Lewis William Newton, teacher and historian, son of John Milton and Elizabeth (Autry) Newton, was born in Smithfield, Texas, on May 2, 1881. After attending Polytechnic College in Fort Worth from 1898 to 1901, he studied at the University of Texas, where he received B.A. (1904) and M.A. (1907) degrees. Newton taught history at Bonham High School and in San Antonio for a year, and then in Fort Worth for eight years, before becoming superintendent of the Fort Worth school system in 1916. During the summers of 1915–18 he taught at the University of Texas. In 1919 he joined the history department of North Texas State Normal School (now the University of North Texas) in Denton. Six years later he became chairman of the department, a position he held until his retirement in 1951.
During his thirty-two-year association with North Texas, Newton assisted the school's president, Robert Lincoln Marquis, to acquire accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago (1929), and wrote a number of textbooks for use in Texas high schools. One of these, A Social and Political History of Texas (1932), coauthored with Herbert P. Gambrell and edited by Eugene C. Barker, sold close to 1½ million copies. Newton also produced twelve history and geography workbooks for public school use, was the editor of a Texas map series for high schools, and wrote What America Has Done and America Yesterday and Today, books designed for high school history and political science classes.
Newton was a Methodist and a Democrat. He married Jodie M. Short on June 14, 1903, and they and their three children were active in a variety of Denton community organizations. Newton died in Denton on September 16, 1965.