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WC History: The King of Goshen

Joseph Jackson LewisFirst posted September 16, 2014; updated April 4, 2015 | Malcolm Johnstone

Although becoming totally blind towards the end of his life, Joseph Jackson Lewis, the author of the first biography of Abraham Lincoln still felt compelled to finish a biography of his father using dictation. Entitled A Memoir of Enoch Lewis, the book provides insight into the lives of the Lewis family along with depictions of the Quaker culture of early Chester County and a smattering of local lore. One such story, posted below, tells of Lewis Williams, known as the King of Goshen. The incident would have taken place sometime between 1682 and 1701 within the area where West Chester, West Goshen and East Goshen are now situated but in what was then the western portion of the Welsh Tract.

This brief excerpt begins with a reference to Joseph Lewis's maternal grandmother:

Her mother was a daughter of Lewis Williams, who was usually called the King of Goshen, because of his being the first settler in the township, and for some time its only inhabitant, as well as because of some eccentricities of character.

William Penn once paid him a visit in his forest home, and Williams, in honor of his expected visitor, planted a number of young trees on the sides of the path that led to his house, and bending the tops of the trees over the path, tied them together, so as to form a rude alcove, beneath which the proprietor must pass to reach the dwelling.

"What means this?" said Penn, as, alighting from his horse, he observed the preparation made for his reception.

"These are my life-guards," answered the monarch of Goshen, "so poor a kingdom as mine can afford no better."

The house, built by this original settler, stood but a short distance northeast of Goshen meeting-house, and some of its ruins were visible within the memory of persons now living.
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From A Memoir of Enoch Lewis, by Joseph Jackson Lewis, page 12
First published by PRESS OF F. S. HICKMAN, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1882. 112 pages.

The entire book may be read online at Google Books.

 
 

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