Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Lewis, Richard Henry

by H. Kent Stephens, 1991

21 Dec. 1832–15 May 1917

An engraving of Richard Henry Lewis (1832-1917) published in 1886. Image from the Internet Archive.Richard Henry Lewis, educator and physician, was born in Edgecombe County, the son of Dr. John Wesley and Catherine Battle Lewis. He received his early schooling in the Edgecombe Academy and Lovejoy Academy in Raleigh. Lewis was graduated from The University of North Carolina in 1852 and was granted the customary master's degree in 1855. Between 1852 and 1854 he taught in Person County at Mount Tirzah, in Fayetteville, and in Warren County. In 1856 he was graduated from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania and began his practice in Halifax County, Va., and Edgecombe County, N.C. It was interrupted by brief service in the Civil War as captain of Company K, Fifteenth Regiment, North Carolina Troops. An illness that affected his sight resulted in his resignation from the army, after which he moved to Tarboro to resume the practice of medicine. A second attack affecting his sight more seriously turned him from medicine to education. Lewis served as coprincipal of St. John's Female Academy at Oxford, directed the Mills River Academy near Hendersonville, and was president of Judson College in Hendersonville from 1889 to 1893. In 1877 he and C. W. Howard established and operated the Kinston Collegiate Institute. Lewis resigned from the institute in 1882 to open Kinston College. Returning to Kinston from Hendersonville in 1893, he and his wife conducted the Lewis School, a coeducational private school, in their home until 1902. Additionally, Lewis was on the faculty of the normal school conducted each summer at The University of North Carolina between 1880 and 1884.

Lewis's first wife, whom he married in 1857, was the former Virginia A. Cull of Washington, D.C. Following her death and that of their two sons, he married Eleanor Betts on 23 Dec. 1863. They became the parents of a daughter and three sons: Katherine, William Figures, Elisha Betts, and Frank Cox.


Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, vol. 2 (1912).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, 1795–1924 (1924).

Heritage of Lenoir County (1981).

Talmage C. Johnson and Charles R. Holoman, The Story of Kinston and Lenoir County (1954).

Kinston Daily Free Press, 26 Mar. 1963.

North Carolina Teacher 3 (February 1886 [portrait]).

Ellen Ragan, "The Lewis School in Kinston," 1962 (typescript, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Stephen B. Weeks Scrapbook, vol. 2 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Additional Resources:

"Lewis School." N.C. Highway Historical Marker F-28, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed March 19, 2013).

Richard Henry Lewis, Sr., Papers, 1843-1893, (Manuscript Collection #190), East Carolina University, Joyner Library:

Lewis Family of Edgecombe County, N.C., Papers, 1730-1979, 1996-1998 (collection no. 00427). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,N.C.html (accessed March 19, 2013).

Lewis, Richard Henry 1832-1917 in WorldCat:

North Carolina State Archives, McDaniel Lewis Collection, call # PC 697

Image Credits:

"Dr. Richard Henry Lewis President Kinston College, and President North Carolina Teachers' Assembly." Engraving. The North Carolina Teacher 3, no. 6 (February 1886). Frontispiece. (accessed December 17, 2013).

Origin - location: