Woman of the Century/Ida Lewis
LEWIS, Miss Ida, heroine and life-saver, born in Newport, R. I., in 1841. Her father, Captain Hosea Lewis, was keeper of the Lime Rock lighthouse in the Newport harbor, and she became in early youth a skilled swimmer and oarsman. Much of her time was spent in the boat which was the only means of communication between the lighthouse and the mainland. Her free outdoor lite gave her great strength and powers of endurance, and she was at home on the water, in calm or storm. Her first notable deed in life-saving was in 1859, when she rescued four men, whose boat had capsized in the harbor. Since that event she has saved many lives. Her fame as a heroine grew, and thousands of visitors thronged her humble home to make her acquaintance. Captain Lewis became a paralytic, and Ida was made custodian-for-life of the Lime Rock lighthouse. The appointment was conferred upon her in 1879 by General Sherman, who paid her a signal compliment for her bravery. In July, 1880, the Secretary of the Treasury, William Windom, awarded the gold life-saving medal to her, and she is the only woman in America who has received that tribute. Besides these, she has received three silver medals, one from the State of Rhode Island, one from the Humane Society of Massachusetts, and a third from the New York Life Saving Association. In the Custom House in Newport, in 1869, before hundreds of its citizens, Miss Lewis received from General Grant the life-boat "Rescue," which she now has. It was a gift from the people of the city in recognition of her acts of bravery. For it James Fisk, jr., ordered a boat-house built. Mr. Fisk sent the heroine a silk flag, painted by Mrs. McFarland, of New York. After being made a memberof Sorosis, Miss Lewis received from that body a brooch. It is a large gold S, with a band of blue enamel around it. Across is the name of the club in Greek letters, and engraved on the main part of the pin, "Sorosis to Ida I-ewis, the Heroine." From the two soldiers from the fort, whom she rescued, she received a gold watch, and from the officers and men a silver teapot worth $150. Presents of all sorts, from large sums of money to oatmeal and maple-sugar, have flowed in to her from all parts of the country. She retains and is known by her maiden name, but she was married, in 1870, to William H. Wilson, of Black Rock, Conn.