north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     Dr. Richard Henry Lewis was associated with three schools in Kinston between 1877 and 1902. Owing to Lewis’s wish for his wife, Eleanor Betts Lewis, to be recognized for her involvement in the schools’ operation, the institutions have become collectively known as “The Lewis School.”

     Lewis became principal of Kinston Collegiate Institute in the fall of 1877. The school, opened in 1871 by Joseph H. Foy, had counted Charles B. Aycock among its students in the two years prior to Lewis’s arrival. In 1882 Lewis resigned from the Kinston Collegiate Institute in order to take the helm of Judson College in Hendersonville. Unwilling to lose their beloved principal, citizens of Kinston paid subscriptions to purchase a school building on King Street so that Lewis could start a new academy. The school, called Kinston College, opened in the fall of 1882 with 153 students. However, in 1889 Lewis decided to accept the offer from Judson College and moved to Hendersonville. He remained there until the college was sold to pay debts and in 1893 Lewis returned to Kinston.

     Back in Kinston Lewis and his wife opened a classical academy called Dr. Lewis’s School. The couple operated the school until they retired in 1902. They were honored at a reunion of their students that year. Unable to attend, Governor Charles B. Aycock wrote of Lewis, “His pupils are scattered throughout the world. They have gone into the battle of life equipped mentally for the strife and with the moral training which has made them strong in the hour of temptation.” The educators’s influence on students was long recalled in the community and a later public school was named in honor of the Lewises. Eleanor Betts Lewis died in 1915 at the age of seventy-five and Richard Henry Lewis died in 1917 at eighty-five.


References:
William S. Powell, Annals of Progress: The Story of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina (1963)
North Carolina State Archives, McDaniel Lewis Collection, call # PC 697
Southern Historical Collection, Lewis Family Papers, collection # 427, finding aid at: http://webcat.lib.unc.edu/search~S1?/tlewis+family+papers/tlewis+family+papers/1%2C2%2C2%2CB/frameset&FF=tlewis+family+papers+1730+1956+1996+1998&1%2C1%2C
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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