Several Lewis Families Were Hamilton County Pioneers
Monday, January 17, 2005 - by John Wilson
Several Lewis families were pioneers of Hamilton County.
Peter Lewis brought his family to Chattanooga from Virginia in the late 1840s. He and several generations of the family were brickmasons.
The Peter Lewises were originally at Dinwiddie County, Va. Peter was born in Virginia about 1793 and his wife, Guinassee, about 1795. His parents were William and Nancy Lewis. Capt. William Lewis had property in Dinwiddie on the Appomattox River and on Gravelly Run. Peter's brothers and sisters included Joseph, Thompson, William Jr., Sarah Moody and Frances B. Slaughter. The brother Joseph died at Dinwiddie County in 1840, and items paid out of his estate included $4.60 cash “for bed ticking and whiskey.” Peter's share of the estate was $282.75. Several of the brothers and sisters were bequeathed slaves.
At Chattanooga, Peter Lewis set up two brick kilns at 25 Clift St. near Charles E. Grenville's flour mill. This was near the Crutchfield House, which was at the site of the later Read House. By 1860, Guinassee Lewis had passed away. Peter, who was then 67, was living with his son, Peter E. Lewis, in Chattanooga. The elder Lewis apparently died during the Civil War years.
His other children included Robert, Lucinda, James H., Charles, Amy, Ann and John. All were born in Virginia prior to the trek to Tennessee. The boys followed their father in the brickmason trade. Peter E. Lewis was on the city board of aldermen in 1857. He and his wife, Harriet N., had Virginia, Victoria, Robert, Emma L. and Charles. When the war broke out, Peter E. enlisted with the Confederacy's Fourth Tennessee Cavalry. During his absence from Chattanooga, a levy was taken on the family's property at Clift Street. The brick kilns were confiscated and the bricks found on the lot were sold for $7. Peter E. Lewis was among those who did not return to Chattanooga after the war. At the time of the 1870 census, he was living in Obion County, Tenn., at Union City. The children still at home were Robert, Emma and Charles.
James H. Lewis made his way to Chickamauga, Ga., and married Sarah Glenn. She was the daughter of George and Hannah Childress Glenn, whose farm was overrun during the battle of Chickamauga. James settled in the vicinity of Wallaceville. He had a son, James Charles, not long after the Chickamauga fighting. The other sons were Lee and Peter E.
James Charles “Jimmy” Lewis first married F.K. “Honey Bug” Hixon in 1888. A son, Clifford, was likewise a brickmason at Chickamauga. He married Ruby Pickard and then Bessie Carter. His children were Gail, Larry and Rita. James Charles Lewis took Alice Shaver as his second wife. They had a daughter, Dora, who died in 1899 at a young age. Another daughter, Sarah Louvena, was born in 1897. She married Ernest May Gentry. The third wife of James C. was the widow Mary Hollingsworth Pierce. After his third wife had died, James C. married the much-younger Lona Victoria Pickard. They had twin sons, Elmore and Lamar. However, Lamar was stillborn and Elmore died at 18 months. They later had daughters Shirley and Betty. Shirley was five and Betty was three when their father died. Lona Pickard Lewis' brother, Clifford Cicero Pickard, then came to live with the family and help raise the two young girls. Shirley married Azel Riddle and lived in the old James C. Lewis house on Mission Ridge Road in Wallaceville. A portion of the Lewis farm was sold for the Mountainview subdivision, which has a Lewis Road. Peter and his wife, Lucy, had a son, Boyd, who was born in 1894. Also a brickmason, he married Sallie Childress. Lee had a son, Hardee. Lee died in 1899 when he was 33, and Hardee went to live with his uncle Peter. James H. Lewis also spent his last days at Peter's home in Walker County. James Charles Lewis lived until 1936, and Peter E. until 1940.
Ann Self Gentry, who served as director of the Rossville Senior Center, researched the Peter Lewis line. She is married to Charles Sherwood Grant Gentry. Grant Gentry is a son of Ernest M. and Sarah Louvena Lewis Gentry.
HENRY LEWIS was a War of 1812 veteran who was a pioneer of the Sequatchie Valley and spent his last years in Hamilton County. Alfred Lewis was at Bledsoe County at an early date, then moved over near North Chickamauga Creek with the Thomases.
Henry Lewis was born in 1780 in Virginia. Henry made his way to Knox County, Tenn., where he married Eleanor Howard in 1806. She was from Burke County, N.C., and the daughter of Rezin and Dicey Walker Howard. Her grandfather, George Walker, was born at Fauquier County, Va., in 1745. He was living on the south fork of the Catawba River in Rowan County, N.C., when the Revolution broke out. He was in campaigns with Gen. Griffith Rutherford and was at the battles of Ramsour's Mill and Cowpens, but he arrived too late for the Kings Mountain fighting. He married Elinor Hicks.
George Walker and his son-in-law, Rezin Howard, made their way to Bledsoe County and Henry Lewis joined them there. At the time of the War of 1812, Henry Lewis traveled over 100 miles to Knoxville to enlist as a private under Capt. John Lewis. He was in the service until June 5, 1815, and was at Mobile, Ala., when the peace was announced.
Henry Lewis died in 1864 and was buried in the family cemetery at Long Savannah. In 1950 a ceremony was held as a marker was placed at his grave by the Daughters of 1812. Some 60 of his descendants were present including the teacher and historian J. Eugene Lewis. The cemetery was reached “by traveling Highway 58 to Knox's Store and turning right on Smith Road. The cemetery is one mile from the store, on White Oak Mountain.”
A son, Rezin, was born in 1809. He married Patience McNulty in 1831 and they had four sons and four daughters in the section that became James County. He obtained a grant of 40 acres in 1841 for just 50 cents an acre. Rezin Lewis was “man of strong character and body who lived to the age of 91, never becoming an invalid.” He “believed in developing strong bodies” in his children as well. They were required to get up before daylight, go to the spring to wash and then put in a day of hard work on the farm. Two of the sons, Samuel M. and Manuel Jackson, became doctors. The other children were George W., Martha J. who married Andrew J. Carr, Hannah E. who married John P. Morgan, Mary Catherine who married James W. Haven, Sarah who married Monroe McMillan, and Rezin Peter.
Early in the Civil War, Rezin Lewis and his son, George W., were among those taken as prisoners by Confederate authorities to Alabama for suspicion of bridge burning.
Manuel Jackson Lewis, who was born at Long Savannah in 1839, studied at Rutherford Academy at Birchwood and at Oak Grove Academy at Cleveland. He would read medical books by the light of an oil lamp or the fireplace at night, and he went to medical school at Cincinnati. He practiced at Birchwood and Georgetown, then opened an office at Ooltewah in 1874. After his office was destroyed by fire, he moved to Hixson in 1875 and on to Chattanooga in 1882. He owned his own pharmacy, filling his own prescriptions. Dr. M.J. Lewis married Harriet J. Matthews, and their children were Mary “Mollie,” Cenyth J., Samuel Luther, George Andrew and Eugene Sylvester. Harriet taught at the Tallant School, including the 1865 term of four months in which she charged $6 per scholar for orthography, reading and writing, arithmetic, geography and English grammar. Dr. Lewis and Dr. Cooper Holtzclaw performed the first Caesarean section operation in Chattanooga, but there were complications of hemorrhage and the mother and baby died. The mother was Dr. Lewis' daughter, Mollie. Less than two weeks later, the two doctors performed a similar operation, but this one was a success.
Rezin Peter Lewis married Mary E. Anderson, and they had sons James Madison and George R. James M. married Minnie Norman, but she died in 1907 when she was 30 and he died in 1920. George R. was born in 1882 at Anderson Spring at the home of his maternal grandfather, John Anderson. He married Elizabeth Jane Smith in 1908, and their children were Mary Elizabeth, George R. Jr., Hugh Neal, Kathleen Drucilla and James Eugene. A Republican, G.R. was elected Circuit Court clerk for James County in 1910. Later he was on the Hamilton County Tax Equalization Board and was a leader in the World War I Liberty Loan drives. He was in the mercantile business with his brother at Georgetown and they later had Lewis Bros. general merchandise at Ooltewah. George R. was also in the wholesale lumber business with yards at Chattanooga, Cleveland and Ooltewah. His 360-acre estate was “one of the best farms in the Savannah Valley.” He later moved to 4521 Bonny Oaks Drive. He died in 1963.
George W. Lewis and his wife, Dilla A., had George J., Mary L. and Henry F. George J., known as “Tony,” was a Baptist preacher for 45 years. His last pastorate was Crossroads Baptist north of Ooltewah. His children were John H., Buddy, Guy, Bill C., Henry, Mrs. Paul Roberts, Mrs. W.R. Anderson, Mrs. Walter Biggs, Mrs. Will Sutton and Nellie Goodwin.
Other early Lewises here, who may also have been sons of Henry and Eleanor, included Samuel, David, George, John and William. Samuel was a neighbor of Rezin in the 1836 tax list. He and his wife, Susan, had a daughter, Hannah.
David had an 80-acre grant at 12 cents per acre in 1841. He and his wife, Jane, remained here after the Civil War. Their children included Lucinda, William Henry Harrison, Samuel and Hannah. William H.H. and his wife, Elizabeth J., had children including Samuel J. who married Cynthia Caroline Kearn, Martha J., Mary E. and Tennessee A. Children of Samuel J. included Malissa E., William H.H., Letha A., Thomas J., Amos J. and Elizabeth E.
George and his wife, Easter, were here in 1850 along with John and his wife, Catherine. George had sons Morgan and Benjamin. John had sons James and William. William and his wife, Nancy A., had children that included Samuel L., Nancy E. and Henry A. William died during the Civil War period.
ALFRED LEWIS, who was born about 1812, was in Bledsoe County near the Thomas family with his wife, Catherine. Their large family included James C., Martha, Bird, Rebecca, Sarah, Isaac, Margaret, Susan, John, Amos L. and Thomas A. Alfred Lewis got a grant for 70 acres at $7.50 an acre in 1839. The Lewises settled near the Lovelady family, and there were several intermarriages. James married Mariah Lovelady. Rebecca married James Lovelady. Margaret married Lewis Lovelady. Susan married Hasten Lovelady. Amos married Isabel Lovelady. Alfred Lewis died not long after the birth of Thomas A.
James and Isaac Lewis enlisted at Chattanooga with the Union's Sixth Mounted Infantry on Aug. 2, 1864.
James and Mariah had Martha J. who lived only a year during the war, Nancy E., Mary A., William A. who died in 1894 at age 26, Melville, Catherine and John H. who died in 1889 when he was 14.
Isaac and his wife, Miranda, had Susan E., James A. who moved to Arkansas, Margaret C., Asa Leander who died in 1892 at 21, William F. who died in 1885 at 12, John H. who died in 1883 at six, Thomas, Miranda E., Lula B. and Sarah C.
Thomas A. married Martha Jane Smith. Their children were Minnie Belle who married a Rhea, Margaret L., Frank Thomas, Eva E., Judith C., Sallie E. who married R.A. Gann, Thomas F. and Ida P. who married J. Floyd Gooden. Frank Thomas Lewis was a mail carrier out of the Hixson post office. He was also a founder of the Hixson Utility District and a trustee of the Hixson Methodist Church and the Suburban Hospital. Frank T. married Lula Gooden. His daughters were Hilda Louise and Betty Jean who married Ned Thaxton. Their son, J. Hutcheson “Hutch” Lewis, was named for a railroad engineer. He was coach at Red Bank High School for many championship teams from 1949 to 1981. He married Donna Callahan.
JOHN AND ELIZABETH WILCOXEN LEWIS also came here before the Civil War. They were previously at Giles County. John was one of the 12 children of Robert and Sarah Cagle. They were at Buncombe County in 1810. Robert was in Warren County, and he was in Marion County by 1830. He moved to Marshall Co., Ala., about 1836 and died there in 1860. His first child was named Jacob after Sarah's father, Jacob Cagle. The other children were David Wesley, John, a daughter who died as an infant, Leonard L., Charles L., Henry, Robert Jr., Margaret, David G., Catherine and Jane. David Wesley married Nancy Hatfield. Leonard L. married Mary Adaline Thompson and then Diannah Patterson. Henry married Mary Margaret Paterson. Robert Jr. married Mary A. Whittenburg. David married Elizabeth L. Hutchinson. Catherine married Jacob Whittenburg.
John and Elizabeth Wilcoxen Lewis had Elizabeth Adaline “Addie” who married Timothy Stringfield Hixson, John Jr. who married Mary Vandergriff, Charles who married Elizabeth Crow and then Sarah Johnson, Josiah who married Sarah Bowers, Leonard L. who married Altha Vandergriff, and Newt who died in his early teens. Leonard served with the Union's Sixth Mounted Infantry. His children included Eliza J. who married William A. Smith, Mary who married James Gibson, Lovie E. who married William Allen “Allen” Bowers, John M. who lived on Daisy Mountain, Joseph G. who died young, Ida Belle who married Walter Poe, Leonard Jr. who married Mary Frederick and then Eunice Frizzell, Sally who married a Frederick, Lula who married Fred Williams and then William Morgan, and Robert. Children of John M. were Dan, Clark, Mrs. Addied Wilcox, Mrs. Victor Graham and Alice Milligan.
Charles L. Lewis married Julia Henson, daughter of John Henson, and they resided in a log house in Sequatchie County. Charles fought for the Union with the Sixth Mounted Infantry. He often made public speeches and “congregations were sometimes moved to tears when he prayed.” He once ran for sheriff and lost by less than a dozen votes. He became a Cumberland Presbyterian minister and started a congregation known as Lewis Chapel. He is buried at Dunlap. His children were John H., Robert who married Pricy Rogers, Mary E. who married William Hatfield, Nancy J. who married Taylor Sims, Sarah who married Ephraim Sims, Susan, William Riley who married Martha Jane Green, James H. who married Sarah H. Green, Charles L. Jr. who married Euphemia Green, Lee Vander who married Mary E. Green and Nathan who married Martha Ellen Grant. John H. is said to have married Nancy Annie Thompson, had two children by Francis Whittenburg and then married Nancy Ann Fletcher.
This Lewis family has reunions the fourth Sunday in June of each year at Lewis Chapel.
ELIZABETH SWAFFORD LEWIS, daughter of William and Nancy Swafford, was another early settler. Her children were Peter, John, Pryor, Nancy, Charity M. who married Richard Burton, Mary, Elizabeth and Aaron.