Biography - John S. Lewis
DR. JOHN SHELBY LEWIS. Although not a native of this state, Dr. John
Lewis of Carbondale has been connected with the activities of Southern
Illinois for the full term of a generation of human life, and during the
last fourteen years with those of the city of his present home. He has lived
in several localities in this portion of the state, and has left his mark
broad and deep in each as one of the most resourceful and enterprising men
they have ever known, and one of the most sterling and representative of
their citizens wide-awake to the interests of every community, alert and
capable in helping to develop the resources of each, and broad-minded and
far-seeing in reference to the public affairs of all.
Dr. Lewis is a
Kentuckian by birth and ancestry, and was born in Crittenden county, in "the
dark and bloody ground," on August 6, 1851. His parents, George Slankard and
Amy L. (Weldon) Lewis, were farmers, and the father was also a minister of
the gospel in the Baptist church. He was a man of great usefulness at a time
when the country was sparsely settled and facilities for religious services
were few and it was far between them. His farming operations and other
personal affairs received his attention, of course, but he never shirked a
call to duty in his sacred character, and the people came to revere him for
his fidelity to duty in spiritual matters as much as for his power and
persuasiveness in attending to them.
The son began his scholastic
training in the public schools and completed it at the Normal Institute
located at Normal in McLean county. He studied medicine at the American
Medical College in St. Louis, from which he was graduated with the degree of
M. D. in 1878. He had, however, been previously admitted to practice by
examination under the provisions of the state law of that day.
his graduation he began practicing in earnest and regularly at Harrisburg in
Saline county, this state. His practice was general and became extensive,
but following the example of his father, he bought a farm, which he worked
in connection with his professional duties. On this fam he lived until 1894,
when he moved to Carriers Mills and started the Saline County Bank, a
private institution belonging to him alone. This bank he still owns, but its
seat of operations has been changed to Stone Port in the same county, where
it is steadily increasing in patronage and influence.
Dr. Lewis also
founded the First National Bank of Johnston City, and was its first
president. In this institution he also still has a considerable interest.
The Doctor moved to Carbondale in 1897, and soon afterward became largely
interested in the Bank of Carbondale, of which he was president three years.
In association with the people he learned of other public conveniences of
which they stood in need and which he could provide for them, and with the
earnestness which has always characterized him in the prosecution of any
project that seemed worthy of his attention, he immediately began to set
forces in motion to gratify their wishes and supply their wants in these
He in connection with C. E. Hamilton, organized the
Citizens "Water, Light and Power Company, and became its president. He also
owns the controlling interest in the Carbondale Ice Company and the present
local telephone company, known as the Carbondale Telephone Company, which he
owns and to which he devotes a large measure of his time and attention.
Prior to starting this enterprise he owned large interests in and operated
the Ohio & Mississippi Valley Phone Company, which he sold to the Bell
corporation. In his own company he has in operation .for the services of the
people five hundred phones, and, as has been stated, he devotes a
considerable portion of his time and energy to the improvement of his plant,
the extension of its business, the perfection of its service, and the
betterment of the fine public utilities he has built up in every way.
For some years the Doctor was superintendent of extensive coal mines and
gave personal attention to the operation of them. He also has had mining
properties of his own for a long time. He is now the largest land owner in
Southern Illinois, and especially of coal lands, from which he receives
large royalties, but he does not give the working of them his personal
attention, being more immediately interested in his Carbondale industries
and other business operations.
Dr. Lewis was married on the 10th of
October, 1878, to Miss Agnes Emily Rush, of Metropolis, Illinois. They have
five children: Myrtie, the wife of J. W. Travelstead, a progressive farmer
of Saline county; Rosco, a physician, but engaged in the banking business
with his father, having charge of the bank at Stone Fort; Mabel, the wife of
J. M. Cable, of Carbondale, an electrician and connected with his
father-inlaw in business; Fern, who is living at home with her parents; and
Orman J., who is assistant cashier of the bank in Johnston City. The father
is a Freemason of the Master Mason's degree. He takes a deep interest in
everything in which the welfare of the community is involved, is open-handed
and progressive with reference to all matters of public improvement and wise
and energetic in his services in helping to promote them. The people of
Carbondale regard him as one of their best and most representative men.
Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 1013-1015.