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Elton Lewis had a number of careers including house painter and railroad freight clerk and manager. He was an avid outdoors man and an excellent shot with a rifle. He was well read and although mostly self educated a brilliant and well educated man. Read the oral history, below, for more detail.
Edgar Elton Lewis
Transcribed Oral History
As told to Pam Jones, the daughter of long time friends,
just before his 100th Birthday.
Edgar Elton Lewis was born May 25, 1886 near a community called Mansfield, Ohio. It was near a community now known as Irveville, Ohio. He had no birth certificate. His birth date was registered on the 1900 U.S. Census at Parsons, Kansas and his name was changed to Elton Edward Lewis.
His mother's name was Ida Rector Lewis. His father died when he was about 3 years old and he does not remember the man's name. He had 2 brothers, Chester and Erwin. After his father's death, his mother remarried and had 10 more children.
He began running away from home at about 5 years of age. He got angry because he couldn't go to school and went to the local railroad yard to get a job. The section hands asked him who he was and when he wouldn't tell them, they locked him in the section house all day. His family looked everywhere for him!
He left home at about the age of 12 (circa 1898) and never returned. He worked as a farm hand for the Stockton Fraiser family near Fredericksburg, Ohio. They gave him room and board and he was also able to attend school at Shannon (south of Fredericksburg, Ohio). He remained there for 4 years. He then went to Indiana (circa 1902) and worked for several months on the Jones Stock Farm, 12 miles south of Sullivan, Indiana.
He left Indiana and went to Kansas to follow the wheat harvest. He met up with an acquaintance from Ohio named Gilbert Pyle, and they worked together for some time. After the harvest, they decided to use their savings and go elsewhere. Lewis wanted to go to the Klondike, in Alaska and look for Gold and Pyle wanted to head for Texas. They tossed a 50-cent piece-heads for Texas, tails for Alaska. Heads it was.
In July of 1904, he and Pyle came to Ft. Worth, Texas. Shortly afterward, Gilbert Pyle was summoned to North Carolina to care for his invalid sister and was never heard from again. Mr. Lewis worked odd jobs on various farms for a while and then took a job at Seep Springs, Texas (west of DeLeon, Texas) hauling freight for Jesse Jay. When Jay gave up his business, he fired (laid off) Elton Lewis and sent him to DeLeon, Texas, where he recommended him to the Streety-Hamm Co. Mr. Lewis worked for a time in their hardware store and later (circa 1907) went to work for Mr. Streety as a farm manager. The farm was located just west of DeLeon, Texas.
In 1908, he quit the Streety farm and returned to Ft. Worth to attend Polytechnic College. He stayed for 2 terms and took a business course.
Later in 1908, after attending Polytechnic College, he went to work in the Ft. Worth, Denver office of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, a branch of the Southern Pacific. He later worked as a clerk in the railroad yard. The last railroad job he held was as a rate man and cashier for a three-railroad office in Ft. Worth. He quit in 1915 over a rate dispute. (clarification personally told to compiler: the manager was over charging customers and Elton Lewis sided with a customer when the customer complained)
Mr. Lewis suffered from Dengue Fever at some point in his life and when World War I broke out, this fact kept him from being drafted to serve in the Army.
After he quit the railroad, he worked odd jobs and eventually went to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a paint contractor for about 10 years. He invested in an oil lease on Pine Island but sold his stock just before oil was struck. His interest had been in the entire lease, not just one well. The lease did not yield a single dry hole!
He returned to Ft. Worth where he got reacquainted with Lillie Melugin, whom he had met in Polytechnic College years before. He and Lillie married in 1937. She quit teaching school in 1940, having taught in Ft. Worth public schools for 34 years and they moved to a farm on Vista Mountain near Evant, Texas. (clarification: Lillie Melugin retired in 1940) Mr. Lewis had purchased it in the mid-1930s from Parker Ramsey. They worked the farm and ran a herd of goats for several years before trading it for a citrus farm near McAllen, Texas. He lost his farm ("my shirt and my pants, too!") in the freeze of 1949-1950. He returned to paint contracting and in 1957 retired with Mrs. Lewis to Lampasas, Texas.
Source: From a
Mrs. Pam Jones
700 W. Fox
Caldwell, Texas 77836
Sent to William C. Lathan, Jr. on the occasion of notification of the death of Mr. Lewis his Great Uncle by marriage, who was just about his favorite family member when he was a youth.