It’s a small world

This picture was taken the summer of 1958 on the Bar-Y-Bar Ranch north of Chadron, Nebraska. That’s me up on Spider. Down on the ground is my cousin Judy Walters, my sister Jeanette Lewis, my cousin Sharon Walters and my brother Lester Lewis. Standing behind them is Ted Ormesher, the owner of the Bar-Y-Bar. My Uncle Bill Walters and Aunt Eleanor (on my mother’s side) managed the ranch.

Edward Theodore (Ted) Ormesher was born in Valentine, Nebraska in 1887. His father Henry Ormesher was born in Wigan, Lancashire, England in 1850. The family moved to the United States in 1885, where Henry and family founded a cattle ranch south of Valentine, Nebraska.

My wife’s Great-great-great-Grandfather lived in Preston, Lancashire, England at the time, just 20 miles north of Wigan.

My Aunt Barbara (on my Father’s side) was born in Valentine, Nebraska and lived near Alliance, Nebraska, 60 miles south of Chadron.

Eight years after the above picture was taken my family moved to Chadron, where I went to High School and worked on a different ranch north of town, also managed by my Uncle Bill.

Small World!

Lewisiana – The Lewis Letter

I’ve been working on an extended project to bring together all of the Lewis Letter issues and creating an indexed, cross-referenced web site to make them more accessible.

Lewisiana or The Lewis Letter was published from 1893 to 1907 with some gaps in publication, edited by Carll Lewis in Elliot, Connecticut. It includes genealogical information for a wide range of families with the surname Lewis. The family information is divided into separate lineages named after the earliest known ancestor of a particular group. Each lineage is known as a Book and is given a Book number. Each of the 17 yearly volumes of Lewisiana contains 12 monthly issues with articles about separate families with each article is identified by it’s Book number. There are a total of 128 Books, with some of them consolidated as family connections were discovered over the period of publication.

Copies of the Lewis Letter have been irregularly available in print and digital form for some time. Many libraries have some of the letters, a few have them all, but I’ve never found a website that has all of the yearly issues in one place.

In addition, the monthly issues have indeces of the Books included in that issue. An index of Books I through LXXX is included in Vol VII No. 12, June 1897, but there is no index of Books for the following Volumes.

While my indexing of all the Lewis Letters volumes is not yet complete, all of the Volumes are available for individual study on my Lewisiana – The Lewis Letter website.

Rootsweb Closes Email Lists

Recently Rootsweb sent out the following notice:

Beginning March 2nd, 2020 the Mailing Lists functionality on RootsWeb will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails or accept incoming emails. Additionally, administration tools will no longer be available to list administrators and mailing lists will be put into an archival state.

Administrators may save the email addresses in their list prior to March 2nd. After that, mailing list archives will remain available and searchable on RootsWeb.

As an alternative to RootsWeb Mailing Lists, Ancestry message boards are a great option to network with others in the genealogy community. Message boards are available for free with an Ancestry registered account.

Thank you for being part of the RootsWeb family and contributing to this community.

The RootsWeb team “

Although, email seems to be falling out of favor with young denizens of the Internet, it remains the best means of communication for complicated subjects, such as genealogy research.

Therefore, I have set up a set of new genealogy email discussion lists on a new platform called, to continue the discussion that had suffered for a couple of years of neglect on Rootsweb.

Below are the URLs for the new groups. If you are interested, you can join any group from its web page.

I’ll keep you updated as to any changes or additions to this list of genealogy discussion groups.

Benjamin of Falmouth reconsidered

    Hello all:

In my previous post, I had this to say about Benjamin Lewes, son of Thomas, grandson of Edmond Lewes of Lynn:

“Benjamin Lewes of Colchester, Connecticut

I was surprised to learn of another Benjamin Lewis recorded in Twelve Generations…, a son of Thomas Lewes, Edmond Lewes’s second son. This Benjamin does not appear in Edmund Lewis of Lynn and Some of his Descendants. Delbert Lewis indicates his source as Pioneer Lewis Families, presumably from Lewisiana, The Lewis Letters, although I am unable to verify this reference. Again recent DNA evidence supports this connection.

I am provisionally including this Benjamin Lewes as a descendant of Edmond, pending more information and research.

I have changed my mind about this Benjamin and I have removed him as a son of Thomas Lewes. Here’s why:

The children of Thomas Lewes are well documented in primary sources as well as secondary publications, such as Early Lewises of Northern New Jersey. There is no hint of a Benjamin in any of these records. Furthermore, Thomas Lewes’ children born in Swansea are well documented in Swansea Vital Records, so it’s odd that one child, Benjamin, interspersed among them, would be left out.

So I went to the primary sources and found that this Benjamin of Falmouth and Barnstable, MA is more likely a son of Thomas, son of George Lewes of Barnstable!  It seems that early on in genealogical research, there was some confusion between Thomas Lewis of Falmouth and Thomas Lewis of Swansea, resulting in conjecture that Thomas Lewes of Falmouth moved to Swansea, where Benjamin was allegedly born, and then back to Falmouth!

Since we now know that Thomas Lewes of Swansea is clearly documented as the son of Edmond Lewes of Lynn, we can toss this error into the dust bin of history. Apparently, Delbert Lewis didn’t tumble onto this documentation when researching Twelve generations…

So I will modify my:

    Twelve Generations… Review

All in all, I’ve found Twelve Generations… to be a valuable resource, generally well documented, with some primary references that I have not seen before. However, since Delbert Lewis relied heavily on Pioneer Lewis Families, which relies heavily on another secondary source, Lewisiana, which is largely anecdotal, the work contains several major errors that are revealed in detailed reviews of primary sources, now more readily available.

As always in genealogical research, Trust and Verify!


Twelve Generations of Lewises in America and the Two Benjamins

DSCN7636Twelve Generations of Lewises in America, by Delbert Franklin Lewis, Baltimore: Gateway Press, Inc. 1999, is the most recent book examining the descendants of Edmond Lewes of Lynn, Massachusetts (1601-1651). At 657 packed pages it is the most definitive volume of this history to date.

The author based his research primarily on earlier secondary resources: Pioneer Lewis Families, 1978-1986 (which is derived in part from: The Lewis Letters/Lewisiana,1887-1907); Edmund Lewis of Lynn and Some of his Ancestors, 1908; Early Lewises of Northern New Jersey, 1972. He also used primary sources such as : Watertown Records, Swansea Vital Records, and Woodbridge Vital Records and other vital records, land records and court proceedings throughout the text.

Of particular interest in my research are two descendants of Edmond Lewes of Lynn included in this work: Edmond’s sixth son Benjamin, and Edmond’s grandson, Benjamin, son of Thomas.

Benjamin Lewis of Stratford, Connecticut

Benjamin Lewes’s birth date and parentage is unrecorded in extant documents. However, Delbert Lewis, and others, includes Benjamin as a son of Edmond, based on circumstantial evidence in Pioneer Lewis Families, that is, the mention of “five younger children” in Edmond Lewes’s will, meaning five children younger than John and Thomas, born in England (a sixth child, unnamed, died in 1643 and was buried in Watertown). Delbert Lewis also references the similarity of names of Benjamin’s children with those of Edmond Lewes of Lynn.

A 2001 examination of Benjamin Lewis of Stratford and his son Edmund Lewis (Edmund Lewis of Stratford, Connecticut, His Father Benjamin, of Wallingford and Stratford, and His Possible Ancestry, by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, 2001) looks in greater detail at Benjamin Lewis of Stratford’s possible origins and documented descendants, and concludes, “Benjamin Lewis may have been born in Lynn, Mass., perhaps about 1648, the youngest son of Edmund and Mary (__) Lewis of Lynn…”

Recent DNA evidence supports the genealogical evidence of a connection between Edmond Lewes of Lynn and Benjamin Lewis of Stratford. For these reasons, I include Benjamin Lewes as the son of Edmond Lewes of Lynn, b. ca. 1648.

Benjamin Lewes of Colchester, Connecticut

I was surprised to learn of another Benjamin Lewis recorded in Twelve Generations…, a son of Thomas Lewes, Edmond Lewes’s second son. This Benjamin does not appear in Edmund Lewis of Lynn and Some of his Descendants. Delbert Lewis indicates his source as Pioneer Lewis Families, presumably from Lewisiana, The Lewis Letters, although I am unable to verify this reference. Again recent DNA evidence supports this connection.

I am provisionally including this Benjamin Lewes as a descendant of Edmond, pending more information and research.

Twelve Generations… Review

All in all, I’ve found Twelve Generations… to be an invaluable resource, meticulously documented, with considerable primary references that I have not seen before. Since Pioneer Lewis Families relies heavily on another secondary source, Lewisiana, which is largely anecdotal, claims for the ancestry of the two Benjamins, and others not found in other documentation, must be verified in primary records wherever possible.

DNA Genealogy

One of the newest and fastest growing areas of genealogy research in DNA genealogy. Through DNA testing, we can find common DNA links among large groups of people, telling us about the deep history of our genetic heritage and possible connections with distant, and increasingly more recent ancestors.

I have had DNA tests done through two laboratories: Family Tree DNA and 23andme.

Family Tree DNA is one of the oldest of the DNA labs, concentrating on DNA testing primarily for genealogy research. I had my Y-DNA test done thee several years ago, while researching potential connections with small group of Lewis descendants who turn out to have DNA results very similar to mine.

23andme is a health-realted DNA lab that has recently expanded their services to include DNA testing for genealogy research. The test from 23andme includes the Y-DNA test (for men only) along with mitochondrial and chromosomal tests, to give results that includes ancestors on both sides of the subject’s DNA legacy. You can go to the 23andme web site and learn much more about this fascinating new form of genealogy research.


Y-DNA – The Y-DNA test records the Y chromosome to reveal my DNA legacy from my paternal line: my father, grandfather, great-grandfather… and so on. Y-DNA tests are characterized by specific markers that form patterns known as haplogroups. My haplogroup is R1b1b2a1a, a subgroup of R1b1b2, the most common haplogroup in western Europe. R1b1b2a1a1 is most commonly found on the fringes of the North Sea, and is know as the “North Atlantic Subgroup.” It is about 17,000 years old, being found in Irish, Basque, British and French populations.

mtDNA – The mitochondrial DNA test records the DNA from mitochondria in the cells to reveal my DNA legacy from my maternal line: my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… and son on. mtDNA results have haplogroups, just as do Y-DNA results. My mtDNA haplogroup is K1a4, a subgroup of haplogroup K, about 350,000 years old in the Near East, Europe, Central Asia and northern Africa.

My chromosomal DNA reveal that 98.7% of my DNA is from northern and eastern Europe, .8% is from the Middle East and .5 % is unassigned. This result reflects where my ancestors we living 500 or more years ago, before modern transportation allowed us to move rapidly about the globe.

The Millinneal Quest

    I am fortunate in some respects to have successfully documented my earliest ancestor, Edmond Lewes, back to Ipswich, Suffolk, England in 1631.

    There my frustration lies, as I have been unable to find any record of Edmond’s birth or ancestry. I’m stuck at ~1601, Edmond’s assumed birth year based on his recorded age of 33 in the passenger list of the Elizabeth, embarked from Ipswich for Massachusetts in 1634.

    I’ve researched the Lewis/Lewes/Lewys/Lowys surnames of Suffolk and surrounding counties in England in an attempt to find Edmond’s parentage, to no avail. I suspect that this bit of information is forever lost in antiquity.

   During that search, I’ve found documentation for a Lewes line that begins in Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, with Edmonde Lewes, born in 1519. The descendants of this Edmonde spread throughout Suffolk between Stoke-by-Nayland and Ipswich, along the Stour River, in exactly the territory where most of Edmond’s fellow passengers on the Elizabeth originated. In fact, one of the Elizabeth passengers, Thurston Reyner (Raynor) had a sister, Anna, who married Robert Lewes in Elmsett, in the heart of Lewes territory.

    While I haven’t found a record of my Edmond’s birth, the similarity of given names in this line to those of Edmonde’s family are striking, and the proximity to Ipswich adds to the possibility that this is my Edmond’s ancestral line.

    Striking further back in time, I located a family line descended from Ludovic or Lewes John, who was born c. 1380, possibly in Carmarthen, Wales who apprenticed and practiced as a vintner in London. His descendants are know as Fitz Lewes, and held property in Essex and Suffolk. A grandson of Lewes John, Richard, dropped the Fitz and was known as Sir Richard Lewes, living in Bardwell, Suffolk, south of Bury St. Edmond. Richard’s brother Edmond (Fitz) Lewes was mentioned in his father’s will in 1440, but I’ve not found any further account of his life.

   This line comes within two generations of a possible connection with Edmonde Lewes born in 1519, living and dying in Stoke-by-Nayland Suffolk, some ten miles from the border with Essex and thirty some miles from Bardell, Suffolk, home of Sir Richard Lewes.

    This is the deepest my genealogical research has taken me into the history of the Lewes/Lewis surname in Suffolk, England, and, while intriguing, is circumstantial evidence at best.

    Since I began my paper research, I have also had my DNA profile analyzed through Family Tree DNA. My DNA turns out to be quite unique. I’ve found twelve others who share my DNA markers, in part, six of whom are within 1 or 2 markers of my own. This means that the six are almost certainly descended from Edmond Lewes of Watertown and Lynn, Massachusetts, while the other six may be descended from a close relation to Edmond.

    In researching deep in my DNA, I’ve found that my pattern of DNA markers is know as the Atlantic Modal Group, indicating an origin in an area called Doggerland, between England and Scandinavia, which is now the North Sea! As the sea encroached in this once dry land, the residents thereof moved inland into what is now southern Denmark and northern Germany. These people became know as the Angles, who eventually spread into Great Britain along with Saxons from further south in Saxony and became know as Ango-Saxons, the foundation of the English people and the English language.

    The Angles came into Great Britain by two routes, one from the ancestral lands of Denmark and Germany, and one by way of the Iberian Peninsula (southern France, the Pyrenees, Spain and Portugal. The southern migration, from the area of the Pyrenees, brought with it what is know as Iberian Celtic or Celtiberian culture, into southwestern Wales, as what was named by the Romans as the Demetae tribe.

    My unique DNA profile, shared by six others, is particularly identified with this southern migration from southern France to southwestern Wales, in the area between the River Ystwyth near present day Aberystwyth and Carmarthen on the banks of River Towy. It was here that the Romans built Moridonum, the civitas, or administrative center, for their management of the Demetae people.

    As an aside, the name Ludovic is known in Southern France is taken from the name of the Frankish King Chloedevich or Clovis from the 5th Century. This is often referenced as the origin of the French “Louis” and the Welsh/English Lewes/Lewis surnames. Note the similarity of first sound of the Frankish “Chloedevich” with the Welsh Gaelic pronunciation of  “LL” sound, as a combination of “ch” and “L”. It could be that Chlovis became Llewis, then Lowys. Lewys, Lewis, or Lewes.

    It is possible that the Atlantic Modal-> Angle/Celtiberian-> Demetae-> Ludovic John-> Fitz Lewes-> Lewes-> Edmond Lewes trail suggests a pathway by which my unique DNA profile could have passed from the sunken lands of Doggerland 5,000 years ago, to me sitting here pecking at this defenseless keyboard.

   Then again, it could be that the pathway from 10th Century BC southern Denmark to this keyboard came by way of 9th Century AD Anglo-Saxons in East Anglia patiently becoming my 17th Century 11th Great Grandfather in Ipswich, and I just haven’t found the footprints of that trail yet in the 21st Century.

1895 Lewis Family Hay Crew

Lewis Family Hay Crew, Little Sioux, Iowa, 1895

     Ira Carmie Lewis, Joseph Crews on the stack
                                     Squire Rude Lewis (mower)  Branson Laughlin Lewis (mower)      
     Jonathan Wesley “Shine” Lewis                              William Crews (rake)
                driving the stacker team                                     Ether Branson Lewis (sweep)
                                                                                                 Nathaniel “Thann” Mann (mower)
                                                                                                             Charles “Charley” Crews (sweep)

The WikiTree Experience

The past few months I’ve been spending a great deal of time working on WikiTree, a web site creating a giant family tree consisting of entries from thousands of users.

At first I was using it as a tool to help organize my increasingly massive and unwieldy database. As I worked collaboratively with other WikiTree users, I came to appreciate how the records I have collected are not only that of my own ancestry, but that of millions of other people as well.

WikiTree allows us to work together to document our family histories and expand them into other histories and lineages we might not have discovered on our own. The collected resources of WikiTree PMs (Profile Managers in Wiki parlance) are enormous and truly impressive. It’s like working with the most talented professional genealogist you can image.

If you haven’t discovered WikiTree yet, click HERE for my profile, follow the links of ancestors, cousins, descendants and all of their rich documentation.

You’ll be amazed!

Edmond Lewes – Ipswich, St. Clement

Hello Suffolk Researchers:

I am still searching for birth and marriage records for Edmond Lewes (Lewis) )(b. 1600/1601) who sailed on the Elizabeth from Ipswich to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1634, with his wife Mary (b. 1602) and two sons, John (3) and Thomas (9 months). The passenger list for the Elizabeth lists Edmond’s age as 33 and Mary’s age of 32.
John Lewes was baptized to Edmond Lewes, July 18, 1630 at St. Mary le Tower. Thomas Lewes was baptized to Edm. and Mary, May 27, 1633 at St. Mary at the Elms. Edmond Lewes was listed in Freemen of the Borough of Ipswich in 1632, with no other information.
A will for Richard Lewes of Ipswich, merchant, 14 October 1625, lists Edmond Lewes as a son, apprenticed to Luke Fisher of Ipswich, ropemaker. Richard Lewes was noted as Church Warden of the Parish of St. Clement Ipswich in 1598. Richard Lewes’s burial in 1625 is noted in the St. Clement Parish records.
Unfortunately, the microfilm of the St. Clement Parish Records available in the LDS FamilySearch catalog contains only marriages from this time period and an incomplete index compiled Edward Cookson in the 1800s.
There are repeated references of Edmond Lewes’s origins in Wales or Lynn Regis, Norfolk, as well as his wife’s surname as Carey. I’ve not found any evidence to support these claims. I find it much more likely that Edmond Lewes was born in or around Ipswich, Suffolk, where there are numerous Lewes/Lewis families in the 1600s.
I would especially appreciate any information from the Ipswich St. Clement Parish Records that might shed light on Edmond’s birth around 1601.
Thank you in advance!