Newton A. Lewis

Newton A. Lewis, the well-known president of the Merchants' State Bank and a prominent business man of Fargo, North Dakota, is a native of Vermont, born in Orleans County, April 4, 1855, and is a son of Harvey and Emily D. (Tomlinson) Lewis, farming people, who spent their entire lives in the green mountain state. In their family were four sons, three of whom are now living, but our subject is the only one who makes his home in the west. He was reared and principally educated in his native state, but also took a course of study at Gaskill Business College, Manchester, New Hampshire.

Mr. Lewis began his business career as a clerk, and followed that occupation in the east for three years, after which he was engaged in business there for himself one year. It was in 1882 that he came to Fargo, North Dakota, and here he clerked in a grocery store for a time. Two years were spent as mailing clerk in the post office, and he then embarked in the grocery business as a member of the firm of Vidger & Lewis. They soon became interested in a wholesale produce and commission business, which they successfully carried on together until January, 1898, when Mr. Lewis retired from the firm, but Mr. Vidger still continues the business. Mr. Lewis has been a director of the Merchants’ State Bank since its organization, August 18, 1890. It began business with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars, which has since been increased to one hundred thousand dollars, and its first officers were Hon. B. F. Spalding, president; Thomas Baker, Jr., vice-president; and L. S. Champirie, cashier. Mr. Spalding continued as president for about four years and was succeeded by Col. J. D. Benton, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Lewis was chosen as vice-president and also served as cashier and general manager. In 1896 H. W. Gearey was elected cashier, in which capacity he had several for some months previous, and is still filling that position. When Colonel Benton retired in 1898, Mr. Lewis was chosen president in his stead and Oscar G. Barnes, vice-president. The board of directors are all residents of Fargo and leading business men of the place. They do a general banking business and their annual deposits amount to about four hundred thousand dollars. The bank is one of the most solid financial institutions of the state, and it’s officers are straightforward and successful business men of known reliability. Mr. Lewis is also a stockholder of the Fargo packing & cold storage company, and is interested in other business enterprises since coming to this state he has met with most excellent success in his undertakings and has become the possessor of a handsome competence secured through his own well-directed efforts. Besides the property already mentioned, he is also the owner of some real estate.

In 1878 Mr. Lewis was married in Vermont to Miss Cora E. Baker, a native of that state. Socially he belongs to the Knights of Pythias, and politically is identified with the Republican Party. He has been treasurer of the agricultural college for four years, and today he is one of the best known men in North Dakota, especially in business circles. His life affords an example to the young, in that he commenced life here without money or friends, but having a determination to succeed, he industriously applied himself until he has acquired a handsome property.

Source: Compendium and History of North Dakota 1900 Page 203

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