The Lewis Family of Freetown
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
My name is Ruth Lewis Smith and my grandfather was Chester Lewis. He was born into slavery around 1830 at Morton Plantation in Lahore. After emancipation my grandfather bought some property in Freetown which is located in Lahore. Most, if not all of the freed slaves who lived in the area settled in Freetown.
Grandfather Chester married Lucindy Morton from Albemarle County. They had eight children, five boys and three girls. Education was very important to them. Their home was used for many years as a school to help educate the children of freed slaves.
Grandfather Chester was a farmer. He planted corn, wheat, vegetables, raised chickens, hogs, horses and cows. There were fruit trees and grape vines. They would can their vegetables and fruit.
At hog killing time, hams and sided meat was salted and put in the smoke house to cure.
The sausage was cooked and put in jars.
Grandfather Chester was also a carpenter. During the winter months he would go around the community making repairs to the neighbors’ homes. One day he went to a little old lady’s house and she told him that she was sure glad to see him. She had heard that he was dead.
Grandfather Chester looked at her and said that he had heard the same thing, but the minutes he heard it he knew it was a lie. He later died in 1922 and was buried on his home place in Freetown.
This is a photo of my father, Eugene Lewis and my mother, Daisy Lewis. Of their eight children, one of their daughters and my sister, Edna, was a renown gourmet cook and has presided over kitchens in the North as well as in the South. She has written several cookbooks which preserve her family cooking traditions of Freetown.
This photograph, taken in 1900's shows my mother’s brothers and sister. They are Stella Thompson
and Otis Lewis.
I am pictured standing in the cemetery where my parents, Eugene and Daisy Lewis are buried along with other family members.
The cemetery is on the property that is now own by my brother, George Lewis.
Chester and his wife, Lucindy were two of the founders of the Bethel Baptist Church in Unionville in 1890. An acre of land was purchased from George W. Lee and Ann Elizabeth Lee on October 3, 1891. Mary Jane Howard was one who loaned the members enough money to help build the church. Their first worship service was held in 1892. The members are still worshipping in the original building to this today.
Map showing location of Freetown, Bethel Baptist Church, and Lewis Family home.
My brother, George, and I recall churning butter in this churn (pictured to the left) for our mother to make cakes. Every Sunday for after-dinner desert my mother would make us dumplings. She made the dumpling by rolling them flat and filling them with cherries or other fruit that was available and then folded them in half. She wrapped each dumpling in muslin cloth.
She would drop the dumplings in boiling water. After they were done and before serving the dumplings she would making a warm butter sauce with grated orange peel to pour over the dumplings. This sauce remains with us to this day and is our favorite.
The picture showing the Freetown sign is where the emancipated slaves settled.
Over the years the property was gradually sold off to other buyers.