Lewis E. Lemen, M. D., president of the Colorado State Medical Society, and surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad, was born in Belleville, St. Clair County, Ill., April 1, 1849. The first of his ancestors who settled in America was his great-grandfather, James Lemen, a native of Scotland, but in early manhood an emigrant to Harper’s Ferry, Va., and during the Revolution a brave defender of the colonial honor. After the war closed he was sent west by the government in order to locate lands for soldiers in the western territory. He settled in St. Clair County, of which he was one of the earliest pioneers.
Rev. James Lemen, the doctor’s grandfather, was the first white child born in Illinois in the old Indian fort at Kaskaskia. Amid the pioneer influences and environments of his day he grew to manhood, and, selecting the ministry for his profession, he was ordained a preacher in the Baptist denomination. For forty-five years he was pastor of Bethel Church in St. Clair County, and in addition to his ministerial duties he also entered and improved land. He passed away when eighty-six years of age.
Born in St. Clair County, Sylvester Lemen, father of the doctor, was given better educational advantages than had been possible when his father was young. He made agriculture his principal vocation and became the owner of a valuable farm near Belleville, on which his active years were passed. He was also a licensed preacher in the Baptist Church. In politics he was a Republican and strong in his advocacy of the Union during the Civil war. His last days were spent in Belleville, where he died at fifty-six years. His wife, who was born in Illinois and died in Denver at the age of sixty-six, was Susan K., daughter of Aaron Shook, a native of Pennsylvania and a pioneer farmer of St. Chair County. The family of Sylvester and Susan Lemen consisted of nine children, of whom seven attained mature years and six are living now, the four sons all being professional men. H. A., the eldest, is a physician in Denver, and E. C. is a physician at Upper Alton, Ill., while the youngest, Rev. T. A., is a minister in the Evangelical Church in Oklahoma.
The early years of Dr. Lemen’s life were uneventfully passed on his father’s farm. At the age of sixteen he entered Shurtleff College in Alton, Ill., where he carried on his literary studies. From there he went to the St. Louis Medical College, from which he graduated in 1871 with the degree of M. D. In 1876 the degree of A. M. was conferred upon him by his alma mater, Shurtleff College. After graduating in medicine he practiced in St. Louis for a year, but in 1872, owing to impaired health caused by overwork, it became necessary for him to seek a change of climate. He had heard much of the salubrious air and healthful climate of Colorado and accordingly came to this state, where he opened an office in Georgetown, Clear Creek County, and engaged in practice there until his removal to Denver in 1884. Here he was appointed surgeon for the Omaha and Grant Smelting Works, also in 1887 surgeon to the Globe Smelting and Refining Company. During most of the time since 1884 he has been surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad, and in 1885 he was appointed surgeon with the Denver City Cable Railway Company, filling the position at the present writing. He is also consulting surgeon of the Denver, Texas & Gulf Railroad; ex-president of the staff, and surgeon of St. Joseph’s hospital, consulting surgeon of St. Luke’s hospital, and president of the staff of surgeons of the Cottage Home. He is professor of clinical surgery in the medical department of the University of Denver, for three years held a similar position in the University of Colorado, and for one year held the chair of fractures and dislocations in Gross Medical College. He is ex-president of the American Academy of Railroad Surgeons and is now president of the Colorado Medical Society.
In April, 1893, Dr. Lemen was appointed health commissioner of Denver by Mayor Van Horn. In 1889 be was appointed a commissioner of the Colorado Insane Asylum, and was president of the board until 1895. With the various medical associations he holds membership, national, state, and city and county, of which last he was president for some time. His contributions to medical journals have made his name a familiar one to the profession throughout the country. He has been especially successful in surgery, in which department his skill is universally recognized, and his articles upon any branch of that subject are always accepted as authority. In fraternal relations he is a Knight Templar and has taken the thirty-second degree in Masonry. In politics he adheres to the principles of that body known as the silver Republicans. The demands of his profession have been such that he has had no time, had he possessed the inclination, to enter the political arena. The positions he has held have been those that were directly connected with his profession or with the educational interests of his community.
May 5, 1875, Dr. Lemen married Miss Lizzie, daughter of Hon. Henry T. Mudd, of St. Louis, Mo. She died in Georgetown, Colo., in 1876. His second marriage, April 12, 1882, united him with Elsie, daughter of Hon. William H. James, of the Omaha and Grant Smelting Company. Three children have been born of their union, of whom two are living, Margaret Lemen and Lewis James Lemen.
Source: Portrait and biographical record of Denver and vicinity, Colorado : containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present : together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States.. Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1898.