Sylvester Lewis, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Sylvester Lewis

SYLVESTER A. LEWIS. The name of Lewis is so well known in Porter county that it needs no special introduction to the readers of this volume. In Mr. Sylvester A. Lewis the county has had a valued citizen for more than sixty years. An energetic and prosperous farmer, a soldier for the preservation of the Union, a man who has reared a family of honorable and useful children, and a public-spirited official and citizen, Mr. Lewis has a long and varied career and has witnessed and taken a generous share in the remarkable development of this section.

A native of Hamilton county, Ohio, born near the city of Cincinnati, February 14, 1833, Mr. Lewis was the fifth child in a family of eleven children, nine sons and two daughters, whose parents were L'Mander and Mary (Dodge) Lewis. The five living children are as follows: Lyman L., now an agriculturist near Red Bluff, California, was a soldier of the Civil war and is a Republican in politics; Sylvester A. is next; Mary J. is the widow of Ephraim Vastbinder, a resident of Valparaiso; Samuel T., a resident of Wilmette, Illinois, and a member of the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago, was a soldier in the war, and is married and has two daughters; Benjamin F., the youngest living, is also a resident of Wilmette.

L'Mander Lewis, the father, a native of New York state, was educated there in the common schools and then graduated in medicine, after which he was a well known and capable practitioner in Union, Kosciusko and Porter counties of Indiana, where he was numbered among the pioneer doctors. He was an abolitionist, an ardent admirer of Lincoln, and then a Republican until the day of his death. He died in Valparaiso. The wife and mother was a native of Maine and with her parents moved to Ohio, where she was married to Dr. Lewis. Her death occurred in Chicago.

Sylvester A. Lewis was about two years old when his parents moved from Ohio to Union county, Indiana, where he lived until he was eleven, amid pioneer conditions that then existed over the entire state. Three years of his boyhood were passed in Kosciusko county, and then in 1849 he came to Porter county, which has been his permanent home ever since. He spent his early years between the occupations of his father's farm and an attendance upon several district schools, and when ready to take up the serious work of life he chose the cultivation of the soil and the activities of country for his profession, and by his industry and good management made this calling a successful business, in which he has gained both prosperity and an honorable name.

On the 3rd of January, 1861, Mr. Lewis married Miss Maria Hansford, and four children, one son and three daughters, were born to them, all now living, as follows: Marion L., who is the executive head of the Lewis Historical Publishing Company of New York City, received his early education in the city schools and the Indiana Normal at Valparaiso, and was engaged in teaching in this county several years before he went into business. He married Miss Mabel Mosher, and they are the parents of two children, Bruce M. and Coradine. Clara S., the second child, is a resident of Valparaiso and the widow of Martin Duggan. Her two daughters are: Abbe, who graduated from the Valparaiso high school, is the wife of Ernest Lay, a jeweler of LaPorte, and they have one daughter, Mary Elizabeth; Mr. Lay is affiliated with the Masons and the Elks and his wife is a member of the Eastern Star. Verna E. Duggan graduated from the city schools in 1906 and from the Valparaiso University in the class of 1910, has studied music and is a member of the Kappa Kappa Kappa sorority. Mary Estelle, the third child of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, was graduated from the high school of Valparaiso, then was a successful teacher in the city and country schools of this county, and is now the wife of L. Murray Ray, a merchant at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Mr. Ray is a member of the Masonic order. They are the parents of two children, Lewis W. and Donald E. Dotha M., the youngest member of the family, was educated in the city schools, and is the wife of E. Guy Osborne, a graduate of the Valparaiso University and now a successful attorney of Valparaiso.

Mrs. Lewis, the mother of these children, was born in the city of Chicago in December, 1840, and died in 1889. Her girlhood was passed in Porter county, where she attended the common schools. She and Mr. Lewis traveled the journey of life together for twenty-eight years, and she gave of the fullness of her womanly character and energies in the rearing of her children to useful and honorable lives.

Mr. Lewis had been married only a short time and was getting settled in life when the war cloud overspread the country. He was one of the Indiana boys who offered their services to the government, and was taken into the army not to carry a musket but for the none less useful and patriotic duties of wagon maker, a trade which he had acquired in his early life. He worked at Nashville and at Chattanooga and remained in service for about four months.

In 1852 he had bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Morgan township, and this was the scene of his early activities and of his successful achievements as an agriculturist. It was practically unimproved when it came into his possession, and he has seen great flocks of prairie chickens and many wolves upon the broad acres. He set out every tree and shrub and placed upon the land improvements which in time made the Lewis farm one of the finest in Porter county. During his youth he knew Valparaiso as a village without a single brick residence in it, and few if any of the living residents of this county have more extended and vivid recollections of the period when wilderness was king over this vicinity. With increasing prosperity he added another hundred and sixty acres to his original farm, but he was generous in providing his children with homes when they began life and the old farm has been considerably decreased in acreage.

In 1892 Mr. Lewis left the farm and retired to the city of Valparaiso, where he has a comfortable residence on East Main street. Both during his residence in the country and in the city he has long been identified with public affairs. A Republican, he has the distinction, now being rapidly narrowed to a very few survivors, of having cast his first vote for John C. Fremont, the first standard bearer of the Republican party in a presidential campaign, and has consistently supported the party ever since. He has often been selected as delegate to county and district conventions. He served as trustee of Morgan township, and during his official term he was able to erect three modern school buildings for the township. In 1895 he was elected assessor for Center township, and gave five years of service in that office. At the present time he is deputy assessor. He is also a member of the Masonic Order, affiliating with Valparaiso Lodge, No. 137. In these activities which may be easily recorded and in those many good works of Christian manhood and citizenship of which no accounting can be made, Mr. Lewis has always stood out as a man of integrity and honor and is one of the citizens whose name and work have a fitting place in the history of Porter county.

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: 413-417

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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