Scope and Content
Language of Material:
University of California, Davis General Library, Dept. of Special Collections
Title: Lewis Family Papers
Identifier/Call Number: D-329
0.8 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1784-1909
Abstract: The Lewis Family Papers contain materials relating primarily to Reed
Lewis (1787-1836), his son John Bacon Lewis (1825-1909), and John's wife, Elizabeth (1826-1866). John Bacon Lewis was a
California pioneer who operated a draying business in San Francisco from 1849-1856. He later purchased and farmed land in
Sonoma County. Thirty seven letters written to or by John or Elizabeth Lewis make up the bulk of the Papers. Transcriptions
of nearly all of these letters are also found in the Papers. The letters discuss family news, life in Farmington, Connecticut
or San Francisco, California, and travel between Connecticut and California via the Isthmus of Panama.
Physical Location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections,
as many are stored offsite.
Reed Lewis was born on October 14, 1787 in Vermont. He later moved to New York and was a pioneer of Saratoga County. In
1810, he married Margaret Bacon (1794-1869). They had five children: Sarah, Catherine, Jane, Mary, and John.
John Bacon Lewis, the youngest of Reed and Margaret Lewis' children was born on March 15, 1825 in Northumberland, New
York. After the death of his father in 1836, John was sent to live with his sister Jane and her husband, James Cowles in
Farmington, Connecticut. He resided there until 1847 when he returned to New York and entered into the mercantile business
On February 2, 1848, John married Elizabeth Bodwell. Elizabeth (October 10, 1826-October 20, 1866) was born in Farmington
to Augustus and Olive (Buck) Bodwell. John and Elizabeth had two children: John Bacon Lewis (1849-1850) and Charles Wadsworth
In January 1849, John joined the New York Union Mining Company, formed for the purpose of gold mining in California. The
company set sail for California on February 23. However, when the group reached Panama, they found "two to three thousand
people all anxious to get to California before the gold was all exhausted, and there was but one steamer available, therefore
we were detained." After a four month stay in Panama, the company arrived in San Francisco in late August 1849 and soon
dissolved their partnership. Shortly after his arrival in San Francisco, John bought a horse and cart and started a draying
business. Elizabeth joined John in California in 1851.
In 1856, John sold his draying business and moved to Sonoma County. There he purchased a tract of land with his
brother-in-law, Charles Augustus Bodwell. They cultivated the land together until 1864, when John bought out Charles'
interest. In 1900, John moved to Petaluma where he resided until his death on January 6, 1909.
History of Sonoma County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county, who have
been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present time
. Los Angeles, Calif.,
Historic Record Company, 1911.
The Pioneer and Historical Review. [San Jose, Cal.: A.P. Murgotten], September 1898.
Scope and Content
The Lewis Family Papers contain materials relating primarily to Reed Lewis (1787-1836), his son John Bacon Lewis
(1825-1909) and John's wife, Elizabeth (1826-1866). Thirty seven letters written to or by John or Elizabeth Lewis make up
bulk of the Papers. Transcriptions of nearly all of these letters are in the Papers. The letters discuss family news, life
Farmington, Connecticut or San Francisco, California, and travel between Connecticut and California via the Isthmus of
Panama. Several deeds relating to Reed Lewis' purchase of land in New York are also included.
The Papers are arranged into six series: 1. Correspondence, 2. Deeds, 3. Financial Document, 4. Writings, 5.
Transcriptions, and 6. Ephemera.
Collection is open for research.
Donated in 1999.
Sara Gunasekara processed these papers and created and encoded this finding aid.
[Identification of item], Lewis Family Papers, D-329, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of
Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote
from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on
behalf of the Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis as the owner of the
physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Farmington (Conn.) -- History
San Francisco (Calif.) -- History
Saratoga County (N.Y.) -- History
Lewis, Reed, 1787-1836
Lewis, John Bacon, 1825-1909
Lewis, Elizabeth, 1826-1866