Caleb and Joanna (Wade) Lewis musings

Caleb Lewis (1790-1856) is one of our genealogical brick walls. While he left a nice paper trail during his life, we have yet to discover the names of his parents. He first appears in census records in 1820, living in Stafford, Genesee County, New York, with his wife Joanna (Wade) Lewis and two young sons. In 1822, he purchased land in Cattaraugus County from the Holland Land Company, and the Lewis family moved to Farmersville, along with Joanna’s parents, Jacob and Sarah (Jones) Wade. Jacob Wade comes from a widely documented family out of New Jersey. I wanted to dig around on them a bit to see if I could shed some light on their migration into New York and possibly find out how it was that Joanna’s family met up with young Mr. Caleb Lewis.

The home of Caleb and Joanna Lewis, Farmersville, Cattaraugus County, New York, ca. 1860s

Caleb and Joanna (Wade) Lewis had eleven children:

Jacob W. Lewis (what do you want to bet he was named for Joanna’s father, Jacob Wade?). He supposedly moved to Iowa and was possibly involved in the Civil War but we know nothing more of him…. yet.

Caleb Lewis, Jr., who married Elizabeth Ann Babcock and lived in the Genesee, Allegany County, NY area.

Lovisa Lewis, who married George W. Swift and lived in the Black Creek area of Allegany County, NY.

Oliver Lewis, who married Clarissa Norton, and resided in Centerville, Allegany County, NY. No doubt, Oliver was named for Joanna’s brother Oliver Wade.

Joanna Lewis, who married Ozro Wilson.

Eliza Ann Lewis, who married John Orestes Badger and moved to Chautauqua County, NY.

Mary Ann Lewis, who died as an infant.

Guy Carlton Lewis (it was fashionable to name children after an historic figure… I wonder how Caleb and Joanna felt about Guy Carlton of Revolutionary War fame?), who married Maria Sara Farrington and moved to Michigan and then Idaho.

Mary Ann Lewis, who married DeAlton Swift. The name must have been important enough for Caleb and Joanna to use it again after the death of the first child named Mary Ann.

Ralph Lewis, who married Emma Otto (they are my great-great-grandparents) and homesteaded in Keya Paha County, Nebraska in 1883.

Stillman Ennis Lewis, who married first Julia A. Huntley, and second Jennie M. Hastings. He was a dentist in Olean, NY and was a member of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) along with his brother Ralph, years after the two served in the Civil War. The name Stillman appears in areas where the Lewis family lived. There’s even a Stillman Ennis, but the exact connection hasn’t been determined yet.

Brothers Stillman E. Lewis and Ralph Lewis in their GAR uniforms, 1909

My father and I have fleshed out most of these branches of the family, at least somewhat, searching for clues to further our knowledge of Caleb Lewis and his background. An early resource for us was the Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska which contained a brief biography of Ralph Lewis and a sketch of his “Clover Leaf Farm” in Keya Paha County. His biography stated that Ralph’s father Caleb was “born in Rhode Island, and his family were all killed at the Wyoming massacre except his father and grandmother.” Research into the Wyoming Valley massacre of 1778 has not yet led to information on the parents of Caleb Lewis.

Going back to the clue about a Rhode Island birthplace, we found several men named Caleb Lewis who lived in Exeter, Rhode Island in the 1700s. We have followed some of them but to date have not found the evidence needed to show that our Caleb born in 1790 was a son to one of them. It is likely they are related, however, so that’s a start. Now that resources such as (now are online, it is much easier to pursue resources to flesh out “what if” lines. I spent hours this weekend reading Revolutionary War pension application files. So interesting!!

Headstone of Caleb and Joanna Lewis, Farmersville Center Cemetery

Joanna Wade<Jacob Wade<Daniel Wade<Robert Wade<Benjamin Wade

Colateral lines often yield clues. This weekend I gathered up my Wade data. Joanna’s parents were Jacob and Sarah (Jones) Wade. They named their first two children Magdalena and James J. Wade. Considering the importance of naming patterns in that era, I am willing to bet that Sarah Jones’ father was James Jones and that she named her first-born son after him. No proof yet. I did do some digging on Joanna’s brother James J. Wade, who lived in Gaines, Orleans County, NY. No document that I have found yet shows his middle name.

But I did find something interesting on Jacob Wade’s mother. All this time we had assumed her name was Temperance, based on the 1900 publication, the Wade Genealogy, compiled by Stuart Charles Wade. Now I have stumbled upon the wills of Robert Wade and one Timothy Whitehead, which indicate that Daniel Wade’s second wife, the mother of our Jacob, was named Magdalena (Whitehead) Wade. This makes sense, knowing that Jacob and Sarah named their first-born daughter Magdalena.

        WILL of ROBERT WADE, Elizabeth, Essex Co, NJ

Calendar of New Jersey wills, administrations, etc (Volume 4), New Jersey Historical Society

CALENDAR OF WILLS – 1761-1770, page 459

1760, Jan. 7. Wade, Robert, of Elizabeth Borough, Essex Co., yeoman; will of.
Wife, Sarah, use of 1/3 my land. Granddaughter, Sarah Cherry, £20. Granddaughter, Sarah Brown, £5, when 18. Son, Daniel, plantation where I live and the swamp on the other side of the way, joining land of John Wade, Jotham Clark and Benjamin Wade, which is 18 acres. Sons, Henry and Daniel, two lots of salt meadow, of 15 acres; also one joining to the Oyster Creek, of 6 acres. Son, Benjamin, salt meadow that joins Bound Creek, of 7 acres. My son, Daniel, and my daughter, Patiensce (sic), wife of Josiah Woodruff, moveable estate. Executors – friend, Timothy Whitehead, and my son, Daniel. Witnesses – Andrew Whitehead, Timothy Whitehead, Jr., Elias Whitehead. Proved Aug. 18, 1766.
1766, Aug. 21. Inventory, £53.0.7, made by Nathaniel Ball and Amos Day. Lib. I, p. 43.

        WILL of TIMOTHY WHITEHEAD, Elizabeth, Essex Co, NJ

Calendar of New Jersey wills, administrations, etc (Volume 5), New Jersey Historical Society

CALENDAR OF WILLS – 1771-1780, page 581

1779, July 26. Whitehead, Timothy, of Borough of Elizabeth, Essex Co.; will of.
Daughter, Prudence Bonnel, £700, for her and her children. To the children of my daughter, Magdelena Wade, £150. Son, Timothy, all my cooper’s tools, and to his children, £100. Grandson, Abner Whitehead, £150. To the children of my son, Andrew, deceased, £50, whose names are, Charlotte and Elizabeth Whitehead. Grandson, David Whitehead, £10, he being kin to his father’s estate. The rest of the money to be divided between the rest of my son Elias Whitehead’s children, James, Sarah, Lois, Prudence, Rachel and Alis, when they come of age. If my grandson, James Whitehead, should appear to be reformed, then he may have a double portion with the last named children. I give my Executors power to sell all my goods and land. Executors–son, Timothy, and my son-in-law, Daniel Wade. Witnesses–David Wade, Caleb Wade, Jr., David Wade, Jr. Proved Nov. 1, 1779.   Lib. 20, p. 354

Headstone of Jacob and Sarah Wade, Farmersville Center Cemetery

Hot off the press…

I had just blogged about the Wades yesterday, and then today I came across an abstract of Daniel Wade’s will, and it claims his wife was Temperance, at least at the time he wrote the will in 1793. Was he married three times? I need to flesh out the children of the family to determine birth order and follow up in other records to determine if there were three wives. See below.

        WILL of DANIEL WADE, Sr., Elizabeth, Essex County, NJ

Documents Relating to the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey, First Series—Vol. XXXVII

Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc., Vol. VIII—1791-1795, page 385

1793, Aug. 9. Wade, Daniel, Sr., of Elizabeth Twsp., Essex Co.; will of.
Wife, Temperance, 1 cow, choice of hogs, household furniture and privileges of house and garden, and provisions. Son, Amos, 5 shillings. Son, Benjamin, £8. Son, Daniel, ¼ of salt meadow, 1/5 of woodland, and 1 acre before his door adjoining the Parsonage land. Son, Timothy, 1 acre adjoining land sold to Charles Townley, and 1/5 of woodland back of the estate of David Meeker. Son, Jacob, ¼ of salt meadow and 1/5 of woodland. Son, Robert, piece of land opposite house of son Daniel, 1/5 of woodland and ¼ of meadow. Son, Moses, ¼ of meadow, land where my house stands and residue of movable estate; he giving son Timothy a deed for house and lot where he now lives, or to pay him £110. Daughters, Temperance, (wife of David Bonnell), and Esther, (wife of David Baker), each £10. Son, Jacob, £7, or title to land on the mountain known as the Mine Lot. Executors—friends—Jonas Wade and David Crane. Witnesses—Robert Wade, Benjamin Scudder, Noah Wade. Proved July 25, 1793.            Lib. 33, p. 191; File 7776-7781G.

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8 Responses to Caleb and Joanna (Wade) Lewis musings

  1. Russ Lewis says:

    Hi, Sis. I love the new additions. I’m looking forward to seeing a map which will show the properties of the Wades, et al. It’s a chance to do some planning for the next trip east. Mab we’ll have the Sangerfield location by then (if there was such.). Dad.

  2. G. Travis Whitehead says:

    I have a copy of a diary written in the late 1700’s, by David Whitehead (b.1761), a grandson named in Timothy’s will. In it he has the birth and death dates of his family including his Aunt Magdalena Whitehead who died in 1783 so Temperance Wade in 1793 must be yet another wife. I can send you a copy of that page if you like. BTW Timothy’s wife was Magdaline J’ Loine, a French woman “came to America the time of the Persecutions” (Huguenots) Their first born was Magdalena, a son Andrew Joline Whitehead has the anglicized version of the family name.

    My brick wall is a James W Whitehead who died in Phila in 1848 approx age 45. I suspect he might be the son of the James Whitehead (b.1763) “that needed to be reformed” in Timothy’s will. He is among a number of Whitehead shoemakers in Phila, including a Caleb (b. 1794) and a Lewis Whitehead (b. ca. 1808) coincidences? Lewis definitely had a connection to Springfield NJ where James 1763 lived after the war until his death in 1829. James 1763 joined the Continental Army in 1777 as a drummer boy just 2 years before Timothy wrote the will ( I suspect Timothy did not approve ). Among other things his outfit was sent to Wyoming PA to avenge that Indian massacre.

    • Leslie says:

      Wow! Travis, I would LOVE to see a copy (or scan) of the diary page you mention with the Whitehead dates! What an amazing thing to have a treasure like that… it goes beyond what published records can reveal, especially in that time period. Feel free to email me. And talk about coincidences…. believe it or not, my father and I were just at both the Elizabeth Presbyterian Church and the Connecticut Farms Church this morning! We are on a genealogy road trip and are working our way around the northeast researching various family lines. Thank you SO MUCH for responding to my blog on the Wades and Whiteheads.

  3. Jane Sullivan says:

    I found this website through a link on findagrave. My 4th greatgrandmother was Mary Jones Thompson, sister of Sarah Jones Wade. Their father was indeed James Jones. I have a theory that their mother was named Joanna, but that is still in the early research stage. Would be glad to communicate with you on the Wade and Jones connections. Mary and Sarah’s sister, Rebecca, married Robert Wade, a brother to Jacob.

    • Leslie says:

      Jane, this is exciting! So great to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog. Please feel free to email me and we can discuss the Jones family. I would love to get a list of the family members. I know absolutely nothing of Sarah (Jones) Wade’s family other than what I mentioned in this article.
      Looking forward to hearing from you again!
      Your cousin, Leslie

  4. Jane Sullivan says:

    I will be glad to email what I have. Unfortunately I have not found anyone who knows the name of the Jones sisters’ mother. Since both Sarah and Rebecca had daughters named Joanna, I think their mother was Joanna. I will email more on this theory.
    Regards, Jane

  5. Dave Lewis says:

    Hi Leslie,
    Thanks for all of your hard work keeping track of the family. My father (H. D. Lewis) has given my bothers and I a ton of information regarding the Lewis family. I believe that you were the one that provided him with this info a couple of years ago.

    Every six months or so I spend a couple of hours on google to see if any new links to Caleb appear. Question… What was Calebs actual birthdate? I have dates for 1789 and 1790.

    I’ve also seen a couple of places online that mention that Caleb’s father was Abraham. One link mentions that he came from Scotland and another that he came from England. The most recent link that I found was a new link on I’m not sure if this is ‘our Caleb’ but the list of brothers and such match the family names. Its a long shot…. but who knows. Here is the link:


  6. Leslie Lewis says:

    Cousin Dave,
    Good to hear from you! Caleb’s headstone says he died May 9, 1856 aged 66 years, 4 months and 3 days, which calculates out to a January 6, 1790 birthdate. Also those dates were given in the book, “Genealogical and Family History of Western New York” Vol. 2, by Cutter (1912), as well as Lewis family Bible records submitted to the Farmersville historian by the Badger branch of the family. I have often wondered if that meant Caleb and Joanna’s Bible ended up in Chautauqua County.
    I have never seen any proof about Caleb’s father, although I have seen mention of an Abraham. So far, no documentation. Unfortunately, once a tree gets posted, the info spreads like wildfire whether it is proven or not. Still searching!
    I think of your dad often when digging around on the Lewis family. Please email me privately and let me know how he’s doing.
    Your third cousin,

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