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June 2016 – Page 2 – Frank Lewis

In this post we take a closer look at Frank S. Lewis, husband of Anna Welton Lewis, who was also the sister of Rose Welton Gilbert. Frank, as far as we can tell, was never a believer, although as time passed after the death of Dr. Teed, I would suggest that there weren’t too many “believers“, but that the Koreshans were more of a “community” — that is, a group of like minded people who had been through a great deal of history together. This is, of course, not to say that there were still many believers, especailly among the early followers of Dr. Teed. But I believe that even they had a stronger tie to the community.

Frank Lewis c.1880's-90's

Frank Lewis c.1880’s-90’s

Frank and Anna are listed in the Claude Rahn Membership List, but it was Anna who was (at least at first) the Koreshan. Her mother joined the community at Moravia New York, one of Teed’s first attempts at forming a community. It seems clear, however, that Anna Lewis’ connection to the Koreshans became more of a “family cousins” kind of relationship.

Frank was a telegrapher (among other things). He worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad at one time. He was born in Port Dickinson New York, just outside of Binghamton, on July 3, 1869. It is about 60 miles to Moravia, so it is unclear just how he and Anna met. They were married in 1896 and in 1900 they were living in Moravia ((1)) (but not in a community) where Frank was a railroad station agent. In 1910 they were living in Jersey City, New Jersey ((2)) where, once again, Frank was working as a telegraph operator. They were mentioned in the March 1916 “Community Current Events” column.

We are pleased to have with us Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lewis of Jersey City, N. J.
Mr. Lewis could only stay. a week, as business called him back to New York; but Mrs.
Lewis will remain some weeks. She is a sister of Sister Rose Gilbert, whom she
hadn’t seen for twelve” years. Their mother, Sister Ada Welton, was among the
Master’s early disciples, and helped him to establish the first Koreshan Home at
Moravia, N. Y.

In a 1923 “Community Current Events” column it was said:

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis of Jersey City, N. J., accompanied Sister Evelyn on the
return journey, traveling by water from New York to Jacksonville. The Lewises expect
to remain South for some time, and have taken up their abode in one of the Boomer cottages on Mirasol grove.

By 1940 Frank and Anna were living in Everglades City where Frank continued as a telegrapher and Anna was the Postmistress. In 1931 they built a home in Estero, which was dubbed “El Retiro”. The October 1931 “CCE” said:

The cottage on our grounds belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Frank S. Lewis has been completed and they spent their two weeks’ vacation there. The house will be occupied when they leave by Sisters Rose Gilbert and Florence Graham.

In 1923 Frank Lewis was a member of the Tamiami Trailblazers, a group that drove across south Florida from Naples to Miami to promote the building of the road (US-41) which was completed in 1928. Frank Lewis was a member of that group (as was Allen Andrews, Charles Hunt and Alfred Christensen). Frank maintained a diary of the adventure.

Frank Lewis died on December 7, 1945 and was buried in the Koreshan (now Pelican Sound) Cemetery. The January 1946 “Community Current Events” said:

Frank & Anna c.1923

Frank & Anna c.1923

“Brother Frank S. Lewis died at Lee Memorial Hospital, Ft. Myers, Friday, Dec. 7. The deceased was born in Port Dickinson, a suburb of Binghamton, N. Y., July 3, 1869. He became a telegrapher by profession, serving first with the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and several years later with the Western Union Telegraph Co. in New York City with whom he remained until coming to Florida in 1922. In 1923 he participated in the now historic Tamiami Trail Blazing trip with a party of men who took the first cars across from Ft. Myers to Miami before the Trail was completed. Shortly thereafter he became associated with the Barron Collier organization at Everglades, serving as telegrapher and accountant in the general offices until he retired and moved to Estero in December 1943. He was also secretary of the Tamiami Trail Masonic Lodge in Everglades. For nearly two years past he had served as bookkeeper and treasurer of The Koreshan Unity at Estero. He left no immediate family, other than his widow, Mrs. Anna Lewis. Mr. Lewis was a man of genial and kindly disposition whom to know was but to admire, and leaves a host of friends to mourn his loss. Burial was in Estero.”

  1. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (, Frank S Lewis, Moravia Township Moravia village, Cayuga, New York, United States; citing sheet 11B, family 353, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,013. []
  2. “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (, Mira W Lewis in household of Frank S Lewis, Jersey City Ward 8, Hudson, New Jersey, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 153, sheet 9A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,374,904. []

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