Biography of Harry Reynolds Lewis

Commissioner of agriculture of the State of Rhode Island, Harry Reynolds Lewis is a man of wide experience in this field, combining practical work with extensive research in theoretical principles. His knowledge of all phases of scientific agriculture is complete, and his proved executive ability is assurance to the farmers of the State that their interests will be ably and efficiently cared for.

Harry Reynolds Lewis
Harry Reynolds Lewis

Mr. Lewis was born at Providence, Rhode Island, on October 14, 1885, a son of Frank Levit and Harriet Elizabeth (Reynolds) Lewis. The family is an old one both in Europe and America, and the name is to be found recorded among the most ancient English names. In the French form, Louis, the Latin, Ludovicus, and the Teutonic Ludwig or Leodwig, it is of frequent occurrence in other countries of the Old World. It is derived from the Saxon, leod, the people, and wic, a castle, meaning in its original signification, the safeguard of the people. The Welsh, Lluows, from which many modern branches descend, signifies a multitude. The original seat of the family is known to be County Kent, England, and from that source its members have spread into many lands. In the American colonies Benjamin Lewis was at New Haven, Connecticut, as early as 1669, removing later to Wallingford. In 1675 or 1676 he located at Stratford, Connecticut. In 1661 John Lewis was living at Westerly, Rhode Island.

Harry Reynolds Lewis, of this record, received his preliminary education in the public schools of his native State, and later entered the Rhode Island State College, from which he was graduated in 1907 with the degree of Bachelor of Science. Having determined upon an educational career in the field of agriculture, he became in that same year professor of poultry husbandry at the Baron De Hirsch Agricultural School, Woodbine, New Jersey, and two years later took over the chair of agriculture there. From 1911 to 1913 he was instructor of poultry husbandry and dairying, from 1913 to 1916, associate professor of poultry husbandry, and from 1916 to 1921, professor of that subject at the New Jersey State University. From 1911 to 1921, inclusive, he was poultry husbandman at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. Mr. Lewis’ authoritative knowledge of agricultural subjects soon won him recognition, and in 1927 he was offered and accepted the position of Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of Rhode Island, an office for which he was ideally qualified, and in which he has achieved distinguished success. He has remained in this position since that time, and his progressive administration of its duties have been of decisive value for the advancement of scientific agriculture in the State.

Among the various organizations in his profession Mr. Lewis is very active. He is president of the National Poultry Council of the United States, and chairman of the New England Council; formerly president, and now a member of the executive committee of the International Baby Chicks Association; a member of the American Poultry Science Association, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Animal Production, and the American Genetic Association. He is the author of numerous published articles and reports dealing with poultry or other agricultural subjects, and of several volumes, including the “Poultry Laboratory Guide,” published in 1911; “Productive Poultry Husbandry,” published in 1913; “Poultry Keeping,” which appeared in 1915; “Poultry Laboratory Manual and Note Book,” published in 1918; and “Making Money from Hens,” published in 1919. Mr. Lewis is a successful agriculturalist in practice, being the owner of the Lewis Farms at Davisville, Rhode Island. In politics he is a member of the Republican party.

In spite of the demands of his professional duties upon him Mr. Lewis has not neglected other phases of life, civic, social and benevolent. He was formerly a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives from East Greenwich, being elected to that body on the Republican ticket, and he has been active in party councils of the State. Fraternally, he is a member of the Beta Phi and Kappa Sigma fraternities, and the honorary fraternities, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi while he is also a member of the Providence Chamber of Commerce, the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, and the Varnum Continentals, a patriotic military organization. He holds membership in several clubs, including the Turks Head Club, the Town Criers Club, of Rhode Island, and the Lions Club. Mr. Lewis, in 1929, was poultry editor of “The New York World,” and associate editor of “Everybody’s Poultry Magazine.” In recognition of his distinguished career, the Rhode Island State College conferred upon him, in 1916, the degree of Master of Arts in Agriculture. Mr. Lewis worships in the faith of the Baptist Church.

On December 25, 1907, Harry Reynolds Lewis married Alice Belle Mattison, of Davisville, Rhode Island. They maintain their home at Davisville, on the Lewis Farms. Of his marriage to Alice Belle Mattison, there is one son:

  1. Harry Reynolds Lewis, Jr., born on February 21, 1911.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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