Biography of Lewis R. Jewell, Col.

Col. Lewis R. Jewell. In Northern Kansas is a county, one of the fairest and most prosperous in the state, which by its name honors one of the most distinguished characters in the early annals of this commonwealth. A pioneer in the development of the lands of Southeastern Kansas, and a soldier who went to a gallant death at Cane Hill, Arkansas, during the Civil war, the late Col. Lewis R. Jewell’s memory deserves to have a lasting place in the affections and remembrance of his fellowmen.

He was born August 16, 1822, at the old Jewell homestead at Marlboro in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, a son of Lewis and Deborah (Brooks) Jewell. He was in the seventh generation from Joseph Jewell, who was the third son of Thomas Jewell of the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts. The earliest authentic record of these Massachusetts colonists was in the year 1639.

Colonel Jewell was reared and trained under stern Christian parents of the Methodist belief. While he was still in his teens his uncle Abiga Brooks, then a leading merchant at Harmer, Ohio, sent for him to assist in the mercantile business. Later he made a contract with Spalding Pump Manufacturing Company by which that company agreed to keep him supplied with its factory’s output. In a short time the firm enlarged and increased the capacity of the factory to its uttermost, the young salesman having developed so much business that for months the factory was behind in the filling of its orders.

Later for a time he was in business with David Putnam, but selling his interests in 1854 he bought a one-fourth interest in the Harmer Manufacturing Company’s business. He was employed as general and traveling salesman at a salary of $1,500 a year, and traveled through a number of eastern states selling the company’s machinery and other products. Realizing that the company would soon come in competition with other similar concerns springing up all over the East, he sold his interests in 1856. For a time Mr. Jewell operated a steamboat which he had built and which he named Martha Putnam, in honor of the daughter of his early partner, and this boat remained in commission on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers until it was burned at Cairo.

This brief outline of facts accounts for his activities up to the spring of 1859. Having been attracted by the various stories heard concerning the Territory of Kansas, he arrived in the Cherokee neutral lands in Southeastern Kansas in the winter of 1859. Fifteen miles south of Fort Scott, near where Arcadia now is, he located claims and began farming and stock raising. When Captain Sturgis commanding a company of United States troops, and together with the Indian agent, started to drive out the white settlers from his land and burned their houses and other improvements, they were met by a company of settlers headed by Colonel Jewell. After some parley it was arranged that a meeting should take place the following day at Cato, Kansas. The settlers gathered there and formed in battle array confronting the United States troops. There followed many arguments and speeches, and an agreement was finally reached that a delegation consisting of three men should be sent to Washington to present the troubles of the colonists before the President. Captain Sturgis agreed to wait this report, and a compromise having been effected by which the settlers on the neutral lands should not be disturbed for a year, the expulsion from the neutral lands was delayed and owing to the tremendous problems which beset the national administration at the outbreak of the Civil war further consideration to the neutral land troubles was put over until the war ended.

The outbreak of the war also interrupted an ambitious plan formed by Colonel Jewell for colonizing numbers of eastern people in that part of Kansas and the founding of a commercial and manufacturing city.

The great work which he planned and had begun in Southeastern Kansas was never completed. His life came to a glorious climax during the first year of the war. Of his military record a somewhat detailed statement should be made since it well deserves a place in this history of Kansas.

August 11, 1861, he was elected captain of Company D of the Home Guard Frontier Battalion, District of Fort Scott. Later Governor Charles Robinson of Kansas commissioned him lieutenant colonel of the United Reserve Corps. August 27, 1861, he was mustered into service as lieutenant colonel of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Scott. During the first three days of September following the regiment narrowly escaped a great battle with Generals Price and Reins, who had concentrated their army of 12,000 men in Western Missouri across the line from Fort Scott. The hostile forces came into contact, resulting in several skirmishes, including the battle of Drywood. That was the first awakening of the Civil war by artillery and musketry roar that Kansas felt. General Price resuming his march to Lexington, General Lane of the Union forces was able to withdraw most of his troops from Fort Scott and gave orders to Colonel Jewell to burn the city of Fort Scott at once. To this order the colonel replied: “When General Price begins his occupancy of the city then your order will be obeyed.” General Price did not come and thus the city was saved from fire.

During the fall and winter of 1861-62 Colonel Jewell with the Sixth Kansas maintained headquarters at Fort Scott, guarding the Kansas border and insuring safety to lives and property of the settlers and routing or capturing roving bands of bushwhackers and Confederate detachments that infested the border. During the campaign of Colonel Weer through Eastern Indian Territory in the spring of 1862, Colonel Jewell was in command of the Sixth Kansas, and met and defeated Col. Stand Watie’s command and also assisted in the capture of Colonel Clarkson’s Confederate forces and train of supplies and arms, and the Cherokee Indian chief John Ross with the archives and treasury of his nation. Again, in General Blunt’s Lone Jack expedition, the Sixth Kansas did valiant service and effective work against the retreating Confederate forces under Colonels Cockrell and Coffee, who were driven from the State of Missouri.

Later in the year 1862 General Blunt ordered the campaign of Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas. Colonel Jewell’s Sixth Kansas participated in the battle of Newtonia, Missouri, and in the other engagements up to Boston. The closing scene came shortly afterwards.

In Cove Creek Valley near Cane Hill, Arkansas, when near the close of a day’s hard fought skirmishes, on November 28th, General Blunt called for volunteer officers to lead a cavalry charge against the gathering Confederate forces. Colonel Jewell promptly responded. Then in turn volunteer companies were called for, which instantly came forward and their commander leading the way down the valley the valiant soldiers charged in face of a four-gun rebel battery and musketry fire. The gallant command put to flight the enemy and captured the battery, but for failure of support from infantry as had been previously agreed upon the rebel re-enforcements came up and recaptured the battery, shot down the colonel’s horse and mortally wounded him. He fell near the bend of the little stream, Cove Creek. The exact spot had been determined and is on the southwest quarter of section 12, township 13, range 32 west, Washington County, Arkansas. Jim Jones, of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, tells that after the colonel was mortally wounded and a Confederate had emptied his revolver into his body the colonel with one mighty sweep of his saber split the man’s head clear down to his shoulders. Colonel Jewell was taken prisoner, but with some of his captured comrades was almost immediately exchanged. He died of his wounds at Cane Hill November 30, 1862. The Confederate General Jo Shelby, who was the first Confederate officer to see him after capture, treated him with that fitting due respect becoming an officer for a fellow officer, and subsequently eulogized Colonel Jewell by voice and pen.

His remains were sent to his family in Kansas under escort of the company he first raised and were given military burial in a national cemetery. On June 1, 1872, his son Lewis removed the remains from the national to the Evergreen Cemetery at Fort Scott, and in 1903 his body found its last resting place in the family lot in Arcadia Cemetery, where a fitting monument had been erected to his memory.

On March 15, 1843, Colonel Jewell married Susan Hutchinson, daughter of John and Nancy (Warren) Hutchinson. This was early in Colonel Jewell’s career and it is said that after he purchased his household goods he had less than four shillings left. At his death he left his widow and two children, Sarah E., and Lewis R. In 1869 Mrs. Jewell married George A. Irvin, a Presbyterian minister and at one time chaplain of the Eighty-eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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