Clarence Lewis, Historian Emeritus
Anyone who grew up in Niagara County, nearing or surpassing their 60-year milestone birthday, probably has a vivid recollection of the man whose writings made Niagara County history come alive, Clarence O. Lewis. Serving as Niagara County Historian beginning in 1950, Lewis served in that capacity for 18 years until poor health forced him to retire in 1968.
For nearly two decades, Lewis wrote weekly features that were carried by many of the newspapers in the county, highlighting interesting historical treasures from Niagara County’s past. His wit and wisdom were an area staple, producing hundreds of articles that helped create a huge interest in our region’s storied past. (Former Lockport Library Director, Christa Caldwell, indexed the Lewis’ articles to assist many people who still utilize them for research today.) In addition to his weekly column, Lewis wrote a series of books and pamphlets that went into greater detail about area historical topics.
As a complement to his role as county historian, Lewis also served as an original officer of the Niagara County Historical Society and helped establish many of the exhibits that portray the life and times of early Niagara. A topic of special interest to Lewis was the Erie Canal and his book, “The Erie Canal: 1817-1967,” is still a valuable research tool, forty years later. Lewis also wrote one of the only publications that was exclusively devoted to the story of the Seven Sutherland Sisters and their rags-to-riches-to-rags again careers.
Mr. Lewis was a relentless worker in the arena of historic preservation. He worked with a group of other concerned citizens to help protect many of the architectural treasures during the turbulent Urban Renewal years. For his efforts, Lewis was honored with the Golden Deeds Award presented by the Lockport Exchange Club.
After a lifetime of public service, Clarence Lewis passed away in 1971. A fitting remembrance of Mr. Lewis was offered by Constance Whitacre, an area researcher and assistant. “Clarence Lewis has always been so very kind and helpful. Our published (research) carries this dedication; To Clarence Lewis, whose unfailing courtesy, encouragement, and devotion to Niagara County History inspired our work”
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094