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Thomas J. Lewis
(1859->1934)

Thomas J. Lewis was born in January 1859 in Pennsylvania, the son of a Welsh-born coal miner of the same name. Around 1884 (at the age of 25, according to reminiscences he wrote 50 years later), he says he "was struck with the mineral bug, and so badly bitten that dear old Dr. Toothaker pronounced him hopeless and incurable." He described himself in those days as "a thin young chap with a ferocious mustache." Lewis collected at the Wheatley mine, among other places, and began advertising minerals for sale in the March 1886 issue of The Exchangers' Monthly. In January 1887 he said that he had "completed arrangements to travel through the South," and therefore found it "necessary to dispose of his large stock of duplicates." He also had a "large lot of fine coal fossils and limestone fossils." He gave his address in Philadelphia as 710 N. 22nd Street.

Lewis married Mary K. in 1887/8, and ultimately they had seven children. In March 1888 he gave his address as 1519 Dickinson Street in Philadelphia, and in September 1888 it was 519 S. 15th Street. By June of 1895 he was giving his addresses in ads as 2246 Earp Street, Philadelphia, and was including a large list of micromounts among his offerings.

Andrew Hartman opened a new mineral store in Philadelphia at 4515 Parrish Street in September 1897, and in April 1898 moved to larger quarters at 1217 Belmont Avenue. Lewis formed a partnership with Hartman in September 1898, and joined him at Hartman's 1217 Belmont Avenue address in Philadelphia under the new company name of "Hartman & Lewis." This arrangement lasted through November, but in December 1898 the ads show only T.J. Lewis at the 1217 Belmont Avenue address. Apparently Lewis then left Philadelphia and moved to Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1899, because his ad in April of that year states that "Owing to the inconvenience and loss of time traveling between Norristown and Philadelphia, I will, after April first, have the store at the former place, where I will be able to devote more time to the business. T.J. Lewis. 218 Summit Street, Norristown, PA." The 1900 Norristown census puts him at that address as well.

In August of 1900 Lewis offered to pay for the railroad ticket from Philadelphia to Norristown for any customer who spent $5 or more with him. "A specialty is made of Pennsylvania minerals," he said, "but a good stock will also be found of other American and foreign specimens. A great many specimens were collected by myself." He stocked an array of New Jersey minerals and had shipments coming in from England. He boasted of having "20 years experience in handling minerals," suggesting that he began collecting around 1880 rather than 1884. He also sold custom made mineral cases with 24 drawers, and minerals for laboratory analysis. His principal job all this time was that of carpenter, and he is so identified on the 1890 Philadelphia City Directory, the 1900 Norristown census and the 1920 Philadelphia census. His last ad appeared in May 1902, but he appears on the 1930 Philadelphia census, retired and living with his wife at their 5707 Lansdowne Avenue address.

Reference:
LEWIS, T.J. (1934) Reminiscent. Rocks & Minerals, 9 (2), p.21-22.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - Thomas J. Lewis 38 x 69 mm,
Label with the 1217 Belmont Avenue address inherited from Andrew Hartman; 1898-1899.
The Mineralogical Record - Thomas J. Lewis 38 x 69 mm,
Label with 1217 Belmont address inherited from Andrew Hartman; 1898-1899.
The Mineralogical Record - Thomas J. Lewis 38 x 72 mm,
Label with Norristown address, post-1899.
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