John L. Lewis was born February 12th 1880, to Welsh immigrang parents in the coal mining camp of Cleveland, Iowa- one mile East of Lucas, Iowa. He began working in the Big Hill Coal Mine in Lucas, IA as a teenager, joining the UMWA Local #799 in 1990. In 1907, John married Myrta Bell, daughter of the local town doctor. The following year they moved to Springfield, Illinois where he began his rise to power in the United Mine Workers of America and served as President of the UMWA for forty years and was founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
After serving nine years as President Emeritus of the UMWA, John L. Lewis died June 11, 1969 and is buried in Springfield, Illinois in the same cemetary as Abraham Lincoln. Both men were born February 12th and both were destined to make great changes in our "American Way of Life"