William Lewis Chronology of Residence and Work
Born February 14, 1819, in Wardsboro, Vermont, son of William Lewis and Deborah (Smith) Lewis. His father dies December 31, 1831, and his mother dies April 24, 1833.
March 11, 1836, Rindge, NH until Nov. 18, 1837; Begins keeping his journal. He is 17 years old, and apprenticed to his uncle, Charles Mixer, learning tanning and currying; – he may have begun his training when he was 13. A journal entry April 20, 1837, notes he came to Rindge 5 years ago that day: April 20, 1832.
Nov. 22, 1837, Brattleboro, VT until April 18, 1838; Working for Mr. Goodhue tanning and currying
May 1, 1838, Milford, NH, until June 3, 1838 Working for Mr. French tanning and currying
June 6, 1838, Hillsboro, NH, until June 11, 1838; Tanning and currying
June 16, 1838, Brattleboro,VT, until September 20, 1838; working for Goodhue & Chapin tanning and currying
September 26, 1838, Northboro, MA until October 25, 1838; working for Mr. Davis tanning and currying
October 29, 1838, Dorchester, MA until November 2, 1838; working for Mr. Ball tanning and currying
November 8, 1838, Brattleboro, VT until Dec. 11, 1838; working for Goodhue & Chapin tanning and currying
December 12, 1838, West Brattleboro, VT until April 14, 1840; working for Mr. Beal tanning and currying until Dec. 11, 1839; then out of work , earning some income sawing wood.
April 14, 1840, Templeton, MA until November 29, 1840; Working for Mr. Swan @ $15/month tanning and currying
Dec. 2, 1840, Woodstock, CT until March 24, 1841; Working for Mr. Albert A. Payne tanning and currying
March 24, 1841, Leicester, MA until June 10, 1842; Working again for Mr. Payne tanning and currying. Out of work 12 weeks, Jan. 16 to April 11, 1842, after breaking his arm in a horse and wagon accident
June 13, 1842, Millbury, MA until February 24, 1843; Working for Francis H. Rice tanning and currying. At first is living in a boarding house; then July 18, 1842 goes to board with Mr. Pierce.
February 25, 1843, until September 6, 1843 out of work. Spends time in Leicester and Spencer, Millbury, Brattleboro
May 4, 1843, goes to Wilmington, VT – is without work and recovering his health – tries to earn money by selling magazine subscriptions without success. Living on his uncle Jabez Smith’s farm in Wilmington – Helps with his uncle and his cousin Reuel Smith with farm work.
September 6, 1843, goes to Worcester, MA to work for Mr. Watson tanning and currying, but business is bad and work runs out September 12.
September 14, 1843, Hubbardston, MA working for Harvey Brown, tanning and currying
August 14, 1845, marries Abby Louisa Kemp in New England Village, [North Grafton] MA and they live in Hubbardston. William is still working at tanning and currying for Brown and for himself. Abby earns money at sewing / mending, doing laundry, and sewing bed ticks
January 17, 1848, son Collins Winslow Lewis is born.
Gap in Journals Nov. 26, 1850 to Jan. 26, 1853.
September 9, 1850 U.S. Census finds him still in Hubbardston
April 1851 William gives up tanning and begins selling books and Yankee notions.
Sometime c. July 1851 wife Abby’s niece Abby Louisa Bigelow, age 7, comes to live with them.
The Lewis family is living in Barre, MA by May 19, 1852 as documented in Book/Notions Sales accounts .
Journals resume January 26, 1853. The Lewis family is living in Barre, MA, renting from Mr. Atwood; April 4, 1853 “moved into Br. Atwood’s new house”. He now works primarily at selling books and Yankee notions and at seating chairs. Abby is sewing ticks, braiding straw, making Shaker hoods. They earn income from “bating” peddlers and horses as well.
Gap in Journals May 14, 1853 to May 18, 1855. Accounts/Receipts books provide information about his life during these years. Income continues as per 1853.
1855 Mass. Census shows the Lewis family living in the household of Moses Mandell, farmer, age 62. William is listed as “Pedler.”
Journals resume May 19, 1855. Still renting from Mandell, selling books, seating chairs, and working at haying for Mr. Atwood and others. He is haying and planting potatoes on his rented farm, pig butchering November 1856. Abby is sewing bed ticks.
On his 38th birthday Feb. 14, 1857, William tries to buy a farm, but the deal falls through.
He continues renting the Mandell farm, buys his first cows and begins farming. He stops his book selling route, but continues seating chairs and boarding peddlers. Abby is still sewing bed ticks. He begins carrying milk October 1857. His “old horse” dies May 20, 1858.
1860 U.S. Census lists William’s family and the Mandell family still in same dwelling .
November 13, 1860 he buys a farm on West St. in Barre with 34 acres, and moves there April 1, 1861. William Lewis’s income is now his milk route and milk sales to the cheese factory, selling eggs, poultry, fruit and vegetables to neighbors and local stores. Abby is sewing bed ticks until 1867. Income for “shakering” (bonnet making) is recorded in 1862-’63 – may include niece Abby’s work.
In April 1871 C.H. Osgood builds William’s first greenhouse, and a second greenhouse in 1874. William adds sales of plants and flowers to his other farm income from 1871 to c. 1887.
In his later years (1880 – 1895) his income is primarily from sales of eggs and poultry.
Lewis dies February 6, 1894. William
Lewis dies February 5, 1897
William’s Wedding as recorded in his Journal, August 13 – 16, 1845
Wednesday August 13 Fair and comfortable in the morning, but warm in the afternoon. Went to New England Village in the forenoon. I have been waiting with considerable feelings of anxiety for this day, and it has at last appeared and all things seem to work pleasantly with me thus far, but how the next day may pass off with me is yet unknown.
Thursday August 14 1845 Well this eventful day of my life has dawned upon me, and so far as weather is concerned I am favored far above my fears. This will be one of the days that will be long remembered by me if life is continued, but I can only have the opportunity at present to state the facts in the case without comment.
At nine o’clock this morning I was married by Rev. I.W. Sargeant of the Baptist church, to Miss Abby L. Kemp of New England Village and started immediately for Hubbardston – got home between five and six this afternoon.
Friday August 15 1845 Another warm and pleasant day. I have spent this day in doing just nothing at all and I cannot find any leisure time for any other business.
Saturday August 16 1845 Continues pleasant, but considerable cooler and very comfortable weather. I am obliged to put down one more day of lost time. Well the close of one more week has appeared, and I have the comfort of feeling that the scenes of this have passed off as pleasantly as I could have any reasonable hopes of.
I am now a married man and I am placed under new obligations.
Abby Lewis Obituary Barre Gazette Friday, February 9, 1894.
Mrs. Wm. Lewis died at her home, a half-mile west of the Common, Tuesday noon, of heart disease. She had prepared dinner and, with Mr. Lewis, sat down at the table; after pouring the tea, she helped herself to some bread and was eating when her head suddenly fell on her breast, and almost instantly she was dead. Deceased was a most estimable woman, a kind neighbor, and, in years past, an earnest and efficient worker in the M.E. Church. Especially in the Ladies’ Aid Society was her influence felt. She was a great lover of flowers. Her house abounded with choice plants in winter, and in summer her garden was one huge bouquet of loveliness. Mr. Lewis has the sympathy of the entire community in his irreparable loss.
William Lewis Obituary
Barre Gazette Friday February 12, 1897, under Barre Items:
“Wm. Lewis, an old resident, died last Friday night, after a long, and, at times, painful illness. In many ways Mr. Lewis was a unique member of our community; he was very methodical in his habits and work, and everything about his premises bore evidence of his peculiar traits of character. Mr. Lewis was born in Wardsboro, Vt., in 1819. His father, whose name also was William, was a native of Dedham, Mass., born in 1789. Mr. Lewis lived for some years in Hubbardston, after he was married, and it was there his only son, Collins Winslow Lewis, was born in 1848. After coming to Barre, Mr. Lewis engaged in the peddling of Yankee notions, which he carried about the neighboring towns in a covered wagon drawn by a large chestnut horse. Taking fright one day, the horse ran and completely demolished the wagon and contents. Mr. Lewis thereupon determined never to have anything more to do with the horse family, personally, and right well did he keep his resolve. More than forty two years have elapsed since then, and no one has ever seen him driving a horse although he has carried on a farm of some thirty acres, or more, nearly all that time. Occasionally he would hire some team help in the spring and at haying time, but as a rule the wheelbarrow and Lewis was all the team he would drive and he drove this steadily and regularly twice each day over a milk route of some five miles. No matter how stormy, he never failed of being on time, and this business he faithfully followed for more than thirty years. During the great blizzard of ’88 he nearly perished in the storm, as he would persist in going his regular round to his customers. Early and late he strove to get a living and pay for his farm. A few years after the last dollar of encumbrance had been removed he retired from the milk business and busied himself in attending to his poultry and growing small fruits, at which he was very successful. Both he and his wife were fond of flowers, and their premises were always fragrant with their perfume. His son, who was an eccentric character, left home over twenty years ago and no trace of him was ever learned by his parents, who long ago gave him up as dead. Besides his farm, Mr. Lewis left some personal property. In his will he made special provision for the perpetual care of his lot in Glen Valley and cutting in of his age on the stone which he erected some time previous to his death. During his last sickness and in fact since the death of Mrs. Lewis, Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Patterson who were very intimate friends of the family, have looked after Mr. Lewis’ comfort and for several months past Mr. Patterson has been in constant attendance upon him. E.B. Richardson, another life long and valued friend, has also been very kind in his efforts to make the old gentleman comfortable in his declining years. It was his custom to keep a written account of his daily life and actions, and after his death his executor found a small trunk in which was nearly one hundred small pass books each closely written, and covering the every-day life of this singular man for nearly fifty years. The funeral was held at the house Tuesday p.m., at 2 o’clock.”