WILLIAM LEWIS, a descendant of one of the earliest of the pioneers, and a prominent citizen of the town of Lebanon, was born in this town, October 30, 1812. His father, Samuel Lewis, a native of Connecticut, removed from that State to the town of Lebanon at an early day, purchased a tract of timbered land, and upon it erected a log house in the woods. After partially clearing his farm, he sold it in 1815, and purchased another tract of forest land, containing one hundred and forty acres, some three miles distant from his first selection, but in the same town, the second tract being now occupied by his son, the subject of this sketch.
The greater part of this land was cleared by Mr. Samuel Lewis, who resided upon it until his death. Before removing to Madison County, he married Miss Esther Gibbons, a native of Connecticut. Twelve of their fourteen children grew to maturity; namely, Nathan, Ann, Lucinda, John, George, Esther, Benjamin, Edwin, William, Matilda, Mary, and Charles.
William Lewis is one of the oldest of the native-born citizens of his county, and remembers many of the incidents of his early pioneer life. Most of the country was then covered with timber, with only small clearings here and there. For years after his father settled in this county there were no railroads and but few markets, and the people lived off the products of their farms. Money was very scarce, and more difficult to obtain than at the present time. His father cleared twenty acres of timbered land for one hundred dollars and the ashes obtained from the burned logs, much timber that would now be valuable being burned up merely to get it out of the way. His mother used to spin and weave the cloth of which she made the clothing for her family, the clothing, because of its being home-made and of strong material, wearing for a number of years. The education of the subject was obtained in the district school, which he attended in the winter season, going barefoot through the snow, very few children of these large pioneer families then having shoes.
When ten years of age, young Lewis worked for a neighbor for three dollars per month. Later in his youth he worked alternate weeks for each of two neighbors, earning in this way ten dollars and a half per month. He was thus engaged six months during one summer, losing but three days in that time, two of them being occupied in military duty, the other being spent for his own pleasure. At the end of his six months he gave to his father sixty dollars in money. After the haying on the home farm was finished, he used to mow for the neighbors for fifty cents per day, and in this way earned considerable money. He married Elizabeth Francis Powell, daughter of John and Elizabeth Powell, the former of whom was born in Wales, and came to the United States when forty years of age. Upon reaching this country, he came direct to Madison County, and for a time worked in the town of Madison; but soon removed to the town of Lebanon, where he purchased land, cleared a part of it, and took to Albany the wheat he there raised, together with a tub or so of butter. The wheat he sold for a dollar per bushel, and the butter for a shilling per pound. Upon this farm which he reclaimed from the wilderness he lived until his death. William Lewis has five children living; namely, Sidney M., Lucinda M., Mary M., Charles S., and Jessie. Three of his children have died; namely, Edward, Sarah, and Kittie.
Politically, Mr. Lewis was an Abolitionist and a coworker with Gerrit Smith and other prominent men, until the organization of the Republican party, since which time he has been a Republican. He is a well-read man, familiar with the civil and also the political history of the country, and is thus qualified to intelligently consider the political questions of the day-a duty incumbent on the citizens of a republic who would not be dominated by irresponsible party leaders, whose rule is even more mischievous in a democratic than in a monarchical form of government, for the reason, perhaps, that rulers in monarchies are under no necessity of resorting to corrupt practices in order to gain or to maintain their power, being installed and kept in place by the polity of their realms.
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