Lewis, Thomas

b. July 9, 1808, in Somerset County, New Jersey. In July 1836, Lewis took a trip west to select a future home. After passing through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, he selected Springfield, Illinois. On August 1, 1837, Lewis arrived in Springfield with his family. Lewis was originally a shoemaker but accumulated some money in banking and also studied law. He was admitted to the bar and practiced for a time, though he secured little business. Lewis became editor and publisher of the Illinois Atlas (Springfield, Illinois) until its incorporation with the Political Crisis in 1871. In 1850, Lewis was instrumental in moving Hillsboro College from Hillsboro, Illinois, to Springfield, where its name was changed to Illinois State University. The school remained in Springfield until it failed in 1868. Lewis was a member of the first Board of Trustees for that university. At this time, he was a dry goods merchant in partnership with Willis Johnson and Lucien Adams and owned real estate worth $22,000. Lewis, Johnson, and Adams also owned a foundry and a mill. From 1854 to 1856, Lewis served as the first ward alderman of Springfield. In May and June of 1854, he also laid out the village of Dawson, Illinois. Lewis lived in Springfield until 1875, when he moved to Cairo, Illinois.
Harry Evjen, “Illinois State University, 1852-1868,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society V. 31 (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1938), 54, 71; History of Sangamon County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-state Publishing Company, 1881), 108; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 29 August 1849, 1:4; John Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield: E. A. Wilson and Company, 1876), 455; Sangamon County, Illinois, Seventh Census of the United States, 1850.