L'Mander Lewis, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of L'Mander Lewis

L'MANDER LEWIS, M. D. After a failure through many generations to maintain a genealogical record or to preserve with scrupulous care such evidences as are extant at any period, there is ever much difficulty encountered when the attempt is made to lift the veil from the face of obscurity and to discern the lineaments which bespeak the remote past. All history is biography, and human beings are the only actors on the stage, where is portrayed the great and consecutively progressive drama which tells of human advancement and human achievement. The importance of contemporaneous biography, then, cannot be overestimated, and its value is particularly, recognized, when in later years is essayed the task of following out the obscure and broken line and attempting to identify the missing or broken links in the chain.

Accessible records concerning the earlier history of the Lewis family to which the subject of this review belongs, are very few and very meager in detail. It thus becomes necessary to have recourse to tradition, .and through this source we learn, with a reasonable degree of accuracy and authenticity, that the great-great-grandfather of our subject was L'Mander Lewis, a French Huguenot, who was born in or near Paris about the year of 1663. He was, therefore, in the prime of mature manhood when, at the death of Calbert, in 1684, the devout and pious Louis XIV and Madame Maintenon showed their devotion and zeal by endeavoring to destroy every vestige of the Protestant religion. Upon the high altars of Romish France the fire of intolerance burned fiercely and without ceasing, and the record of persecution and high-handed atrocities, which comes to us from that period, has never been equaled in all the history which tells of man's inhumanity to man. With a view of exterminating the Protestant religion in France, an edict was issued to burn all Protestant churches and to confiscate the property of all such as would not bow submissive heads to papal dominion. Companies of soldiers, accompanied by fanatical monks, scoured the country, and waged an unholy war upon an almost defenseless people. Such Protestants as would not renounce their religion, were either put to the sword, or sent into exile. Some fled to the Cevennes, where they were butchered, while others took refuge in Switzerland, Holland and England. In the three years following this ignoble edict of history, France is said to have lost nearly one million inhabitants.

In the three years immediately following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, October 23, 1685, L'Mander Lewis, the Huguenot ancestor of our subject, threw the full force of his young manhood into the contest to do battle for his Protestant faith, arraying himself with those brave and devoted men who waged an unequal conflict with the 'overpowering numbers of Catholic France. The pages of history and romance have for two centuries recorded in glowing words the deeds of heroism and valor performed by these noble Huguenots. L'Mander Lewis was one of the many brave men who escaped from the mad carnage and fled to Switzerland. Thence he came to America, about the close of the seventeenth century - probably in the year of 1695. Thus was given to America another man loyal and true, one who, exiled and buffeted by fortune, came to this land where freedom's mighty banner has swayed in majesty in the pure air of liberty. A consistent refuge this, and consistent the history which was given in the national annals since the time when this noble exile came to the friendly shores of the New World, and here planted the branch of the Lewis family, whose record we aim to perpetuate in this connection.

L'Mander Lewis, the brave and dauntless Huguenot, settled in the state of Connecticut, being at that time about thirty-one years of age, and there he married and reared a family. The history of the next generation of the family is but a story of struggle and conflict with the unsubdued elements of the trackless wilderness of primitive America, where the crafty Indian had long disputed dominion with the beasts of the field. Lyman had for two or three generations been maintained as a family name, and tradition informs us that this patronymic was borne by the youngest son of the Huguenot progenitor. Lyman Lewis was born in the state of Connecticut, and he there remained until he attained maturity, when he married and reared a large family of children, nearly all of whom were boys. He lived and died in his native state, having maintained his abode in the vicinity of New Haven. To the youngest of his twelve children was given the good old scriptural name of Isaac, and this son was the grandfather of the nine sons and two daughters of L'Mander and Mary Dodge Lewis, pioneers of Porter county, who came treking into this county in the early fall of 1849.

Isaac Lewis was born at the parental homestead, near New Haven, Connecticut, in the year 1755, and in his native place he passed his adolescent years, availing himself of such educational advantages as were offered at that period and place. About the age of seventeen years he removed to Ashfield, Massachusetts, where he became imbued with a burning zeal to go forth and to battle for the cause that was upper-most in all loyal hearts. He had ,undoubtedly inherited that stalwart hatred of oppression and tyranny, which had so conspicuously animated his illustrious ancestor, and he was not a man of inaction. He was not content to stand with folded hands, realizing that hope is of the valley, while effort stands upon the mountain top. His conviction was one of courage and of action, and early in the struggle, which the young Colonies instituted in their effort to throw off the British yoke, he enlisted for service in the Continental army, the date of his enlistment having been in April, 1775, at which time he was but twenty years of age. He served as a. private in Captain Webster's company, Colonel Bailey's Massachusetts troops, until after, the battle of Bunker Hill, in which every memorable engagement he displayed heroic bravery and gallantry. He then enlisted under Captain Hubbard, and, in the command of Arnold, marched to Quebec, where he participated in the assault on that place, December 31, 1775. He then served one month under Captain Jennings, in which connection he took part in the battle at Bennington, Vermont. His next service was under Captain Benjamin Phillips and Colonel Wells at the battle of Saratoga, and thereafter he did service under Captain Watson and Colonel Bailey and was present at the execution of Major Andre.

After the close of the, war of the revolution Isaac Lewis, the devoted patriot and loyal soldier, removed to western New York, settling in Genesee county, where he reared a large family of twelve children. The youngest of these was named L'Mander from the desire to preserve the family name and pay fitting reverence to the memory of the Huguenot founder of the Lewis family in America.

L'Mander Lewis, the youngest son of Isaac Lewis,' was born in Genesee county, New York, in the year of 1803, and while he was still a boy he removed with his parents to Hamilton, county, Ohio. There occurred, in 1831, the death of his father, Isaac Lewis, the patriot soldier of the Revolution. The year 1823 marked the marriage of L'Mander Lewis to Mary Dodge, this union having been consummated in Hamilton county, Ohio. Mary Dodge was born in the historic little sea-coast village of Castine, Maine, in 1803, being the daughter of Hezekiah Dodge, a Baptist clergyman, who, after the manner of preachers of God's word in those early pioneer days, traveled about from place to place, disseminating the Gospel and spreading the glad tidings of the salvation offered to men through the crucified Redeemer. From village and cross-road pulpits he continued his efforts in the holy cause, making a tour of many weeks and enduring many hardships and privations - his zeal being as unflinching as his faith was strong. At regular periods he would return to his home in the little sea-girt town of Castine, bringing from his pilgrimage the worldly harvest of his ministerial labors, in the shape of a stockingful of the coin of the realm. During the intervals between these itinerary tours Hezekiah, Dodge, emulating the example of the disciples of Galilee, mended his nets and cast them into the sea, thus supplying the family with the winter's fish food, the great staple of the sea-coast region in those early days.

In the spring of 1819 this earnest worker in the vineyard of the Master bade adieu to the scenes of his native town, and with his family of eleven children started from the "Ohio county," which at' that time defined the frontier of civilization. He arrived in Hamilton county about midsummer, and took up his abode in a primitive cabin in the dim forest aisles, and at once set himself valiantly to work to subdue the wilderness, and develop a farm, where ertswhile the monarch trees of the forest lifted their giant heads. These days of pioneer life have been made the theme of many histories and about them will ever linger a halo of romance, even though recognition be had of the arduous and prosaic toil, the hardships and privations and the manifold vicissitudes, which mark the initial stages of development and progress. Here, as in the spiritual field of endeavor, the labors of Hezekiah Dodge were not in vain, and he was able to reap the grateful aftermath and to leave the impress of his efforts upon the record which tells of a prospered and enlightened commonwealth.

Soon after his marriage L'Mander Lewis, whose resources were principally represented in a stout heart and willing hands, settled on a tract of land in the then trackless wilderness of southern Ohio, said land being a portion of the large body owned by General William Henry Harrison. The land thus held by the hero of Tippecanoe lay for twenty-one miles along the Ohio river, and is was at North Bend, sixteen miles below Cincinnati, that L'Mander Lewis settled and began to grapple with the actual realities of life as a married man. He lived there for many years and was a neighbor and daily associate of General Harrison during the years while the latter was living in retirement on his farm, after he had returned from Colombia, where he had served as United States minister in 1828. While living at North Bend L'Mander Lewis devoted his attention to as large an extent as possible, to the study of medicine, a science for which he had a natural predilection and to which he had long wished to apply himself in a practical way. He supplemented the well directed personal study and investigation by a thorough course of technical reading at Cincinnati, becoming thoroughly informed in his profession. He was a man of distinct individuality and strong intellectual grasp, and was one in every respect qualified to minister to suffering humanity. He eventually removed to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and thence to Union county, that state, where he entered vigorously upon the practice of his profession, gaining the respect and confidence of the community and securing a representative practice.

In the autumn of 1845, Dr. Lewis removed, with his large family of children, to western Missouri. He there remained only a few months, however, as he was implacable in his animosity to slavery and did not wish to settle in a state which countenanced this nefarious institution. Accordingly he returned to Indiana and established his residence in Kosciusko county, where he purchased a farm and also continued in the practice of medicine. After remaining there about three years he removed, in 1849, to Porter county, Indiana. Sometime previously he had purchased a farm on Morgan prairie, near Valparaiso, which was then a mere village. This property he bought from Asa Marine, and to the development and cultivation of the same he gave his supervision, the while he soon built up a large and representative practice in his profession. He became a man of influence in the community and continued in the work of his profession for many years, his retirement coming only when the infirmities of advanced age rendered it expedient for him to abandon his active labors. He was a type of the old-time physicians; was a true friend, a dispenser of good cheer, a safe and wise counselor in all matters affecting the happiness and welfare of the family and the community. His calling was to him something more than a cold-blooded science, without soul, heart or sympathy. It had to do with mind as well as matter, with mental as well as physical conditions. Professional ethics and ideals were closely observed by him, and personal honor was one of his chief endowments, made manifest in all his intercourse with his fellow men. His dominating purpose was to alleviate human sufferings and distress and his reward was based upon honest and conscientious service. Dr. Lewis was humanity's friend, and he accounted well to the world as one of its earnest and productive workers. Soon after settling in Porter county he effected the purchase of another tract of fine agricultural land, the same comprising six hundred and forty acres in one body and lying on Morgan prairie, in close proximity to the original purchase. A number of years later he bought another farm of two hundred acres near that previously acquired. His paternal solicitude is shown in the fact that he then consummated his previously formulated plan of giving each of his eleven children a good farm.

After making the kindly provision noted Dr. Lewis continued in the practice of his profession for several years and upon his retirement he established his residence in Valparaiso, where his death occurred on the 3d of September, 1880, in the fullness of years and well earned honors. He was seventy-seven years of age at the time of his demise and thus rounded out a life of signal usefulness. A man of kindly nature and abiding tolerance, he well upheld the prestige of the name which he bore and left the family escutcheon unstained by thought or action on his part. His widow entered into eternal rest in November, 1890, at the venerable age of eighty-seven years, and in her gentle and gracious personality she had lived and labored to goodly ends, so that her children and their descendants may well "rise up and call her blessed."

In looking backward over the history of Porter county it is found that at the time when, early in September, 1849, Dr. Lewis came with his numerous and sturdy family to the county the native resources of its rich prairie and timber lands were but partially developed, and thus we was a pioneer of the county, to the industrial and civic progress of which he contributed his full quota.

It would be interesting to give specific record concerning each or the children of Dr. L'Mander Lewis and further to designate his descendants in succeeding generations, but such indulgence is not possible within the limitations of a review of this order, the publisher of this work feeling, however, that filial loyalty and affection should countenance and historical expediency justify the slight tribute here given to one of the sterling pioneers of Porter county. Prior to the arrival of the Lewis family in Porter county, the beautiful Morgan prairie had gained many other settlers whose names have been prominent and honored in connection with the annals of this now prosperous and opulent section of the Hoosier commonwealth. Among such earlier settlers were found the Baums, Comers, Marines, Beaches, Cains, Davidsons, Stoddards and others, many of whom find representation in this publication.

It has already been said that Dr. Lewis contributed materially to the development and progress of the county, and in carrying forward the work so well begun by the earlier arrivals, his nine sons and two daughters at once became important factors. With few exceptions they settled on farms on Morgan prairie, became permanent citizens of Porter county, and here married and reared families. At the time of this writing, in 1913, but four of the sons and one daughter of Dr. Lewis are living, and but one son now represents the original family circle in Porter county - Sylvester A. Lewis, a brief sketch of whose life, accompanied by a portrait, appear as adjunct to the family review here offered.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 404-413

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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