By Larry B. Schuknecht
Nelson Lewis was born in 1811 in Schaghticoke, N.Y. near Lansingburgh. He likely apprenticed to J.M. Caswell in Lansingburgh and by 1840 was living and working there and about 1843 he relocated to Troy where he had a shop at the corner of Congress and Church Streets. He married Harriet A. Morrison (1819-Dec. 15, 1875) and they had two sons- William G. (1835- ) and Charles E. (1837-June 10, 1870) and a daughter-Mary. Lewis remarried, his second wife's name was Caroline.
His shop usually employed 6 workers, one being the engraver John Wolf along with Edward Hartmann, Frederick Heyl and Thomas White. His shop specialized in side by side percussion combination guns which were popular with the New York City hunters who traveled to the Adirondacks, and Target Rifles and Pocket or Buggy Rifles. He was a very good shot himself and he never shied away from a challenge to compete. In the periodical titled Forest & Stream, Vol. IV, #1 of Feb. 11, 1875 it stated that in 1874 he shot in a Turkey Shoot and he hit a Turkey at 1200 yards.
Nelson died on August 4, 1888 at the age of 77. He was buried in lot 51 on the Hyacinth Walk in the New Mt. Ida Cemetery in Troy.
Following are two sets of images sent by unknown individuals to Jerry Swinney for his archives. They show two Box lock rifles which are seldom seen made by Lewis.
Following is a slider showing images of a Lewis side by side combination gun in .40 caliber and 20 ga. with German Silver furniture.
Following are some random images of Lewis guns.
In 1876 Nelson had a Price List of Fire Arms and Fishing Tackle printed which included directions for managing a rifle, to do good shooting. Luckily a Mr. Floyd Butler of Poultney, Vermont came across one of these booklets in the 1930's and preserved it and later made it available for reproduction to benefit "The Old Saratoga Muzzle Loading Club". Below is a Slider of scans of one of those reproductions.