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Lewis Wallace was born 4/10/1827 at Brooksville, IN (on US 52) the 2nd of 4 sons born to David & Esther French Wallace. His father was a West Point graduate, lawyer & governor of Indiana (1837-1840) &  mother was a daughter of congressman John Test.  Lew left school (at 16), served as a copyist & studied law before going to the Mexican War. In 1849 he was admitted to the bar and served in the Union army in the uncivil war. He was a part of the court which tried those charged with assassinating President Lincoln.

Lew met Susan Arnold Elston, proposed in ’49, & married her 5/6/1852 in Crawfordsville. Susan was the daughter of Isaac Compton & Maria Akin Elston. Isaac was a merchant of means;  Maria had a Quaker (Friends) background. Susan would play a part in her Lew’s conversion. Pres. Hayes appointed him governor of the Territory of New Mexico (1878–81).  It was in Sante Fe that he completed the manscript of Ben Hur.  Pres. Garfield made him Minister to the Ottoman Empire (Constantinople, Turkey 1881–85).

Wallace at one point considered himself an atheist. He gathered material “proof” against the Bible.  Susan believed in the Lord & prayed for him. He realized his error & was converted. He reportedly asked his wife what he could/should do with all the material he’d collected – it provided foundations for Ben Hur, A Tale of the Christ (pub.1880) which was enormously successful.  Lew died in Crawfordsville, IN, 2/15/1905.       

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