ADAMS, the youngest of the seven children of John ADAMS, esq., was born
in Londonderry, N. H., February 1, 1802. His mother was Mary Ann
MORRISON, a daughter of Joseph MORRISON, esq., of Londonderry, and the
second wife of John ADAMS.
settlers of the old town of Londonderry were Scotch people, Protestant
Presbyterians who fled from Argyleshire, Scotland, early in the seventeenth
century and made their abode in the north of Ireland, taking part there,
not a few of them, in the memorable siege of Londonderry in 1688, which
had a marked effect on the subsequent history of Protestantism. Thence
they came to America early in the eighteenth century and were known in
this country as the "Scotch-Irish." Dr. Belknap, in his history of
New Hampshire, describes them as "a peculiarly industrious, frugal, hardy,
intelligent and well-principled people, who constituted a valuable acquisition
to the province." They brought with them from their ancestral home, and
retained for many years, their peculiar Scotch customs, habits and speech.
The strongly marked physical characteristics of the ADAMSes and Morrisons
attested the purity of the national origin.
ADAMS removed with his parents, in the autumn of 1806, to Whitehall, N.
Y., where he learned to work with his father on the farm and at the trade
of boot and shoe-making, with such advantages for an education as he could
command, until he was of age. On the 6th of November, 1823, he married
Stella MILLER, daughter of William MILLER, esq., of Hampton, N.Y., and
a sister of Rev. William MILLER, widely known subsequently as "Prophet
January, 1825, he took up his residence in Fairhaven, Vt., building a house
on West street and carrying on his trade as shoemaker, but removed in a
few years to a central part of the village, where he erected a house and
shop and carried on an extensive wholesale and retail business, employing
many journeymen and apprentices and supplying most of the merchants from
Massachusetts to Canada with ladies fine shoes. He sold out in Fairhaven
in 1843 and removed with his family to Ravine,Wisconsin, where he spent
about a year. Returning to Fairhaven, he engaged in the spring of
1845, in company with Alonson ALLEN and William C. KITTREDGE, in building
a mill and sawing Rutland marble, a business then in its infancy.
There being no railroad, the marble had to be hauled from the quarries
at West Rutland in blocks, and when sawed into slabs, as most of it was
at first, hauled again to the canal, in Whitehall, and thence shipped to
various points for use. This was a large undertaking for those days,
and required a relatively large amount of capital. Mr. KITTREDGE soon withdrew
from the firm. Mr.ALLEN being extensively engaged in the production
and manufacture of slate, then just begun, the laboring oar of the marble
business fell to Mr. ADAMS. For two years the current set strongly
against him. Much of the marble was unsound and worthless, and the
immense outlay was unremunerative. To overcome this embarrassment
required the closest application, untiring energy and perseverance, qualities
inherent in the Scotch blood and physique of Mr. ADAMS. In 1851,
the business had so far improved that they rebuilt and enlarged the mill,
and, in company with William F. BARNES, of West Rutland, opened a new quarry,
which proved in the end of great value. Mr. Ira C. ALLEN joined the
company in 1852; Mr. Alonson ALLEN withdrew in 1854, and the firm then
became ADAMS & ALLEN, which continued until 1869, when, having sold
the quarry at West Rutland, Mr.ADAMS purchased Mr. ALLEN's interest in
the mill and continued to run it in connection with his son, Andrew N.,
and his son-in-law, David B. COLTON, until his death, February 26, 1878.
ADAMS was president of the Washingtonian Temperance Society, organized
in Fairhaven in 1841 with over five hundred members. He was a leading
member of the Odd Fellows in 1852-55; was chairman of the directors of
the Park Association in 1851-55 and contributed largely to the erection
of the park. He took an active part in building the school house
and town hall in 1860 and frequently proposed and advocated the introduction
of public water works. He was the original mover in the establishment
of the First National Bank of Fairhaven; was one of the first and largest
stockholders; was chosen a director in 1864 and became its president in
1873 holding the office until his death. He represented the town
in the Legislatures of 1854 and 1855, being an active and prominent member.
his opportunities for an education were only ordinary, yet he was not an
uneducated man, but like many others of his time, was self-educated.
He knew what was in many good books, bring naturally of an active mind,
with a genius for philosophy and mechanics, which led him always to inquire
thoroughly for the causes and grounds of every opinion or statement.
He was little inclined to accept anything upon authority, and from a somewhat
extensive acquaintance with men, as well as from his own personal study,
was well informed in history, in constitutional and international law,
in trade, mechanics and science. He was an independent and fearless
thinker in politics and religion. He early espoused the cause of
the slave and was among the first subscribers and readers of the National
Era an anti-slavery journal edited by John G. WHITTIER at Washington in
1846-48, when slaves were bought and sold at public auction in the capital
of the nation. He freely questioned and publicly combated current
traditions, and alone, by his own study and reason, arrived at and defended
rational opinions of the Bible, which were pronounced heretical by his
friends, but which are now widely held and sustained by the critical scholarship
of cyclopedias and reviews. He always had "the courage of his convictions,"
and so great was his confidence in what he deemed to be true and right
that, while admitting the equal privilege and freedom of others he yet
made personal enemies by saying openly what he disdained to say covertly.
But he possessed a most forgiving and tender heart, and would as soon do
a kind service for an enemy as for a friend. Aiming always to be just,
with pride in honor and honesty, he delighted in generosity.
the last two or three years of his life he endured much pain, but was composed
and cheerful and met death without a fear, surrounded by all that devoted,
loving children and grandchildren could bring to his comfort. Writing
of his death at the time, a friend says; "For more than half a century
he has been closely identified with the business interests of Fairhaven,
and has been one of its most respected and public-spirited citizens.
In all the relations of life he was regarded as a strictly honest man.
He was very frank, fearless, and outspoken, without a particle of hypocrisy
or deceit. In business he was remarkable for his energy and tenacity
of purpose, working out success where most men would have given up in despair,
and never once, during his whole business career, failed to meet his obligations
in full. In religion he was liberal; in politics a Republican, and
he was always a warm friend of temperance in all things. His social qualities
were much above the average. He was extremely fond of music and no
mean performer on the violin. Although economical in his style of
living, he was ever a friend of the poor. generous and kind-hearted.
The people of Fairhaven will long have occasion to cherish the memory of
Mr. ADAMS, as a citizen thoroughly identified with the interests of the
town and village, warmly favoring all practical public improvements, an
advocate of good schools and all moral reforms."
of Rutland County Vermont
H. P. Smith & W. R. Rann
D. Mason &
Co., Publishers, Syracuse, N.Y.