Biography of Elisha H. Lewis

ELISHA H. LEWIS. – This well-known gentlemen was born in New York in 1824. He was raised on a farm, and received a common-school education at his home on the slopes of the Catskill Mountains. In 1845 he went to Chicago and thence to Wisconsin, where he worked as millwright until 1849. Coming in that year by the Isthmus to California, he was mining in several camps with the usual checkered luck of those days, making a return to the “States” for a visit. In the spring of 1852 he returned by water to California, and in the fall of the same year came on to Oregon, locating at Portland and engaging as carpenter with Porter & Carson. In 1853 he removed to Rainier, continuing in his work as carpenter and builder. In January, 1855, he was married to Miss Harriet L. Barlow of Cowlitz county, Washington Territory, who crossed the plains from Michigan in1852.

In 1854 they removed to Vancouver, where he operated as contractor for six years. In 1862 he sought a new and more permanent location in Eastern Oregon, and laid the claim where the town of North Union now stands. In 1863 he moved his family and effects to the new location, and together they have seen the town of Union grow from one log cabin, constructed by themselves, into a beautiful town embowered with beautiful fruit and ornamental trees, and boasting of a population of one thousand people. Mr. Lewis has identified himself with the development of the place in many ways, having not only erected the first log cabin and the first house built of lumber, but also inaugurated many enterprises for the improvement of the place, and now owns much property in the city and a farm near by.

Five children have been born in this pleasant family, of whom two, a son and daughter, are living. They also have four grandchildren living.

They relate with much pleasue and interest their many hard and exciting experiences in the early days; and Mrs. Lewis recalls how, at the age of eighteen, she stood in the door of her home at Ranier and saw her husband cross the billowy Columbia when the waves were running high, and no one else would dare to take a Bellingham Bay coal hunter across to the territory; and to the writer the pleasant old lady observed that this was a foolhardy adventure, and that she fully expected every moment as she stood and gazed to become a widow.

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History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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