Saturday, February 10, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ LEWIS of Salem, Massachusetts

Gloucester Fisherman's Wife Memorial

My 4th great grandfather, Thomas Lewis, is named as the father of Frederick Augustus Lewis on his 1850 death record, and on Thomas Russell Lewis’s marriage record in 1852.   Frederick Augustus and Thomas Russell were the twin sons of Thomas Lewis. I don’t know my 4th great grandfather’s origins at all.

With this information from the son’s vital records, and their father’s name, I was able to find a death announcement in the Salem Gazette, 24 August 1824, page 3 for “Mr. Thomas Lewis, aged 54”.  There is no corresponding death record in the vital records.  Is this their father?  The birth record for both boys appears in the compiled book of Salem Vital Records with only their mother listed (no father’s name) baptized on 26 June 1825 at the Howard Street or Branch Church in Salem, Massachusetts.  Were the twin babies born posthumously?

In his probate records, Thomas Lewis is described as a ropemaker of Salem.

To throw a monkey wrench into the mix, I don’t know the full name of the mother of these twin boys.  She is listed as “Amelia” in their baptism records.  I cannot find a marriage between a Thomas Lewis and an Amelia in any Massachusetts records.  “Amelia Lewis” remarried again in 1827 to Thomas Johnson in Salem, and then “Amelia Johnson” remarried again in 1843 to John Adams in Topsfield.    John and Amelia Adams were listed in the Wayland, Massachusetts 1860 Federal Census Mortality Schedule as “paupers”.   Such a sad life for my 4th great grandmother, Amelia!

I descend from Capt. Thomas Russell Lewis (1825 – 1853), my 3rd great grandfather.  He married young to Hannah Phillips, my 3rd great grandmother, in 1841, and had three children.  She died in 1851, and he remarried quickly to Lydia Pickering in 1852, probably so his very young children had a stepmother to care for them.  However, two years later, in 1853, Capt. Thomas Russell Lewis died in Surinam, in the West Indies.   The newspaper Salem Register on 6 October 1853, page 2 reads “Mortuary Notice: At Surinam, August 22, of erysipelas, Capt. Thomas R. Lewis of this city, master of the brig Gazelle.”  (Erysipelas is a strep infection of the skin).

Upon Capt. Lewis’s death, the probate record states that Lydia, the step mother, went to court and stated that “She has three small children, & has no means of support for herself & them, that the whole of the estate of said Thomas amounts only to the sum of $120 or appraisal…”  Another generation, another sad story!

My 2nd great grandmother, Hannah Eliza Lewis (about 1844 – 1921), was only seven years old when her mother died, and only nine years old when her father died at sea.  Her stepmother remarried to John Bradbury Hardy of Lynn, Massachusetts.  I don’t know where little Hannah was raised, with her stepmother or some other relatives?  I couldn’t find any guardianship court records.

In 1864 Hannah married my 2nd great grandfather, Abijah Franklin Hitchings.  He was known as “Frank” or “Dada” Hitchings by my grandmother.  Frank was a veteran of the Civil War, and had been injured at the Battle of Fredricksburg.  His leg injury bothered him for the rest of his life, as his pension papers show many, many medical reports from the “Old Soldiers Hospital” in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  Frank had been a sail maker before the war, but after the war he became the Deputy Collector of Customs at the Salem Custom House.  He held this job until his death in 1910.  

Hannah outlived Frank by another eleven years, but she was not well.  She received a Civil War widow’s pension, but in those documents I found many, many letters from her son, Arthur, my great grandfather, who described that she was suffering from dementia and had been committed to the Asylum at Danvers. His letters begged for a raise in her widow’s benefits to cover her care.  Hannah died in the Asylum at Danvers in 1921, and she is buried in the Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem in the large plot owned by her father, Capt. Lewis, where many Lewis, Hitchings and other relatives are buried. A third generation, and a third sad story!

Some LEWIS resources:

Salem Vital Records,  Essex County Probate Records, Salem Gazette newspapers via GenealogyBank online database, Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem archives, US Federal Census records, and Civil War pensions documents.  This LEWIS family does not appear to in any compiled genealogy or journal articles. 

My LEWIS genealogy:

Generation 1:  Thomas Lewis, born about 1770, died 31 August 1824 in Salem, Massachusetts; married  to Amelia Unknown.  She was born about 1790 probably in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and died 22 April 1860 in Wayland, Massachusetts.  Two twin sons.

Generation 2:  Captain Thomas Russell Lewis, baptized 26 June 1825 in Salem, died 22 August 1853 in Surinam, West Indies; married on 4 March 1841 in Salem to Hannah Phillips, daughter of James Phillips and Sarah Cree.  She was born about 1821 in Topsfield, Massachusetts and died 17 October 1851 in Salem. Three children.

Generation 3:  Hannah Eliza Lewis, born about 1844 in Salem, died 15 February 1921 in at the Danvers State Hospital, Danvers, Massachusetts; married on 22 September 1864 in Salem to Abijah Franklin Hitchings.  He was the son of Abijah Hitchings and Eliza Ann Treadwell, born 28 October 1841 in Salem, died 19 May 1910 in Salem.  Two children.

Generation 4:  Arthur Treadwell Hitchings m. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 5:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)

NOTE:  I have written another Surname Saturday blog post on another LEWIS family, showing my descent from another Thomas Lewis, who lived in Maine in the 17th century:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ LEWIS of Salem, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 10, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

No comments:

Post a Comment