Friday, September 11, 2009

Featured Family Friday: William Henry Lewis and Julia Mister

William Henry Lewis
--b. 11 Mar 1851, Franklin Co., Georgia
--d. 21 Feb 1946, Baylor Hospital, Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas
& Julia Mister
--b. 12 Oct 1871, Grenada, Mississippi
--d. 22 Sep 1945, Dallas County, TX
--m. 1893

Julia Mister and William Henry Lewis – aka “Dearest” and “Duse” – are one of my favorite families. They had no children of their own, but they helped to raise the children of Julia’s best friend Bettie Curtice Rosser, who died when the children were still young, and Bettie’s husband Virgil Rosser, who had to travel a great deal on business (you can read more about them in Uncle, Uncle – William Henry Lewis: A Little Man Who Stood Tall.

W. H. Lewis was the son of Elisha Berry Lewis and Martha Poole of Anderson County, South Carolina; his sister, Martha E. “Mattie” Lewis (Moore) was my great-grandmother. Henry and Martha were born in Franklin County, Georgia, where the E. B. Lewis family lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Julia Mister was the daughter of Wilbur Fiske Mister and his first wife, Corinne Campbell.

The picture at the top shows Dearest and Duse at their home in Dallas and was probably taken in the early 1940s. The second picture shows a young Julia on the right and one of her friends (or possibly her half-sister or cousin) on the left sitting on mules; it may have been taken near the Grand Canyon.

Below are the obituaries of William Henry and Julia Mister Lewis; they are transcribed from the materials of the William Henry and Julia Mister Lewis Collection of John R. Hornady, III, privately held by Greta K.

Obituary of William Henry Lewis, handwritten date 2-22-46, negative photocopy from the Dallas Morning News, 22 Feb 1946, entitled “Early-Day Officer Dies in Dallas”

William Henry Lewis, 95, colorful early-day peace officer and the first Dallas County sheriff to hold office for three terms, died Thursday afternoon at Baylor Hospital. He lived at 1520 South Boulevard.

One of fourteen children, Lewis was born in Franklin Co., Ga., and spent his early boyhood on a farm in Anderson County, South Carolina. He had a constant ambition to come to Texas and at the close of the Civil War spent his savings of $45 on a railroad ticket.

He split rails at 1 c each to replenish the funds and later did survey work for the railroad along the route. He got to Dallas in 1873 and located on a farm near Lisbon,.

Long Time Deputy Sheriff.

His first public office was as Deputy Tax Assessor of Dallas County under Dod Rollins. Under Sheriff Ben Jones, he became a deputy. He continued in this job under Sheriff W. H. W. Smith.

He then held the office of Constable of Precinct 1, Dallas County, and in the fall of 1886 was elected Sheriff. He was re-elected in 1888 and 1890.

Many stories of Lewis’ remarkable character and quiet courage are told of his days as Sheriff.

One relates how Lewis, while unarmed, induced one of the infamous Starr brothers to follow him meekly to jail after he had shot up a downtown saloon.

Retiring from office he entered the real estate business with the late Col. O. P. Bowser. They formed the firm of Bowser & Lewis and Lewis continued in this business until his death.

Active in Masonry.

He was a member of the Presbyterian Church York Rite and Scottish Rite degrees of Masonry, the Shriners, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Honor and the Elks.

At one time he served as a member of the city’s equalization board and was frequently called in to help on various real estate condemnation and valuation committees.

He was interested in navigation of the Trinity River. He was one of the founders of the Oakland Cemetery and helped keep the Texas State Fair operating in the days before the city assumed the debt.

Surviving are two half-sisters, Miss Julia Lewis, San Diego, Calif., and Mrs. C. C. Hindman, Greenville, SC, and two nephews, Roy Lewis and Ed Lewis, both of Dallas.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p. m. Saturday at Sparkman-Brand Funeral Chapel, 2113 Ross.

Obituary of Mrs. William Henry Lewis [nee Julia Mister], clipping from unidentified newspaper, entitled “Lewis Rites Set Monday.”

Lewis Rites Set Monday

Funeral services for Mrs. William Henry Lewis, who died Saturday at her home, 1520 South Boulevard, were to be held at 4 p. m. Monday at the Sparkman-Brand Funeral Chapel,2115 Ross Ave. Rev. Philip Sarles, pastor of the Central Congregational Church, was to officiate.

Mrs. Lewis was born in Granada, Miss., but moved to Plano, Tex. with her parents as a child, in 1883. Her father was the late Prof. Wilbur H. Mister, founder of Plano Institute and later connected with Polytechnical College at Fort Worth. Her mother, the late Corinne Campbell Mister, was born in Charleston, S.C.

In 1893 she became the bride of William H. Lewis of Dallas, where Mr. Lewis was active in real estate and business circles.

Mrs. Lewis had been prominent in Dallas literary and civic activities. She was a member of the Southern Memorial Association, Pierian Club, Browning Club, and in early years she was one of the leading Dallas musicians.

Among friends from out-of-town who attended the services were Mrs. Jack R. Hornady of Tarrytown, N.Y.; Mrs. Rosser Zoll of New York, N.Y.; Dr. and Mrs. Virgil O. Rosser Jr. of Graham, Tex.; Mrs. V.O. Rosser, Sr., of Graham, Tex., and Mrs. Francis M. Black of Kincaid, Kan. Mrs. Wilbur Hawkins was soloist and Mrs. A. A. Cocke paid a tribute at the service.

Pallbearers were Dr. Curtice Rosser, Roscoe P. DeWitt, J.E. Gamble, Gwynne S. Curtis, J.W. Shepard, Jr., and Roy H. Lewis.

[Mrs. Francis M. Black is Edna, Julia’s half-sister.]


  1. Dear Greta -

    Perhaps you'd like the source of your obit for Julia?

    Are you aware that you can search the obituary archives 1885-1977 published in the Dallas News at

    Searching is free, but a paid subscription is needed to read the articles. A days pass that entitles one to 50 downloads is available for $9.95 and there are other rates.

    I found the headline, "Mrs. W. H. Lewis Funeral Service Scheduled Monday at 4 P.M." on Sep 24, 1945. The previous day, I got a hit back for Lewis and the title was, "City Resident for 52 years Dies at Home" --- not sure if this is her.

    Regardless, this is a great resource for researchers. I enjoy your blog! Jeanne Johnson

  2. Hi Jeanne - Yes, both of those articles are obituaries for Julia Mister Lewis. About a year or so ago, I subscribed for the 700 downloads option from the Dallas Morning News (mostly on Henry Lewis) and I actually have transcriptions of those articles in my genealogy program, but I forgot that I had additional obituaries when I wrote this article! The article I quoted was among the materials passed to me by Mr. Hornady and did not have any source information, but since it did not turn up among my downloads from the Dallas Morning News, I suspect that it was from the Dallas Times-Herald. Speaking of which, do you know where the archives for the Dallas Times-Herald are kept? I believe Henry was a friend of Edwin Kiest, so there may be even more articles there!

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

  3. Dear Greta --

    I located many libraries that have the Dallas Times-Herald archives by searching at -- (by entering your zipcode in the appropriate spot, you'll get "hits" for libraries near you with mileages and maps to their locations).

    You may need to consult individual library catalogs to learn what dates and issues they have. Luckily, most of the major library catalogs are online. Good luck! Jeanne