Biography of Hiram W. Lewis, Col.
Col. Hiram W. Lewis. In many important ways the city of Wichita expresses the life, ideals, and activities of the late Col. Hiram W. Lewis. In his time he was undoubtedly one of the most forceful figures and one of the ablest business men and citizens in the State of Kansas.
When he came to Wichita about 1875 he had already acquitted himself with credit both as a soldier in the Civil war and as a business man. Born near Warren, Ohio, he lived in Ohio during his youth and on May 25, 1863, enlisted in Company E of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio Infantry. He went out as a private, becoming corporal, and was in many of the important battles of the great campaigns by which the states of Tennessee and Georgia were wrested from the Confederacy. He was wounded in the arm at Chickamauga. After his honorable discharge on May 15, 1865, he identified himself with the South and bought a plantation near Columbus, Mississippi. He remained on that plantation for ten years, and also took a very active part in public affairs. He served as sheriff of his county, and for several years represented his district in the State Legislature.
Colonel Lewis during his residence in Wichita was primarily a banker. When he came to Wichita he organized the Kansas National Bank, of which he became president. Later with M. W. Levy he organized the State Savings Bonk of which he was vice president and cashier. Still later was organized under his direction the Gold Savings State Bank. All these banks are still in operation and have had a long and honorable record. The Gold Savings State Bank, however, is now known as the Union Bank.
In 1893 Colonel Lewis organized the Anchor Trust Company, and was its president until his death on February 12, 1912.
Aside from his work as a financier his life was especially notable for his influence in promoting temperance and education. When he came to Kansas he loyally aided in the temperance movement and it is said that he was probably the strongest factor in his part of the state in securing the adoption of the state-wide prohibition principle. He was also one of the organizers of the old Lewis Academy of Wichita, which was given his name. Some years ago this institution was merged with the College of Emporia, and the Lewis Hall of Science on the college campus now bears his name. During its existence the Lewis Academy served an important end in furnishing a preparatory education to many young men and women of Kansas, and Colonel Lewis was president of its board of trustees. Later he became a director of the College of Emporia and held that office until his death.
Every good cause in the City of Wichita met his hearty approval and gained his support. He was instrumental in organizing a number of mills and factories, in securing the establishment of stock yards, waterworks, and other public utilities, and a complete history of the city could not be written without frequent reference to his name.
Colonel Lewis was twice married. His first wife was Lucy Strong of Massachusetts, who died leaving four children. He married her sister, Kittie Strong, who survives him. Of this union there were five children.
Hiram W. Lewis, Jr., next to the youngest of his father’s second children, was born in Wichita February 28, 1891. He graduated from Lewis Academy in 1909, and then took a two-year course in Baker University and finished his schooling at the University of Chicago, where he graduated with the degree Ph. B. Returning to Wichita, he entered the offices of the Anchor Trust Company, and since 1914 has been its secretary and a director. His brother, P. K. Lewis, is president of the Anchor Trust Company. This company handles first mortgages, loans and investments, and is one of the important organizations of the kind in the state. In February, 1915, they opened a branch office at Phoenix, Arizona, which is conducted under the personal supervision of P. K. Lewis.