George Emmett Lewis (1868 - 1964)

George Emmett Lewis
(1868 - 1964)

George Emmett Lewis was born 10 February 1868 in St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan, the eldest child of John W. Lewis, Sr. and Elenor L. “Nellie” Vreeland.  His siblings were: John W. Lewis, Jr. (1870 - 1908) ; Esther Mary "Ette" Lewis (Mrs. Franklin Cady/Mrs. Loren Chauncey Hovey) (1874 - 1930); Ethel Lewis (b. c. 1875); Hartman Lewis (1876 - 1938); Ida May Lewis (Mrs. Herbert L. Cummings) (1879 - 1970) and Willie Lewis (b. c. 1879).  Ethel and Willie appear to have died young.  In 1870, the family was living in York Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, which is where the present city of Ann Arbor is located.  By 1891, however, they were living in Muskegon County, Michigan.

On 31 December 1891, George married Mary J. Wilkinson in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan.  George was a carpenter, as well as Mary’s father, John Wilkinson.  Perhaps this is how they met.  George and Mary had thirteen children, eleven of whom survived infancy.  It is possible that during the years from 1892 – 1895, and also in 1901, the family lived in a different county, because there are no records of the children born during those years in the birth records of Muskegon County.  Their children were: George R.; Harrison; Alvin L.; Horace Russel; David Alexander; Donald; my great-grandmother Marie; Percy; Leslie W.; Bessie; Bertha Katherine; and James Preston Lewis.  As of 2004, one child of George and Mary is still living.  See the bottom of this page for more specific information about these children.

In 1897, the family was living in Blue Lake Township, Muskegon County.  In 1899, and from 1902 – 1913, they were living in Whitehall Township, Muskegon County.  The 1900 Polk Directory for Muskegon County shows their residence at a house on the corner of Colby and Franklin Streets in Whitehall Village.  When the 1920 Federal Census was taken, George and Mary, along with their children Horace, Donald, Marie (with her husband William Bryan Robbins), Percy, Bonnie, Leslie, Bertha and James, were living at 1132 Hoyt Street in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County.

Mary died in 1940.  George continued to work as a carpenter even into his old age.  He built over 30 houses in his lifetime.  When he was in his 90’s, he fell off a roof he was shingling.  After his hospital stay, he went back and finished the job!  My grandfather, Robert Lewis Robbins, said that George “was all a grandfather could or should be to me…and he used to encourage me when I was in business.”  George made a number of wonderful wooden toys and children’s furniture as well.  When I was a girl living in Alaska, we visited Michigan.  While there, my grandfather showed me some toys George had made that were stored in his basement.  One was a rocking chair that looked like a swan.

George lived long enough to attend the wedding of one of his great-granddaughters, during which a photo was taken of four generations.  George’s last residence was 1856 North Cedar in Muskegon, Muskegon County.  He died on 16 May 1964 (age 96), and was buried three days later in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Township next to his wife Mary.  His obituary stated he was survived by six sons, three daughters, 46 grandchildren and 71 great-grandchildren.  Longevity ran in both his and his wife’s families.

Deceased Children:

George R. Lewis was born 6 September 1892.  He never married.  As a young man, he moved from the family home in Whitehall to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, where he worked at Colleton's Pharmacy.  A motorcycle enthusiast, George and a friend, Thomas Martin, planned to ride from Grand Rapids to New York City, then head south along the Atlantic seaboard.  On 6 May 1913, two days after George bought a  motorcycle for the trip, he met with an accident while testing it out.  He later died from his injuries, on 8 May 1913 at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids.  His body was shipped to Whitehall and was buried Oakhurst Cemetery on 10 May 1913.  (obituary)

Harrison Lewis was born 3 February 1894.  He was married with at least one child, and was a pharmacist in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  He died February 1984 (age 90) and was buried in Grand Rapids.

Alvin L. Lewis was born 31 May 1895 and died 22 October 1895.  No record of him exists in Muskegon County Vital Records; and although the family records state he was buried in Whitehall Township, I have not found his gravesite listed in any cemetery records for Muskegon County.

Horace Russel Lewis was born 13 June 1897 in Blue Lake Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.  He served in World War I.  In 1920, he was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County and working as a laborer in a foundry.  He was married with at least one child and lived in Pennsylvania and Wadestown, West Virginia.  His last known residence was Fairview, Marion County, West Virginia.  He died 28 July 1992 (age 95).

David Alexander Lewis was born 4 April 1899 in Whitehall Township. He was married with two children.  He left home at an early age and went to the Dakotas and Wyoming to break horses. The only white man he saw for a year was the ranch owner he worked for there in Indian Country. He later broke horses for Pershing’s expedition into Mexico.  A Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa, had raided Columbus, New Mexico on 8 March 1916, burning it and killing 16 American citizens.  General John J. Pershing led an expedition of United States Army troops into Mexico to capture Villa.  The Mexican government very nearly came to war with the United States and had insisted that all American troops be removed from their county.  Villa escaped, but was wounded.  At an even later date, David went to France during World War I.  He lived his last days in the Veterans’ Home in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  He passed away in 1998 or 1999, at or near the age of 100.  I have not been able to find a definite death date for him in the Social Security Death Index, so perhaps he did not have a Social Security number.

Donald Lewis was born 17 April 1901 in Michigan (apparently not in Muskegon County).  In 1920, he too, along with his brother Horace was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, and working as a laborer in a foundry.  He was married twice; his second wife was Agnes H. Stroebe (1908 - 1981), whom he married on 15 December 1939 in Muskegon Heights.  They had three children.  His last known residence was in Muskegon. He died 27 April 1989 (age 88). 

Marie Lewis – see individual biography

Percy Lewis was born 26 August 1903 in Whitehall Township.  In 1920, he was living with his parents in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, working as a helper in a refrigerator factory.  In 1925, he married Clarice (1903 - 1975) and had eight children.  At various times he lived in Norton Township and Muskegon.  His last known residence was Spring Lake, Ottawa County, Michigan.  He died 10 June 1980.

Leslie W. Lewis was born 16 June 1907 in Whitehall Village.  He was living in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County in 1920. On 17 Octover 1929, he married Harriet Dobb (1903 - 1993) and had three children.  He died of leukemia on 10 January 1942 in Muskegon, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Muskegon. 

Bessie Lewis was a stillborn baby born 14 July 1909 in Whitehall Village, Whitehall Township, Muskegon County, Michigan.  She was buried in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Township.

Bertha Katherine Lewis was born 3 May 1911 in Whitehall Village.  In 1938, she married Louis F. Janda (1902 - 1991) and had one child.  She lived in North Muskegon.  She died 30 September 1990 in Muskegon.

James Preston “Jim” Lewis was born 6 February 1913 in Whitehall Village.  He met his wife while they were both cadets at the Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training in Chicago, Cooke County, Illinois.  They had three children.  Jim died 1 November 1991 in Muskegon.

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