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William H. Lewark was one of the prominent factors in the business and social life of Coffeyville for many years. His death in that city July 3, 1914, removed a forceful and energetic worker and a man whose public spirit had always been uppermost in all his relations with that community from the early days.
He was born in the State of Indiana in 1848, a son of John and Elizabeth Lewark. His father was a farmer and died in Idaho, and his mother died in Indiana.
The late Mr. Lewark was one of the boy soldiers of the Union army during the Civil war. When still in his teens he enlisted and for one year nine months was with his regiment and participated in some of the hardest fought campaigns of the war. He was with Sherman on his march to the sea, and followed that great leader on his progress through the Carolinas and had the distinction of marching in Washington at the Grand Review. He spent his early life near Indianapolis, and in 1872 came out to Kansas, locating at Old Parker. He was married there in 1875, and soon afterwards moved to Coffeyville. With the exception of a year and nine months in the restaurant business in Colorado, he was thenceforward identified with Coffeyville’s business interests until his death. He established the leading livery enterprise of the city and was still in that work when death overtook him. In 1913 his stables and all their contents were destroyed by fire, and he had made a fresh start only a short time before his death.
His record of public service is as important as his able management of his private affairs. He served as constable a number of years, was elected police judge and filled that office for ten consecutive years, and for four years was a member of the city council. At the time of his death he was commissioner of streets and parks, and had filled that office nearly four years. He was a democrat, attended the Episcopal Church, and was well known in fraternal circles, being affiliated with Keystone Lodge No. 102, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Star Lodge No. 117, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Camp No. 665, Modern Woodmen of America, Lodge No. 775, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Lodge No. 279, Ancient Order of United Workmen. As a private or as a member of the chamber of commerce he worked constantly for the welfare of his home city, and was a stockholder in the Montgomery County Fair Association. He also had financial interests in a number of local enterprises.
Mrs. William H. Lewark, who survives her husband was before her marriage Nannie McLees. She was born ten miles northeast of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and comes of Scotch-Irish ancestry. Her father John McLees was born at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1829, became a hotel proprietor in Pennsylvania, and in 1868 moved to Iowa, locating on a farm six miles from Centerville. He lived there for two seasons, then sold out and moved to Old Parker, Kansas, where in the early days he was engaged in the freighting service for the Indian Reservation. He afterwards moved to Coffeyville and was associated with Mr. Lewark in the livery business until his death, which occurred in 1912. Mr. McLees was a democrat. He was also an honored veteran of the Civil war. From Pennsylvania he enlisted and served three years with a regiment from that state, and took part in the great battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh, Lookout Mountain and many other noted battles. His brother Joseph McLees was killed at Gettysburg. John McLees married Sarah A. Brown, who was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1830, came to this country at the age of nineteen, her family locating near Pittsburg, and she died at Coffeyville in 1890. Her three children are: Mrs. Lewark; Mattie I., who is unmarried and lives with Mrs. Lewark; and Lillie M., who is also unmarried and lives in the Lewark home at Coffeyville.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewark were married at Old Parker in 1875. Mrs. Lewark is a very active member of the Episcopal Church at Coffeyville, and has served four terms as president of the Ladies Guild. She is a prominent member of the Searchlight Club, the first woman’s club organized at Coffeyville, the club being a member of the City Federation of Woman’s Clubs. Mrs. Lewark is the mother of three children: J. Harry, who conducts the livery business established by his father at Coffeyville; Russell V., who maintains a taxi cab service at Coffeyville; and Katy H., wife of Frank Halden Weaver, a real estate man at Coffeyville.