Polk County, Florida
History




JAMES ISHAM LEWIS

1820 - 1895


According to Isham Lewis' "Application for Pension" papers based on the Seminole Indian War 1835 — 41, he was born in Bullock County, Georgia in 1820. He was a bit over six feet tall with sandy hair, fair skin and blue eyes. His occupation was listed as carpenter and farmer. Isham moved to Florida around 1858 and settled on the border of Polk and Manatee Counties near Bowling Green.

Isham was in Florida earlier with Captain Tracy and his "Georgia Mounted Militia". He suffered a life long injury when he was tossed from his horse.

In 1843 Isham married Matilda Gibson, daughter of John and Clarissa (White) Gibson of Bullock County, Georgia. John was a professor or teacher. Isham and Matilda had one son, James Lewis, born in 1844. Matilda died soon after and James was raised by John & Clarissa Gibson. He was with them in 1850 & 1860 in the census records of Bullock County. No further record of James Lewis.

In 1847 Isham married Lucretia Virginia Kirkland, daughter of Joshua and Harriet (Lee) Kirkland, in Bullock County, Georgia. They had eight children. The oldest Ann Kirkland, was born in 1844, a step-daughter of Isham.

Isham was in Bullock County in the 1850 census but soon moved to Ware County where he made application for Bounty Land and was rejected for lack of records. He left Ware on his way to Florida in 1858, with their four older children. They lived until 1890 in the vicinity between Fort Meade and Bowling Green where the children all grew up and were married. Besides James Lewis, born 1844 in Bullock County, there were:


1. Ann Kirkland (Starling) Lewis, born 1844; married in 1866 to William "Bill" Willingham, son of William H. & Anne Willingham of Fort Meade, Florida. She later married Richard Smith of Kissimmee.

2. Madison Winfield Lewis (called "Bud"), born 1849 in Bullock County, Georgia, came to Florida in 1858 with his father at age 9 years. He married Sarah Mizell in 1869 and had one son, William Judy. Sarah died in 1901 and Bud married Julia Ann Arnold, daughter of John B. & Caroline (Williams) Arnold. Bud & Julia had six children that lived to adults. They lived on Tigar Lake, on Kissimmee Island homestead. Bud was in the cattle business and marked his cattle with (M1) and (15) which had been Sarah's brand. He died in 1921 at Blue Jordan on Kissimmee Island.

3. Sarah Lewis, born 1853 in Bullock County, Georgia; married in Manatee County, Florida, John Collier, Jr. and lived at Crewsville. She and John had three children: William Henry, Sarah Esther and Caroline. Sarah died in 1898.

4. Wealthan Lewis, born 1857 in Ware County, Georgia; married John Monts de Oca, Jr., son of John and Mary Monts de Oca of Tampa, Florida. They were married in 1870 and had fourteen children. Some time in the 1880's they moved to a homestead on Kissimmee Island at Clay Hammock and raised their family until after 1900 when they bought a place at Midland, Florida.

5. Mitchell Lewis, born 1859 in Fort Meade area; married Lucinda Rhoden, daughter of John and Sidney (Raulerson) Rhoden, in 1876. They had eight children and lived at Clay Hammock on Kissimmee Island. Lucinda died after 1892 and Mitchell married Mary Mims in 1896. Mary and Mitch Lewis had eight children. Mitchell died in 1917 of the Spanish Influenza near Arbuckle Lake on Kissimmee Island.

6. Artie Lewis, born 1860; married Everett Parker of Bowling Green, Florida in 1876. They settled in the Bowling Green area and raised seven children. Everett was the son of Isaac and Matilda (Popell) Parker of Madison County, Florida. Offspring of Artie & Everett live today on the ranch that Everett built up from stock he earned working with Captain Hendry of Manatee County fame.

7. William Richard "Dick" Lewis, born 1861; married Elizabeth Boyd of Bowling Green, Florida in 1899. They lived at Crewsville near his sister Sarah's husband, John Collier, Jr. Dick and Elizabeth had five children.

8. Virginia Lucretia "Babe" Lewis, born 1862, the last of Isham and Lucretia's children, married Daniel W. Stokes, son of Burell and Lavicy (Altman) Stokes of Manatee County in 1885. They had eleven children and lived on Kissimmee Island just south of the lake until 1898 when Dan bought a home at Midland from Joe Guy and moved his family from the Island. After Babe died Dan moved into Frostproof and married Bertha Lovell. They had three children.


In 1890 Isham and Lucretia Lewis were living for a while in Kissimmee City with their daughter, Ann Smith but in 1895, during the big cold spell in February, Isham got sick and died. He was living at the time with the Stokes family on the south side of Kissimmee Lake. They buried him on the Brahma Island in Kissimmee Lake. It had been homesteaded by Julian Monts de Oca, Isham's grandson and later sold to U. L. "Doc" Lightsey.

In 1892 a post office name Ute was established on Kissimmee Island not far from Grape Hammock and the neighbors told of seeing Isham ride by going for the mail. He was seventy-five years old at the time of his death and had never received his Bounty Land but he did draw his eight dollar pension. After his death, his wife, Lucretia, made an application for a widow's pension. This was filed from Crewsville and signed by her son-in-law, John Collier, Jr. and Fritz Williams, probably a nephew-in-law. Lucretia received her eight dollars which was later raised to twelve before her death. She also applied for and received Bounty Land, or a warrant for the land which according to "papers" disappeared from the safe of V. P. Simmons who was handling her affairs in Midland, Florida. There isn't any record of this ever having been replace. Lucretia died in 1908 at the home of her daughter, Babe Stokes, at Midland and was buried in Mount Enon Cemetery nearby.

NOTE: It is believed by research by Doris Lewis in Bullock County, Georgia that James Isham Lewis is the son of James Lewis, Jr. who is the son of James Lewis, Sr. who owned land on Black Creek in the area Isham lived.


SOURCES: Census: 1860 Bullock County, Georgia, 1880, 1885 & 1900 Manatee & Polk Counties of Florida; Marriage records of Bullock County, Georgia and Polk County, Florida. Records provided from various offspring of Isham & Lucretia Lewis. (The "James Isham" was only used once on a paper in his application for Bounty Land.) Kirkland information from "Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia" by Judge Folks Huxford. Indian War pension application, certificate #4496 for Lucretia Lewis; application #331.1984 for Isham Lewis, made in 1875 from Fort Meade, Florida.

 

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