The following ADAM family history was originally edited and published in 1981 in the History of Van Wert County Ohio by the Van Wert County Historical Society. Some information has been updated.
I.P. ADAM AND DESCENDANTS
Israel P. Adam (Addams spelling used until 1857) was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1823. His father’s name was Isaac Addams and he had two brothers, Amos and William. He was married to Catherine Matz, daughter of Wilhelm and Maria (Heberling) Matz, in November, 1849, and they moved to Fairfield County, Ohio, the next year. In 1853 they moved to Jackson Township, Van Wert County, where he entered 120 acres of land completely covered by timber. Here he and his wife cleared a small piece of ground and built a cabin. Further details may be found in “A History of Van Wert County” published in 1885.
To this couple were born the following children:
William b. 6/26/1851 m. Mary Baker d. –; Isabel (Lizzie) b. 2/17/1853 m. John Kearns d. 3/3/1932; Isaac b. 3/15/1855 m. — d. 1/19/1855; James b. 3/11/1857 m. — d. 4/4/1879; Catherine b. 11/25/1858 m. John Dunlap d. 2/28/1948; Mary b. 7/25/1860 m. F.B. Bryan d. 2/12/1928; John b. 3/25/1862 m. Della Wales Straley d. 7/3/1942; Sarah b. 5/24/1865 m. Robert Dunlap d. 3/31/1948; Richard b. 6/7/1867 m. — d. 6/22/1871; Frank b. 1/8/1870 m Anna Gudekunst d. 3/6/1951; Lydia b. 2/28/1871 m. Fred Bartz d. 9/27/1909.
Israel P. Adam died July 5, 1890; his wife Catherine died February 20, 1895. Both are buried in the Delphos, Ohio Cemetery which is located at the west edge of town.
THE OLD IRON KETTLE
Shortly after the migration of my grandfather, Israel P. Adam to Van Wert County, he and his brother-in-law, a Mr. Semer, desired to purchase an iron kettle. Such a kettle was indispensable for making soft soap, rendering lard, or soaking corn in lye for making hominy. So one fine day in early fall before butchering time, they started on foot through the forest to Delphos, Ohio, to make their purchase. There were no roads, only blazed trails through the woods. Streams had to be forded or ‘cooned’ across on a fallen tree.
Delphos was about eight miles away as the crow flies and they reached that canal town about noon. After a dinner at one of the soup houses or taverns they made their purchase and started for home. Mr. Semer was somewhat of a tipper and had somewhat too much of the bottle. Grandfather and Mr. Semer took turns carrying the heavy iron kettle with the bail swung over one shoulder. Presently they came to a stream too deep to ford. So they followed the course of the stream for some distance until they found a tree fallen across the stream.
Mr. Semer, although pretty well ‘teed’ up, insisted on carrying the kettle across the stream by walking across the fallen tree using it for a bridge. When about half way across he began to totter and stagger. He lost his balance and fell into the stream with the bail of the kettle still over his shoulder. The heavy kettle bore him down and held him under the water of the rushing stream. Grandfather leaped into the stream and extricated him from the kettle and brought him up for air. He assisted him to the opposite bank and put him down on the ground to sober up a little. He then retrieved the kettle and they proceeded on their way home. The cold douse in the stream completely restored his brother-in-law who took his regular turn in carrying the kettle, without further complaint. The rest of the journey was uneventful. They arrived home just before nightfall, tired and weary. They were now ready for the fall butchering, soap making and so forth. A necessary piece of equipment had been added to their meager store. (Written by Lawrence W. Adam)
Grandfather and son John had gone to Delphos, Ohio, to get the monthly ‘grist’ at the old Mill on the canal. Home grown wheat was ground into flour and shelled corn was brought to be ground into meal. The resulting product was rather coarse and had to be sifted at home by the housewife before baking into bread or corn pone. Stalls were provided around the old millyard for feeding the horses before the farmer returned home, the trip requiring an entire day. The grist was ground by a stone burr mill turned by water power. The mill was located by the’lock’ in the canal, thus supplying enough head or fall for a mill race and water wheel.
On the way home the team jogged slowly along with the old farm wagon down the winding road. It was spring and the rains had swollen the streams until they were out of bank, flooding the bottom lands. A mile or two above Ottoville (Sixteen — so called because the lock there was number 16) the road crossed the Little Auglaize River at the ford. In the low water stage, the crossing was easy, but now it was different. With the river out of its banks, Grandfather thought it might be best to go ’round by the bridge at Ottoville, but the distance was much longer. Son, John, thought it would be fun to ‘ford’ the stream. At his urgent request Grandfather reluctantly consented to the crossing.
All went well until the horses came to the main current of the stream. The horses had been wading with the water up to the axles of the wagon. As they reached the main current, the horses plunged headlong into the water and for the moment went under and were carried momentarily down-stream. However, they quickly came to the surface, blew the water out of their nostrils, and began swimming upstream. About this time a new danger beset the occupants of the wagon. The running gear of the wagon sank down to the bed of the stream leaving the wagon box to float off. Quick action on the part of Grandfather saved the situation. Holding onto the lines with one hand and guiding the horses across the river, he held onto the wagon box with the other and kept it from floating away. Finally they reached the opposite bank of the stream and were soon out of the main current. The wagon box was righted and put back on the wagon gear. Except for the scare and some wetting of the grist, no harm was done.
Grandfather surveyed the situation for a moment and then remarked “John, I’ve a big notion to give you a good scutching!” His face then broke into a smile and both had a good laugh. The rest of the journey home was without further adventure. However, son John had learned a lesson he would remember the rest of his days.
This story was related many times to us children as we sat around the fireside in the sitting room of the old farmhouse. This was just one of the many ‘close calls’ the pioneer farmer had to meet in his daily task of providing for a family in the wilderness. (Written by Lawrence W. Adam)
THE HICKORY FLATS
During the late 70s and early 80s, come fall men and boys from the north country (Jackson township and vicinity) went hunting for hickory nuts in the famous ‘Hickory Flats’. This country lay off to the northeast some twenty-five or thirty miles and abounded in hickory trees and wild game. In late September or early October the trek began. Men and boys of the neighborhood set out with teams and farm wagons, laden with a week’s supply of provisions, to make the long journey over the trails through the forest. The trip required about two days each way, leaving two or three days in the Flats’ to gather the store of hickory nuts for the coming winter. This offered a sort of holiday season or vacation for the pioneer farmers and their sons before the corn was ready to husk. Small game abounded and such a thing as closed season for game was unknown. The food cooked over open fires served with broiled squirrel was a feast indeed.
On the grounds camp was set up and the harvesting of hickory nuts began The larger boys climbed the trees and shook them or clubbed the branches with heavy sticks. The ripened nuts rolled to the ground in abundance and fell among the dry leaves with a clatter indeed. Baskets and bags were soon filled and carried to the wagons. To hasten the harvest, long heavy poles were cut and trimmed of all branches. Then a dozen or more men and boys would hoist the log to their shoulders and advance toward a large hickory tree laden with the brown nuts. The end of the pole was driven against the tree with tremendous force. Several onslaughts like this sort brought the nuts to the ground in heavy showers. That the trees were damaged with this sort of treatment goes without saying. But the trees were abundant and crop boundless. Literally, thousands of pounds of hickory nuts were harvested annually.
This trek to the ‘Flats’ extended through the greater part of my father’s boyhood and youth, and many a time has he recited his adventures on these trips. Once a report got abroad that not all the hunting was confined to hickory nuts and small game. Some of the local farmers complained that their fat hogs disappeared and could not be found. Some of these hunters were suspected. One such party from another county was kept under watch for several days. One day while they were away from their camp some of the local residents ran the wagons together, piled the harness on top of the wagons, covered the whole with dry brush and set fire to it. When these rustlers returned to their camp in the evening, they found nothing but ashes and their wagon irons. They rounded up their horses and left the ‘Flats’ for good, and were never heard from again. Needless to say, the theft of hogs ceased and the pioneer again had salt pork and bacon for his winter fare. (written by Lawrence W. Adam)
John Adam, third son of Israel P. and Catherine (Matz) Adam, was born March 25, 1862, in Jackson Township, Van Wert County, Ohio. Mr. Adam spent his entire lifetime in Jackson Township, never residing more than 2-1/2 miles from his birthplace. Born in a log cabin in the forest, his life spanned the development from the wilderness of pioneer days to the beginning of tractor power farming.
On November 3, 1887, he was united in marriage to Della Wales Straley, daughter of Jacob and Mary E. (Sayre) Straley. Mr. Adam was a farmer all of his life and acquired some 240 acres in the Wetzel area. With the help of his family, this was all farmed with horses — the only exception being the steam powered threshing rig. He was active in community affairs, having served on the local school board (Spangler School) and was a long-time member of the Methodist Church. He attended the Elm Grove Church until disbanded and then the Grace Church where he served as treasurer for many years.
In about 1918, he built a new home in Wetzel and left the home farm to live there where he and his wife lived their retirement years. Della W. Adam died August 1, 1937, and John Adam died July 3, 1942. Both are buried in the Ridge Cemetery.