Woman of the Century/Graceanna Lewis
LEWIS, Miss Graceanna, naturalist, born on a farm belonging to her parents, John and Esther l.ewis, of West Vincent township, near Kimberton, Chester county, Pa., 3rd August, 1821. GRACEANNA LEWIS. Both parents were descended from the Quakers. Her father was the fifth in descent from Henry Lewis, of Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales, who came to this country about the beginning of 1682 and settled in what is now Delaware county, at first in Uplands, now Chester, and later in Haverford, with a winter residence in the city of Philadelphia. He was one of the friends and companions of William Penn, and was a man of education and influence. A number of his descendants have been among the educators of their generation. On his mother's side, through the Meredith family of Radnorshire, Wales, he was the ninth in descent from David Vaughan, who lived about the time of the discovery of America. In accordance with a mode peculiarly Welsh, his son took the name of Evan David; his son that of William Evan; his son that of Meredith William; and his son that of Hugh Meredith. This Hugh was a Cavallier, and with him the name of Meredith was retained for that of the family. His sou, Simon, born 1663, was among the early colonists of Pennsylvania, and settled in West Vincent, purchasing a tract of land held in the family until recently. Here the five children of John and Esther Lewis were born. Her mother was the oldest child of Bartholomew Fussell, sr., and Rebecca Bond Fussell, his wife. The former was a minister in the Society of Friends and was of English descent The latter was of mingled English, French and Hollandish blood. The father of Graceanna died, leaving a wife and four daughters. Grace- anna was then not three years old. Before her marriage the mother had been a successful teacher, at first of her own brothers and sisters, and later of large and flourishing schools. She was eminently fitted for the task of educating her children. After twenty-four years of widowhood she died, leaving her oldest and youngest daughters with Graceanna in the home known as "Sunnyside." Graceanna had always been fond of natural history. She studied for the love of it in prosperity, and it became her consolation in sorrow. In the field of natural history her most important work has been the preparation of a "Chart of the Class of Birds"; a "Chart of the Animal Kingdom"; a "Chart of the Vegetable Kingdom"; a Chart of Geology, with Special References to Palaeontology"; "Microscopic Studies, including Frost Crystals and the Plumage of Birds, as well as the Lower Forms of Animal and Vegetable Life, with Studies in Forestry with original Paintings of Forest Leaves;" "Water-color Paintings of Wild Flowers," and illustrations for lectures on plants and animals. In 1869 she printed a small pamphlet, showing the relation of birds in the animal kingdom. That pamphlet was the result of long studies, both in her home on the old farm and with the benefit of the library and the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, under the direction of John Cassin, one of the leading ornithologists of the world. It was the germ of her later and improved charts. She was delighted to find that er views, which she had reached from general considerations, were sustained by anatomical research of the highest order. In 1876 she exhibited in the Centennial Exposition, a wax model along with her chart of the Animal Kingdom. Here Prof. Huxley and other prominent naturalists found opportunity of examining her productions, and they were highly commended. Fortified by the encouragement of the best zoologists of England and America, her confidence was now assured, and she was ready to apply the same principles to the construction of a Chart of the Vegetable Kingdom." By 1880, she had outlined the latter, and had completed it by 1885. Since then, all her charts are revised in accordance with the progress of scientific knowledge. Prof. Maria Mitchell, then of Vassar College, elected president of the fourth congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women, having urged Miss Lewis to prepare a scientific paper for reading before the meeting, the latter responded by choosing for her subject "The Development of the Animal Kingdom." Prof. Mitchell published that paper in pamphlet form, and circulated it widely amongst scientists. In 1870 Miss Lewis was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. She is at present an honorary member of the Rochester Academy of Science, Rochester, N. Y.; of the Philosophical Society of West Chester, Chester County, Pa.; of the New Century Club of Philadelphia; of the Women's Anthropological Society of America, Washington, D. C. ; and recently, has been elected a life member of the Delaware County Institute of Science, in Media, where she now resides. Miss Lewis continues to lead a busy life, and in addition to her scientific studies, finds time for many diverse social duties. At home, she is secretary of the Media Woman's Christian Temperance Union, secretary of the Media Woman Suffrage Association, secretary of the Delaware County Forestry Association, superintendent of scientific temperance instruction of the Delaware County Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and chief of the cultural department of the Media Flower Mission.