Thursday, February 12, 2015

The county loan shark’s obituary

Back in 2013 I introduced you to Calvin Lewis, the county loan shark.  I was thinking about Calvin today so I thought I would post his obituary.

Not Dead, but Sleepeth
Died, in Columbia county, on the 26th day of January, in the 25th year of his age, Mr. Calvin R. Lewis. Gifted with a rare combination of attractive qualities, this devoted man adorned the circle in which he moved, and by the warmth of his affection, and the unchanging fidelity with which he sustained his relations in life, enshrined himself in the hearts that now mourn that they shall see his face no more; crowning a faithful life by a death -- no, not by a death -- a passage from earth to Heaven, brilliant with celestial glory. The shadow of death rested not upon him, but only upon the stricken hearts that could not soar with him amid the unfolding glories of immortality, that in the trying hour opened to his enraptured vision, and made the chamber of his departure a place not far from Heaven, leaving a wife and two small children.
The Christian Index please copy.

I love these old obits that are all about character traits and nothing at all about genealogy.  So was Calvin a loan shark or pillar of the community?  Who knows! 

I wish I knew how Calvin died since he was so young.  There are no newspaper articles giving us any details.  If he had met some sort of violent death it would have most likely made the paper.  The Augusta area was hit pretty hard in the Yellow Fever epidemics of 1839 and 1854 but it is unlikely Calvin was affected by these.2  Calvin was an overseer on a plantation.3  Farming accident maybe? 

His probate file wasn’t enlightening but since his probate dragged out for 12 years I might try nosing around in the court records.  Sometimes important court proceedings don’t make it into the probate file.  Lucky for me the courthouse is less than five miles from my house.

1 "Not Dead, but Sleepeth," The Augusta Chronicle, 16 February 1851, p. 3, col. 2; digital images, Augusta Chronicle Archives ( : accessed 20 September 2008). 

2 Joseph Jones, Contagious and Infectious Diseases (Baton Rouge: Board of Health of the State of Louisiana, 1884), 212.

3 1850 U.S. census, Columbia County, Georgia, population schedule, p. 263 (stamped), dwelling 436, family 436, Calvin Lewis household; digital images,  ( : accessed 15 June 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 66.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

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