John Harris Lewis

The following profile was researched and compiled by Candice L. Buchanan and Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III, for

Birth: 21 August 1892 Nineveh, Morris Township, Greene, Pennsylvania

Parents: Henry Benton Lewis and Ida May Burroughs

Residence at time of enlistment: 321 Huffman Street, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Physical description: Tall, medium build, brown hair, brown eyes

Death: Influenza epidemic, 10 October 1918 Chanute Aviation Field, Rantoul, Champaign, Illinois

Age at death: 26 years old

Last resting place: 14 October 1918 West Union Cemetery, Morris Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Military rank: Serial No. 1176396. Private. Squadron C, Chanute Aviation Field, Aviation Corps.

Additional information:

More than two years before the United States entered World War I, John Harris Lewis had already entered his country's service. As a Machinist Mate in the US Navy, he saw much of the world from both above and below, since one year was spent aboard a submarine. At the end of his enlistment period, he went to work as a mechanic in some of the busiest shipyards at Newport News, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1918, anxious to reenter service and be off to the front in France, John enlisted in Aviation Corps. He was just weeks away from completing his qualification as an Airplane Expert when an accident put him into the base hospital where he was training in Rantoul, Champaign, Illinois. Described by the Waynesburg Republican, details of the event are as follows:

"The [airplane] had just alighted and the engine was stopped. Mr. Lewis saw that the propeller needed adjusting and took hold of it to do so, but the engine being hot, upon a slight turn of the propeller, the gasoline was ignited and the propeller was started at full speed. It was considered marvelous that he escaped instant death."

Unfortunately, the injuries from this event put John in the hospital and though he recovered from the accident, the hospital stay exposed him to the influenza epidemic, which claimed his life 10 October 1918.


  • "Death of John H. Lewis at Chanute Aviation Field" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 October 1918.
  • "United States, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, ( : accessed 3 June 2018), John Harris Lewis draft card, serial no. 1859, Local Draft Board, Precinct 2, North Ward, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania; citing National Archives microfilm publication M1509, FHL roll 1892940.
  • West Union Cemetery (Morris Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania), John H. Lewis tombstone; read and photographed by Candice Buchanan and Glenn Toothman, 2018.
  • "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, ( : accessed 3 June 2018), Henry Benton Lewis, father of John Harris Lewis - application no. 332016; citing World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948 (RG 19, Series 19.91), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.