William R. Lewis, the efficient supervisor of Grand Rapids township, LaSalle county, is one of the popular and enterprising agriculturists of this locality. He is one of the native sons of Illinois, his birth having occurred in Putnam county March 3, 1843. Of the eight children born to the Hon. S. R. Lewis, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume, but four sons survive, the others being E. C, Charles and S. M., who is a farmer of Fall River township.
In his youth William R. Lewis was instructed in all departments of agriculture, and obtained a practical education in the public schools. In i860 he located upon the homestead which he now owns and carries on. At that time this place, as well as all of the other land in the vicinity, was wild, and bore little promise of what it was to become under the careful cultivation and care of its future owner. Mr. Lewis set to work with a will, and the result of years of his well applied energy is seen to-day in his splendid farm, which is considered one of the best in the township. The place, comprising two hundred acres, is supplied with a model house, good barns and other buildings, a well-kept yard, shaded with fine old trees, and a thrifty orchard. Two windmills furnish the power for supplying an abundance of pure water to the house and barns, and improved farm machinery and implements reduce the labor of managing the place to a minimum. A high grade of live stock is raised and kept upon this farm, and a ready market is found for all of the products of the place, which is situated but three miles from Grand Ridge village.
In 1865 Mr. Lewis wedded Miss E. A. Eichelberger, whose father was born February 28, 1813, and died April 16, 1879. He was one of the early settlers of this township, coming to Ottawa in 1837 from York county, Pennsylvania. His widow was born December 4, 1821, and is still living on their old homestead in this vicinity. Four children were born to our subject and wife: Anna, who married S. E. Jones, the agent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at Earlville, Illinois, and Edward C, Edith C. and F. W. The three younger children are at home, F. W. being a student in the Luther College, at Ottawa, Illinois. All have been given excellent musical advantages and possess considerable talent in that line, both daughters now being teachers of the art, and both boys being connected with the Grand Ridge cornet band.
From his youth Mr. Lewis was an abolitionist, and he joined the Republican party upon its organization, since which time he has been a zealous worker in its interests. He has frequently attended county and state and congressional conventions of his party, often as a delegate. For eight years he has served as a justice of the peace, and in 1896 was elected to the office of supervisor, in both of which positions he has acquitted himself with credit. Religiously Mr. Lewis and his family are connected with the Cumberland Presbyterian church, contributing liberally, both of their means and influence, towards its support.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 40-41.