George Willison Adams, 1799-1879

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.. 

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. 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.

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 upbuilding 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 upbuilding of the city and the county.'

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