The career of the Hon. Samuel R. Lewis, of Fall River township, is well worthy of emulation. Faithful and devoted to what he has believed to be right and best, he has thereby won and continues to enjoy the friendship and genuine regard of every one, as the direct outcome of his noble life. Now, in the evening tide of his days, he may look back with few regrets, for he has ever striven to do his whole duty.
The Lewis family originated in Wales, and in 1682 was founded in the United States by one Henry Lewis, who lived in a small town in Pembrokeshire. After reaching America he lived in Chester county, Pennsylvania, on the west bank of the Delaware river, and was a personal friend of William Penn, who had emigrated to this country in 1681. The family of Henry Lewis, at the time that he came to America, comprised his wife Margaret, two sons and a daughter, and his aged father, Evan Lewis. The grandfather of Mr. Lewis wedded a Miss Hogue, a member of the Society of Friends.
The parents of S. R. Lewis were Jehu and Rachel (Mills) Lewis, the former born in 1781, in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and the latter, likewise a native of the Keystone state, was the daughter of Henry Mills, a Quaker. For many years after their marriage Jehu Lewis and his wife resided in Washington county, Pennsylvania, but in 1833 they removed with their family to Putnam county, Illinois. They settled on what was then called Clear creek, and in 1855 the father was summoned to the silent land. The wife and mother survived many years, dying in April, 1874, when she was laid to rest beside her husband in the Quaker cemetery at Clear Creek, Putnam county.
Samuel R. Lewis was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, January 12, 1818, and there spent his early years. A very important step in his life was taken, January 1, 1842, when he married Miss Ann Eliza Harley, born June 13, 1820, in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Rudolph Harley. About a year after his marriage Mr. Lewis removed to the homestead on section 21, Fall River township, which has since been his place of abode. His first purchase was a quarter section of canal land, and, as it was wild prairie, it had to be broken with the plow. In due time industry and persevering toil brought their reward, and Mr. Lewis long ago was considered one of the rich and influential citizens of his township. He invested in more land, from time to time, until he owned six hundred and forty acres. His homestead is finely equipped with substantial buildings and all modern conveniences for farming, and on the north side of the road which divides his land there is a splendid growth of timber, and a spring of pure water, which flows freely at all seasons, unaffected by the most severe droughts.
By the union of Samuel R. Lewis and his wife four sons were born, sons of whom they have just reason to be proud. William R., the eldest, married Miss Ellen Eichelburger, and is a successful farmer and the present supervisor of Grand Rapids township, LaSalle county; Edward C, the second son, is an attorney at law of Chicago. He was born in LaSalle county, October 5, 1845, and acquired his literary education at Lake Forest, Chicago University and Wheaton College. Determining to enter the legal profession, he was graduated in 1865 in the Cincinnati Law School. For five years he practiced law, and for twenty years he was engaged in stock raising and breeding thoroughbred cattle and horses. For twelve years he served as a member of the board of supervisors of LaSalle county, and during onehalf of that period was chairman of the board. From 1882 until 1890 he was a member of the state board of agriculture of Illinois, and for about three years, from 1882 until 1885, was railway and warehouse commissioner of this state. In 1869 he married Miss Nellie A. Armstrong, daughter of Joel W, Armstrong, of Deer Park township, LaSalle county, and they now have three children: Mrs. Mabel Lewis Kitchen, of Kansas City, Missouri: Samuel R., also of Kansas City; and Julia Isabel, who is still with her parents. Mr. Lewis is now associated with John H. Kitchen in a business conducted under the name of the American Warming & Ventilating Company, which deals in modern heating apparatus, having a large factory and office in Chicago and a branch office in Kansas City, Missouri. Charles Lewis, the third son of the family, is a graduate of Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio. He studied law in the office of the firm of Cook, Lawrence & Campbell, of Chicago, and after being admitted to the bar removed to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where he practiced law for several years, and also served for one term as county attorney. Removing to Duluth, Minnesota, he was elected circuit judge of that district, and has recently been elected to the supreme court of Minnesota. The duties of the office he will assume on the 1st of January, 1900. Samuel Morris Lewis, the youngest of the family, now has the management of the home farm. He wedded Miss Mary Thomas, daughter of Colonel John Thomas, of Belleville, Illinois, and they have two children: John M. and Sherman, who are students in the Ottawa high school.
The public services of S. R. Lewis have been marked, redounding greatly to his credit. In 1857 he was elected to the important position of treasurer of LaSalle county, in which capacity he served for four years, discharging his duties to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. In 1878 he was elected to represent his county in the state senate, and served through two regular and one extra session. During that time he was a member of several important committees and was chairman of the committee on railroads and canals. At various times he has acted as supervisor of his township and occupied the important position of chairman of the county board for four years. To the principles of the Republican party he has been loyal ever since its organization. His first presidential vote was cast in 1840 for James G. Birney, the Abolition candidate. He was a delegate to the convention which organized the Republican party in Illinois, in 1854, and has since taken a deep interest and active part in political affairs, but has not stooped to the political chicanery which is, alas! too common at the present day; on the contrary, he has not sought office, and made no slight sacrifice of his personal wishes and inclinations when he assumed the duties to which he was called by his friends and neighbors. Honorable in business, reliable in positions of public trust, loyal in citizenship, faithful in friendship, over the record of his life falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 296-299.