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Adna G. Lewis (1869-?)
Founder of "Lewis Liberty" pre-fabricated homes business.

1905 Bio.. (Added Apr., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan Augustus H. Gansser, 1905


Adna G. Lewis, one of the active and enterprising business men of Bay City, and manager of the Lewis Manufacturing Company, one of the city's most flourishing industries, was born at Bay City, and is a son of Hon. George and Frances (Merrill) Lewis.

The Lewis family is of Welsh extraction but for many generations it has been established in the State of New York. Its founders in America settled in Orange County, in the vicinity of West Point. There the paternal great-grandfather, John Lewis, died at the age of 86 years. The grandfather, James Lewis, was of less sturdy constitution, his death occurring at the age of 56 years. married Elizabeth Thorn, who was a daughter of David Thorn, and a granddaughter of Jesse Thorn, an old and prominent English Quaker. Mrs. Elizabeth (Thorn) Lewis died at the age of 36 years, leaving six children, all of whom have long since passed away, the death of the youngest, George Lewis, the father of our subject, on January 29, 1897, closing that page of the family record.

The late George Lewis was one of the early and able business men of Bay City, one whose energy and enterprise left its mark in the firm founding of business concerns that still continue. He was born November 8, 1827, in Orange County, New York, and remained at home until the age of 21 years, securing as fair an education as was possible in the pioneer log school house of his native locality. He was very likely better acquainted with farming and lumbering than with books. Prior to 1849 he came to Michigan which was then considered as the far, far West, and pleased with the outlook in the Saginaw Valley he located at Zilwaukee and embarked in a lumber business. At this time the most pressing demand in this locality seemed to be for fish barrels, and these Mr. Lewis resolved to make, despite the fact that he had no capital with which to buy machinery. He had, however, plenty of lumber, two strong and capable hands and inherited mechanical genius and until his removal, about 1857, to Bay City, he had made fish barrels by hand, successfully competing with those who used the clumsy machinery of that day. Prior to leaving Zilwaukee he had served in a number of the local offices and was looked upon as one of the representative men of that place.

After coming to Bay City, Mr. Lewis was superintendent of a mill for about five years and then bought a one-half interest, with William Peter, in the Partridge sawmill which was then on the site now owned by the Campbell-Brown Lumber Company, on 26th street, and they started into the manufacture of lumber. Subsequently he disposed of this interest and opened the Bay City Savings Bank, continuing for two years sole proprietor, and then taking in George Young as a partner. Later it was incorporated with a capital of $50,000 and became the Bay City Bank. Mr. Lewis remained president of this institution until he resigned the position, in 1886, but he continued on the directing board until 1890.

Mr. Lewis was interested in other successful business enterprises. In 1879 he formed a partnership with Albert Miller, under the firm name of Miller & Lewis, which did business until 1891, when it was reorganized as George Lewis & Company. The company operated a large shingle mill on 26th street, which had capacity and facilities for turning out 4,000 shingles a day. During this same period, Mr. Lewis became connected with the lumber firm of G. H. Merrill & Company, which developed into and still continues as the Lewis Manufacturing Company.

It is interesting to note the rise and developing of large enterprises, typifying as they do the foresight and judgment of those who ultimately bring about their prosperity. The Lewis Manufacturing Company had its beginning in 1882, when Hyde & Trombley erected a planing mill at Lafayette and James streets, and that firm operated it for some two years. It then fell into the hands of Merrill & Campbell. The death of W. M. Campbell made a change in the firm style and for a time the business was conducted as G. H. Merrill & Company, George Lewis purchasing Mr. Campbell's interest. The status of the company continued thus until the death of G. H. Merrill, in 1895, when the Lewis Manufacturing Company was organized and incorporated, with George Lewis as president; G. H. Lewis as secretary and treasurer. The control of the mill remains in the hands of Adna G. Lewis, as manager. The business is the manufacturing of and dealing in all kinds of lumber, sash, doors and interior furnishings. As a substantial, well-managed concern, it stands as a leader among the many great industries of Bay City.

Politically the late George Lewis was always identified with the Republican party. In Bay City he served two years as supervisor from the Sixth Ward, and two years as a member of the Board of Education. In 1872, without undue effort on his part, he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and served consistently through the session of 1874 which was memorable, as it saw the revision of the State constitution. He was a liberal, broad-minded man and an ideal citizen. He owned much Bay City property, especially in the residential districts and, as he conducted his business enterprises with marked ability, he became one of the largest capitalists of this section.

Mr. Lewis was twice married. His first union was with Martha Campbell, who died in Michgian. In 1866 he married Frances Merrill, who was a daughter of Alonzo Merrill, of Detroit, and who still survives. Six children were born to this marriage; Jennie, who is the wife of H. R. Albee, of Portland, Oregon; Adna G., who is the immediate subject of this sketch; Elizabeth, who is the wife of , of Bay City; Geogre H., deceased; Frank, a resident of Bay City; and Majorie. Mrs. Lewis is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Lewis held fraternal associations with the Knights of Pytias and the Mason. For eight years he was worshipful master of the Portsmouth Lodge, No. 190, F. & A. M., of which he was a charter member; he was also a member of the Blanchard Chapter, No. 59, R. A. M.; and Bay City Commandry, No. 26, K. T.

Adna G. Lewis was educated in the public schools of Bay City, and had the benefit of his father's teaching and experience in entering upon business life. From the beginning he was associated with some of his father's enterprises, and in 1895 he became manager of the Lewis Manufacturing Company. It is a pretty good test of a man's business capacity, in these day of fierce competition, to safely and securely guide a great business enterprise, avoiding labor complications and capitalistic encroachments, and still not only continue but add to the concern's prosperity. has the satisfaction of knowing, on consulting his balance sheet, that such is the case.

Mr. Lewis occupies one of the beautiful homes of Bay City and he has a domestic circle which includes a wife, son and daughter. He married Gertrude L. Layton, who is a daughter of Charles E. Layton, of Bay City, and their children are: George Merrill and Gertrude. In politics he takes the same interest in the Republican part as did his father, but he has accepted no office, the demands of his business taking up his time. He is a Mason, a member of Portsmouth Lodge, No. 190, F. & A. M., and Blanchard Chapter, No. 59, R. A. M.

Additional notes:

  • Marriage Certificate:
    Adna, born in Jan., 1869, and married Gertrude L. Layton, of Pennsylvania, at Bay City, Michigan, on August 26, 1896. Gertrude's parents were Chas. E. and Hannah (Butterfied) Layton.
  • 1990 Cenus, Bay City
    - Adna, b. Jan., 1869, Bay City, MI, Occupation: sash and door factory.
    - Gertrude (spouse), b. Sep., 1876, Pennsylvania.
    - George M., (son), b. Jun., 1897, Bay City, MI.
Related Pages/Notes

Bay City Liberty Home

About 1912, Adna began manufacturing "Liberty Homes," which were prefabricated homes sold as a kit for customer to erect themselves. The Liberty Manufacturing Company for a number of years prior this, they built similar home kits for the Aladdin Company, the first to introduce the product.
Related pages:
Lewis, George
Lewis Manufacturing Co.
Miller, Albert
{Video: Homestead}
People Referenced
Albee, H.R.
Campbell, Martha
Campbell, William D.
Layton, Charles E.
Layton, Gertrude L. (wife)
Lewis, Adna G. (subject)
Lewis, Elizabeth (sister)
Lewis, Frank (bro.)
Lewis, George (father)
Lewis, George (son)
Lewis, George H. (bro.)
Lewis, Gertrude (dau.)
Lewis, Jennie (sister)
Lewis, James (grandfather)
Lewis, John (g-grandfather)
Lewis, Marjorie (sister)
Merrill, Alonzo (grandfather)
Merrill, Frances (grandmother)
Merrill, G.H.
Miller, Albert
Peter, William
Thorn, David
Thorn, Jesse
Thorn, Elizabeth
Young, George
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay City Bank
Bay City Saving Bank
Bay Co., MI
Campbell-Brown Lumber
Detroit, MI
George Lewis & Co.
G.H. Merrill & Co.
Hyde & Trombley
Lewis Mfg. Co.
Merrill & Campbell
Methodist Episcopal Ch.
Miller-Lewis Co.
orange Co., NY
Partridge sawmill
Portland, OR
Saginaw Valley, MI
West Point, NY
Zilwaukee, MI
Internet References
Source: [FamilySearch.org]
  • 1900 U.S. Census: Bay City - George and wife, Anna (marriage 1851) - Children: Lissie, Emmily and Nora.
  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.