Thanks for coming back to read the conclusion of my 4-Part series called…another drumroll, if you please! THE ENTREPRENEUR WHO BOUGHT…HIMSELF. Last time, we learned how Uncle Bill became a part of history.
Now find out how William “Uncle Bill” Lewis lived the rest of his days.
Uncle Bill’s blacksmithing business continued to do well, and he was able to pay for his house and accumulate a large amount of money. In 1850 at age 39, he reported his real estate worth to a census taker at $1,500 (roughly $35,116 in the new millennium). By 1860 he reported a worth of $7,000 (equivalent to over $150,000).
Enterprising Uncle Bill hired workers to help operate his shop, and his excellent skills as a blacksmith even earned him enough money to send several of his nine children north to be educated. In fact, his son, H.B. Lewis (featured in Part III of the series) was educated at Howard University in Washington, DC, and eventually became a letter carrier. Uncle Bill also sent three daughters up north to be educated, and they remained there, married, and started families.
Uncle Bill also had a daughter named Sudie Winkler who taught in the Chattanooga city school system; a son named George who was also a blacksmith and was the son who put the shackles on the “Andrew’s Raiders” under Uncle Bill’s supervision (see Part III of this series); another daughter who was a milliner, and a grandson born and raised in Chattanooga who eventually moved to Paris, France and conducted a successful orchestra there.
Uncle Bill remained in business for many years, blacksmithing and wagon-making for the citizens of Chattanooga, and leaving a lasting impression upon everyone he met.
He died on September 2, 1896. He lived a full life, and was well-loved by both African Americans and whites. He did the community proud not only through his industry and entrepreneurial spirit, but even through the kindness he showed to persons like the Andrew’s Raiders, though he met them in their darkest hour.
This historical marker honors Uncle Bill’s memory. It is located on Market Street in the very heart of downtown Chattanooga, and is a fond reminder of Uncle Bill’s contributions to Chattanooga and its development. (Copyright 2005, Rita Lorraine Hubbard.
Well, that concludes my 4-Part series on The Entrepreneur Who Bought…Himself. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Be sure to pick up your copy of African Americans of Chattanooga and find out about other African American entreprenuers. Just click on the icon to the left, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon.com’s website, where you can make your purchase.
Best wishes and happy researching,