The Lewis Family


by Barbara Lewis

Including notes taken from the MEMOIRS of James Benton Lewis

They came to America in the year 1746 and settled in the Mohawk River Valley near Cooperstown, New York and the Large Lake Section of Central New York State. The oldest brother, John Christopher Hartwick, born in Saxe-Gotha, Germany on January 6, 1714, was a graduate of the University of Halle and became a fully ordained Lutheran Minister. In young manhood he sailed for the new world. In 1746 became pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck, New York.

He was appointed by the US Government to be a missionary to the indian tribes of Central New York State...the Mohawks, Senecas, and others. He proved to be a capable administrator widely known, respected, and loved by the indians so much so that the US Government gave him a grant of 20,000 acres of land for his services.

On a corner of this he built the first German Lutheran Church in America and later established a Seminary and School which has existed to the present day. The Seminary, now named Hartwick College, is now located at Oneonta, New York. It is a first class school with a sizable enrollment of students and is well financed. After a long useful career he passed away at the home of Robert Livingston, the negotiator of the Louisiana Purchase and was buried at the old Lutheran Church Cemetery at Albany, New York.

It is believed that one of the remaining brothers committed suicide. The third brother was John Burt Harwick, born in Germany about 1756, but the age difference between JC Hartwick and John Burt Hartwick is too great for this to be a sibling relationship. Much research has been done to unravel this mystery, but we know there is a relationship somewhere. There is no proof that JC Hartwick had any children.

John Burt Hartwick came to America in 1764 and made his home in Plattsburg, Clinton County, New York. He was with the American forces in the Revolutionary war until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. A Revolutionary War index card of John Burk Hartwick was found, showing that he served only 11 days in the Vermont Militia, Warren's 15th Militia. This was in 1778. A Vermont listing of Revolutionary War men shows John Burk was from Pawlet, Vermont. It was here that he inlisted in 1788. John Burt evidently married and was found in the 1790 census of Plattsburg, New York. He became the father of Peter Hartwick, who was the father of Nelson Hartwick, who was the great grandfather of Clarence Lewis.

Peter Hartwick was probably born in Clinton County or in the Ottawa River Valley after John migrated there in the late 1790s. We have no other information on Peter.

Nelson Hartwick was born in the Ottaway River Valley October 5, 1812. Efforts to find the exact place of his birth have proved fruitless. His boyhood and early manhood days were among the indians. He understood the sign language and could talk with most of the tribes. He grew to be a powerful and resourceful man to whom fear and hardships were unknown--a pillar of strength to stand in time of need or peril. He was a natural born pioneer, woodsman, and big game hunter, a life long friend of the indians whose ways he knew so well. About 1833 he married his wife, an Irish emigrant girl named Jane Watkins, born May 14, 1810 near Belfast, Ireland. She came to America in an old sailing vessel named the Camperdown.

Their first child, a son named David was born June 14, 1834. Jane was then 24 years old. In due time they went to the Ottawa River Valley in Ontario Province, Canada. From there they returned to the US and settled at Mason, Ingham County, Michigan, then a wilderness village. There they had a large family of 8 children, 6 sons and 2 daughters.

Nelson proceeded to clear up a small farm and keep the family well supplied with meat. Deer, wild turkeys, and other wild game was plentiful. He was the settlement's hunter and the most of his mature life was spent in that enviornment. There is a report that the Ingham Court House in Mason now stands on a piece of his old farm.

His son James W. left home and went West and never came back and was little heard of. (See below) The West was then a wild wooley mining, crinking, and gambling area, and he was reported to have been a part of this. In 1849 he caught the California gold fever and left with the rush for the Isthmus of Panama, which he crossed on foot, nearly dying from Spanish Malaria and agnu. He then went to San Francisco and from there to the Sacramento River Gold Fields. He became a successful gold miner. California at that time had no laws except a man's word. His common leather boots cost $500 and flour $50 a sack and everything else accordingly.


David Hartwick married Martha Ann Webb in1861 and they settled in Ingham and Saginaw Counties. They had one daughter, Eunice, born in 1864. David ended his own life in 1880.

Frances Hartwick married Anson Lewis Simons and they had two daughters, Emma and Jenny. In 1880 the couple is found in Ingham County, Michigan. In 1896 the following article is found in the Grayling Avalance:
Comrade Lewis Simons, a brother in law to MS Hartwick who has hewn himself a comfortable home and good farm near Wolverine, caught the moving craze last fall, and went to Florida to join the soldiers colony so largely advertised. To make a long story short, he is back on his northern farm, and giving daily thanks that he was unable to sell it last year, even though offered at a great sacrifice, and says there is no place on earth like "Michigan my Michigan."
In 1900 the couple is found living in Charlevoix, Michigan. This author has no further information on this family.

James W. Hartwick is found living in Elizabethtown, Colfax County, New Mexico, in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. He had a wife, Francescito, and a son Michael, born in 1874. They had a daughter, Frances, born in 1885, and in 1888 she is found living with her daughter Frances and another man. We don't know if James W. died or if they were divorced.

Jane Ann Hartwick married #1 Ralph Deacon of London, Ontario, in 1858. They had one son, William (Will) Ralph Deacon. Ralph died around 1874. Jane married #2 James Wesley Lewis in 1874. They were the parents of James Benton Lewis, the father of our subject, Clarence Lewis.

Michael Shoat Hartwick married Jane Augusta O'Bear in 1865. They produced three children: James Watkins, Edward Edgar, and Nellie Augusta. This family spent most of their years in Grayling, Michigan. From the Grayling Avalance are found the following articles about Michael:

-MS Hartwick, of the Exchange Hotel, has gone to Saginaw county this week with a view to purchasing a a farm recently owned by a deceased brother (28 Jul 1881)
-MS Hartwick has sold his property on the south side of Michigan Avenue to Perry Phelps of Otsego Lake. We trust that Mr. Hartwick will remain in Grayling as he is the oldest settler here, and has been one of the most active of our citizens in all that has tended to benefit the place. (21 Apr 1887)
-It is reported that MS Hartwick has sold the Grayling House to a Mr. Phelps, formerly of Otsego Lake. consideration $8,000. (1 Mar 1888)
-MS Hartick is down from his new home, enjoying a visit with his daughter Nellie, and his many friends. (4 Dc 1890)
-MS Hartwick expects his son, Eddie, from West Point, about the 15th of next month. He will receive a warm welcome from his many friends here (28 May 1891)
-MS Hartwick was the first settler in Grayling, and from then till now has always been classed with our most enterprising citizens, always ready to help any project that promised advantage to Grayling or to Crawford County. He has sold nearly all of his property here and for the first time since he came, is entirely out of business, and looking for an opening. His eyes turn North and West, but, with his many friends, we hope he will see some business here suited to his wishes, and decide to remain here for many years (14 May 1891)
-MS Hartwick was called, to Saginaw County, the last of the week, by the death of his father Nelson Hartwick, Friday Dec 8, aged 87 years. The deceased will be well remembered by our older citizens as a resident here, as a confirmed invalid for several years past, whose death has been many times predicted, but his wonderful consitution put off the time several years longer than seemed possible. (4 Dec 1899)

William D. Hartwick married Mary T. Harbeck about 1866 and they had six children: Gertrude, Safrona, Maude, Grace, William, and Scott. The family settled most of their years in Chapin Township, Saginaw County, Michigan. William served in the Civil War and ended his own life in 1905.

Nelson J. Hartwick married #1 Emily E. Near in 1864 and #2 Addie Rumsbow in 1871. Nelson and Addie had two children, Viola and Bert. In 1880 he is found in Chapin, Saginaw County, Michigan, and in 1900 he is found in Isabella County. This author has no further information on this family.

Charles Hartwick, the youngest son, died young.


Does this family really connect back to John Christopher Hartwick, who came from Germany? There is really no proof that JC Hartwick was a brother of John Burt Hartwick, other than family say-so. There is a big age gap between JC Hartwick and John Burt, who is the ancestor of the subject of the website.
Does this family connect with Peter Hartwick, son of John Hartwick and Eunice Waters, who came into Michigan and settled in St. Clair County, Michigan? Peter was also born in Canada, but perhaps of British origin??

NOTE: This author would welcome any additions or corrections to the above material from descendants of the Hartwick Family.

Barbara Lewis

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Feb 2002 created by Barbara Lewis