original booklet published
by the Historical Society of South Jefferson in 1999 was dedicated to
the pioneers who left their homes in New England and travelled through
the dense forest to settle Jefferson County, NY.
By Elijah J. Clark
May 10, 1887
Samuel Fox cleared the 1st acre of ground in the town of Adams in 1800. Here he built a log house and the same year brought his young wife, then but seventeen years of age, from Rome, Oneida County. While on a visit to her parents in 1801, their eldest son was born, and when she returned to Adams, my mother (Anna William), who was her younger sisters, was sent to accompany her. They came through on horseback by the aid of marked trees. Mrs. Fox carrying her infant child in her arms. To pass through an unbroken forest on horseback with a baby in her arms was was a feat which I think few lady equestrians of the present day, however accomplished they may be, would care to undertake, but in this way my aunt and my mother returned several times to visit their parents before vehicles could pass over the road. Mr. and Mrs. Fox remained upon this farm for about fifty years, raising a family of twelve children. When the State Road was surveyed, Mr. Fox found that his house had bee located some distance from it and he was obliged to open and maintain a private road. This he found no easy task, particularly during the deep snows of winter. Those familiar with John G. Whittier's poem entitled "Snow Bound", can form some idea of the labor performed by Mr. Fox and his 8 sons during his residence of 50 years upon this farm.
In 1807 my mother was married to my father, David Wright, who together with his father and three brothers, Elijah, Harry and Stephen, had emigrated from Deerfield, Mass. in 1804. Their wedding was celebrated in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Fox. The bride was attired for the nuptials in the upper apartments, descending upon a ladder to meet the expectant groom. They soon repaired to a of their own in the vicinity, where they spent their honeymoon and where the remained until after the birth of their second child, W. W. W., now of Geneva, NY.
My mother often referred to those days as among the happiest of her life. Her anticipation's of the future were as bright and her present as fraught with happiness as many a bride who has commenced life amid the splendors and gaiety of modern days.
Daniel Fox, and elder brother of Samuel, settled upon a farm on the opposite side of Sandy Creek in 1800. Here he lived 73 years, and here he died in 1873 at the advanced age of 102 years. He belonged to a hardy race and led a useful and active life. He was the father of two sons and four daughters, outliving both his sons. Three of his daughters still survive him, among who is (Elvira) the widow of the late John C. Cooper, former President of the Agricultural Insurance Company of Watertown.
My grandfather, Westwood Wright, in his emigration from Massachusetts, was accompanied by two of his brothers, Moses and Carmi, who with their families settled in the town, and the name of Wright became so common that one road leading from the village was occupied for a long distance by those only who bore that name, and is still known as Wright Street.
Those emigrating from Massachusetts had all been reared and educated in the Presbyterian faith, and for many years their Sabbath commenced with the setting of the sun on Saturday night. So strictly had they been accustomed to keep the day, that I have often heard my father speak of the anxiety with which he was wont to watch the sun in his boyhood days as it slowly sank from view, ending the long Sabbath, as its disappearance was the signal for an outbreak of pent up mirth that had accumulated during the preceeding 24 hours. Gradually the custom came into disuse, and Sabbath commenced as now on the 1st day of the week.
Zachleus Walsworth was among the number of pioneers settlers. He was a good man and much loved by his neighbors, among who he was a favorite and ever welcome on account of his ready wit, for which he was renowned. In the years that followed, when cook stoves began to take the place of the old time fireplaces --- when the farmers began to see there valuable timber fading each year from before their eyes, vanishing in smoke and ashes, affording comparatively little warmth for the amount consumed --- Mr. Walsworth concluded to test the economy of the stove. He had not ready cash required for the purchase, and he resolved to ask for the stove and pay for it when he could effect a sale of his expected crops. He accordingly went to Watertown, and going into the hardware store of Norris M. Woodruff, selected a stove, asking to be trusted for a certain length of time. "But," said Mr. Woodruff, "I don't know you." "Neither do I know you," replied Mr. Walsworth," "but if you are willing to risk it, I will." Mr. Woodruff was so much amused with the witticism that the stove was sold and the pay received at the stipulated time.
David Smith was another of the early settlers in the town and had large contracts for land, a portion of which now constitutes Adams village. He built the first mills, a saw mill and a grist mill, and the settlement was then known as Smith's Mills. Mr. Smith was left a widower in early life and afterwards married a widow Salisbury (Elizabeth). At the time of this marriage their united families numbered ten children. Four were afterwards born to them, constituting what would now be thought rather a numerous family. Mr. Smith was, however, a successful business man, proving himself abundantly able to provide for his numerous progeny. One of his sons, David Smith, and a daughter Mrs. Ward Hunt (Elizabeth), still reside in Adams.
Some of the farms through which the State Road was surveyed running east from the village were cleared and owned for many years by John Coles, Jacob Kellogg and Francis McKee. On the north were David Hale, William Benton and Stephen Baker.
The Stephen Baker Family consisted of two sons and nine daughters. These daughters all grew to womanhood, were married, and with the exception of two, left families. They were all noted for their thrifty habits, but more particularly for their personal beauty. I can remember them all, and fail to recall so much beauty ever lavished upon one family as fell to the lot of these ladies. But one is living, Mrs. Colburn, and she resides near Rochester. Most of them lived and died in their native town. One of the elder sisters (Lydia) became the wife of Elihu Morton, another (Betsey) of Cyrus Eddy, who were among the earliest and most successful business men of the town. The first piano ever brought to Adams was purchased by Elihu Morton for his only daughter. This was in 1832, the first year the Asiatic Cholera invaded our shores. Mr. Morton's eldest sons fell victim to the disease in Buffolo, and hoping to diver the mind of his wife in a measure from her great sorrow, he was induced to make the purchase. Others were soon purchased by T. C. Chittendon, William Doxtater and other, and eventually Adams became a very musical town.
Wells Benton, who was at one time Sheriff of Jefferson County, succeeded to the ownership of the farm owned by his father, William Benton, and is still owned and occupied by his two daughters.
During the early years bread was made mostly from cornmeal, although wheat was soon raised and shortbread became abundant. Salt pork was a standard article. Sugar from the maple, pumpkins and potatoes, with plenty of milk and cream, constituted their living. Fruit of any description was a luxury and not to be thought of in those days. Cows roamed at will through the forest, and if by chance they failed to return home at the accustomed hour in the tinkle of the bell suspended from their necks by a leather strap designated the place where they lingered. Leeks, which were a species of onion, grew wild in profusion, and as the cows cropped their tender sprouts in the early spring and summer, their milk and the butter sometimes became offensive, and to obviate this difficulty a fresh leek if bitten, would overcome the flavor transmitted to the butter. Unlike the children of Israel, who remembered with sorrow the leeks and onions they had left in Egypt, the settlers of Adams found abundant supply. An article known as pearlash was used in place of soda, and when this could not be obtained they sometimes burned corn-cobs, whose ashes formed as alkali that took its place. Saleratus was, I think, first introduced about 1830.
Peter Doxtater came to Adams from the German Flats (near Herkimer) in 1800. He cleared a farm about a mile from where the village now stands. He was the father of three sons and one daughter, whose names were as follows: George, William, Peter and Elizabeth. George succeeded to the paternal farm. William became a successful merchant in Adams village, and was the father of R. B. Doxtater, the first superintendent of the Rome and Watertown Railroad. Peter, the youngest son, spent most of his life in Adams, where he engaged in different enterprises and is remembered as a most efficient and valuable citizen. His widow, who still survives him, is the last living member of the family, and is now in her 88th year. Elizabeth became the wife of Elijah Wright, who came from Deerfield, Mass. in 1804. The early life of Peter Doxtater, the father, was somewhat eventful. During the French and Indian Wars he was taken prisoner by the Indians when he was about 4 years of age. The settlers having become alarmed at the approach of the Indian hordes, fled with their children to a block house of fortress for safety, and while returning to secure their provisions, skulking Indians stole their children. It is said that when the mother of Mr. Doxtater learned the fate of her child, her agony was so intense that she wrung her hands until the joints of her fingers became dislocated. The children were neither scalped or burned, nor were they unkindly treated. Mr. Doxtater remained among them until he learned their habits and their modes of warfare, forgetting his native tongue. After the close of the war the children were redeemed and returned to their parents. Mr. Doxtater afterwards served as a soldier in the revolutionary war, and his knowledge of Indian warfare caused a bounty to be offered for his recapture. The old man was fond of relating the incident of being one day in a field fettering a colt. As he stooped to adjust the fetter he espied and Indian lurking in the bushes nearby, cautiously watching for an opportunity to pounce upon his coveted prey. With wonderful presence of mind, Mr. D., while appearing to be still engaged in securing the feet of the horse, unclasped the fetters, and springing upon the back o the fleet animal, made his escape while arrows from the Indian's bow went whizzing past his head. Mr. Doxtater spent the rest of his life upon his farm in Adams. He died in 1842 at the advanced age of 92 years, and his remains lie buried in Rural Cemetery.
In 1814 David Wright purchased a mill site fifty or sixty rods above that owned by David Smith. Here he erected a saw mill and a carding and fulling mill. For eight years it proved a remunerative business, but in the spring of 1822 a freshet swept the away. He had heared that the sawmill might be in danger and he had removed such machinery and articles of value as he could, but supposing the other mill to be safe he had taken no such precaution. As the huge cakes of ice were borne down the rapid stream, the sawmill went to pieces, and striking the corner of the carding mill, that, too, sailed away without being demolished until it reached Smith's dam. Soon after it set sail a lone cat appeared upon the roof, uttering piteous cries for help, but she was past all human aid, and was soon buried with the debris at the bottom of the dam. The mills were afterwards rebuilt by other parties, I think by William and Thomas Grinnell. Later, the carding mill was converted into and establishment for the manufacture of woolen cloths, and was owned and operated for many years by Willet R. Willis. In 1848 a bridge was constructed across the stream at this point, converting what had hitherto been a short lane into a convenient thoroughfare.
In 1817 Jefferson County Bank was located at Adams, but in 1819 it was moved to Watertown. The large and Commodious building erected for its use remains and is still a fine structure. It was purchased by Mr. Doxtater and for many years was used as a tenement house. At the marriage of his son, R. B. Doxtater, it was remodeled inside and converted into a handsome and convenient residence which Mr. Doxtater occupied until his removal to Rome. It was afterwards purchased by Alonzo Maxan and is still owned and occupied by his heirs. Its exterior remains unchanged. This and the Whitcomb residence are the only houses I recall built in those early days that have not undergone changes which have destroyed their original appearance.
A row of old-time popular trees, whose towering heights seemed almost to cleave the clouds, once bordered the walk extending from the lower corner of the church lot to that now owned by Mr. Kenyon. As the offered little shade, they were long since cut down and replaced by the maple, thus obliterating another ancient landmark.
Previous to the completion of the railroad in 1851, all freight was brought by teams either from Sackets Harbor or Rome. After the farmers had completed their spring plowing and their early crops were sown, they often found time to send their teams through for loads of goods, thereby earning a few extra dollars. To Rome, the nearest route lay through the town of Redfield, and this was usually traveled by private conveyances, as it lessened the distance by several miles. When I was a child I was taken for an annual visit to my grandparents, who resided in Rome, Oneida County. At my earliest recollection, there was nine miles of thick dense forest to pass through, unbroken save by the narrow road, so narrow that teams were able to pass each other only at points where it had been widened for that purpose. These were known as the Redfield nine-mile woods. They were infested by bears, and although I never saw one there, I have seen their footprints in the soft loam where they had crossed our pathway. Like most children I had a mortal terror or being eaten by bears, and I was always delighted to emerge from these woods in safety. This locality was noted for its deep snows in winter and for the enormous size and quantity of its mosquitoes in summer, some of which it was said attained the size of small turkeys. So little sunlight pierced the gloom of this forest that snow was often seen as late as May day, and sometimes later.
The Stage Route lay through Pulaski, Williamstown and Camden. This was the only mode of public conveyance and was considered a very genteel one. The coach was drawn by 4 handsome, well-fed horses, usually bedecked with red and yellow tassels at their ears. The coach was painted yellow and highly varnished, while designs of art were displayed upon its side and doors. It was an object of great attraction to those who were so fortunate as to dwell upon its direct pathway. Children formed in line upon the roadside, making low bows and courtesies, as it passed, while the ploughboy in sudden sympathy for the tired beasts gave them a breathing spell while he mounted the nearest rail fence to watch the approach of the shining vehicle. Each day its advent into the village was healded by the blowing of a tine horn, which reverberated through the little hamlet bringing women and children to the doors and windows to catch a glimpse of the handsome equipage, while men gathered in groups upon the sidewalks and about the postoffice to gain news from the outside world and ascertain if there were any new arrivals.
In 1804 a society of Baptists was formed in the vicinity of what is known as the State Road Church, about a mile east of Adams Center. In 1824 a church was erected and the pulpit occupied for many years by Rev. Joshua Freeman.
Elder Freeman was a man possessing much native talent, and he was renown not only for his goodness and piety, but for his quick and ready wit. This he inherited to a great extent from his mother. The family emigrated to Adams from near Western Oneida County. The bright intellect of the old lady and the peculiar independence with which she avowed her sentiments rendered her a pleasing companion and she was ever a welcome guest at the fireside of her friends. She was an Eminently pious woman and an active worker in the church. She was also an earnest searcher of scriptures, forming her own conclusions irrespective of popular commentaries, evincing a great desire for knowledge of the future world, and one of her favorite expressions was, "Oh! for a peep into futurity." She was an inveterate snuff taker, and the peculiar nasal tone caused by this indulgence was a source of much amusement to the younger members of the families where she visited. Her memory was wonder-fully retentive and she could repeat poetry by the hour. How vividly I recall the picture of her aged formed bowed with the weight of age - her wrinkled visage and her withered lips as she sat with her favorite pinch of snuff, and in her shaky voice repeated among other verses the following lines:She was particularly anxious to see the sisters in the church take an active part in prayer and conference meetings, and she sometimes became indignant at their apparent apathy in the good cause. Once, on the occasion of a weekly prayer meeting, a sister was called upon to offer the prayer, but she declined, a second and third made a like refusal. Almost in despair the leader said, "Sister Freeman, can't you pray?" "Yes. she replied with much indignation in her tones, "I can, but I won't." Elder Freeman, her son, was apt to dwell much in his Sermons upon baptism and immersion as its only mode. It chanced one day that he was standing outside a public building, when pattering drops of rain began to fall, causing the elder to seek shelter inside. "Why, elder," remarked a bystander, "I thought you believed in water." "I do," he quickly replied, "but not in sprinkling." At another time while preaching he became much annoyed with his slumbering congregation. Pausing a moment he directed his gaze intently upon the boys in the gallery, saying, "Boys, be very quiet or your will disturb the sleepers in the body of the church.""They talk of heaven and they talk of hell,
But what they mean no tongue can tell."
The Presbyterian Church
In 1804 a Presbyterian Society was organized at Adams village, but no place of worship was erected until 1815. Then a contract was made for a building one story high, forty-five feet long and twenty-eight wide. Subscriptions were paid in building material, cash, wheat or corn. The largest subscription was $100. and the smallest $1. It was completed by the first of the next January. It was clapboarded, shingled and windows put in, but contained no means of heating. Two years later stoves were added. The above facts I glean from the sermon Rev. Mr. Root, on the occasion of the rededication of the church in 1884. In 1827 this church was sold to the Methodist Society, and removed to the opposite side of the street. A new one was then built on the same site, and is still occupied by the Presbyterian denomination. It was a grand old structure, and would to credit to an architect of the present day. I had undergone many repairs and many changes, but not until 1884, was the last charm of its antiquity destroyed by its modern reconstruction. Then, its towering steeple was laid low, and the last familiar look of the dear old church, so hallowed by memories of other days, disappeared. The clear, sweet tones of the bell the swung in that steeple called us to school, dismissed us at noon, warned us of the hour of nine at night, and its solemn knell told us when a spirit had taken its fight to the unseen world. When death occurred, it was rung rapidly a few moments to attract the attention of the people, then, after a short pause, its slow and solemn strokes represented the years numbered by the deceased. After another pause, one was added if the deceased was male, if a female, there were two. There was no daily paper, and thus, to some extent, the bell was made to serve in its place. I confess to a lingering preference for the bell, inasmuch as it could not give utterance to the poetry we frequently see attached to obituary notices. All funerals were held in the church. The tolling of the bell signaled the departure of the procession from the home, thence from the church to the grave. Doleful words set to music in the minor key were sung, a sermon was preached, closing with and address to the mourners, which, I regret to say, did not always contain comforting words. The remains were then carried outside, where they were exposed to view, and where, in the presence of eager, curious eyes, friends bade a last farewell to their loved ones. No bright flowers served as emblems of the beauty of a life beyond, and the desolate mourners to often returned to their homes with little or nothing to inspire hope. Contrasting these customs with the obsequies of the late lamented Henry Ward Beecher, where flowers were substituted for crepe, it must be con-ceded the change is admirable.
Calvin Fox rang the bell for more that 30 years, and it was said that 20 seconds were the most he was ever known to vary. His time was regulated by Henry Whitcomb, and this is a sufficient guarantee for the truth of the assertion. The sun may have varied, but Henry Whitcomb never.
In 1828 the church was struck by lightning. It was at the close of a sultry afternoon in July. It was on Friday, and a service had been appointed to be held at 5 p.m. by an Episcopal clergyman from Sackets Harbor, who occupied the pulpit together with the Rev. John Sessions, who was then pastor of the church. The news was soon circulated among the inhabitants that such a service would be held, and many availed themselves of the opportunity, and at the appointed time gathered at the church. A portentous cloud the boded a fearful storm was seen to hover over the village, and as there was a lightning-rod attached to the church, some sought it as a place of safety. The services were not far advanced, when the storm burst in its fury. Flash after flash of vivid lightning was seen, while the deafening peals of thunder drowned at intervals the speakers voice. Suddenly a fiery bolt struck the rod, and breaking it in twain, entered the building in a fearful manner. Plastering was torn from the ceilings, glass was shattered to atoms, and many of the pillar supporting the long gallery were shivered so fine as to be worthless. All the long line of stovepipe center in the large drum in the body of the church fell to the floor, and the corner of the building was rent asunder many feet. Miraculous as it may appear, no one was injured save by fright. Every one fled from the church, few ever being able to tell how they escaped. It was said Mr. Sessions jumped over the top of his high pulpit, but probably the reverend gentlemen knew no better than other how he escaped from the building, his only thought for the moment being for his wife, who had been in the body of the church, and who with bonnet in hand was fleeing up the street mid torrents of rain toward home and children; whence the worth divine followed in hot pursuit, calling loudly after her ---- dignity of manner being for the time laid aside. Although a small child, I had been taken to the church and I could never recall anything except the dense smoke, strongly impregnated with brimstone, and I imagined myself transported to the realms which I had been taught to believe awaited all bad children, and I doubtless fell to wondering what I had done to merit such a fearful retribution. When the electric current left the church it spent its fury in the ground, ploughing a deep furrow several rods in the graveled sidewalk where but a few moments before human feet had trod. Two swine who were quietly wending their way homeward fell a sacrifice and were instantly converted into roast pig. It had been predicted that a comet would fall on that day, causing an unacknowledged fear in the minds of many, and many supposed that a collision had actually taken place between the earth and the fiery tail of the comet. The church was repaired, but for many years marks of the destroyer were plainly visible.
A Methodist Society was formed in Adams village in 1828. One of the trustees appointed at that time was Zephaniah Tucker. The building formerly occupied by the Presbyterians was purchased for their use. During the 2 succeeding years the depended upon itinerant preachers, but in consequence of the many obstacles they had encountered, and the difficulties they saw were yet to be overcome, a petition was forwarded to conference in 1830, asking that an experienced clergyman be assigned to the charge. With pleasing anticipation they looked forward to the advent of a man of large experience and wisdom to instruct them the coming year. Near the close of a day in early June, a boyish form was seen slowly riding up the long street now known as Church Street. He sat upon a sorrel colt whose youth was as apparent as that of his rider. Many a curious gaze was directed toward him, as a stranger upon the streets of the rural hamlet was not a common occurrence. Stopping by the wayside he inquired for a well-known Methodist borther, and it was at once suspected that his youth might be the new minister, and sarcastic smiles were seen to rest upon the faces of those who looked upon this new seat as a rather unnecessary innovation in their midst. It was with ill-concealed disappointment that the elder Methodist members beheld in this boy, who then numbered by 19 summers, him who was to guide and direct their spiritual interests in place of the wise and descreet elderly man they were prepared to meet. Wisely concluding, however, to suspend their judgment until a later day, they awaited patiently for the Sabbath, when an opportunity would be afforded to test the ability of the new preacher. The day arrived, and with failing hearts the little band wended their way to their accustomed seats---one side of the building being occupied by the men, while the opposite side was reserved for the ladies, as was then the custom. The new minister entered the pulpit, he offered a prayer and read a hymn. The he selected text, and a flow of eloquence, the like of which they had never listened to, fell from the lips of the youth. With wondering eyes and open ears, and I might add open mouths, for they drank in every word, the sat unable to conceal their astonishment.
His fame soon spread abroad, and at times the church was found inadequate to contain the numbers drawn thither to hear gospel proclaimed by this singularly gifted man. Large numbers were added to the church, and from this time its prosperity was established, and I am told that its members now exceed those of any church in Adams. This young clergyman was Rev. William Ward Ninde. During his residence in Adams he married Miss Mary More, of Lowville, and Bishop Xavier W. Ninde, their eldest son, was born in Adams.
The first society of Baptists formed in the village of Adams was organized by the efforts of Rev. Charles Clark, in the spring of 1847. The Church was built in the same summer and dedicated the following winter. Mr. Clark occupied the pulpit until 1850, when he removed to Oneida, and subsequently to Rome, where he died in the 1852. Several clergymen of distinguished ability have since occupied the pulpit, among whom were Revs. Adam Cleghorn and the late M.C. Manning. The building has since been replaced by a handsome brick structure. Of its history otherwise since that time I am uninformed.
By the efforts of Henry B. Whipple and others, Emmanuel Episcopal Church was built in 1849. Of its history I know little, as I left Adams not many years after its erection. Its pulpit is now occupied by Rev. Mr. Cooke.
Amusements in the early days of Adams were comparatively few. A portion of the second floor of every hotel was devoted to a ball room, and dancing was about the only mode of entertainment.
The large ship at Sackets Harbor, whose completion was abandoned at the close of the war (1812), and the house which was erected over it for its protection, became objects of great interest and curiosity to the people, particularly to the young men and maidens of the surrounding country, and fortunate was in the young lady who received an invitation to ride to Sackets Harbor on the Fourth of July to see the shiphouse.
The gallantry of some of the country swains, however might be considered somewhat questionable by the young ladies of the present day. A story was once related of a youth who invited 2 young maidens to accompany him on such an excursion. When the eventful morning arrived he "tackled up" and going to the home of No. one he found her awaiting his coming at the open door. Assisting her to a seat in the one horse vehicle the twain proceeded to the residence of No. two. Halting at the bars, which served in the place of a gate, he waited for her also to make her appearance at the door, but she was no where visible. Having waited a short time, he cooly remarked that he guessed she was not going or she would be out, and drove away without her, leaving the disappointed maiden to celebrate the glorious day all be herself. During my own girlhood dancing was not popular, progressive euchre was unknown, and "other habits of the people were good." There was no opera house, no public hall, but there was a red school house, and in that were held "at early candle light" spelling schools, singing schools and debating schools.
The celebration of the Fourth of July was a gala day to the inhabitants at this period. It was anticipated weeks in advance. Maidens bleached their own muslins in the nightly dews until their whiteness rivaled the purest snow. They were carefully stiffened in a starch manufactured at home from the best pinkeye potatoes, and no vestige of a wrinkle was allowed to appear on their sullied surface. Veterans of seventy-six (1776) appeared in such portions of the uniforms as had outlived the decay of age. Words of thanks and praise for the liberties they enjoyed were offered by the orator of the day. Processions, accompanied by music, filed thro' the streets, and public dinner was enjoyed by all. I distinctly remember a celebration which took place in 1831. There were then 24 states in the Union. A corresponding number of young girls were selected to represent these states. Garlands of flowers and green leaves, each bearing the name of the state, were worn upon their heads. All the revolutionary soldiers of this and adjacent towns were gathered together to attend the festivities of the day. A procession was formed at the old stone tavern where the Huson house now stands. Heading this procession was the music, next in order were the veteran soldiers of the revolution, following them were the little maidens, bearing in their palms miniature banners of our national colors. In front of the original and high pulpit at the Presbyterian church, a platform had been raised which was covered with striped yarn carpet, fresh from the loom of some thrifty neighboring matron. As the old soldiers field into the front seats, the little girls ascended the platform, facing the ancient heroes they sang:
"Hail Columbia happy land,
Hail, ye heroes, Heaven horn band."
The maidens were arranged according to the size of the state they represented. The 2 eldest were the late Mrs. George Fairbanks, of St. Augustine, Florida, and Mrs. Mary A. Butler, of Detroit, both of whom were natives of Adams. They represented New York and Pennsylvania. The 2 youngest were the present Mrs. A.P. Sigourney of Watertown and myself, and we represented New Hampshire and Rhode Island. When the exercises at the church were ended the order of march was resumed and we repaired to a grove in the year of William Doxtater were a dinner was served, which embraced the usual roast pig, together with an abundant supply of frosted pound cake, decorated with colored sugar sand and caraway comfits. Appropriate toasts were drank and happiness reigned complete. Various amusements were provided among which the swing had the greatest attraction for the girl. Greased pigs and poles formed no part in the celebrations, not being thought particularly emblematic of the national glory of honor. Next in importance to the Fourth of July, was "General Training." This I think fell in September. All the different military companies from the surrounding towns assembled in the village. Their gay uniforms with their high feathers of red, black and white; the prancing horses and the brilliant epaulettes and flashing swords of the officers, accompanied by the martial music of fife and drum, marching through the streets to the stains of "Bonaparte's March" or the "Girl I Left Behind Me," while hordes of boys and gingerbread vendors followed in the rear, presented a scene which, to say the least, was inspiring.
Adams was the birthplace of Henry B. Whipple, the present Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota. He was the eldest son of John H. Whipple. Here the Bishop spent his boyhood days and his early married life. Mrs. Whipple was also a native of Adams, the daughter of Judge Benjamin Wright. As a merchant and politician in his native town Mr. Whipple spent several years subsequent to his marriage. During these years Mr. and Mrs. Whipple contributed largely to the social pleasures of the little village, and although surrounded with the cares incident to business and the little family that soon gathered at their board, they yet found time to remember the afflicted, and their names became a household word among the sick, the poor and the needy. Although successful in his business undertakings Mr. Whipple's impressions of duty, coupled with ardent love for the church, caused him to abandon them, and disposing of this attractive home he sought an humble abode where he quickly devoted himself to a preparation for the noble work he had chosen. He early evinced a taste and talent for literary work, and in 1844, while on an extended southern tour contributed to the press of his native town descriptions of the south as it then was, which were read with great interest, and were well remembered in after years. Mrs. Whipple was a lady of culture, having enjoyed superior advantages in early life which rendered her eminently qualified for the position she has since occupied. Mr. Whipple afterwards became rector of Zion's Church at Rome, Oneida County, and was subsequently elected Bishop of Minnesota. His noble work among the Indians is well known.
The Rev. Jededia Burchard, although never a settled pastor at Adams, labored much among its people as an evangelist, often meeting with marked success in adding large numbers to the church. Although a man possessed of many eccentricities, the people felt the utmost confidence in his sincerity and goodness. He was a firm believer in the efficacy of prayer and in the promise that if he asked in faith he would receive. He was therefore accustomed to ask the Lord to grant his desire whether of a spiritual or temporal nature. Believing that cleanliness was next to Godliness he became at one time much annoyed with the untidyness of his kitchen servant. He had expostulated and commanded without avail, and he one day added to his prayer, "Oh, Lord, make Bridge keep the sink clean." He told the deacon, who was my informant, that there was straightwith a visible improvement in that direction. Mr. Buchard was much attached to the people of Adams, and in after years purchased a home and spent the remaining portion of his life among them. He died in 1864 and was buried in Rural Cemetery.
Other Prominent Citizens
Samuel Bond and Perley D. Stone came to Adams in 1817 and entered into a partnership in the manufacturing of furniture. This partnership continued 45 years. During all these years they kept no business account between themselves, making equal a division of money and such produce and barter as the received exchange for their wares.
Seth Gaylord came to Adams in 1808 and is remembered as a worth and industrious citizen an exemplary member of the Presbyterian Church. His first grandson, B.D. Babcock, is the recently elected Mayor of the city of Cleveland.
Judge T.C. Chittenden was a member of the bar of Jefferson County where he practiced his profession for many years. He was elected to Congress in 1838 and again in 1840. He was also appointed Judge of Jefferson County. He later moved to Watertown where he resided until his death in 1868.
Daniel Wardwell was an older man and served creditably in the state legislature and afterwards in Congress.
Calvin Skinner was also a prominent lawyer at Adams and was the last judge to be appointed by the governor. They were afterwards elected by the people.
Henry Whitcomb come early to Adams. He learned the jewelers' trade at Geneva, New York, and afterwards returned to Adams where he married and resided. He possessed great ingenuity and few people in Adams or its vicinity came to purchase a timepiece that had not been approved by Henry Whitcomb. He exact to a moment in his calculation of time, and for many years he regulated the time of the Rome and Watertown Railroad with great precision. His service was much appreciated by the officers of the railroad and they were once acknowledged by the presentation of an elegant gold watch which was highly valued by Mr. Whitcomb. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1886 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J.P. Mann, and in September 1886 his remains were brought to Adams for his burial.
Among the early and successful merchants of Adams were William Doxtater. John H. Whipple and M.V.V. Rosa. The two former lived and died in Adams. Here Mr. Rosa accumulated much of his wealth. He was an exceedingly honest and upright citizen. He removed to Watertown during the later years of his life where he resided with his son, the late Dr. Rosa, until his death.
Eli Eastman was the first physician who practiced in town. Later his contemporaries were Dr. John Wetmore and Dr. Walter Webb. THe later still living at an advanced age.
In conclusion I refer to the cemeteries, Rural and Elmwood, which deserve credit upon the taste of the people of Adams village. Elmwood's location is particularly favorable. Its graveled paths among miniature hills and vales, a pastoral stream flows through its borders, its abundant shade while flowering shrubs and evergreens add much to its beauty. Many deceased already sleep within its borders, their final resting place is marked by elegant monuments and other fitting emblems of remembrance. In 1848 a formal association was formed un the name of Rural Cemetery, and several acres of ground were added to the original place of burial. Many handsome and beautiful monuments are found here, among which are those of R.B. Doxtater, Judge Skinner, Judge Wm. C. Thompson, C. Cooper, Wm. A. Gilbert, Erastus Hale, J. Griswold and many more. Many a hero of seventy-six lies buried here and here also sleep many who died for our Union. Here we have laid to rest parents, our neighbors and our friends, their loved forms have long since turned away to dust. As I revisit this spot and tread among the graves of ones once so dear whose numbers now exceed those whose who familiar faces are among the living, I am reminded of the words of the old song:
"Grass grows on the master's grave
The Spring of the brook is dry;
And of all the boys that were schoolmates
There are only you and I."