1776 - 1840

Compiled From Family and Other Records

By His Great, Great Grandson, Leland R. Lewis

September 18, 1991


Most of the materials for this history have been handed down through the efforts of my Great Grandfather, James Stapleton Lewis and my Grandfather, Hyrum Smith Lewis. The 1936 newsletter article appearing herein is also based primarily upon these two resources, but supplemented by skillful editing and creative comment.

We're all indebted to those who wrote and preserved those records.

The Story of Joel Lewis, Sr.

Introductory Statement

The story of Joel Lewis, Senior has been touched upon now and then in giving the biographical sketches of his sons Joel, Jr. and James Stapleton Lewis. He has also been mentioned in connection with the story of Daniel Lewis, Jr., who was the brother of Sarah Lewis, the mother of Joel, Sr.

Inasmuch as the Lewis Family Newsletter has been carrying the stories of the two sons of Joel, Sr., who were branch founders, it appears appropriate in that connection to carry also the story of the father who was the trunk from whence the branches sprang. In addition to this circumstance, the telling of the story of Joel, Sr. will furnish the opportunity to relate more of the Stapleton Family history since Joel, Sr. and Daniel, Jr. married Stapleton girls.

Furthermore, the story of Joel, Sr. will lead up to the consideration of the life story of his mother, Sarah Lewis, who was contemporary with Daniel Lewis, Jr., her own brother. At this point the three branches of Lewis families whose histories are being traced in the newsletters unite in one line, that of Daniel, Sr. of Rowan County, North Carolina.

Beyond Daniel, Sr. is his father, James of Cumru, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The story of the Lewis ancestors who embrace the joint line will be taken up in the July number of the Lewis Family Newsletter, beginning with the first installment of the life of Daniel Lewis, Sr.

Born in a Memorable Year of American History

James Stapleton Lewis, son of Joel Lewis, Sr., in the record which he preserved of his father's family, states that Joel, Sr. was born in 1776. That [was a] memorable year in American History when, at the request of his fellow members of the committee appointed by the Continental Congress to draft a Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson penned those immortal words beginning with the sentences:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its policies in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

and closing with the affirmation:

That these United Colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.

Joel, Sr. was born on the first day of February of that year and on July 4th, Congress adopted the Declaration and the great bell handing in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, pealed forth the momentous tidings of the birth of a new nation founded upon the principle of the divine right of democracy instead of the divine right of kings.


The parents of Joel Lewis, Sr. were numbered among those who constituted that hardy and fearless group of pioneer progenitors who in time were to make populous the fertile Piedmont section of Virginia and the Carolinas. A race of noble sires and sons were the Piedmont settlers who faced the treacherous and bloody hostility of the lurking Indian, the constant menace of wild beasts and the ever-present discomfort of a primitive environment with fortitude, patience and resolution.

Joel's Father

In a letter to the editor (1898), James Stapleton Lewis states that Joseph, the father of Joel Lewis, Sr. was born in the year 1756, but The American Ancestry and Lewisiana give the year as 1752. In the same letter, James declares that Joseph Lewis was of a notable Lewis line. His statement reads: My great grandfather Lewis had five sons. From one of these sons came Meriwether Lewis, the great explorer across the Rocky Mountains. The reference here evidently is to the Warner Hall Lewis family of Virginia. Colonel Robert "of Belvior," the youngest son of record of Councilor John Lewis and Elizabeth Warner Lewis had five sons; these were John, Nicholas, Charles, William, and Robert. William was the father of Meriwether Lewis. Colonel Robert's son, Robert, had a son James (the eldest) who married a niece of Daniel Boone, Annie, the daughter of Hannah Boone Stuart.

Colonel Robert also had six daughters, three of whom married into Lewis families. Jane married (2) John Lewis of "the Byrd." Ann married John Lewis, "the honest lawyer," son of Zachary Lewis of Spottsylvania County, Virginia. Mildred married Major John Lewis of Goochland, son of Joseph Lewis, and great grandson of John Lewis of Henrico. Sarah married De. Waller Lewis of Spottsylvania, son of Zachary and Mary Waller.

In writing to his son, Wilford A. Lewis, under the date of January 20, 1900, James Stapleton Lewis says, This is certain that the great explorer of this continent was a full cousin of my grandfather, Joseph Lewis. The ancestry of Joel's father will be considered in a later issue of the Newsletter.

Joel's Mother

The mother of Joel Lewis, Sr. was Sarah Lewis, the daughter of Daniel Lewis, Sr. and the sister of Daniel Lewis, Jr. Since Joel, Sr. was born early in 1776, his mother Sarah was married to Joseph Lewis (a Lewis marrying a Lewis) by the year 1775, of necessity. There is no public record of this marriage if it occurred in Rowan County, but at that early date, marriage records were very incomplete.


Three years after the birth of Joel, the husband of Sarah and father of Joel was accidently killed. A breeder of fine horses, he was thrown by a fractious horse. [He was] a man of honorable descent, of integrity, and industry. His death cast a pall of gloom over the community in which he lived. The mother was compelled by this sad event to grapple with the immediate and trying problems of widowhood and a fatherless child. A sensible solution was found in a second marriage.

James Stapleton Lewis gives the name of Joel's stepfather as John Hendricks. The book of marriages for Rowan County (under H) gives the date of Sarah's marriage to John Hendricks as December 27, 1780. Without doubt, Joel, Sr. was welcomed as a son in John Hendrick's home.


Children were born to John and Sarah Hendricks and in consequence, Sarah's son Joel was permitted to enter into the delights of play fellowship with his half-brothers and half-sisters. At the same time, he profited by those experiences of responsibility and leadership which are the peculiar heritage of the first born. Naturally this circumstance of birth nurtured in his heart traits of courage and self-reliance and a willingness to share with others and protect the weaker which by practice became the established principles of his life.

The Revolutionary War

During the first six years of his boyhood, Joel lived in that stirring and eventual period of Colonial History, the War for Independence. Young as he was, his memories of this great conflict must have been very vivid, fed by stories told around the fireplace by Minute Men and veteran's tales of battles and campaigns, of defeats and victories, of Bunker Hill and Trenton, of Saratoga and Yorktown - reminiscences of Washington, Sumpter, Marion and Greene - recitals of the daring of the patriot Hale, the generosity of Lafayette, the perfidy of Arnold, the impetuosity of Wayne and the boldness of Paul Jones of the American Navy.

And perhaps the greatest delight of all was the oft-repeated story of the glorious action at King's Mountain where Rowan County Lewis patriots fought and bled and died.

As a growing lad, Joel engaged in many an assault and defense with his companions in mimic battle - fighting the Revolution over again. Especially he was an ardent admirer of the dashing Anthony Wayne, the hero of Stony Point and we can well believe that he resolved should the opportunity present itself in the future to serve under Wayne, he would enroll under his hero's banner.

Joel Becomes a Ward

When Joel was eleven years old, he was placed under the guardianship of Daniel Lewis. The Minute Book of the Rowan County Court under the date of February 6, 1787 records Daniel Lewis is appointed guardian of Joel Lewis an orphan ...... with Stephen Noland, Security, in the sum of $50. Whether Daniel, Sr., Joel's grandfather, or Daniel, Jr., Joel's uncle became his guardian is a debatable question.

One would be of the opinion that Daniel, Sr., because of his age, was the appointee. Daniel, Jr. at this time had not yet attained and experienced his majority, being in his twentieth year and not yet married, probably (but see discussion on the point of the year of his marriage in the February Newsletter on page 4).

The Federal Census for Rowan County, North Carolina indicates that in 1790 Daniel Lewis, Sr. had in his household one male over sixteen years of age. Since Joel, Sr. at this enrollment was not over fourteen years of age, the reference to the male designated could not have been he. Daniel, Sr. had one other son, James; the reference may be to this son. The same census gives no males for Daniel, Jr. other than his own enrollment. Therefore, we cannot place Joel, Sr. in Daniel, Jr.'s household.

Why did Joel enter his grandfather's home? Perhaps Daniel, Sr. had a deep affection for the boy and wanted him under his own rooftree. Perhaps the increasing family of John and Sarah made this step desirable. Besides, Joel would be very useful to his grandfather Lewis who possessed large farms and who would appreciate as the years grew apace the help of sturdy young arms.

Joel liked the farm. He resolved to make farming his life occupation. At fourteen, grown into stalwart young manhood, with some knowledge of books and able to write as well as read, and with that independence of spirit characteristic of his entire life, her determined to own a farm of his own. Either he asked his grandfather to sell him some land or else Daniel, Sr., observing the ability and spirit of the lad, offered to sell him a farm. The result was that Joel, Sr. came into possession of 149 acres situated on Dutchman's Creek for which he paid Daniel Lewis, Sr. seventy-five pounds lawful money of the State of North Carolina. A description of the land reads as follows:

Beginning at a hickory, running from thence north thirty-nine chains and ninety links to a Black Oak Grub thence east ten chains to a sassafras stake in a bunch of stones, thence south sixty-three degrees, east thirty-nine chains and twenty-five links to a black oak Giles corner; thence west to the beginning.

Perhaps in all of Rowan County there was not a younger proprietor of land than Joel, Sr., nor a more proud possessor of a legal deed than he. Seven years later when he had become of legal age, the deed was proven in open court. The deed was dated blank in the year 1790 and recorded at the February Session of the rowan County Court of 1797.

His Excellency, the President of the United States!

When General George Washington, President of the United States on his return tour of the southern states made a visit to the little Piedmont town of Salisbury, North Carolina, he approached the county seat on the Concord road. In his History of Rowan County, Jethro Rumple says: ...some half mile from town, and at a point where Mr. Samuel Harrosin now lives, he was met by a company of the boys of Salisbury. Each of these boys had a bucktail in his hat - a symbol of independence, and their appearance was quiet, neat, and attractive. The President expressed himself much pleased by the boys' turnout, saying that is was "the nicest thing he had seen."

We can assume with perfect propriety that one of the young lads in this company that met the great general on the Concord Road was Joel Lewis, Sr. The grandson of one of the large landowners and prominent men in Rowan County, it is certain, would not be missing from among the ranks of the boys who marched proudly before the President with bucktails in their hats.


Lewisiana records have of these Lewises that Joseph Lewis of Rowan County, N.C., 1752-1779, [was] a breeder of fine horses, was killed by being thrown from his horse. [He] was reputed to have been a soldier in the Revolutionary War, was one of five brothers, two of whom, Daniel and Isaac, were first white settlers at the falls of the Ohio. Lewisiana has records of the descendants of Daniel, 1767-1820, who married about 1792 Hannah Stapleton whose parents died in Maryland about 1750.

Among his descendants is a tradition that they are descendants of Major John and Francis (Fielding) Lewis and were near relations of Captain Merriweather Lewis, the Oregon explorer.

Joseph Lewis married Sarah ...... , who married (2) John Hendrix of Rowan County, N.C. Joseph's only son, Joel, born Feb. 1, 1776 in Rowan County, O., living near Bellbrook, thence to Cass County, Ind., near Logansport where he died Jan. 20, 1840. He served in the War of 1812 with General Anthony building forts across the states of Ohio and Indiana. He was also in the State Militia, Captain John Clark`s company, Oct. 18 to Nov. 10, 1812 and Aug. 10 to Sept. 5, 1813. Later he was a great hunter and carried the United States mail through the Indian country.

He married 1796 Rachel Stapleton, born in Maryland, one of the four sisters from Maryland who were left orphans at an early age. Of their seven children (E.V.L. omitted Richard) Joel, Jr., born Bellwood, O., Sept. 8, 1806, married Oct. 13, 1825, Mercy Fallis of Greene County, O. He was also a famous hunter having, it is said, a particular gun for each kind of game; had eleven children. Lewisiana has names and also record of the descendants of the youngest, Andrew K., born Randolph County, Ind., Jan. 14, 1846, died Sept. 8, 1916, Winchester, Ind.

James Stapleton Lewis, born Feb. 22, 1814 in Greene County, O., was a farmer at Albion, Idaho; married May 10, 1833 Anne Jones, Daughter of Rev. John and Sarah (Sumpter) Jones. He claimed kinship with Daniel Boone, the pioneer of Kentucky, and also with General Fielding Lewis, who married Washington's sister Bettie, that Merriweather Lewis, the explorer, was own cousin of his grandfather, and that Colonel R. Lewis Wood and James Hamilton Lewis were near relations of his father.

Lewisiana has no parentage for United States Senator James Hamilton Lewis who does not broadcast the date of his birth nor his parentage even to his constituents in Illinois, who hoped that he rather than Roosevelt would be their candidate for President. Although

Lewisiana has thousands of records, only one other James Hamilton Lewis has been found, a Justice of the Peace at Meadville, Pa., son of David Lewis, 1790-1820, and his second wife, a daughter of James Hamilton, Esq., of Fayette County, Pa. She married second James Doughty.

Singularly enough it is claimed that his grandfather was a disowned son of Colonel Fielding Lewis and that he was visited once in Pennsylvania by his cousin, Captain Merriweather Lewis. All of which may or may not be so.

James Stapleton Lewis had a son, Hyrum S., born Montpelier, Ida., May 12, 1868; resided at Declo, Ida., and a daughter who resided at Brigham City, Utah. C.A.L.

The following is from the James Stapleton Lewis Life Story compiled by Janis Durfee May 6, 2000 with some research additions by Lee Lewis:

Joel had been a soldier with General Anthony Wayne during the Indian Wars, traveling through much of Ohio and Indiana, helping to build several forts in the area. He later served as a mail carrier through much of that unsettled land.

After his return home to North Carolina, he married Rachel, the orphan daughter of Joseph Stapleton, and they set up housekeeping on Dutchman Creek in Rowan County. It was here that their first four children, Sarah, Joseph, Richard, and Rachel were born. Joseph and Richard both died when they were about two years old.

By 1806, Joel and Rachel had started west in company with Daniel Lewis Jr. and his wife, Hannah. Daniel was Joel's uncle and Hannah was Rachel's sister. They traveled through the Cumberland Gap, also known as Boone's Trace and later as the Wilderness Trail, stopping for some time in Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, Kentucky, where their fifth child, Joel Lewis, Jr., was born on September 8, 1806. They continued on to Bellbrook, Ohio, where Rachel's two other sisters, Nancy Sackett and Avis Von Eaton, and their families had moved some time before.

Three more sons were born to Rachel and Joel in Bellbrook. Richmond was born in 1808, Green in 1812, and James in 1814.

A year after James was born, in 1815, his sister Sarah married John Hale, and three years later, Rachel married William Fallis. Joel apparently rebelled against having to help with household chores after his sisters left home, and he ran away, joining a small band of Miami Indians. Richmond died in May of 1819 at the age of eleven, and eight year old Green died the following year, leaving James home alone (Love, p. 4).

History of Greene County

Greene County, Ohio, was an important area for those settlers whose pioneering spirit brought them from the safety of the East to the unknown of the West. For many, even this was just a brief stop on their way to the far west. Families frequently put down roots here long enough to leave permanent records of their births, lives, and deaths. The rich history has engendered a strong interest among local historians in preserving and documenting these early residents.

Greene County was named for General Nathaniel Greene, the Revolutionary War Hero and was established in its present boundaries in 1819. When Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803, Greene County stretched from Clinton County on the south to the then north line of the new state.

The oldest settlement in Greene County appears to have been Old Chillicothe (now Old Town), a village of the Shawnee Indians, which had a peak population of 1100 persons around 1779. The first white settlement in Greene County was founded by John Wilson and his sons, Amos, John, George and Daniel, who each built a log shelter at Clio (now Ferry) in the southwest corner of the county in 1796.

County business was first transacted in a small log house located about a quarter of a mile from Alpha on the banks of Beaver Creek. In 1809 the first Court House in Xenia was finished at a cost of $3,396. The present Court House was built in 1902 at an approximate cost of $192,000.

Xenia, which was established as the county seat in 1804, is derived from the Greek and signifies hospitality.

Sugarcreek Township, very near to Bellbrook, boasts a rich history dating back to the early nineteenth century. Bellbrook was described as a booming metropolis during the late 1800-s when the discovery of magnetic water in what is now Bellbrook Park, enticed people to journey long distances to drink and bathe in the magical, healing water. The area's trees provided early settlers sugar maple sap to refine and sell throughout the state. Each year there is a Sugar Maple Festival commemorating this once thriving industry.

Prehistoric Adena Indians were the first inhabitants, followed by the Hopewell, and later the Shawnee tribe. Old Chillicothe (now Oldtown) was the second largest Shawnee settlement in Ohio and is the birthplace of the great Chieftain, Tecumseh.

As the frontier gave way to Greene County's prosperous farms and growing towns in the 19th century, sawmills built along the Little Miami River aided industrial advancement. Escaped slaves and free blacks settled in and near Wilberforce, making Greene county one of the "stations" on the Underground Railroad, and innovations in education were born at Antioch College in the Village of Yellow Springs.

At the turn of the century, experiments in flight (including the beginning efforts of the Wright brothers) began on a Greene County prairie that later became the home of the United States Air Force Museum.

Today, eleven unique communities combine to make Greene County a thrilling place to live and visit. Fantastic shopping and one-of-a-kind restaurants are found in Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Bowersville, Cedarville, Clifton, Fairborn, Jamestown, Spring Valley, Xenia, Wilberforce, and Yellow Springs.

Greene County also provides a variety of recreational opportunities which include hiking, biking, canoeing, skydiving....the list is endless! Visitors will truly find something for everyone in Greene county.

Greene County Population

Year Population

1810 5,870

1820 10,529

1830 14,801

  1. 17,528


Area 416 Square Miles

Located west-central Ohio

Topography rolling hills, wide valleys, plain highland

Vegetation Hardwood forests

Rivers, Lakes Little Miami River, Lake Shawnee

Minerals limestone, dolomite, sand, gravel, clay

Agriculture Southwest Hog

Farms 920

Per Farm 164 Acres

Farms 45.7%

Commodity Cattle, mostly


Famous People of Greene County, Ohio

Horace Mann (1796-1859)

Educator/President of Antioch College

Tecumseh (ca.1768-1813)

Indian Chief - founded the Pan-Indian Alliance