Lewis, Lambert W.

Pioneer, Clockmaker, War of 1812 Veteran

Birth: 1786, Southbury, New Haven County, Connecticut
Death: August 16, 1834, Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio
Burial: Vienna Township Cemetery, Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio
Find a Grave memorial

An early settler of Vienna Township, he was the second son born to Beach and Dianna Wheeler Lewis. In 1806 when he about twenty-one years of age, he purchased land in Vienna Township according to property deeds. He married Miss Lois Sanford in 1809 according to Trumbull County marriage records. Other Lewis family members came to Trumbull County, including his brothers Wheeler, Bennett, Charles, and Garry Lewis, and sister Clarissa.

Military Service: Lambert W. Lewis served from August 24, 1812 to November 11, 1812, in Captain Asa Hutchins' Company, 3rd (Hayes') Regiment, Ohio Militia, in the War of 1812. Capt. Hutchins' company contained many men from Vienna Township, including fellow clockmakers Phineas Deming and Joel J. Humason, Jr. [1]

Lewis may have been peddling clocks when he settled a debt through a sheriff's sale of twelve wooden clocks.Trump of Fame, August 12, 1812, page 4.

Lewis manufactured clocks in Vienna, Ohio from about 1815 to 1834 taking part in the local wooden works clock industry. His factory and residence were located on land he purchased in 1806, on the south side of Warren-Sharon Road, across from the McMaster, Hartson & Company factory. This site had water supplied from a branch of Squaw Creek to power the machinery. This clock factory was the earliest and largest operating in Trumbull County, and exclusively produced 30-hour, tall case clocks. Lewis's clocks were signed as "L. W. Lewis."

He entered into a partnership agreement with his brother Wheeler Lewis (1790-1835) around 1815. Lambert Lewis also had a factory that manufactured clocks in Warren, Ohio. Further mortgages over the next decade and a half signal investment in a successful enterprise. According to the 1830 Federal Census, 32 persons were living in the Lewis household, all but six of them likely employees. Other members of the Lewis family involved in this industry included Garry Lewis (1801-1862), and Charles Lewis (born 1805).  Two of his three sons, Nathan Beach Lewis and Gideon Sanford Lewis, his two son-in-laws, Pardon Sherman and Isaac Powers, were active in the Trumbull County clock industry as investors, agents, manufacturers, or peddlers. The partnership between Lambert W. Lewis and his brother Wheeler Lewis may have dissolved around 1823 when Wheeler Lewis's clock factory opened in nearby Howland.

The site of the Lambert W. Lewis clock business consisted of a three and a half story factory building. The windows of the factory were glazed and the door of the factory had a lock on it. Finished clocks were kept on the third floor of the factory and in the garret. Northeast of the factory, next to the road, was a workshop. It was here where painting of clock faces occurred, away from the dust from the manufacturing process. Paul Sherman had a tavern east of the factory site. To the west of the factory was the Lewis residence. Next to the house there was a large field that Lewis kept cattle, mules, and horses to exchange for needed items for his business. The clock factory building, which was later used as a domestic dwelling, was razed in 2011.

Lambert Lewis held the rights to the Asa Hopkins designed, three-arbor clock wheel cutting "engine." The machine could cut up to twelve wheels at one time.Western Reserve Chronicle, September 6, 1823, page 3.

According to the 1820 census the factory employed 5 men. Sisters Sophia and Clarissa Loomis also appeared on the census as they were clock decorators. Diana Deming Lewis, daughter of Phineas Deming and wife of Thomas Lewis, copied dial patterns at Sylvia Lewis Tyler's house in February of 1820.  By 1830, the factory site in Vienna housed 32 people, which included the six Lewis family members.

By the 1830s the wooden works clock industry was on the decline. This was evident in 1832 as Garry Lewis returned most of a 500-clock order back to Lambert W. Lewis after two of the top peddlers in Trumbull County, Levi and Calvin Sutliff, could not sell the clocks on the Ohio River due to poor quality of the clocks. Lambert W. Lewis spent time in debtor's prison and fighting lawsuits in court before he died in 1834.

Lewis was also an original stockholder in the first bank in New Connecticut, the Bank of the Western Reserve, chartered in 1811. [2]

Note that Lambert W. Lewis and his family were not related to Abraham and Levi Lewis. However, they were possible cousins of Thomas Lewis.[3]

For more information on the local wooden works clock industry, click here.

Updated 5/03/2023
Hollander Stacy C., and Brooke Davis Anderson, with Gerard C. Wertkin, Lee Kogan, Cheryl Rivers, and Elizabeth V. Warren; foreword by Gerard C. Wertkin. American Anthem: Masterworks for the American Folk Art Museum. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with the American Folk Art Museum, 2001.
Kilby, Janice Eaton, and Veronika Alice Gunter. By Hand: 25 Beautiful Objects to Make in the American Folk Art Tradition. New York: Lark Books, 2001.
Rogers, Rebecca M. Trumbull County Clock Industry, 1812-1825. Dayton, OH: Sterling Graphics, 1992. Updated and original footnotes included in The Cog Counter's Journal, No. 37, Summer 2015, pp. 33-57.
[1] Adjutant General of Ohio, Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of 1812 (Columbus, Ohio: Press of the Edward T. Miller Co., 1916).
[2] Harriet Taylor Upton, History of the Western Reserve (Chicago and New York: Lewis Publishing Company, 1910), Volume I, pp. 135-137. The Bank of the Western Reserve was dissolved in 1863.
[3] Information contributed by Bruce Paulson, relative of Thomas Lewis.
Note: In 2022 Squaw Creek was renamed Girard Creek.