19 April 2010

Remembering the Lewis Boys

During a recent visit to Felton Cemetery in Montezuma, Georgia, I paused at the graves of the Elijah Banks Lewis family. E. B. Lewis was a United States Representative from Georgia for several years. His was not the tombstone I noticed, however. I was drawn instead to the graves of his two sons. They dwarfed the surrounding tombstones and contained what I imagine are likenesses of the young men. I was somewhat surprised at what research would uncover about the lives of each of these individuals. From a youthful hero to an accidental shooting. From appendicitis to suicide. The tragedies that befell this family were chronicled in the local newspapers...

Macon Weekly Telegraph
March 18, 1895
Saved a Drowning Boy at the Risk of His Own Life.

Montezuma, March 16 -- Yesterday while a crowd of boys were viewing the washout on the Beaver Creek Turnpike Frank Hague, 8 years of age, fell into the water and was carried by the mad current through a sewer pipe out into the raging flood beyond. Robert Lewis, the 15-year-old son of Hon. E. B. Lewis, plunged into the water and, at the imminent risk of hos own life, saved young Hague who was sinking the third time. It was a narrow escape from death and Robert Lewis deserves much praise for his coolness and heroism."

Robt. Landrum Lewis
b. Jan'y 16, 1881
d. March 18, 1895
We love and cherish the memory of
this truly good, brave, and bright
Macon Telegraph
Tuesday Morning, March 19, 1895
Montezuma, March 18 -- A young life ended, a happy home made desolute, a mother crazed with grief and at the point of death. This is the terrible sequel of the unfortunate accident which caused the death of Robert Lewis tonight. Last Saturday afternoon he was accidentally shot by Leo Hertz with a rifle, and while his wound was regarded as serious, it was not thought to be fatal. Late this afternoon his condition grew rapidly worse, and he sank into the sleep of death. He was the bright and promising son of Hon. E. B. Lewis and had the day before he was shot, saved a friend from drowning..."

Macon Telegraph
Thursday Morning, March 21, 1895
Montezuma, March 20 -- The funeral of Robert Lewis was held yesterday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock. The procession was by far the largest seen here in years. Every store in town closed and the day was one of general sadness. Mrs. Henrietta Heiz, the mother of Leo Heiz, the boy who accidentally shot Robert Lewis, is still critically ill, but hopes are entertained for her recovery."

Elijah John Lewis
b. Feb 11, 1879
d. Aug 6, 1896
He was generous, noble and true,
thereby commanding the
friendship and love of all who
knew him.
Macon Telegraph
Friday Morning, August 7, 1896
The Surviving Son of Hon. E. B. Lewis, of Montezuma, Succumbs to an ATTACK OF APPENDICITIS.
The Young Man Was on His Way North on a Business and Pleasure Trip -- He Was a Student of Mercer University and Had Relatives Here.

News was received in Macon last night of the death of Elijah Lewis, the only surviving son of Congressman-to-be E. B. Lewis of Montezuma, yesterday evening at Chester, S.C.

Death was the result of appendicitis, which came on while young Lewis was on the train on his way to the North.

Elijah Lewis left Montezuma on last Sunday morning with his uncle Minor Lewis for New York, to purchase a large stock of goods for their establishment in Montezuma. On the way young Elijah was taken so seriously ill that he had to lay over at Chester, S.C., for medical attention and telegraphed for his father, who left Tuesday afternoon and arrived there early Wednesday morning...

...Mr. Lewis a little over a year ago, lost a son, who was accidentally shot, and this was the only son he had left.

Elijah John Lewis, the deceased, was a little over 17 years of age. He was educated at Mercer, and was immensely popular with every one with whom he was thrown in contact..."

The story does not end there. Almost twenty-five years later, the death of a Lewis man dominated the headlines again -- this time is was the father, Elijah Banks Lewis. Here are some of the December 1920 headlines:

Elijah B. Lewis, Prominent State Banker, Suicides: President of Montezuma Institutions Shoots Self (Macon Telegraph, Georgia)

Bank Closes After Tragedy: President Elijah B. Lewis Shot and Killed Himself (Baltimore American, Maryland)

Georgia Banker Takes Own Life (Miami Herald Record, Florida)

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