Solano County

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Charles H. Lewis, who is now living retired at Vallejo, is a veteran of the Civil war, having served in both the army and the navy, and a veteran of the navy yard service, with a record of more than thirty years in the government employ. He was born at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, August 24, 1841, and is a son of Andrew and Nancy (Wilson) Lewis, both members of old colonial families. Andrew Lewis and two of his brothers came to California, by way of the Horn, during the days of the gold excitement in 1849, but after spending some time prospecting in the mining country without any very satisfactory results he returned east and with his family settled at Charleston, a suburb of Boston, on Massachusetts bay, and there he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives. It was thus that Charles H. Lewis finished his schooling at Charleston, where he grew to manhood and where he learned the blacksmith's trade, becoming employed in the iron-working department of the shipyards at that place, and he was thus occupied when the Civil war broke out, then being in his twenty-first year.

Following President Lincoln's call for volunteers in the spring of 1861 Mr. Lewis enlisted with the navy for a three year term of service, and it was during this period that he participated as a gunner on the United States frigate Congress, of fifty guns, in the historic battle between that vessel and the Confederate armored frigate Merrimac, or Virginia, March 8, 1862, when the Congress was sunk by the Merrimac at Newport News. He also served on the U. S. S. Mississippi and participated in the battle of Port Hudson, when that ship was sunk, being a lieutenant at the time. He was taken prisoner and sent to Jackson, Mississippi, was kept there for seventy days and was then paroled and returned to New Orleans. Thence he came to New York, and he was then discharged from the naval service. He had also served on the Monadnock and on the Brandywine. Upon the completion of his term in the navy Mr. Lewis enlisted in the army and as a member of Company H of the Fifth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, served until the close of the war, being mustered out at Readville, a suburb of Boston.

Mr. Lewis then resumed his former employment in the shipyards at Charleston and was thus engaged until 1869, when he came to California, which state he has ever since regarded as his home. Not long after his arrival here he was employed with a party of railway surveyors laying lines in Montana and Idaho, and upon his return to California he became connected with the operations of H. P. Miller at Stockton, also later being employed for a time with the Central Pacific Railway Company. For five years he rendered service with the fire patrol in the bay and for seven years was with the Union Iron Works. In 1889 he entered upon his connection with the Mare Island navy yard and was thus engaged for thirty-one years or until his retirement in 1920, when in his seventy-ninth year, being one of the real veterans of that service. Since leaving the yards Mr. Lewis has been living quietly retired at Vallejo.

Mr. Lewis has been twice married, first to Miss Janet Winchester, who died at Vallejo in 1906. His second wife was Miss Ellen Wynan, of Santa Cruz, and she died in 1918. Mr. Lewis is a republican and has ever given his attention to local civic affairs but has not been a seeker after public office. He is one of the active members of Farragut Post No. 7, Grand Army of the Republic, and has for years taken a helpful interest in the affairs of that patriotic order. In 1870, the year following his arrival in California, Mr. Lewis became a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and he is affiliated with the encampment (Mt. Moriah) of that order.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 28 Oct 2007

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