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R. W. Lewis is now serving his second term as sheriff of Montgomery County. He is a native of Montgomery County, and for many years has had a reputation as a man who does things in a large and efficient way. That is true of his official career as also of his business record. Mr. Lewis has some extensive interests as a merchant in Independence, owns a large amount of property, and is one of the leading oil producers in that section of the state.
He is an American to the core, and represents a family that came from England to Virginia prior to the Revolution. His grandfather spent his life in Virginia as a planter.
R. W. Lewis was born in Montgomery County, Kansas, January 1, 1875. His father is E. T. Lewis, who was born in Virginia in 1844, and is now living practically retired on a small farm a mile north of Independence. He is a veteran of the Confederate army, having enlisted from his native state in 1862 and serving until the close of the war. He was in the Shenandoah Valley campaign and also in many of the battles around Richmond with Lee’s army. He was twice wounded, and once taken a prisoner, but managed to make his escape. After the war he came West, lived in Jasper County, Missouri, for several years, and in 1871 homesteaded a quarter section in Montgomery County, Kansas. After locating his claim he returned to Missouri, where he was married, and at once brought his bride to the land where he spent many years in clearing and improving. This farm still belongs in the family, and for a number of years has been in the oil belt, and as late as February, 1916, two more successful wells were drilled there. E. T. Lewis is a deacon in the Baptist Church and is a member of Independence Lodge, No. 17, Ancient Order United Workmen. He was married to Miss Kate Wright, who was born in Kentucky in 1851. Their children are: Ida M., wife of Ray Spradling, a resident of Independence; and R. W. Lewis.
Sheriff Lewis grew up in Montgomery County, had the usual training of a farm boy, and besides the country schools attended high school at Independence. His years were spent quietly and somewhat uneventfully on his father’s farm until 1898. In May of that year he enlisted in the famous Twentieth Kansas Regiment of Volunteers for service in the Spanish-American war. He went with the regiment to the Philippines under General Fred Funston, and was with his command in all its engagements in those islands for a year. He returned with the regiment and was mustered out and given his honorable discharge in October, 1899.
After this service which made him one of the honored veterans of the Philippine war, he spent two years on the home farm, but since 1901 his operations and activities have made him a resident of Independence. In that year he engaged in the grocery business, and still has interests in that line, owning the grocery store near the Western States Cement Plant, a mile southeast of Independence and also a grocery store and a residence on Sycamore Street. For three years he was also in the wholesale meat business, but then sold out. Mr. Lewis is vice president of the Legune Oil Company, and for a number of years has been one of the principal independent producers in this section. His property interests are extensive and widely distributed. He owns eighty acres of farm lands a mile southwest of Independence, has large holdings in a plantation in Louisiana, and has a resident property on East Main Street in Independence.
His political affiliations have always been with the democratic party. In the fall of 1912 he was elected for his first term as sheriff, taking office in January, 1913, and was re-elected in 1914 for the term beginning in January, 1915. His offices are in the courthouse and he has his home in the building especially constructed by the county for a sheriff’s residence. Mr. Lewis is a member of the Sheriffs’ National Association, and other affiliations are with Independence Lodge, No. 780, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 69, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Independence Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America.
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In March, 1904, Mr. Lewis married at Caney, Kansas, Miss Catherine Ellis, daughter of Alexander and Mary Ellis. Her parents now reside at Mr. Lewis’ home near the Western States Cement Plant, and her father has charge of Mr. Lewis’ grocery store there. To their marriage have been born three children: Robert Jr., born in 1906 and a student in the public schools; Thomas, born in 1911; and Mary Beth, born in 1914.