Augusta County Historical Society Fall Meeting focuses on Lewis family

john f lewisWhat: Augusta County Historical Society Fall Meeting, “A Shenandoah Valley Family of Union Loyalists Confronts the Civil War,” program by Lewis Fisher, Texas author and publisher and descendant of the Lewis family.
When: Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m.
Where: Augusta Stone Presbyterian Church, at Fort Defiance (on U.S. Rt. 11 north of Verona)
For more information: Contact the ACHS office at www.augustacountyhs.org, augustachs@ntelos.net, or 540-248-4151.
Who is invited: The meeting is free and open to the public.

As our nation looks back on that defining period of the Civil War – a history played out 150 years ago – it is sometimes too complex to grasp. The reality is that the history of that tragic war is actually comprised of millions of unique stories, some told on the battlefield and some on the homefront. One family’s history in that war will be the topic of the Augusta County Historical Society’s Fall Meeting to be held Sunday, November 3, at 3 p.m. at Augusta Stone Presbyterian Church in Fort Defiance.

“A Shenandoah Valley Family of Union Loyalists Confronts the Civil War,” will be the program presented by author and family historian Lewis Fisher from Texas. Although every family’s story in the war is interesting, this story about the Lewis family in Port Republic, just north of the Augusta County line in Rockingham County, has deep ties to Augusta County history.

Descendants of Augusta County pioneer John Lewis living in Rockingham County in the 1860s were part of a sizable minority of Union Loyalists. They were careful to give “no cause of offence” to their neighbors while not hiding their convictions, made clear even to Stonewall Jackson as he made their home his headquarters before the Battle of Port Republic. Three brothers avoided Confederate military service in creative ways. After the war, Charles Hance Lewis was Virginia’s secretary of state and U.S. Minister to Portugal. John F. Lewis was twice elected lieutenant governor and was one of Virginia’s first two postwar U.S. Senators. Lunsford Lomax Lewis became chief justice of Virginia’s Supreme Court. His campaign for governor in 1905 was the last major effort for that office by the Republican Party until modern times.

Fisher is an author and publisher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. His lifelong interest in his maternal grandfather’s family in Rockingham County culminated in his recent book No Cause of Offence: A Virginia Family of Union Loyalists Confronts the Civil War. Copies of his book will be available for sale and autographing at the meeting.

Fisher was born in Rochester, New York, is a graduate of Allegheny College and has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He served as a U.S. Air Force officer in Izmir, Turkey and Wiesbaden, Germany. After a stint as a daily newspaper reporter in San Antonio he formed a group of San Antonio suburban newspapers, which he published for 21 years. In 1995 he wrote Saving San Antonio: The Precarious Preservation of a Heritage, commissioned by the San Antonio Conservation Society, then established Maverick Publishing Company, which has published nearly 50 books of general interest regional nonfiction.

Other books he has written on San Antonio include San Antonio: Outpost of Empires, The Spanish Missions of San Antonio and River Walk: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River, which received the national Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Regional Book in 2007. For a distant cousin in California, Irvin Frazier, in 1985 he edited and published Frazier’s The Family of John Lewis, Pioneer, which analyzes one of Augusta County’s founding families and traces 9,000 descendants.

The Augusta County Historical Society has been dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County since 1964. Members and the public are cordially invited to attend the fall meeting. There is no charge. Following a short business meeting and the program will be a reception and an author book signing. For more information about the fall meeting, contact the Augusta County historical society at www.augustacountyhs.org, augustachs@ntelos.net or 540-248-4151.