Stephen Lewis was born in 1799, and by 1820 he had purchased some property and built a log cabin near what was once referred to as Carter's Furnace, a small Carter County, Tennessee community within the Stoney Creek Valley. He married a Dicie Lewis and had five children; his oldest son was James F. M. Lewis, the great-grandfather of Richard Lewis. Stephen Lewis' life was spent farming and operating a cobbler's shop out of a portion of the family's cabin. By the 1880s, a second house had been built for James F. M. Lewis' family, and the cabin was eventually converted into a cobbler's shop and general store for the Farmers and Laborers Union, a cooperative agricultural organization that was associated with the 19th-century Farmer's Alliance movement. Stephen Lewis continued operating the cobbler's shop and general store with James F. M. Lewis until his death in 1899.
Richard Lewis was born on January 4, 1947 in Carter County, Tennessee, and was graduated from Unaka High School. Between 1964 and 1965 he attended the Elizabethton Business College and for the next two years Lewis worked making polyester yarn at Beaunit, an East Tennessee manufacturer of rayon. In 1967 he attended Milligan College and East Tennessee State University. After being graduated from Milligan College in 1970, Lewis began teaching at Unaka Elementary School, a position he held until 1978, when he began teaching at the Unaka Vocational School. In 1973 Richard Lewis purchased the James F. M. Lewis homestead and refurbished the second house before selling it to Walter and Betty Hardin. The original log cabin and surrounding property currently are owned by Richard Lewis.