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REQUEST TO THE PUBLIC:

Seeking Information on Charles H. Lewis, Born in Baltimore in 1834

by STEVEN C. LEVI
Lewis took part in the Gold Rush, the Perry Expedition to Japan, gun smuggling in the Civil War, and surveying the Gulf of Mexico.
I am just finishing a book on the Alaska Gold Rush and I have one agonizing loose end. I need to find a photograph and/or descendants of a sea captain who was born, raised and died in Baltimore. I have had no luck with local libraries and archives, so I was hopeful that a Letter to the Editor would help.

Lewis was born in 1834 and ran away to sea as boy. He was one of the first men (boys) to go to the California gold fields by sea. In l853, as a teenager, he went with the Perry Expedition to Japan. During his twenties, he smuggled guns and ammunition to the Confederacy through the Union naval blockade. Later he was "connected with the United States Geodetic Survey" in the surveying of the Gulf of Mexico. Even though he was a sea captain on the West Coast, he maintained a home in Baltimore. The Baltimore City Directory for 1888 lists C. H. Lewis, mariner, as living on 1809 Light Street and his brother, George C. Lewis, residing at 219 E. Hamburg Street. They were both working as masters on different coasts. C. H. was listed as a first officer on the Idaho, in Pacific Northwest waters, that year, while G. C. Lewis appears in the historical record as Master of the Alsenborn, enrolled in Baltimore on September 18, 1888.

Lewis was listed in the l900 Census in Baltimore with his wife Sara F. Lewis. She was nine years younger than her husband, and the couple was living with their son, two daughters, a son-in-law and a grandson. The couple had been married for 35 years in l900 and had produced eight children. The remaining son at home, Robert J. Lewis, age 26, was also listed as a "mariner.” The family was then living at 1429 William Street.

After Lewis returned from the Alaska Gold Rush, he continued to work in the shipping industry. In the first decade of the twentieth century, he was connected with the Baltimore and Carolina Steamship Company, which offered service between Baltimore and Miami, a four-day trip. The company had four ships, Esther Weems, Mary Weems, Nancy Weems, and Georgianna Weems--named, perhaps, after the relatives of the president of the company, Mason L. Weems Williams.

Lewis died June 7, l9l7, and his obituary ran the next day in the Baltimore Sun. Lewis was survived by his wife, Sarah F. Lewis, and four children: Mrs. Mary A. Forsythe, Miss Sadie F. Lewis, Captain Charles F. Lewis and Captain Robert J. Lewis. Though I sent letters to every Lewis and Forsythe listed in the Baltimore phone book, I did not receive a single positive response.

Could anyone with information please get in touch with me? Thanks, Baltimore!


Write to: Steven C. Levi, P.O. Box 241467, Anchorage, AK 99524, or email him at scl@parsnackle.com.


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This story was published on January 31, 2007.