California Genealogy and History Archives
|LEWIS WEEKS. Not unlike many others who have succeeded to a position of influence and popularity in Sonoma county Lewis Weeks proved his worth at the beginning of his career by enlisting for service in the Civil war as soon as age would permit. When the smouldering animosity between the north and south came to a crisis in the declaration of hostilities it found him uneventfully passing his days on a farm in Lincoln county, Me., where he was born in 1845. When the call came for men to come to the front to aid in putting down hostilities he would have responded gladly had his age permitted, but as he was then only sixteen years old he did not attempt to join the ranks. However, he followed the events of the war on land and water with an interested eye, and on attaining his eighteenth year he needed no urging to enlist his services. Enlisting in the navy in 1863, he was detailed for duty on the steamer Lodona, of the south Atlantic blockading squadron, and was stationed for service on the coast of Georgia. A creditable service of two years was brought to a close by the declaration of peace, after which he returned to his native state and remained until after reaching his majority.
The year 1867 found Mr. Weeks setting out for California by the Panama route, and his journey’s end found him in San Francisco a stranger among strangers, with only $5 in his pocket. His first winter in the west was passed in the mines of Calaveras county, where he had great expectations of gaining sudden wealth, but like many another, he was doomed to disappointment, and he returned from the mines a sadder and wiser man. Going back to San Francisco he applied himself to learning the carpenter’s trade, a wise undertaking, in that it provided him with remunerative employment in that city for a number of years, or until 1881. In the meantime he had become interested in agricultural affairs and wished to try his luck in this line of endeavor. Coming to Sonoma county, he bought a ranch in Bennett’s valley, near Santa Rosa, comprising one hundred and sixty acres, seventy of which he set out to grapes. Here too his success was indifferent, and after remaining on the ranch for five years he returned to San Francisco and entered the employ of the Pacific Pine Lumber Company, a position which he held until returning to Sonoma county in 1893.
Although Mr. Weeks’ first experience as a rancher had not met his expectations entirely he was not discouraged and his second venture proved to him that he had not been over sanguine in his hopes. Near Sebastopol he purchased thirty acres of rough, virgin land, which he cleared of timber, and after putting it in condition for crops, planted an orchard of prunes and apples, and a vineyard of seven acres. In the selection of his grapes he chose a variety that would not be affected by an over abundance of rain, a variety known as the Petitsyrah grape, which has no parallel as a wine grape. From his comparatively small vineyard of seven acres he gathered twelve tons during the season of 1909, for which he received the highest market price. His prune crop for the same season amounted to twenty-five tons of green fruit, while his apple crop amounted to two tons of fine apples boxed, and five tons of dried fruit. A variety of other fruits as well as berries are raised for home use, in addition to which a hennery of two hundred and seventy-five chickens in maintained. It is Mr. Weeks’ intention to increase his flock and carry on the chicken business on a larger scale, as the small business that he now has, has demonstrated its financial advantages.
A marriage ceremony in 1880 united the destinies of Lewis Weeks and Ida M. Ramsdell, who is also a native of Maine, born in Augusta in 1853. One child has been born of this marriage, Robert L., who is his father’s valued assistant in maintaining the varied interests of the home ranch. Fraternally Mr. Weeks is a Mason, and he is also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, belonging to Ellsworth Post, of Santa Rosa.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011