Special Collections Department
Dorsey Waitman Lewis Papers
Manuscript Collection Number: 349
Accessioned: Purchased, August 1993.
Extent: 4 linear ft.
Content: Ledgers, tax forms, canceled checks, correspondence, wills,
legal documents, personal notes, and miscellany.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: October 1997 by Arthur Siegel.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
As a physician, Lewis also formed a number of close personal contacts with members of the Middletown community, including a particularly intimate one with two sisters: Mary Cochran, who was the wife of former Delaware governor John P. Cochran (1875-1879), and Caroline Tumlin. Lewis had been Caroline Tumlin's personal physician since 1903, and as she had no children of her own she began to look upon Lewis as a son. He had also been the financial advisor to both sisters from about the same time. As they had been unsuccessful in managing their money, they looked to Lewis for assistance. Mary Cochran died in 1912 and made her sister executor of her estate, a responsibility which Tumlin did not want and so turned over to Lewis. Tumlin's health rapidly deteriorated in the years following her sister's death, and she died herself on August 6, 1915 at the age of 74. After her death, however, her two nephews, George and Henry Tumlin, accused Lewis of taking advantage of his relationship with their aunt by squandering her fortune away through poor investments and even stealing, and proceeded to sue him in an effort to recover the money. By Caroline Tumlin's own admission, her relationship with her two nephews was "less than cordial," and when they tried to handle her financial affairs during her last years she refused to permit it -- having deep suspicions of their motives. Very little came of this.
Dorsey Lewis was very active in state and local politics as well. He was the director of Citizen's National Bank in Middletown from 1913-1918, and of the Delaware Trust Company from 1918. In 1922 he was elected president of the New Castle County Medical Association, and in the following year held the presidency of the Delaware State Medical Association. Also during 1923 he was the Secretary of the Democratic State Committee, and in 1924 he made an unsuccessful bid for governor of Delaware under the Democratic banner. In addition, during World War I he served on the state draft board. During the 1950s he was Director of the Delaware State Hospital in Farnhurst, and was president of the St. George's Hundred Historical Society in Delaware. His wife was also active in the community. During World War I she served as an instructor for the American Red Cross in the making of surgical dressings. Later, she served as the Secretary of the Women's Democratic Club and president of the Middletown New Century Club.
On July 17, 1929, Dorsey's father, Stanley J. Lewis, died of arteria-sclerosis at the age of 78 years. He and his wife lived in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had been employed as a produce solicitor for George Allison and Co., a business based in New York. Stanley Lewis was heavily involved in real estate, possessing properties as far afield as Connecticut and Florida, and in the years before his death he either sold off or gave a number of properties to his children. Indeed, much of what is known about these individuals comes from correspondence relating to these financial and legal transactions. Dorsey's sister, Ethel Fox, lived in Westport, Connecticut, and was the recipient of a number of these properties. It would seem, however, that she, like her father, suffered from legal difficulties with realty companies attempting to lay claim on them. In addition, Dorsey's brother Walter L. Lewis, who lived in Orlando, Florida, was sold extensive lands in that region by his father.
Dorsey Lewis himself was a successful investor in both the stock market and in real estate, holding properties in Delaware, Maryland, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida -- the latter where he and his wife spent many of their winters. They were consistently acquiring properties, mostly in Delaware, from the 1920s onwards, and would often sell these at a profit after only a few years. Both Dorsey and Mary had their own individual properties, and Mary acquired a large portion of her father's real estate after his death in July, 1943 -- most notably the Atwell, Hyatt, Savin, and Price farms. Slumping farm values in the post-war period created problems for landowners, and this economic condition is reflected in the collection through evidence of devaluation and frequent sales of property in the 1950s. In addition, Lewis bought and sold a large number of stocks primarily from companies involved in either oil or industry. He died sometime between September 1959 and September 1960, and she died after 1986.
Sources:Who's Who in Delaware: A Biographical Dictionary of Delaware's Leading Men and Women. ed. Seth Harmon. Philadelphia: The National Biographical Society, 1932.
R.L. Polk & Co. Wilmington Suburban Directory. Richmond, VA: R.L. Polk & Co., 1954-83.
Note: Historical and Biographical information also derived from the collection.
Scope and Content Note
The first series covers the period 1917-1955 and primarily consists of records from Lewis' medical practice and his partnership with Dr. Richard Spahr, as well as tax records, stock trades, and real-estate business.
The second series covers the period 1900-1943, with bulk dates of 1912-1915, and 1928-1934. This consists of the wills, correspondence, property assessment, and financial business, both before and after death, of individuals whose estates were administered by Dorsey Lewis.
The final series contains two miscellaneous items: an 1878 scrapbook of Myra B. Lewis, who was a probable relation to Dorsey Lewis, and a letter with several enclosures from the League to Enforce Peace, dated 1918.
The papers relating to Caroline Tumlin are of particular interest in that her correspondence reveals a close personal and professional relationship with Dr. Lewis during the last years of Tumlin's life. The subsequent legal battle with her two nephews, to whom Caroline Tumlin left relatively little, shows the repercussions of this type of relationship. The case provides an interesting study in the legal process as well as providing an informative account of the "facts" of the case from both parties involved. The case is also useful in that Lewis' defense provides a detailed breakdown of his financial activity in regard to the Tumlin estate from October 1912 until her death in 1915.
The legal documents and letters, in particular, yield a great deal of biographical data about the principal and secondary characters mentioned in the collection, including such information as their whereabouts at a particular time or the nature of relationships to other individuals. With a constant supply of names of professionals with whom Lewis was associated (be they doctors, attorneys, businessmen, or politicians), it is possible to piece together a picture of his personal connections; and researchers of Middletown, Wilmington, and Baltimore may find useful the frequently-made references to these individuals. Of some interest are the various drafts and rewriting of wills which reflect changing family dynamics, as well as a comparison of the different legal procedures used for wills in Delaware and Maryland.
In addition, the collection provides an extensive, though incomplete and somewhat muddled, account of the Lewis family land holdings -- their location, worth, and history of ownership. From the tax records (particularly from the late 1940s and 1950s) it is possible to take this even further by constructing a picture of the economic fortunes of various properties over the course of years, placing them within the general matrix of Depression and post-war agrarian history. Lewis' activity in the stock market also highlights its general activity and prosperity in the years preceding the crash of October 1929, as well as tracing the fortunes of specific stocks, and the relative value of stocks both before and during the Depression can be analyzed through his tax records as well. In addition, the collection provides a rough index of prices for goods and services within the medical, legal and funerary professions from the period 1912-1934, thus providing a means to chart inflation.
There is not much in the collection regarding Lewis' affiliation with the Democratic party, or his involvement in Delaware politics, but one item of great interest is a letter, dated July 17, 1918, which he received from "The League to Enforce Peace." In an effort to try to get the United States to join a League of Nations, this New York-based organization, headed by former president William Howard Taft, sought to convince Congress and the states of the necessity of this action in order to put an end to German militarism and achieve permanent peace. With the letter is also found a copy of the platform adopted by the league as well as the tentative plank. It is likely that Lewis' political involvement during the war solicited this appeal.
Related collections:MS 353 Williams Family Collection
Series I. Personal Business This series contains papers regarding the personal business of Dorsey W. Lewis. Included are stock reports and receipts for the purchase and sale of stock shares, tax forms of Dorsey and Mary Lewis (1922-1955), real estate business, ledgers from the Lewis' medical practice (1917-1933), and papers regarding the partnership with Dr. Richard Spahr and its dissolution in 1923. Office Ledgers These span the years 1917-1933 and contain (unless otherwise specified) a list of patient visits, services rendered, and charges. 1 F1 1917-1923 Contains a list of the purchases of office supplies between June 15, 1917 and November 1, 1919. It also contains the inventory list of supplies and instruments for Drs. Lewis and Spahr at the commencement of their partnership on September 15, 1919, and an inventory for the supplies of Dr. Lewis at the termination of the partnership on April 15, 1923. F2 1919 Jan 1 - Dec 31 The ledger has "Jed's Diary" printed on the cover. F3 1919 Sep 15 - 1921 Sep 15 A cash account book which provides a complete, alphabetized list of all of his patients. F4 1920 "Jed's Diary" F5 1921 "National Diary" F6 1922 "National Diary" F7 1923 Apr 16 - 1925 Jan 8 Contains an account of office visits and bills collected, rendered not chronologically but by patient's name. F8 1925 "Decker Diary" F9 1926 Aug 19 - Dec 31 F10 1927 "National Diary" F11 1928 "National Diary" 2 F12 1929 "National Diary" F13 1930 "National Diary" F14 1931 "National Diary" F15 1932 "National Diary" F16 1933 "National Diary" F17 Daily Planner of Dr. Lewis, 1932 Entitled "Warner's Calendar of Medical History," this commercially printed journal provides medical facts and/or quotes from renowned scientists for each day of the year, and at the back there are numerous reference charts providing useful information such as the average height and weight for members of various age groups. It contains notes written by Dr. Lewis regarding his daily affairs and obligations, and all are crossed out -- though still legible underneath. Check Stubs These are bound in hard-cover notebooks and cover the period from Sept 19, 1919 to Apr 20, 1923 -- the period of the partnership of Lewis and Spahr. The checks were drawn from the Delaware Trust Company of Middletown, Delaware, the same bank of which Lewis was the Director. In addition, from 1953-1958 there are check stubs kept in 2 spiral "Y+S EZY-Fil Filler" notebooks, published by the Young and Selden Co. F18 Book 1 (check #101-366) 1919 Sep 19 - 1920 Jun 26 F19 Book 2 (#367-721) 1920 Jun 29 - 1921 Jun 1 F20 Book 3 (#722-817) 1921 Jun 3 - Sep 23 F21 Book 4 (#818-912) 1921 Sep 24 - Dec 30 F22 Book 5 (#913-1010) 1921 Dec 30 - 1922 Apr 10 2 Series I. Personal Business (cont'd) Check Stubs (cont'd) F23 Book 6 (#1011-1111) 1922 Apr 10 - Jul 28 F24 Book 7 (#1112-1205) 1922 Jul 29 - Nov 6 F25 Book 8 (#1206-1350) 1922 Nov 8 - 1923 Apr 4 F26 Book 9 (#1351-1374) 1923 Apr 4 - Apr 20 F27 EZY Filler (#8044-8539) 1953 Aug 8 - 1956 Apr 13 F28 EZY Filler (#8540-9034) 1956 Apr 14 - 1958 Oct 2 F29 Partnership Papers of Lewis and Spahr, 1919-1923 Various items pertaining to the creation and dissolution of the partnership of Drs. Lewis and Spahr. The folder includes written contracts (one dated Sep 18, 1919, the other Jan 13, 1923); inventory lists, account records, collection totals, and a letter from Richard Spahr dated Apr 26, 1923 F30 Stock Statements, 1922-1925 Included are stock statements and receipts for the purchase and sale of stocks from three Wilmington, Delaware, brokerage companies with which Lewis did business: Owens, Anderson & Rumford (Jun 1- Nov 3, 1923); Laird, Bissell & Meeds (May 14 - Dec 31, 1923); and F.D. Lackey & Co.(Dec 31, 1921 - Dec 31, 1922). He also did business with the Broward Abstract Co. from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 1925, and one firm from New York City, Harriman & Co., to whom he transfered several stocks on Mar 21, 1923. In addition, there are two undated pieces of correspondence with Harriman & Co. Tax Records, 1923-1958 These forms provide a continuous financial record over a 35-year period, and include state and federal tax forms for Dorsey and Mary Lewis, receipts, correspondence, hand-written calculations, instruction booklets, and other tax-related items such as relevant newspaper clippings. 3 F31 1923-1925 F32 1926-1927 F33 1928-1929 F34 1930-1932 F35 1933-1934 F36 1935-1938 F37 1939-1942 4 F38 1943-1945 F39 1946-1948 F40 1949-1950 F41 1951 F42 1952-1953 F43 1954 F44 1955-1958 5 F45 Real Estate Business, 1917-1947 (54 items) With bulk dates from 1917-1919, these items pertain to business transactions and management of various farms in Delaware and Maryland, and include correspondence, bills, receipts, and assessments for school taxes in School District 83. The majority of the items in this folder, however, are calculations scrawled on scrap paper. F46 Real Estate Ledger, 1916-1919 List of properties with renters and caretakers; including amounts of rent owed, and dates of payment. F47 St. George's Hundred Historical Society, Jul 1956 - Feb 1958 (11 items) This contains letters to and from Lewis' nephew George T. Coulson (a partner in Morris, Steel, Nicholas, & Arsht of Wilmington, Delaware) regarding the purchase of the Old Academy Lot. Also included is a blank sheet of official letterhead from the Historical Society which lists Dorsey Lewis as president, and names the other members of the board of trustees. Series II. Wills and Estates This series contains the records of the wills and estates of individuals with whom Dorsey Lewis was involved as executor and administrator. These include Mary Cochran (d.1912), Caroline Tumlin (d.1915), his father Stanley Lewis (d.1929), and his father-in-law Nathaniel Williams (d.1943). Included are copies of wills, letters from creditors to Dorsey Lewis as executor of estate, certificates of death, and other forms of legal business. Mary Cochran This collection of documents spans the years 1900 - 1913 and deals with the estates of both Mary Cochran and her husband, John P. Cochran, who died in 1899. Included is a copy of the will of Mary Cochran, an inventory and settlement of the estate of John Cochran, account books, and numerous bills for services rendered to Mary Cochran, and paid by Dorsey Lewis as administrator of her estate. F48 Last Will and Testament of Mary Cochran, 1909-1913 (5 pp.) This copy is dated to February 5, 1909 and is attached to a two-page certification form dated July 6, 1912 and signed by Francis M. Walker, Register of Wills for New Castle County, Delaware. Also included is an official receipt, signed by Francis R. Walker and dated Aug 13, 1913, for the inheritance tax paid by Dorsey Lewis on the estate of Mary Cochran. F49 Inventory and Settlement of Estate of John P. Cochran, 1899-1913 (10 pp.) This includes three separate documents: the Inventory of assets and debts accredited to his estate, dated September 29, 1899 and appraised by George D. Kelley and A.M. Chamberlain; the First Settlement of the estate of John P. Cochran by the executors of his Last Will and Testament, dated April 3, 1900 and approved by Calvin W. Crossman, register in St. George's Hundred; and the Settlement of Dorsey Lewis as executor for the estate of Mary Cochran, dated August 13, 1913 and signed by Francis W. Walker. F50 Account Books, 1907-1912 (2 items) From the "Equitable Guarantee and Trust Company" of Wilmington, Delaware. One book contains account records for Mary Cochran from 1907-1912, and the other contains canceled checks from 1912. 5 Series II. Wills and Estates (cont'd) F51 Bills, 1912-1913 (14 items) Included are bills and envelopes from individuals collecting on services rendered to Mary Cochran, from Jul 1, 1912 to Aug 12, 1913. Among these are medical bills, a bill from the American Bonding Company, a bill from attorney J. Frank Biggs, and bills for Mary Cochran's tombstone and grave services. Caroline R. Tumlin This collection spans the years 1899-1915 and contains copies of her will, personal correspondence, canceled checks, bills, and a series of legal documents pertaining to the suit against Dorsey Lewis by George and Henry Tumlin. F52 Last Will and Testament (8pp.) Includes two autographed drafts of the will, written by Tumlin herself, one in rough scrawl and with no date; the other an official document dated Feb 5, 1909 and signed by Dorsey Lewis and George D. Kelley. Also included is the final, official, copy of the will dated Jun 21, 1913. Attached to this is a two-page letter of certification dated Aug 10, 1915 and signed by Isaac R. Brown, Register of Wills for New Castle County, Delaware. F53 Legal Includes an agreement by former trustee of the estate of C.R. Tumlin, Martin B. Burris, to pay Tumlin 5% interest from her estate per year (dated Aug 19, 1899); a notarized notice of payment to C.R. Tumlin by Dorsey Lewis of $18,135.40 from her sister's estate (dated Aug 15, 1913 and witnessed by Alfred Cox); and an undated and unsigned notice of payment to Frank and George Tumlin of their inheritance specified in the will of Caroline Tumlin. F54 Frank Tumlin and George Tumlin vs. Dorsey W. Lewis (3 items) Included is a copy of the complaint made against Dorsey Lewis "In the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County." This is 21 pages and is not dated. Also included are two 30-page copies of Lewis' response, undated and signed by William S. Hilles and J. Frank Biggs, Solicitors for the Defendants. At the end of the document is a complete reckoning of Lewis' financial activity regarding the estate of Caroline Tumlin, with a list of checks written from that estate between October 10, 1912 and June 30, 1915. F55 Correspondence (7 items) Included are several letters from Caroline Tumlin and on her behalf to Dorsey Lewis, dated from between July 3-31, 1913, when Tumlin was residing at the Hotel Brothwell in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Only one of these is written by Tumlin herself - three are penned by S.R.Haymen and one by her niece Minnie Tumlin - and all are on hotel stationery. Also included are two autographed letters relating the history of Caroline Tumlin, and Lewis' professional relationship with her. Though neither is signed nor dated they are in different hands, and one may have been written by Lewis himself in defense of accusations by Tumlin's nephews. In addition, there is an autographed note by Tumlin to Dr. Lewis confirming him as executor of her will, and on the envelope in which it came is a note that instructs the recipient to open it only after her death. F56 Business (20 items) These items pertain primarily to the financial management of Tumlin's estate during her lifetime, and span the years 1906-1915. Included are interest checks and receipts, a detail of expenditures and receipts, a letter of certificate for the purchase of a burial plot for C.R. and H.C. Tumlin in the Forest Church Cemetery (dated Dec 9, 1899), a certificate and receipt of payment for the upkeep of the burial plot in Forest Church Cemetery (dated March 1906), a letter of confirmation by J. Frank Biggs to Dorsey Lewis as executor of Tumlin's will (dated Sep 7, 1915), a bill from Bertha H. Allen for massage treatments (dated Sep 28, 1914), as well as miscellaneous calculations. Also included is a letter of contract between Miss Ella Staats and Dr. Lewis for renting a room in the house of the late Caroline Tumlin, dated Sep 15, 1915. F57 Canceled Checks These were written by Caroline Tumlin from the Citizen's National Bank of Middletown, Delaware between October 10, 1912 and June 30, 1915. They are kept in a small, brown accordion file. Stanley J. Lewis These papers extend from 1926 to 1934 and deal with business and correspondence relating to the death and estate of both Stanley J. Lewis and his wife Geraldine Lewis. Included are copies of both wills, bills for services rendered, correspondence, a copy of Stanley Lewis' death certificate, and other business relating to the management of their funerals and estate. F58 Correspondence , 1928-1934 (13 items) This contains some letters of condolence, though primarily issues of legal and financial concern. Three letters are penned by Ethel Fox regarding her legal difficulties in Connecticut, and one three-page letter is written to Dorsey by Stanley J. Lewis, who was then staying in Lakeland, Florida. F59 Bills, 1928-1934 (24 items) These fall roughly into two concentrated periods: the first from October 22, 1928 to October 21, 1929 deals with the medical, legal, and funerary bills owed by Dorsey Lewis on behalf of Stanley J. Lewis; and the second from April 10, 1933 to November 8, 1934 deals with those owed for services for Geraldine Lewis. Several of these items are signed by Senator George A. Frick of Baltimore, a Maryland politician and attorney who offered legal aid to the family. F60 Wills and Death Certificate (4 items) Included are two copies of Stanley J. Lewis' will, dated December 1, 1922 and certified on August 8, 1929 by Edwin R. Downes, Register of Wills for Baltimore, Maryland. Also included is a 2-page uncertified copy of the will of Geraldine Lewis, dated to December 1, 1922. The copy of Stanley Lewis' death certificate is dated July 18, 1929 and certified by Dr. T.B. Aycock. F61 Legal (16 items) Included are a wide variety of items concerning the estate of Stanley J. Lewis, and spanning the period from March 11, 1926 to January 9, 1932. Contains mortgage contracts (with Ethel Fox and W.L. Lewis), a quit-claim deed, a hand-written assessment of Lewis' financial records (Jan 1, 1928 - Jan 9, 1932), promissory notes owed to Stanley J. Lewis (1 by W.L. Lewis and 4 by Floride E. Gilmer), and several other documents. Nathaniel Williams These papers extend from 1941 to 1947 and contain correspondence, as well as the financial, legal, and tax records relating to the death and estate of Nathaniel J. Williams, father-in-law of Dorsey W. Lewis. F62 Estate Business, 1943-1944 (30 items) Includes a financial appraisal of Williams' Delaware and Maryland farms, revealing where they are located, how many acres they are, how much they are worth, and what type of crops are grown on the land. In addition, there is a clipping of a 1946 article regarding the nature of post-war real-estate inflation. F63 Tax, 1941-1947 (32 items) Includes federal, state, and inheritance tax information for Mary Lewis in regard to her tax liability as an inheritor. There is also a copy of a 1947 audit of her 1943 income tax returns, revealing that there must have been a great deal of complexity to the tax issue. F64 Financial (7 items) Included are a packet of canceled checks from the Delaware Trust Company (May 8 - Jul 15, 1943) and signed by Mary Lewis on behalf of her father with power of attorney; a balance account sheet from the same period; three promisory notes (Apr 4 - Dec 3, 1941); a list of checks written between July 7-15, 1941; and a list of stocks included in Nathaniel Williams' estate, including number of shares and their value, dated Jul 5, 1944. F65 Legal (6 items) These items are dated to 1944 and include two copies of an affadavit; a hand-written note; and undated and unsigned settlement of estate; an undated Application for Probate, registered by by Isaac R. Brown, Register of Wills for New Castle County; and a copy of the forms and rules for power of attorney. F66 Bills, 1943-1944 (5 items) These include a clipping of a newspaper advertisement, dated July 31, 1943 and written by Mary Lewis, as a notification to creditors of her father's death. Series III. Miscellany F67 Letter from the League to Enforce Peace (4 items) Included is the letter, an official envelope, as well as copies of the platform and plank of the organization. The letter, dated July 17, 1918, is on official stationery, lists all the members of the executive committee (including president, Willaim Howard Taft), and is signed by W.R. Boyd, National Campaign Manager. F68 Scrapbook (1 item) Dated 1878 from the Felton, Delaware Seminary, this includes clippings of newspaper stories written by W.G.B. Lewis, biographical information, and a hand-written draft of a story entitled "A City Window"; all kept in "Mark Twain's Adhesive Scrapbook,"published by Slate, Woodman & Co. in New York City. Myra Lewis and W.G.B. Lewis were probably husband and wife, and as he was a pastor it seems that they moved around frequently, for the stories are from newspapers in Poughkeepsie, NY (1871), Meadville, PA (1872), and Cincinatti, OH (1874). W.G.B. Lewis was last recorded as being pastor at Silver Creek, Colorado, where, according to a notice found in the scrapbook, Myra Lewis died of typhoid fever on August 22 of an unspecified year.
Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page