George Willison Adams, 1799-1879

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The following is an excerpt from "History Past & Present of the City of Zanesville and Muskingum County Ohio"
published in 1909 and written by J Hope Sutor.

'George W Adams and his father's family were among the earliest settlers of Muskingum County. Leaving the beautiful Virginia home in Fauquier (Fa-keer) County because of his strong abolition views and believing implicitly in the doctrine "that all men are born free and equal" -- an idea which had few followers among Virginia slave holders of that day -- he gave his slaves their freedom and sought a new home in a state where men were not held in bondage and where thought was free.. 


Faquier County, Virginia.

George Willison Adams, the youngest of George Adams, came with his father to Ohio in 1808, being at that time nearly eight years of age. They settled in Madison Township and spent their remaining days in Muskingum County. About the year 1828 George W Adams and his brother Edward built a large flouring mill at the place that became known as Adams Mills. This being the first enterprise of that character in all that section of the country. A little later they built another large mill near the town of Dresden. 


The Virginia home of George B. Adams

These at once proved of inestimable value to the people of that locality for hitherto they had to go very long distances in order to have their grain ground into bread stuffs. The Adams brothers also engaged in merchandising in those days according to the primitive methods of the time, going east for goods which they shipped by canal to Ohio for there were no railroads in this part of the country. They also shipped grain and flour by flatboat to New Orleans, George W Adams often going himself by flatboats down the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers and returning to the north with provisions which were needed in the new settlement. 


The gravestone of George B. Adams

During the Civil War, George W. Adams gave much of his means to help the cause of the north and to preserve the union of the states, for the united country was very dear to him and he rejoiced greatly in the triumph of the Union Armies. His public-spiritedness was also shown in the aid which he gave to the railroads, giving many miles of right of way to both the Panhandle and the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley railroad companies through his lands. He became a director of both railroad companies, acting in that capacity from the time of their building of their lines until his death. Together with several other prominent citizens he formed a stock company to build a suspension bridge across the Muskingum River near Dresden. When the other members of the company became fearful that the plan was not feasible and that they would loose money, George W Adams built a bridge at his own expense, his nephew George Copeland, being the engineer. This was conducted as a toll bridge for a number of years and then he sold it to the county commissioners for one third of the original cost to him. He gave most liberally to the Episcopal Church at Dresden, of which he was for many years a member. He gave the ground on which the church and rectory were built, besides contributing to the erection of the church. 

Mr. Adams was also prominent in political circles and at one time served as a member of the General Assembly of Ohio. He was a man of marked influence, his fellow townsmen recognizing the fact that the welfare of the county was very dear to him, and he also possessed a sage judgment and keen discernment in all business matters and in affairs relating to the progress and up-building of the county 

While actively concerned with many public interests Mr. Adams also capably conducted his private business affairs and for a number of years was one of the largest landowners and leading stock-raisers in central Ohio. As his financial resources increased he made judicious investment in land and had large and valuable farms which increased in value owing to the cultivation bestowed upon them and because of the demand made for property by a constantly increasing population.

Mr. Adams was twice married and passed away August 31, 1879, survived by his wife and seven children. The eldest, Anna, is now the wife of William Cox and resides upon the old homestead near Dresden . Mary Adams lives with her sister Anna. Elizabeth is the wife of Mordecai T Endicott and resides in Washington, D.C., her husband being a rear admiral in the United States Navy and recently appointed by President Roosevelt to the position of engineer on the Panama Canal commission. Sophia resides in Zanesville with her mother. Charles W is living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jessie is the wife of Frank E. Huggins of Columbus. John J. Adams, living in Zanesville is a well known attorney, who formerly served on the bench. Mrs. Adams resides at No. 1146 Maple Avenue in Zanesville where she has a beautiful home and although seventy-three years of age is well preserved. The circle of her friends is extensive for like her husband she is esteemed by all who have known her. No history of Muskingum County would be complete without mention of the Hon. George W. Adams, who was for many years a leading citizen of this part of the state. He was faultless in honor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation and his life's work touched many lines of activity that have proved of benefit in the up-building of the city and the county.' 


John Jay Adams, Esq.  Son of G. W. Adams.

The following is an excerpt from "History Past & Present of the City of Zanesville and Muskingum County Ohio"
published in 1909 and written by J Hope Sutor.

'John J. Adams, a practitioner at the Muskingum County bar and for six years judge of the Judicial Circuit of Ohio, was born on the 18th of November, 1860, on his father's farm (Prospect Place) near Dresden, this state, his parents being the late George Willison and Mary J. R. Adams. His primary education was obtained in the district schools and was continued in the High School at Dresden and Zanesville, being graduated from the latter institution with the class of June, 1875. His more specifically literary education was acquired in Kenyon College, at Gambier, Ohio, which he entered in the fall of 1875, completing the course there by graduation with the class of 1879. Through the succeeding three years he engaged in teaching in Harcourt Place Academy, at Gambier, Ohio, a private boarding school for boys, and in September, 1880, he entered upon the study of law under the direction of the Honorable Moses M. Granger, of Zanesville. Following his careful preliminary reading he was admitted to the Ohio bar, January 2, 1883, entering upon the practice of his chosen profession in partnership with Colonel Gilbert D. Munson, under the firm name of Munson and Adams, which relation was maintained from the spring of 1883 until November, 1893, when Colonel Munson was elected to the Common pleas bench. 

The following year Mr. Adams received the Republican nomination for judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Ohio, and was elected in November by a plurality of eight thousand eight hundred and ninety-four. The fifth circuit is composed of the counties of Ashland, Richland, Wayne, Stark, Morrow, Delaware, Licking, Knox, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Muskingum, Morgan, Fairfield and Perry. Judge Adams was the first Republican judge elected to the circuit bench in this circuit, large Democratic majorities having previously been given. He served on the bench for the full term of six years, from February 9, 1895, until February 9, 1901. The practice of law has been his real life work, and at the bar and on the bench he has won distinction. A man of unimpeachable character, of unusual intellectual endowments, with a thorough understanding of the law, patience, urbanity and industry, Judge Adams took to the bench the very highest qualifications for this responsible position in the state government, and his record as a Judge has been in harmony with his record as a man and a lawyer, distinguished by unswerving integrity and a masterful grasp of every problem which has presented itself for solution. 

On the 26th of October, 1892, Judge Adams was married to Miss Dora May Black, the only daughter of Thomas and Cornelia (Van Ham) Black. Mrs. Adams died October 27th, 1904. '

The canal system in Ohio was the best way to get from place to place in Ohio before the time of the railroad.  Near Dresden/Trinway you will find evidence of this canal network.  Right beside State Route 16 you will notice a large "ditch".  This ditch is, in fact, the remains of the Ohio and Erie canal.  A restored canal town, Roscoe Village, is located in Coshocton, just 15 minutes from Prospect Place.  Dresden itself has the remains of a series of locks which once connected the Ohio & Erie canal to the Muskingum River.

The bridge across the Muskingum River

Unfortunately, the bridge built by G.W. Adams and designed by John Augustus Roebling ([1806-1869], creator of the Brooklyn Bridge), was washed away in the flood of 1913.  Today, however, you can see the replacement built in 1914.  It sits somewhat higher than its predecessor but in the same location.  This steel link suspension bridge is no longer in service but has been preserved as a historic treasure by the Village of Dresden.


To Learn more about the Dresden area in general please visit the Dresden Museum linked below: