Our Adams Family History

William Watson Adams was born in Linn County, Missouri on  September 7, 1842 or 1843.    We cannot find any information on his parents or siblings.  He appears out of nowhere.  One cousin said that his family all died in a Cholera epidemic and a neighbor raised him.  Which brings up the question, if a neighbor raised him, did he take the neighbors name?  Is Adams his birth name or his neighbor’s name?  Is Watson his birth surname?  Questions for which we’ll probably never find answers.

 He moved to Iowa prior to August 1862 as he volunteered for military service on 20 August 1862 at Knoxville in Marion County, Iowa.  He listed his occupation as a farmer.  He was 5’ 5 1/2" tall, had blue eyes and auburn hair when he enlisted (abt 20 years old).

 He and his unit, Company G, Iowa 40th Infantry Regiment, was called to active duty on 20 September 1862. He participated in the siege of Vicksburg and the skirmish at Prairie De Anne.  He was detached from his unit to serve as a cook at the Regimental Hospital from 25 October 1862 to 27 December 1862.

 In May 1863 he was in Paducah, Kentucky, when he accidentally shot himself in the left thumb.  According to official military records, "He was on guard duty on a wharf boat and while in the act of raising his gun, the hammer caught on a bale of cotton and the gun was discharged".  He was admitted to the Regimental Hospital on 3 May 1863.

 He was captured at the Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas battle on 30 April 1864 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW in Andersonville Prison (according to another cousin).  He was paroled on 26 February 1865 at the mouth of the Red River.  He was in the New Orleans Denence area on 3 March when he was sent to rejoin his unit at Benton Barracks, Missouri.  He went to Iowa on leave from Cairo, Illinois o/a 12 March and then rejoined his unit on 16 May at Benton Barracks.  He was sent to his state (Iowa) on 20 May and was officially mustered out of the service from Ft. Gibson in the Cherokee Nation on 2 August 1865.

He married Smith Banta's widow, Mary Jane (London) Banta on 30 November 1865.  They were married in a double marriage with her younger brother, Newton S. London who married Caroline D. Good.  Mary Jane had married Smith Banta on 25 September 1859 and bore Smith two children, Mary Arabella (23 June 1860) and Newton Siegel (16 August 1862).  Smith Banta was killed during the Jenkins Ferry Battle.

 According to this cousin, William visited Melcher to tell Mary Jane about Smith's death.  He then went home to find that his folks had died in a Cholera epidemic.  He then returned to Melcher and married Mary Jane.    What seems certain is that his family died in a Cholera epidemic.  We just don’t know if it was when he was a child or after the Civil War. 

 William and Mary's first child, John Quincy was born in Marion County in 1866.  They moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, where Ida Irene (Rene) was born in 1868 but returned to Marion County by early 1870 as they were enumerated there in the 1870 census.  It’s probable that they moved to Missouri with William and Nancy Hunt, her cousins.   They purchased a 119-acre farm in Section 9 of Washington Township.  Mary Jane had 10 children, which included one set of twins. 

 Click here to see William Watson Adams’ Family Group Record.   This is  a picture of the Family taken circa 1900

 In the late 1870s, probably after Core was born, they sold the farm and moved to Prairie Township, Jewell County, Kansas.   William applied there (on 15 June 1880) for a partial medical pension because of the thumb injury.  His height was listed as 5' 8" on the declaration.  They returned to Marion County before 1882 and lived the remainder of their lives there.  During the latter years of his life, William was the postmaster in Gosport, Iowa.

 William passed away on 26 May 1909 and Mary Jane on 23 May 1911.  There was no death certificate issued for William.  However, we do have an obituary for him, which confirmed a lot of the information we have acquired about him.

On July 1, 1995 (135 years after they met to join the war), Knoxville commemorated the men in a rededication ceremony at the Elm Tree Park.  There is a plaque there listing the 40 men and the units in which they served.

 Our line continues through their youngest daughter, Nora who married Charles Leonard McCoy on November 17, 1909.


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