September 1981 collage

Joseph C. Lewis and William Huey - Gold Rush

From Alma Ice Slinkard,

 

In the Spring of 1852, Joseph C. Lewis left for the gold fields of California.  Traveling in a tarpaulin covered wagon behind a team of mules, he reached California approximately four months later.  After one and a half years of digging gold, he decided enough was enough, so he sold his mules for more than he paid for them and headed home arrive December 5, 1854.  The return trip by water – by way of Aspinwall, Panama, and New Orleans.

 

One interesting story connected with the overland journey concerned a remarkable hot spring in the Colorado Rockies.  It was a place where steam, escaping from underground depths, made a sound like a steamboat whistling, hence Steamboat Springs, its present day name.  There on a huge rock beside the trail, Joseph Lewis and his buddy, William Huey, scratched their names.  Years later William Huey's grandson visited Steamboat Springs and found the stone with the names still on it.

 

December 1981 Collage

 

JOSEPH LEWIS:  MISSOURI PIONEER

By Catharine Lewis Bock

 

We know he arrived in New Madrid District in late 1796 or early 1797 because the 1797 census shows him as having produced 200 'minotes' of corn that year.  He did it with the help of 1 wife, 1 horse, and 2 cows.  Evidently he signed his own name on the census roll - or showed the Spanish scribe how to spell it -- for it is down as Joseph Lewis, not Josef Luis (most of the names listed have the Spanish spelling.)

 

Lewis Lore always had it that Joseph was born in Virginia.  The 1850 census of Scott County now confirms the truth of the legend:  he was indeed born in Virginia around 1766.  In Missouri his Spanish Grant was on Lake St. Isidore three miles northwest of the town of New Madrid (Hauck says).  There he lived with his wife, Margaret, until the area was devastated by the great earthquake of 1811-12.

 

After the third major shock which occurred February 7, 1812, Joseph Lewis decided to send his wife and children away from that God-forsaken place.  He remained behind because he had a job to finish.  At the time he was sheriff-collector of the whole New Madrid District, the second man to fill the office.

 

There is a family tradition that Margaret Lewis and the four Lewis children were brought to Cape Girardeau in a covered wagon by a trusted negro servant.  His own wife and children came along.  This slave -- we will call him Tom -- had been taught to read and write by Joseph Lewis.  Just before the wagon pulled out, so the story goes, Sheriff Lewis took tom aside and placed in his hands a bag of Spanish eagles (gold coins).  "Guard this well," he told Tom, "and when you get to Lorimier's Landing take it to Mr. Lorimier and leave it in his care until I can come for it."

 

No doubt Lorimier had previously been informed of Lewis' plans; anyway Mrs. Lewis and children were taken in and lodged at the dwelling of Barthelemi Cousin not far from Lorimier's house (Cousin was Lorimier's secretary and right-hand man).  The black man and his family camped nearby in a tent beside a big spring.  All were there for several months according to the word-of-mouth.

 

Louis Lorimier died in June 1812, so it was probably Cousin to whom Joseph Lewis went to retrieve his gold.  The exact date he arrived in Cape Girardeau County is not known, but it is known that in 1813 he bought two adjoining farms on Randol Creek.

 

Though he served as county coroner and once ran for the State Legislature Joseph Lewis was essentially a farmer, as were his three sons.  Joseph Cooper Lewis, the oldest son and John C. Lewis, the youngest, married sisters, Betsy and Delanie Hitt.  The middle boy, Thomas Henry Lewis, married Frances Bohannon, but he has fewer descendants because he died at age 29, succumbing to cholera in the 1832-33 epidemic.

 

There were also three Lewis daughters. Not much is known about the older two -- only that they were born at New Madrid, and after they married lived down there.  Zelema Lewis, the youngest daughter, and youngest child, was born in Cape County in 1817.  She married John Morrison in 1840; by 1850 she was in Scott County, a widow with four children.  Her father was living with her, Margaret having died a few months prior.  Also in Scott County by 1850 was the John C. Lewis family.

 

Joseph Lewis died in Scott County in his 87th year, approximately.  (We are assuming that he died before Zelema remarried -- in August of 1854). So far as known his grave has not been located, but at least descendants can understand why it was never found in Cape County.

 

Incidentally, Joseph G. Lewis and Eli C. Lewis, officers in Company A, 8th Missouri Cavalry, Confederate Army (see Collage #2, p. 16) were sons of Joseph Cooper and Betsy Hitt Lewis.  The Lewis who scratched his name on a rock in the Rockies in 1852 (see Collage #3, p. 36) was Joseph Cooper Lewis (II), a nephew of the above Joseph Cooper.  This younger Joseph Cooper -- J. C. (II), that is -- was the son of Thomas Henry and Frances Bohannon Lewis, and the grand uncle of the writer of this article.

 

Joseph Lewis died in Scott County in his 87th year, approximately. (We are assuming that he died before Zelema remarried- in August of 1854). So far as Known his grave has not been located, but at least descendants can understand why it was never found in Cape County.

 

Incidentally, Joseph G. Lewis and Eli C. Lewis, officers in Company A, 8th Missouri Cavalry, Confederate Army (see Collage #2, p.16) were sons of' Joseph Cooper and Betsy Hitt Lewis. The Lewis who scratched his name on a rock in the Rockies in 1852 (see Collage #3, p.36) was Joseph Cooper Lewis (II) a nephew of the above Joseph Cooper. This younger Joseph Cooper - J.C. (II), that is - was the son of Thomas Henry and Frances Bohannon Lewis, and the grand uncle of the writer of this article.

 


WHO WE ARE

The Cape Girardeau County Genealogical Society was organized in May 1970, a non-profit organization, its primary purpose is education in the field of genealogy. Membership is open to individuals upon payment of the annual dues of $10, or a couple for $15, per year, beginning in May. Life membership is available for a one-time payment of $250.

CGCGS publishes a quarterly "The Collage of Cape County" in March, June, September, and December, sent free to members. All members are encouraged to submit articles for publication.

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Cape Girardeau County Genealogical Society
PO Box 571, Jackson, MO 63755
capegenealogy@gmail.com
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The CGCGS Library is located in the Research Room at the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center, 112 East Washington, Jackson, MO and is open during regular Archive Center hours.

Our meetings are held at the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center, 112 East Washington in Jackson MO, by-monthly in January, March, May, July, September, and November on the fourth Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., unless announced otherwise. All are welcome!


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