The young brothers saw an opportunity to capitalize on the new canal. For many years the farmers of northern Muskingum and Coshocton Counties had to take their grain into the city of Zanesville in order for it to be made into flour for sale. George W. and Edward Adams decided that through the sale of their family farm they could raise the money to build a mill on the Muskingum and Coshocton County lines. It would sit on the Ohio-Erie Canal which would provide power for the water wheel, as well as allow for the transportation of the flour directly to ports like New Orleans in the South. In addition to the canal, a “side cut” canal was being dug which would allow the Muskingum River to be directly linked to the canal. This increased the number of ways the Adams brothers had to get their flour to market. The mill was built and became a huge success. George and Edward both married and had families. The brothers built identical homes for a cost of $40,000 each. They were magnificent and large homes. Edward chose a site just behind the mill in the little community called “Adams Mills” which had sprung up around the mill. Today this home is sometimes referred to as the “Prescott Gray House” in honor of a later owner. It stands in Adams Mills to this day and can be seen beside its beautiful red barn on the north side of Ohio Route 16.
George’s house was identical in every way and was built in a field near the canal just north of Trinway. That house was torn down in the late 19th century. George had been very happy there, he had married Clarissa Hopkins Shaff and raised five children in that home. He had also been a member of the Ohio General Assembly while living in that house at the young age of 32. He formed a stock company in order to build a suspension bridge across the Muskingum River at this time. The designer of the bridge was the famous John Augustus Roebling, who later, along with his son, designed the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Roebling’s son, Washington, was to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. His letters home to his father have become a commentary on the events of that time. Later he was to finish the Brooklyn Bridge designed by his father.
George Adams knew great joy in his grand farm house and had the admiration of his community. Then tragedy struck in 1853 when his beloved wife of so many years, Clarissa, fell ill and died. The family had previously suffered the loss of an infant in 1852 (George Adams) ,and another one of their sons (Edwards Adams) died a few short weeks after Clarissa.
George was heartbroken and mourned for several years. Finally his depression lifted and he met a young lady named Mary Jane Robinson. She was some twenty years his junior but he loved her as though he were again a youngster himself. He wed Mary and brought her to live with him in the large farm house. Not too much time passed and memories of his first love closed in around him like the walls of the great home. He decided he could no longer live in the house “of bad memories” and would build for his new wife a “fairy tale castle” in which they could live happily ever after.
Construction was quickly completed on a small two story frame house near the Adams Brothers warehouse in Dresden. This little house would serve the family until the mansion was completed. Today, this small, dilapidated and sad structure can be seen where Bottom Road meets Old Ohio 77 just north of Wakatomica Creek. Likely someday soon this piece of history will pass beyond the veil of time as so many other homes of that era have.
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.
Download a free copy of our in house history text here:
History of Prospect Place