As hostilities between the British and colonists were heating up, there were many in the Boston area that still considered themselves loyal to the Crown. David Lewis, and his bother, may very well have been two of them. Either that, or they saw an opportunity to get some land in Nova Scotia and pounced on it.
As family lore tells it, David and his brother (so far, unnamed), absconded from Boston with an American ship, sailing it to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In return for their bounty and service to his Royal Majesty, they were granted land in the western area of the island, with the understanding that they would develop it.
Whether or not some or none of that story is true, we don’t know, but we do know that David Lewis—reportedly of Welch lineage—ended up in Nova Scotia, where he would marry Ann Nichols. The couple would have three sons and a daughter, and generations of Lewis would continue the family name in and around today’s Colchester County.
It could be said that the three Lewis boys were looking for the exact same thing in a wife, because the three brothers would go on to marry three sisters. John found love with Margaret Doyle (married in December 1816 at Macaan Mountain), while his brothers Joseph and David found the same with Eunice and Eleanor Doyle respectively. Each was granted land in 1830, settling in Five Islands.
As was the custom in this part of Nova Scotia, the Lewis families were farmers, likely subsistence farmers, simply growing and raising what they needed to live. John and Margaret had upwards of seven children, including Charles, who was born in July 1820.
Charles would carry on the family efforts in the fields as a farmer, and would find himself a nice Scotch-Irish girl for a wife. Catherine Reid, born in County Donegal, came to Canada as a little girl with her father and siblings. She was described as “a consistent Christian lady, a faithful wife, and tender and loving mother.”
The latter would be important given that Charles and Catherine would have 13 children, including sadly three sons and a daughter who would die young. They were pioneers of Methodism, holding their membership at Five Islands, and frequently opened their home for services for the early traveling Methodist preachers and other evangelists.
Charles would leave this world in November 1892, though Catherine would live to ripe old age of 86. In her later years, though she was weak in body, “she always was found at the bed of suffering.”
Several of the sons and daughters of Charles and Catherine would leave Nova Scotia, including their eighth child Stephen Henry.
Stephen was born on December 13, 1857, and attended the local public schools in Economy. With his schooling years behind him, he left home for Prince Edward Island, where an uncle took him under his wing and taught him to swing a hammer. After two years on PEI, Stephen returned to his hometown, where he put what he had learned to good use as a carpenter.
At the age of 25, he left home once again, but this time heading south to New England. He first settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he stayed for a year and a half, before returning to Canada to ask Ms. Laura Wright for her hand in marriage. Laura was the daughter of prominent home builder and Methodist minister William G. Wright of Charlottetown, PEI. One can assume that Stephen and Laura met either through the carpentry trade or the Methodist movement.
The newly married couple promptly moved back to the United States, choosing Somerville to start their family. It was here that for more than four decades, Stephen was engaged in the business of carpenter and builder, establishing a prosperous and prominent industry. Industrious and enterprising, Stephen had added many important real estate and insurance activities to his business and was recognized as a leader in the trade.
He formed a partnership styled Hudson and Lewis, carpenters and builders, which continued successfully for seven years, constructing many houses in the residential districts of the town. His work was of the highest standard, and he enjoyed a reputation for integrity and ability in his community which won for him great admiration of his associates. In 1910, Mr. Lewis took his older son, Wilbur Lewis, into the partnership, which became known as S. H. Lewis and Son, and the connection continued until 1918, when the father retired, leaving the responsibility of the greatly enlarged business to the son.
Enjoying music, Stephen won great admiration for his vocal talents and delights in entertaining with quartet and solo selections. Stephen and Laura’s first child, Harold, was born in 1886, and was followed by five more: Wilbur, Dudley, Minot, Grace, and Dolly.
Wilbur Fletcher was their second son, born in Somerville on February 28, 1889. He received his earliest education at the Edgerly School, and then continued his studies in the Highland School, from which he was graduated in 1904. The following fall he became a student in the English High School, from which he was graduated in 1908, after which he entered Berkley Preparatory School, where he continued his studies for one year.
Having learned much from his father, Wilbur was an expert in his field and was known for his sound business methods and for his skill in appraising real estate values. He handled an extensive insurance business, in addition to his building and real estate, and as the years passed he contributed an important share to the development and growth of Somerville.
In November 1913, Wilbur was married to Etta Dixon at Manomet by Pastor J. Franklin Knotts. Born in Plymouth, Etta was the daughter of Charlie Dixon, a retired member of the Coast Guard, and of Emma (Mayhew), who passed away three years prior to the wedding.
Wilbur was a director in the Winterhill Cooperative Bank, as well as a trustee in the Somerville Hospital. Though always deeply interested in athletics, especially baseball, Wilbur’s favorite form of recreation became traveling. Taking frequent trips to different sections of the country, he gained from these not only healthful change and outdoors life, but also constantly added to his knowledge of building conditions, architecture, and real estate values.
A Republican, Wilbur took an active interest in local public affairs, serving as a member of the Ward Committee and of the City Committee; and was a member of the Board of Aldermen from 1917-19. He was instrumental in introducing a number of bills of public improvements, while on the committee on public works, and was on the committee of public institutions and took an active part in that: insurance, and power and light.
In 1920 he was elected to represent his district in the General Court, or State House of Representatives, where he served from 1920 to 1924 inclusive. Among the legislation he pursued was a bill to encourage the state to boost the tourism industry by building camping sites along the main highways in the state, something other states had already done.
Wilbur and Etta would have only one son, Wilbur Franklin, who would follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming a prominent businessman in Somerville, carrying on the family business interests in real estate and insurance.
Wilbur the younger graduated from Somerville High School in 1933, attending Tilton Preparatory School before heading to Boston University. Not only would Wilbur received a bachelor of science degree from the College of Business Administration, but it was also at B.U. that he would meet his future wife, Marion Alfred, a journalism student.
With his first daughter on the way, Wilbur served his country and shipped out to Europe to fight the Nazis. A member of the infantry, he was at the Battle of Anzio, where the allies fought the Germans and eventually liberated Rome. Marion would give birth to a baby girl, though Wilbur would not get to meet Wendy until he returned from the front.
In 1952, Wilbur would be a director at Winter Hill Savings and Loan Bank. He would later become vice president, with the bank benefiting from his leadership for more than a decade. Throughout the years, he was also involved with Somerville Hospital, serving as a trustee, vice president, president, and chairman of the board.
His community service in Somerville was extensive: director and president of the Somerville Chamber of Commerce, director and president of the Somerville Kiwanis Club, director of the Somerville Red Cross, and director of the Somerville Visiting Nurses Association.
Though he remained involved in personal and public affairs in Somerville until his death, Wilbur would call Medford, Winchester, and Duxbury home. In addition to Wendy, Wilbur and Marion would raise two other daughters: Susan and Deborah. The girls would attend school in Winchester, but Duxbury was their summer home. They were the fourth generation of Lewises to enjoy the beaches of Standish Shore and the waters of Duxbury Bay.
[MORE TO COME]