Lewis, Thomas

Born: 1808-07-09 Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Died: 1900-02-02 Kansas City, Missouri

Flourished: 1837-1875 Springfield, Illinois

In 1832, Lewis married Margaret VanNorstrand in New Jersey and in July 1836, he took a trip west to select a future home, finally selecting Springfield, Illinois. On August 1, 1837, Lewis arrived in Springfield with his wife, their children, and other extended family members. Originally a shoemaker, Lewis opened a boot and shoe store upon settling in Springfield, but he also accumulated some money in banking and studied law. He earned admittance to the bar and practiced for a time. However, he conducted much of his legal work as a public estate administrator, handling various legal matters for the heirs of deceased persons in Sangamon County. By 1850, Lewis was in the mercantile business as part of Lewis, Johnson & Co.. He was also instrumental in moving Hillsboro College to Springfield, where it became known as the Illinois State University. Lewis was a member of the first Board of Trustees for that university. Lewis also engaged in land speculation in Sangamon County: by 1850, he owned over $20,000 worth of real estate.

Harry Evjen, “Illinois State University, 1852-1868” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 31 (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1938), 54, 71; History of Sangamon County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-state, 1881), 108; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 4 August 1838, 2:7; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 29 August 1849, 1:4; Springfield Sunday Journal (IL), 4 February 1900, 6:4; John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 455; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States, (1850) Sangamon County, IL, 79; Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL; Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org.