From: Portrait and Biographical Album
Pages 740 & 741
Chicago, Chatman Brothers 1889
(Contributed by Mary Paulius)
Allen Lewis. It is fifty-one years since Mr. Lewis, the oldest living
resident of his township, first set foot upon the soil of Vermilion County. He had
emigrated hither from his native state of New York, coming on foot the entire distance,
with the exception of fourteen miles, being about one month on the way. His purpose
was to secure a tract of new land in the wild West, and which he hoped in time would prove
to him a valuable acquisition, although the prospect then was anything but flattering.
He entered ninety-seven acres on section 22. After six months stay, he went
back to New York State, where he remained three years and was married to Miss Jeanette
Upon returning to this county for permanent settlement, our subject and his young wife made a grip from Chicago to Rossville in a "Prairie schooner." They sojourned near Rossville four or five years, then rented an hotel, which furnished one of the early stopping places for travelers coming from Milford, and was the first house of its kind in this region. Mr. Lewis officiated as "mine host" three or four years. He had entered considerable land in the meantime, but finally concluding it was little value, sold it at $4 to $5 per acre. There were few people coming in at first, and wild animals, especially deer, were plentiful. Of these he believes that he has seen as many as 300 in one day, so whatever else the settlers lacked in the way of provisions there was plenty of wild meats, and in the summer season there were quantities of gooseberries, mulberries, blackberries, etc.
Mr. Lewis during his residence in this county has improved a greater many acres of land. His present farm cost him only $1 per acre, and he settled upon it in 1853. Prior to the establishment of a post office at Rossville he was made Postmaster of a place called Rio, and this frequently was the result of an income for the Postmaster of only $1.25 per quarter or about $5 to $6 a year. He assisted in the establishment of the first school, and has a large portion of the time officiated as School Treasurer.
To our subject and his estimable wife there were born four children, only two of who are living. They son Sylvester, married Miss Hattie Clanahan; and they have four children, and live three-fourths of a mile north of the old farm. Isabelle, the daughter, is the wife of Albert Boardman, and they are living in Rossville, for the purpose of educating their two children. Mrs. Jeanette (Green) Lewis was born in Ontario County, N.Y., and is the daughter of Benjamin Green, who was one of the early settlers of that region, and whose farm adjoined that of the Lewis family. Mr. Green died some years ago; he was the father of Ira Green, who is represented elsewhere in this Album.
The parents of our subject were Sylvester and Catherine (Dubois) Lewis, and the father was born in New York State, near the Hudson River. He came to the West while it was a wilderness, living in the woods four years before seeing a wagon. He opened up a good farm upon which he spent the remainder of his days. He belonged to the Presbyterian Church, while his wife was a Baptist in religion. They were parents of nine children. Allen our subject, in religious matters, inclines to the Presbyterian Church, of which he is a member at Rossville. He is one of the oldest living residents of his township, and has made for himself a good record as a man and a citizen.