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The Question of Ancestry

Where Did Gideon Lewis Come From?

In 1978, when I started actively researching the Lewis Family I was pleased to find that other family historians had already tentatively linked to Gideon Lewis family to William Lewis of Chester County, PA, and from there on back to the royal Welsh linage, and on back to antiquity. Just about every Lewis researcher I found had pretty much bought into this theory. Primarily, it was based on a will left by William Lewis where he mentions a young son Gideon as one of his children form his second marriage. In 1983, Jeffrey Weaver of Arlington, VA, while going through Quaker records at Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, uncovered the death notice of this 8 year old Gideon who died just 8 days after his father, William Lewis, and was buried with him. This was a crushing blow to many of the older researchers who had spent so much time with researching this William Lewis connection. But the fact still remained that this, obviously, was not our Gideon Lewis. So we found ourselves back to square one, where did our Gideon Lewis originate?

At least three theories have surfaced since that time. All are interesting, but none of them conclusive. The three theories are:

1. Abraham Lewis of New Kent County, VA

2. Nathaniel Lewis of Wales

3. Gideon Lewis of Charles Town, SC

We will look at each of these theories briefly. Maybe one of them will suit your fancy. There are probably many more theories if we were to examine the records more closely. The fact is we just don't know yet. That is one of the missions of this web site. All of us working together, sharing ideas and data, may just come up with a workable solution.

Abraham Lewis of New Kent County, VA

According to historians, there are suppose to be 5 distinct branches of Lewis families in Colonial Virginia, "between whom there is no traceable relation". They are:

    1. General Robert Lewis of Wales - Gloucester County 1635

    2. John Lewis of Wales - Henrico County 1660

    3. John Lewis of Wales - Hanover County 1675

    4. Zachary Lewis of Wales - Middlesex County 1692

    5. John Lewis of Donegal, Ireland - Augusta County 1732

The third Lewis in this list is our present focus. This John Lewis was born in Brecon, Wales abt 1640. Some historians say he was the brother to Gen. Robert Lewis, who is the ancestor of the "Warner Hall Lewis's". They believe that four Lewis brothers left Wales. Samuel went to Portugal then disappears; William went to Ireland and married a McCelland and died there; Gen. Robert came to Gloucester County, Virginia; and John came to Hanover County, VA. Other historians do not think Gen. Robert and John were related at all. Take your pick. My guess is that Gen. Robert Lewis and John Lewis have a common ancestor back in Brecon, Wales.

William Terrell Lewis, and descendant from John Lewis of Hanover County states in his book, "Genealogies of the Lewis Family", that John Lewis of Hanover County was one of the original brothers who came to America, and was born in 1640 and died in Hanover County in 1726. He was supposed to have lived with the Mostyn family in Denbyshire before coming to America. If this is true that General Robert Lewis of Gloucester County and John Lewis of Hanover County were brothers, then their father was John Lewis, Sr. and wife, Lydia, who was born in Wales abt 1594 and died in Virginia abt. 1657.

The wife of John Lewis of Hanover County remains unknown. McAllister's "Lewis an Kindred Families" and Gibben's "The Butcher Book" both say that John Lewis only had two children, Abraham in 1679 and David in 1685. Both works follow David's line. However, his will filed in Hanover County in 1726 mentions the names of six children: Mrs. Rebecca Linsay born in 1677; Abraham Lewis born in 1679; Sarah Lewis born in 1681; Mrs. Angelica Fullelove born in 1683; and David Lewis born in 1685. This David Lewis married Elizabeth Anne Terrell, b. 1692 in New Kent County, and their family line can be found in "Genealogies of the Lewis Family" written by William Terrell Lewis. We know that David's children were "pioneers" in Augusta, Rockingham, and Abemarle Counties in the early 1700's.

Not much is known of our Abraham Lewis. He was baptized in St. Peter's Parish on 27 Nov. 1688. I think some of the confusion is there were four generations of Abraham Lewis's. For the purpose of keeping them straight, we will refer to them as Abraham Lewis, Sr. son of John Lewis of Hanover County; Abraham Lewis Jr. born about 1702 in Hanover County; Abraham Lewis III probably born abt. 1730 and who is referred to in Gibben's "The Butcher Book" as "Abraham Lewis, Loudoun County pioneer"; and his son Abraham Lewis IV born in Loudoun County, VA.

This Abraham Lewis III who is not our primary focus, moved up to Loudoun County. His will is dated 12 February, 1812 in that county. It mentions his wife Rebecca, and his children: Isaac, Jacob, James, Joseph, Abraham (IV), Nancy, Mary, Martha, Susannah, and Rebecca. Abraham Lewis III had a sister named Susannah Lewis who married Samuel Butcher. He also had a daughter named Susannah Lewis who married Samuel and Susannah (Lewis) Butcher's son. The elder Susannah Lewis died 14 Sept. 1801 in Loudoun County. Gibben's "The Butcher Book" refers to this younger Susannah Lewis as the granddaughter of Abraham Lewis, (Sr.) the son of John Lewis of Hanover County.

The theory is that our Gideon Lewis, Sr. and his brother James Lewis, along with another brother, Joseph, are the sons of Abraham Lewis, Jr. , whom it seems moved to Lunenberg County, VA near the North Carolina state line sometime before his death. It may be that Abraham Lewis, Jr. had a brother Enoch Lewis who settled in Guilford County, NC. As far as I know, there has not been a will located for Abraham Lewis, Sr. of Hanover County, or for Abraham Lewis, Jr of Lunenberg County, so who's to say otherwise? If the above statement is true, then the children of Abraham Lewis, Jr. would be; James; Gideon; Joseph; Abraham III, and Susannah.

Nathaniel Lewis of Wales

This is an interesting theory. Nathaniel Lewis was born in Wales, or Ireland, and he married Elvira Helton while still in Europe. He had two sons; James Theopholus Lewis and our Gideon Lewis, Sr. James Theopholus Lewis was born 9 Aug. 1735 in either Wales or England, and died in Perry County, KY in 1825. I guess that Gideon was probably born in Wales or England also. At sometime this family was in the Ashe County area of North Carolina. There the two sons married and apparently Gideon Lewis decided to settle down. James Theopholus married Winnie Henson and moved on into Kentucky. He fathered 18 children: John, Thaddeus, Nathan, Absalom, Andrew, Winnie, Sally, Samuel, Isaac, Mary, Patsy, Margaret, Juder, Joseph, Betsy, Elvira, Gideon, and James Theopholus Jr. At least three of these children are from a second wife whose name is not known. Some of these children were born in North Carolina while the remainder were born in Kentucky.

The problem with this theory is that, other than the descendants of James Theopholus Lewis, the rest is mostly speculation, having almost no supporting documentation. The problems are:

    1. There is no documentation that Nathaniel Lewis ever existed, let alone, was ever in Ashe County, NC. Nathaniel is merely a placeholder for a person who should have existed.

    2. What colony did they come into from Wales? South Carolina? Virginia? Maryland?

    3. What record is there that would suggest James Theopholus as a brother to Gideon Lewis.

On the other hand there are some good point to this theory.

    1. The similarity of the names of their children. Both James T. and Gideon had a Nathan, Isaac, Andrew, and a Gideon. You don't see hardly any Abraham's.

    2. Some of the spouse's surnames are consistent with surnames found in NW North Carolina.

    3. We believe that Gideon did have a brother named James. (Researcher Ruby Colemon has been shaking this branch for years. I wonder what she has to say about James Lewis?)

Without supporting records this theory is just a wishful story.

Gideon Lewis of Charles Town, South Carolina

There was a Gideon Lewis in Charleston records as early as 1703. He may have had a son Isaac and a daughter Sarah who married Andrew Allen. This can be found in several references in"Records of The Province of South Carolina 1692-1721" Compiled and Edited by Caroline T. Moore, G. R. S. 1978 R. L. Bryan Co., Columbia, SC. Credit goes to Dr. Hugh Puckett for this discovery. Several years ago, Jeffrey Weaver also found numerous references to Lewis's of similar names as the Ashe County Lewis's in Charleston, SC , as well as, several counties on the Eastern coast of North Carolina. If I remember correctly, there was even a Welshman identified in Charleston. It was determined that many of the Lewis's found in eastern North Carolina could be traced into the Colony of Virginia. It is possible that Lewis's from Charleston or from the eastern counties of NC migrated across the state to Rowen and Wilkes Counties and later turn up into Ashe County. This theory requires much more study.

As yo can see at this point, there is not a theory on the ancestry of our Gideon Lewis, Sr. that is conclusive enough to "hang your hat on". Either, one of these theories is correct, or they are all wrong and where he came from is still a mystery. One thing is for certain. Gideon Lewis, Sr. pick the most beautiful spot on earth to live and raise a family.

© 2001, David Reedy, Schurz, Nevada

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