The Adams Family of Dubois County, Indiana


According to History of Gage County, Nebraska , [1] “John Lawrence was born in England, and left in infancy an orphan and adopted by one Mr. Adams, of Massachusetts, and from that time took the name of his adopted parent.”


It goes on to say that he came to America when he was nine or ten years old. He settled in New York and married. He lived in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, and finally Dubois County, Indiana where he died at the age of ninety-four, in 1839.


A somewhat different account is given on “INPCRP Cemetery Hall of Shame, Wilhoit Cemetery, Dubois County, Indiana.” [2] On it, he died at ninety-four, but in 1849. Also, his name is given as John Quincy Luther Adams. This account relates how he, his son, David, and David's wife, Hester Ann, were removed from Wilhoit Cemetery and re-interred in Shiloh Cemetery.


The son, David L. Adams, was born in either New York or New Jersey according to census data. He married Hester Ann Ross in New Jersey on 24 Feb 1807. Their first child, John Oliver Adams, was born there 17 Jul 1808. Other children born in New Jersey were: Elizabeth, about 1810; and William Ross, 20 Jun 1812. Born in Kentucky were: Holms (N. H.), about 1814; Chloa A., 22 Apr 1817; Edward S., 5 Jan 1819; Ezra, 5 Oct 1820; Mary Ellen, 10 Sep 1822; Martha Jane, 19 Aug 1824; David L., about 1826; Eliza Ann, 10 Sep 1828; and Charles, about 1830.


The family resided in Greenup County, Kentucky and began migrating to Dubois County, Indiana in the late 1830's. Apparently David's eldest, John Oliver, had not yet moved when the lands were bought because his address is given as “of Greenup Co., Kentucky” even though David, Sr. was “of Dubois County, Indiana” on the land patents issued on 1 Oct 1840. William was issued a patent on 25 May 1841. David, John, Holms, and Chloa Adams Mead were living in separate homes in the 1840 Dubois County census. Chloa married William Rhodes Mead on 25 Jul 1837, probably in Greenup County, Kentucky. It would appear that Holms may have married in Kentucky, but John married Letitia Harris on 13 Feb 1840 in Dubois County.


Letitia was the daughter of Nelson Harris and Polly Corn. Nelson was the first one to settle in Bainbridge Township. His initial land patent was issued 10 Apr 1832. Nelson's parents were James Harris and Margaret Green. Their family was in Mercer County, Kentucky in 1810, but Nelson was in the 1820 Bainbridge Twp., Dubois County census. His brothers appeared in later censuses in the same area. Polly's family also was in Mercer County and began appearing in later censuses.


Elizabeth is the only Adams child that didn't appear separately in a census. It has been reported the she died shortly before her impending marriage in Kentucky. On 2 Dec 1848 in Dubois County, William married Margery Harris, daughter of Frederick Harris (brother of Nelson) and Mary Green, daughter of Elizabeth Cartmill Green. Margery had previously married John Williamson Corn on 5 Aug 1846. He died 5 Mar 1847 in Dubois County.


Holms and his family had begun a westward trek and were in Illinois by 1848. After marrying Harriet Shandy on 14 Sep 1848 in Dubois County, David also moved west and was in Atchison County, Missouri for the 1860 census. Harriet was the daughter of Jacob Shandy and Nancy Rendleman. The Shandy's were in the 1850 Dubois census, but then were in Missouri also by 1860. Indeed, Holms and family were there at that time, too.


The only other original Adams member to go west was Mary Ellen. She appeared in the 1880 Adams Precinct, Gage County, Nebraska census. She had married Lewis Lunsford Mosby on 21 Jan 1841 in Dubois County. They were in Spencer County until Lewis' death in 1855. Mary Ellen moved back to Dubois County before moving on to Nebraska. She went because her brother, John Oliver, was there (among others). He had been the first settler in that area in 1857. In fact, Adams, Nebraska is named in his honor.


Edward S. Adams married Martha Ann Harris on 14 Dec 1841 in Dubois County. She was the daughter of Overton Harris, brother of Nelson, and Dolly Powers. By 1860, they had moved on to Pike County.


Ezra married Sarah Mosby on 10 May 1842. She was a sister of Lewis and daughter of Edward Mosby and Sarah Jane Elliott. They lived in Dubois County until their deaths. After Sarah died, Ezra married Elizabeth F. Woods.


On 1 Jan 1846, Mary Jane married Samuel J. Dillon, son of Zachariah Dillon and Nancy Ann Williams. They were in Dubois County censuses through 1880. According to Robert Ross, they both died in Pike County, Illinois. [3] Eliza Ann married Benjamin E. Dillon, brother of Samuel, on 7 Sep 1848. They lived in Dubois County until Benjamin's death in 1901. Eliza died in Daviess County in 1911.


Charles was living at home in Dubois County in 1850, with Chloa in Spencer County in 1860, and it may be him living in Perry County in 1870. Robert Ross says he died in Louisville, Kentucky in 1888.


There are many marriages between the numerous families living in Dubois County. Members of the Dillon and Green families may have much to add. The name has been spelled Dillon because of the difficulty of telling from the censuses whether it was Dillon, Dillen, or Dillin. There are many marriages among the Harris and Corn families. That branches out to include Armstrong, Anderson, Alexander, Harned, Haskins, Hope, Hopkins, Padgett, Payne, Powers, and Wineinger. Tracing marriages far enough would probably include nearly every early family.


William R. Draper


1 History of Gage County, Nebraska by Hugh J. Dobbs, Lincoln, Nebraska

Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1918

2 INPCRP Cemeteries Hall of Shame

3 Robert Ross, 6 Oct 2001