1850, or thereabouts, my Great Grandfather moved to Florida
Darlington County, South Carolina. His name was Brunson
Lewis and was born, I think 1810. His wife was Sarah Frances
Taylor. They had 4 children. That wife died in 1859
either Hernando or Marion County. He then married Sarah
Lewis, also called Sally. She was born in Florida between
and 1842 and together they had 7 children born in
There is a Lewis burial plot in Montbrook where Brunson Lewis and Sarah
Wiggins Lewis are buried. The old cemetery is called Plummer Cemetery.
Montbrook is now a ghost town and part of Williston. When
first came to Florida, they lived in Marion, Hernando and Levy
Counties. Two of Brunson's daughters by his first wife are buried in
the Key West Cemetery. Brunson Lewis fought in the 1835 2nd
Seminole War alongside his brother Mastin Lewis. When Brunson
died his wife Sarah received a government pension because of
war service. Brunson and his first wife had a son Phillip
in 1840. He died in Florida from complications of service in
is a web site about Brunson Lewis at www.brunsonlewis.com.
Brunson was educated and came from a fairly wealthy family in
Darlington, S.C. but chose to walk on the "wild side". He
to have repented in his old age and even began preaching later in
life. In his later years, he said he could have made the
better place but missed the opportunity. Of course we have to
remember that Florida in those days had little law and order.
last child was Frances Esther Lewis born in Montbrook (Williston)
in 1874 and died in 1960 - the last of Brunson's children to
die. She was my grandmother. Myself, I was born in
Frances Esther had an older sister named Matilda born in 1864
died in 1956. As a child, Matilda told many stories about
life in Montbrook - she mentioned living in the Great Gulf Hammock.
Very often Frances Esther's son Elmer who was born in Montbrook in
1895, heard his mother Frances Esther and Matilda talking
their childhood. Matilda knew a lot about her ancestors and
she died, there went a lot of knowledge about those years in
Montbrook. We were too young to think about having her write
those stories down. Around 1890 or some after, Matilda lived
her husband in the wilderness at Gulf Hammock. Often, for
and sometimes weeks, she was left alone except for some livestock and
she said panthers, bears, and bobcats were plentiful.
here is the actual story I wanted to tell you having to do
with Frances Esther as told to her son Elmer (my uncle) and
told to us: Frances Esther lived in the wilderness of
with parents Brunson and Sarah and siblings. It seems that
Brunson and his wife Sarah had gone somewhere and left the children at
home. It must have been morning because the boys set out to
their traps. Esther was the youngest and too young to go
with her brothers and was left in the house. Of course, it
old Cracker House. The door was latched and Esther played
the house and then laid on the old wooden floor by the door and fell
asleep. Later, she felt something tag on her hair.
she thought the boys (brothers) were playing with her but after it
tugged a few more times, she got up and tried to reach the latch to let
the boys in. There was a small crack between the door and the
wall and it was through this crack that a panther was reaching, trying
to get to Esther. Well, she screamed and her scream brought
dog and the boys running. The dog getting there first, scared
panther off into the woods. The boys found the paw prints and
could see where it was trying to get inside the house but luckily
Esther had not been able to reach the latch. On the floor
her long hair fell through the cracks of the floor and where the
panther tugged on her hair.
Brunson Lewis is talked
about in a book
called "Dawn to Sunset Recollections of a Pioneer Florida Judge VOL 2
BY Judge E. C. May". I also understand he is talked about in
Darlington, South Carolina book also.
by: Barbara Schweer
Note: Both Brunson and his wife, Sara are buried in Plummers Cemetery
in Levy Co.
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