The LEWIS Family

Joel Lewis (1818-1901) was born in Wilson Co. Tennessee, Married Carolyn Hite. Joel is buried in Union Cemetery, Winfield, Kansas. Joel homesteaded in Kinmundy, Illinois; served there as Justice of Peace and worked in the Omega Post Office.

Joel came to Kansas in the early 1870's and had 270 acres in the Silverdale Township. A son, Andrew Hite Lewis (1846-1914) brought his wife, Sophie Margaret (Welch) Lewis, sons: Joel Elroy, John Franklin, Charles Lee and daughter, Rachel Florence, from Illinois by covered wagon in 1878 to join his father. In a few years, Joel turned the land over to his son and moved to Winfield. There he worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

Andrew got permission to put up prairie hay in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Summers, he took crews of men to work and bring this hay into Kansas to be sold to other ranchers and to feed his own herd.

In 1888, when my father, John Franklin Lewis, was about fourteen years old, a three day blizzard with heavy snow swept into southern Kansas in early October. Running with the wind and blinded by the snow, about half of the Lewis herd of Longhorn cattle were drowned and frozen in Grouse Creek when they plunged over the high bank into the water. Three days later, the storm let up enough for Andrew and his sons to search for the cattle. Only a few that had bunched up in the timber were found alive. Longhorns sticking up in the ice on Grouse Creek marked where the rest of the herd had perished.

Andrew, son, Elroy, and R.D. Warren staked claims in the Strip Race from Arkansas City. My father, John Franklin was too young to claim land so he drove the wagon load of supplies for the others.

Elroy and R. D. built a two room house astride the boundary of their adjoining claims. R. D., his wife, Rose Hathaway and baby daughter, Grace, lived on one side and Elroy on the other.

John Franklin married Jessie Ellen Johnson, daughter of the Josiah Johnson pioneer family of Maple City. The Lewis's farmed, later ran a general store in Otto where Frank established the first rural telephone exchange and kept the switchboard in the store; they moved to Silverdale and kept a store there until buying a farm in 1913, three miles south of Silverdale. Frank helped organize a Farmer's Union locally and he managed the Silverdale Grain Elevator there.

The Lewis children were: Lester, Lyle, Emily, Russell and Alma. Josiah Johnson brought his wife, Emily Angeline Mosier, daughter, Jessie Ellen, and son, Harley, by train from Vermilion County, Illinois in 1884 to Winfield, Kansas. The Johnsons bought land for their home just east of Maple City, Kansas. There they raised pure bred short horn cattle and trotting horses.

The Johnsons sold the Maple City property and moved to land in Rush County. After a few years there, they returned to Arkansas City. A daughter, Edna, and a son, Robert, were born in Cowley County.

Submitted by Alma Louise Grober
Scanned out of the Cowley County Heritage book, pg 225 & 226.


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