Pages 878-879, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




Among the influential and leading men of Woodson County is John W. Lewis, the senior member of the firm J. W. Lewis & Son. He is a native of Henry County, Tennessee, born February 11, 1836. His father, Simpson Lewis, was born and reared in Virginia, made farming his life work and died in Tennessee, in 1839. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Nancy Patterson, survived him until 1849 and passed away in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a daughter of Joseph Patterson, who removed to Perry County, Illinois, in an early day and subsequently resided in Collinsville, that state. Virginia was the place of his birth and when he left the Old Dominion he took up his residence in St. Louis, Missouri, in the year 1844.

Our subject has no sisters and but one brother, Porter M. Lewis, whose place of location is unknown. At the age of thirteen John W. Lewis was left an orphan and for a year thereafter he resided in St. Louis, Missouri, after which he went to Columbia, Illinois, and there learned the carpenter's trade with a Mr. Prather. He was employed in that capacity until 1852. The following winter he purchased cattle intending to cross the plains with Moore & Sterett, but failed to make the contemplated journey and in the summer of 1853 became a farm hand. The following year he went to McLean County, Illinois, where he worked by the month on a farm. In 1855 he made a trip to Iowa, but in 1856 again followed farming in the employ of others until the 17th. of August, 1856, when he secured a breaking team and outfit with which to break sod. This was his first independent venture and it proved a profitable one, gaining him a good start on the road to fortune.

After his marriage Mr. Lewis rented a farm for two years and then purchased a tract of land of the Illinois Central Railroad Co., at once beginning its development and improvement. He successfully carried on agri-


cultural pursuits for a number of years, becoming the owner of valuable farming property. In 1871, however, he rented his farm and began dealing is agricultural implements in Bloomington, Illinois, where he remained until the spring of 1876, when he disposed of his property interests in McLean county and went to Union county, Iowa. There he engaged in the furniture and undertaking business, also dealt in coal and lumber; his enterprise and careful management annually adding to his capital. In the winter of 1884 he disposed of his business there and came to Yates Center, where he purchased the hardware stock of Mr. Brewer, and has since carried on business along that line. In the summer of 1884 he erected his present business block, which he has well stocked with a complete line of shelf and heavy hardware, also large dealer in buggies and agricultural implements. His business policy and methods are strictly honorable and he therefore enjoys an enviable reputation in trade circles. For a number of years he has also engaged extensively in dealing in cattle and he is also the owner of sixteen hundred acre of land, two miles west and one mile south of the town of Yates Center. His business interests are of a varied nature, are extensive and important and plainly indicate his superior ability and executive force. Since coming to Kansas he has admitted his son, George A. Lewis, to a partnership in the business and still later Charley E. Lewis became a member of the firm, and is now managing the branch store in Garnett, Kansas.

On the 15th of November, 1858, Mr. Lewis married Catherine Merwin, daughter of Asher Merwin, a native of New York, born in Columbia county, and a farmer by occupation. She was born in 1840, and by her marriage to Mr. Lewis they have become the parents of the following: George A., who is with his father in business; Ida M., wife of John C. Letts of St. Joseph, Missouri; and Charley E.

Mr. Lewis is one of the active political workers of Woodson county. He cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and has since voted for each candidate at the head of the republican ticket, only two of whom have ever met defeat in all these years. His sons are also supporters of the same party. He does all in his power to promote the success of his party, and has served as delegate to various county and state conventions, where his opinion carries weight in republican councils. The family attend the Methodist church and are prominent people of the community. Although many years of prosperity in business lie behind Mr. Lewis his career has not been one of uninterrupted success, and all that he has acquired is the direct result of his own efforts. Labor has been the keynote of his advancement and his life stands in evidence of the opportunities which America affords to her citizens, whose ambition and strong purpose are not hampered by barriers of caste or class.

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