The Exponent-Telegram, Clarksburg, WVA
Sunday Morning, March 10, 1929
 

Transcribed from a copy of the original;
spelling and punctuation as per the original.
By: Sandra L. Adams
October 17, 2002


Page 2
 

ENGINEER RELATES LIFE STORY OF JOSIAS ADAMS,
AFTER WHOM ADAMSTON SECTION WAS NAMED
C. O. Findlay Brings Interesting History to Light
By: Wilbur C. Morrison
 

“Adamston was named for a man named Adams” and that is about all a great many residents of Harrison county know about the origin of the thriving suburb, now an important part of the city itself. They know still less about the man.

Charles O. Findlay, well-known Clarksburg civil engineer, whose wife is a descendant of Mr. Adams, became quite interested in the life of this founder of a part of Clarksburg, because of his exploration of records, examination of surveys and contexts of deeds in connection with lands owned by Adams. His interest led him to systematic research with the happy result of a complete review as follows which he has kindly prepared for Exponent-Telegram readers by request of the writer:

“Adamston was named for Josias Adams, who originally owned the plantation, or farm, part of which was divided into lots, streets and alleys, which now make up and constitute that prosperous and valuable suburban addition to the city of Clarksburg. He purchased that tract of land from Ithmar P. Davisson in 1812. It consisted of 175 acres and is described in the deed by Davisson as being a part of the plantation on which he resided.

Owned Much Land 
 “In addition to the 175 acres here, Mr. Adams owned great acreages of other lands in this part of West Virginia, then Virginia, of which 1,900 was in one tract on Elk river, which was surveyed by Major William Haymond in 1787, under warrants issued by Edmund Randolph, Esq., governor of Virginia, to Major Daniel Jenifer Adams, the father of Josias Adams, to whom these lands descended. 

“Josias Adams owned large blocks of acreage in the old corporate limits of Clarksburg. He lived in a large homestead located at the corner of West Main and South Second streets. He also owned a large acreage in Tenmile district, Harrison county; and on the Tygarts Valley river in Taylor county, all of which he inherited from his father. The latter had inherited it from his father, Josias Adams, Sr., who lived during the Revolutionary war period in Wilmington, Del.

Right-of-Way
“During the year 1852 the North Western Virginia Railroad Company, which later became a part of the Baltimore and Ohio, found it necessary to secure a right-of-way through the farm then owned by Josias Adams, II, where Adamson is now located. Several stories are told which illustrate how and what the early settlers thought of railroads which tried to run their lines through this part of the state. When Mr. Adams was approached by agents representing the railroad company, asking him to sell the right-of-way required, and pointing out to him a strip of land 4,660 feet long, 100 feet wide, running through the farm east and west, lying practically parallel with the West Fork river, containing about 9 3-5 acres and separating his residence which was situated on what was then called the Northwestern turnpike but which is now West Pike street, from the river frontage, he became very much excited and alarmed at what he thought would be the ruination of his farm.

He flatly refused in very strong terms, [and rather strong language, the writer is told], to make any offer of settlement, or compromise, whatsoever.

“Terrible Thing”
When he entered his home after this scene and discussion, much distressed, he slumped down in a chair in a most dejected manner. When his wife, whose maiden name was Hannah R. Moore, a daughter of Samuel Preston Moore and sister of Maj. Thomas Preston Moore, inquired of him what the trouble might be, he told her that “a terrible thing is about to happen; they want to build that rip-roaring railroad through the farm, end to end, and scare all the stock from the place, and destroy the farm. We might just as well pack up and move to the poorhouse. But, if there is any law of justice in this state, they shall never do it.”

“True to his purpose, he proceeded to procure the services of one of the most capable lawyers known in this part of the state, the Hon. Judge Charles Lewis, to defend his cause and save his family from the poorhouse, that so stared him in the face, as he thought. But, of course, the right-of-way was secured, under condemnation proceedings March 9, 1853. Mr. Adams was paid the sum of $800. and the North Western Virginia Railroad Company laid its track where the Baltimore and Ohio tracks there are now.

Never Reconciled
“After the railroad was built, Mr. Adams could not reconcile himself to continue living on the farm, so he moved his family into town and died there March 3, 1856, leaving a widow, Hannah R. Moore Adams; and the following children:
“Daniel Jenifer Adams, Jr., Preston Hanson Adams, Anna Marie Adams Link, Susan Hanson Adams, Josias Hanson Adams III, Caroline Adams Stringer, Thomas Jenifer Adams, Pearson Burbic Adams, Timothy Hanson Adams, Sarah Ann Adams and Silina Virginia Adams, to all of whom he distributed his property by will. This is one of the first to be recorded in Harrison county, in will book No. 1.

“Mr. Adams was buried in the [illegible] cemetery located in [illegible] where a marble monument, bearing the Masonic emblem engraved upon it, marks the spot. This marble monument had fallen down, but has just recently been restored by me, my wife being a direct descendant, through her grandmother, Anna Maria Adams Link.

Interesting History 
“The history of the Adams family, and connections, is surrounded by the early history of this county and state, as well as by Revolutionary war stories, which makes it interesting not only to those whose homes are in Adamston, but to all historians in both state and nation. This branch of the Adams family is known as the Carroll County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va. Line. Francis Adams, born in 1680, of Carroll County, married Mary Godfrey in 1707. They lived on a plantation called “Troopers’ Rendezvous,’ and had six sons. The oldest son, Josias Adams, was born in 1709. He married Ann Marie Jenifer, a French girl from Barbados Island of the West Indies. To this marriage were born one son and two daughters. The son, Daniel Jenifer Adams, was born in 1751. In 1776 he was commissioned first lieutenant in Capt. Beal’s company, Maryland militia. The first day of April in the same year he was promoted to the rank of major and assigned to the Seventh regiment of the Maryland line of the Continental army.

“Historians say ‘Maj. Adams was a brilliant and dashing officer in the war of the Revolution, and that it was during one of his romantic army adventures that he met Miss Nancy Hanson whom he afterwards married in 1779 at Wilmington, Del.”

Son of Major 
“Josias Adams, the founder of Adamston, was a son of Maj. Daniel Jenifer Adams and Nancy Hanson Adams. He was born in Wilmington, Del., in 1791, and there married Hannah Moore, daughter of Samuel Preston Moore, in 1812. His father is buried in the cemetery surrounding the old Sweeds church at Wilmington. A marble slab marks his grave, upon which is engraved the following:

“In memory of Major Daniel Jenifer Adams, who departed this life the 29th day of November, 1796, aged 47 years. He was a man who feared his God and loved his country and faithfully served them both, and these are virtues which include all others in them.”

“Authentic anecdotes of Revolutionary days are rare, and much sought after. A story was recently discovered in the archives of Wilmington, and vouched for by its author, Elizabeth Montgomery, who lived in Wilmington at the time the anecdote occurred and who knew all the parties connected with it.

“She wrote ‘Reminiscences of Wilmington’ in 1851. As the story concerns Susan Hanson, the grandmother of Josias Adams, of this narrative, it is here added, and repeated for its historical value, just as it appears in the records of the Delaware state archivist at Dover, Delaware.

Two Officers
“’The event occurred in Wilmington during Revolutionary war days, and at a time when Wilmington was being besieged by British soldiers. Two officers, one a captain in the regular army and the other of the militia, on the night the town was taken lodged at the home of their mother-in-law, Mrs. Hanson. She was a widow with two single daughters, one of whom was very beautiful and quite a belle. One of these daughters was awakened by the sound of voices and footsteps so unusual at that late hour of night. She raised the window and was exceedingly alarmed to find the house surrounded by redcoats.

“’She aroused the family who quietly assembled in the parlor to devise some means for the escape of the two rebel officers. One was in full uniform of the continental army and had no change of clothes. This was most perplexing. Many schemes were proposed and new difficulties presented. Miss Nancy made her proposition and it was instantly adopted. In the third story was a large hearth, from which the bricks were taken up and the sand under them removed. The military suit was folded and wrapped in paper and laid there. The bricks were then carefully replaced.

Much Puzzled
“’As the morning of a new day dawned, they were puzzled how to obtain a suit of clothes for the officer; but this young lady also undertook the enterprise. She appeared at the front door very neatly dressed, and her smiles and coquetry she attracted the notice of a British officer.

“’He politely and very graciously saluted her. She freely communicated with him and told him of a very embarrassing circumstance of the family – that an invalid relative had taken a ride for a change of air, and was unavoidably detained; that an article of clothing from an opposite neighbor was wanted, which was very important to his comfort; but no one in the house was willing to venture across the street alone. Feeling it a duty to make the attempt, she requested his protection, which was most graciously granted.

“’As she entered the domicile of her friends, they exclaimed with uplifted hands at her imprudence. There was no time for explanations then. She asked for a suit of clothes packed in as small a bundle as possible and taking it under her arm, she was escorted home with much felicitation. She thanked the officer, and invited him with a few of his best friends to partake of a cup of coffee prepared by her.

“’The invitation was readily accepted, with flattering comments favorable to herself; but while seated at the table with them she made an additional request. She informed the commandant that the carriage had been ordered at an early hour in the morning to convey the sick gentleman home, and that she would presume to solicit his interference once more, to prevent any detection.

“’Assurance was given that they would not be molested. The mother deemed it most prudent and wise, for the safety of her adventurous daughter, to accompany those officers whom her daughter’s ingenious schemes had released. So she stepped in the carriage with the escaping officers, and they were on their way.

“’They drove rapidly under the protection of the obliging commandant to the old ferry, and scarcely were they in the scow, when they were pursued, and muskets fired as they crossed the creek. The balls whistled over their heads, and they made a most lucky escape to Dover, where this young lady, Nancy Hanson, was proclaimed a heroine of the eventful day in the Revolution and in a few years married Maj. Daniel Jenifer Adams, a daring and dashing officer of the Revolution. Col. Milton and Capt. Bellach, of the Continental army, were the officers rescued.’

Another Episode
“Another episode is recorded where Mrs. Hanson, ‘dressed in meanly attire, called at the residence of Joseph Shallcross, requesting a private interview with the host. On entering the room, she presented Mr. Shallcross with a letter from Gen. Washington, wishing to obtain information of the enemy. The letter was quilted in her petticoat, and an answer was returned in the same way.’

“Maj. Daniel Jenifer Adams was an original member of the Delaware State Society of the Cincinnati, 1751 to 1796. A copy taken from his portrait by Peale is shown in the ‘History of the Society of Delaware.’ This and all the other certificates of membership are signed by Gen. Washington as president and Gen. Knox as secretary of state of the society, and dated April 26, 1787.

Historical Papers
“Among the documents of the late Col. Luther Haymond, is found a world of historical papers such as deeds written on sheepskin and wonderfully executed and preserved, among which are the original warrants issued by the state of Virginia, covering the lands owned by Josiah Adams, the farm out of which Adamston is a part, and many other lands in this part of the state.

“There is a handmade field note book, made by Col. Haymond, of wonderful construction, well preserved, on the first page of which is written in the Colonel’s own handwriting ‘Luther Haymond’s 1st Field Book, March 17, 1833, I am 18 years old, and weigh 140 pounds.’ On page 96 of this note book appears the following in what must have been his handwriting at that ate:

“’Commencement of the year of our Lord 1834 – Good luck to me – January 3, 1834, I begin a survey for Josias Adams’ and after weeks of hard work and exposure the survey was completed. In closing the notes of this survey, he added the names of James Wiley and Alexander Calahan, as chain carriers, and the word, ‘Amen.’

Much Material
“Such sentiments and relics as these and the determination to do things, which characterized the youth of the early beginning of this state, point out to historians the vast amount of material that is stored away in old trunks and the archives of this state.”

Abstracters of titles and others who familiarize themselves almost daily with deeds and other public records could add much historical lore to city and state libraries and thus bring to light and preserve much which seems to have bone with the dead past, if they would but take a little time to jot down their findings and write them out at their leisure, as Mr. Findlay has done in the case of the man who once owned Adamston.
 

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