In 1950 Yount received a degree in law from Georgetown University Law School. In the early 1950s, he served in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon. From 1953 to 1958, he was stationed in Spain as the Chief, Plans and Negotiations Division, Joint United States Military Group. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work in Spain.He returned again to work in the Pentagon in 1963. There he worked in both the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of Defense. He returned to Spain in the mid-1960s at the request of the Chief Joint United States Military Command to negotiate the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Spain.He retired from the Air Force in 1967 after an attack of meningitis. He ended his career in the United States Air Force with the rank of Colonel. He had fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. During his retirement, he lived in Spain. He died in Spain from a second bout of meningitis on February 25, 1969. He is also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.The information in this story about Gen. Barton K. Yount and his son Col. Barton K. Yount, Jr. represent highlights from their long careers. There are many other stories connected to their time in the military.From Lt. Barton S. Kyle in the Civil War to his great-grandson Col. Barton K. Yount, Jr., Kyle who served at the Pentagon, Kyle family members have been patriots for generations. For more information about the Kyle family, contact The Troy Historical Society at (937) 339-5900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.