AS RECORDED IN:
COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND
REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 541
ALLEN LEWIS (deceased), than whom (***see
footnote) there was not a more respected old citizen of Willimantic, Windham
county, was the pioneer in the gardening, nursery and fruit business in the
town, where his residence of more than forty years was marked by an honorable
and upright career, second to none of the business men of his time.
Mr. Lewis was born Jan. 5, 1829, at Exeter, R.I., a son of Arnold and
Mary A. (Tillinghast) Lewis.
Lewis was born in 1791, at Exeter, R.I., son of Stephen Lewis, who belonged to
an old New England family, and was descended from William Lewis, who came to New
England, in the ship, “Lion,” landing at Boston Sept. 16, 1632.
On Oct. 10, 1822, he married Mary A. Tillinghast who was born in 1800.
They engaged in farming, and spent their lives in Exeter, where they
reared the following family: Eunice,
born May 11, 1823, married Stephen A. Tift;
Gardiner, born Aug. 9, 1825, was thrown from a horse and killed when a
boy; Joseph Allen;
Sarah, born Oct. 17, 1830, married John T. Lewis, and died in West
Greenwich, R.I.; Eliza P., born Feb.
17, 1832, married Joseph R. Frye, now deceased, and is living in Willimantic;
John, born Oct. 6, 1833, was in the nursery business at Dighton, Mass.,
where he died; Mary Abbie, born Nov.
28, 1838, married the late Elijah Kenyon, of Kenyonville, R.I., where he was
long a wealthy manufacturer and where his sons are conducting the extensive
business he founded; Miss Hannah E.,
born March 28, 1841, lives in Willimantic; and Henry Byron, born June 19, 1846,
is superintendent of the repair shops of the N.Y., N.H., & H. Railroad at
Providence, Rhode Island.
Allen Lewis attended the public school at Exeter, R.I., where he proved himself
an apt pupil, and made rapid progress. When
he became a young man he taught school and was a fine instructor, being a
thorough master of everything which he undertook to teach.
In his early manhood he was employed in Moore's nursery at Providence,
R.I., and acquired a good knowledge of the business in which he afterwards
became distinguished. At
Springfield, Mass., Mr. Lewis was also employed in the nursery business, and
also at Dighton, Mass., where he worked for the late Dr. Wood.
In his last position Mr. Lewis taught winter school, working for Dr. Wood
in the summer.
Lewis was married Jan. 25, 1853, to Miss Caroline Frye, a native of West
Greenwich, R.I., where she was born Oct. 15, 1829, sixth child and fourth
daughter of John and Alice (Nichols) Frye. John
Frye was a farmer, and had a family of seven children, of whom two were boys.
Joseph R., a brother of Mrs. Lewis, was a resident of Willimantic.
Lewis began housekeeping in Dighton, where he was employed at the time of his
marriage, and where he lived until his coming to Willimantic in 1858.
That year, in company with his brother-in-law, Joseph R. Frye, he bought
nine acres of land from Martin Harris on Jackson street.
To this original purchase they added more land as their business demanded
it. The tree and vegetable business
was at once established, and soon grew to be one of the largest of its kind in
the State. Mr. Lewis removed his
family to the residence where he spent the rest of his life in April, 1862. The
handsome maple trees which now adorn Jackson street in front of his home were
set out by him, and the Norway maples around the works of the Willimantic Linen
Co. were raised by him from the seed. Mr.
Lewis at first made a specialty of forest and fruit seedlings, but later devoted
his attention very largely to fruit and vegetables.
In growing tomatoes alone, at one time he had as many as seventy acres
under cultivation, growing and canning for the wholesale trade.
Mr. Lewis built a large canning factory at the head of North street in
1892, which he operated for several years. This
plant was a very extensive one, and at times over 40,000 bushels of apples were
canned in a single season, as well as the immense quantity of tomatoes, which
were the best goods sold in New England, commanding always the highest price.
The building was later destroyed by fire.
Lewis was characterized by much energy and push, and was a good business man, a
fact his career establishes beyond question.
His dealings were straightforward, and personally he was a most modest
and unassuming man, never given to boasting.
Universal respect attended him, and he found much help and encouragement
in his hard struggle with the world in the excellent woman who became his wife.
She is still living on the old homestead, and is a remarkably well
Lewis was a man of strong character, clear in his convictions and outspoken in
their expression. In early life he
was a Republican and the campaign of 1856 found him a strong supporter of John
C. Fremont. In 1872, feeling that he
could not endorse the re-nomination of Gen. Grant, nor yet willing to follow
Greeley into the Democratic party, he became a Prohibitionist, and as long as he
lived was earnest in the advocacy of the principles of that organization.
His remains rest in Willimantic.
Joseph A. Lewis and wife came the following children:
Cora A., born Jan. 22, 1855, at Dighton, Mass., was married Nov. 5, 1879,
to Clark O. Terry; Mary F., born
Sept. 15, 1859, in Willimantic, graduated from the Normal School at Worcester,
Mass., becoming a successful teacher, and she was married Oct. 24, 1889, to
Edward E. Johnson, of White Bear Lake, Minn., by whom she has three children:
Donald R., Mildred F. and Alice E.; Ella
C., born June 24, 1861, in Willimantic, died when three years old; and Arthur
L., born Oct. 21, 1867, was married in Willimantic, Nov. 20, 1890, to Miss
Lottie E. Holt, and has his home in Willimantic.
“than whom” is per the publication.
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