George W. Tew – Bicentennial Biography No. 28

Bicentennial Biographies is a not-for-profit radio project designed to raise awareness and increase interest in local history. It is brought to you as a public service by the Chautauqua County Historical Society throughout 2011 to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. To learn more, visit or contact your local historical society.


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George Washington Tew was born in Rensselaer County, N.Y. in April, 1804. He was the son of William Tew, a carpenter and millwright originally from Nantucket, Mass. who moved to central New York in 1796.

George Tew grew up in Fly Creek, N.Y. at the home of his parents, and there he learned the trade of tinsmith. In 1825, Tew came to Jamestown and started in the tin-ware and sheet-iron business. His shop was located just north of Shaw’s Hotel, which stood at the northwest corner of Main and Third streets. Later it moved to the southeast corner of Fourth and Main streets. He was engaged in that work for a few years until taking an interest in the law profession. He read his subject in the office of Samuel A. Brown, who was a the first man to practice law in Jamestown and later became a prominent attorney of that area of the county.

In 1831, Tew was admitted to the practice law and became a partner of Brown, which continued until 1834, when Tew was elected County Clerk of Chautauqua County. He then lived in Mayville and served as clerk until 1840. In April 1841 Tew moved to Silver Creek. There he became cashier of the Bank of Silver Creek, founded by Oliver Lee. Tew would succeed Lee as president and continued in that capacity during the remainder of his life. He died at Silver Creek Nov. 27, 1875, and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown.

Ref: Young’s History of Chautauqua County

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– J. Sample

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