Lewis W. Lewis, one of the largest railroad contractors in the West and a resident of Emporia, Kan., is a native of Wales and a descendant of generations of Welsh ancestors on both the paternal and maternal sides. He was born Sept. 30, 1839, son of Lewis and Mary (Jones) Lewis, who came to America in 1883 and settled in Emporia, where the father, a tanner by trade, lived retired from active work. Mary Lewis, the mother, died in Emporia in 1885 and her death was followed by that of her husband in 1888. The paternal grandfather of Mr. Lewis also bore the name, Lewis Lewis, and spent his entire life in his native Wales, where he followed the occupation of a merchant tailor. William Jones, the maternal grandfather of Mr. Lewis, likewise a native Welshman, spent his entire life in Wales., engaged in farming.
Lewis W. Lewis was educated in the excellent common schools of Wales and in a private and a national school. In beginning a business career for himself he was almost wholly dependent upon his own resources, for he had but limited means, and the success which has attended his business ventures has not come by chance, but is the result of unremitting energy and close application to his business interests. His first employment was as a superintendent of construction for a railroad company. Upon coming to the United States, in 1869, he went to Devil's Lake, N. D., where he worked on a government building at Fort Totem for some time. In December of that year he came to Emporia, Kan., and in October, 1870, began contracting with the Santa Fe railway system, the first contract being for work six miles west of Emporia. From that time to the present, a period of forty-two years, he has been actively and successfully engaged in the railroad contracting business, and in recent years has averaged about $200,000 worth of construction work annually. He has not confined his contracting operations to the Santa Fe system alone, but has completed important contracts for the Kansas City Southern Railway Company, the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railway Company, and for the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railway Company. He is also vice-president of the Emporia National Bank.
The marriage of Mr. Lewis took place in Wales, in 1865, and united him to Miss Margaret, daughter of Humphrey Williams, who came from Wales to Emporia in 1883. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis became the parents of six children: Lewis H. has the management of the contracting business for his father; Mary Jane, a high school graduate, is the wife of E. G. Sloan of Emporia; Margaret is at home; William J. is also associated with his father in the contracting business; Claudia Sarah is at home; and Jane Jones is a student in the Emporia schools. Mrs. Lewis, the wife and mother, died in 1901; she was a great leader in the work of the Welsh Presbyterian Church at Emporia, of which church Mr. Lewis is an elder and has been an active worker for years.
Mr. Lewis is also a prominent member in fraternal circles. He is a Scottish Rite Mason, in which branch of Masonry he has attained the Thirty-third, or honorary degree; is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Honor, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
During the long period that Mr. Lewis has been a resident of Emporia he has proved amply worthy of the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens and business associates, and his name will go down in history possessed of all the attributes of a well spent life and an honorable career.Pages 1488-1489 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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