Alexander Lewis was identified with business and civic affairs at Lawrence from territorial times until his death on January 30, 1905. He was one of the fine characters of the university city and a man whose capable business judgment was marked by a benevolence and a kindly interest in the welfare of his community and his fellow man.
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He was born in Tompkins County, New York, November 13, 1830, and lived to be nearly seventy-five years of age. His parents were Luther and Mary (Sheldon) Lewis. His grandfather Luther Lewis was a native of Suffield, Connecticut, and moved from there to New York.
Alexander Lewis grew up on a farm in New York State. He had only the advantages of the district schools. His life was spent at home until he was twenty-seven, and then following the great wave of New England emigration to the Kansas prairies he came West in 1857, and at once identified himself with the free state movement in Kansas. Selecting Lawrence as his location, he entered the grocery business with Mr. Grovenor as a partner. Two years later in 1860 he made a trip to Pike’s Peak and Denver during the gold excitement.
In 1863 Mr. Lewis returned to New York State and on August 18, 1863, was married to Mary Frances North. Just three days after his marriage, on August 21st, Quantrill and his band of outlaws and guerrillas made the historic raid upon Lawrence, and while Mr. Lewis was enjoying his honeymoon in New York the guerrillas were destroying his property in Lawrence. When news came of the raid and massacre he at once left his wife at the old home and hastened out to Kansas, where he resumed his business affairs as member of the firm of Morrow & Lewis, dry goods merchants. The next spring his wife joined him in Kansas. In 1868 Alexander Lewis took up the lumber business and throughout the rest of his business career was active in the retail lumber trade. At the time of his death he had been selling lumber for thirty-seven years and was one of the oldest lumbermen of the state.
When he came to Kansas he was an outspoken adherent of the free soil faction, and was never at a loss to express his well defined convictions in a positive and convincing manner. When Price threatened Kansas by invasion Mr. Lewis joined the Home Guard and was on duty at the old Block House on Massachusetts Avenue in Lawrence. He steadily adhered to the republican party in politics through all the years from the time of the party organization until his death. For many years he was a faithful member of the Plymouth Congregational Church. He was a fine example of New England industry and thrift, accumulated financial independence, and was always liberal in his contributions to educational and religious objects and to those enterprises which were purely of a public character. Above all he was devoted to his business and his home. The characteristic by which he is best remembered was his sturdy uncompromising honesty. If it were possible for him to hate anything he hated hypocrisy and dishonesty.
His good wife died August 5, 1898. They had only one child, Luther North Lewis. Luther North Lewis was born in Lawrence August 10, 1865, and that city had been his home from childhood up to the present. He was educated in the public schools and had two years of training in the University of Kansas, and then became associated with his father in the lumber business. He continued the lumber business for four years after his father’s death. Mr. Lewis is a republican and a Knight Templar Mason. He married Miss Lucene Allen Barker, a daughter of George J. Barker, one of the most prominent men in the history of Lawrence, whose career is sketched on other pages.