The earliest known
ancestor of our Adamson family was Dr.
Henry William Adamson (1811-1861). He was born in London,
on November 22, 1811. Henry
was “reared by pious parents, both members of the
Presbyterian Church.” Considering that Adamson
was a Scottish surname and that Presbyterianism never really took hold
well in England, save for among Scottish expatriates, it is very safe
to assume that the Adamsons were originally from Scotland, perhaps
arriving in London a generation or two before Henry.
In fact, almost all Presbyterian parishioners in England
during that time period were of Scottish origin.
Some descendants believe that the Adamsons were originally
from the Glasgow, Scotland,
At any rate, in 1831,
Henry married his first wife, Frances
(1815-1843), in London. They had a son in London less than two years later,
Thomas Henry Adamson (1833-1844), and the three of them set sail six
months after the child’s birth to New York on
the ship Admiral Monsom, owned and operated
by Captain Clay Monsom. Their
ship arrived in the port at New York City
on Friday, August 23, 1833. Frances
is listed on the ship’s manifest as “Mrs.
occupation was listed as “gentleman,” which clearly
implies he was a man of substance who had no need for an occupation.
Adamsons lived in New York for
some unknown period of time, and had their first daughter there. They then moved to New Orleans, where their second
daughter was born, where he is said to have studied medicine at Tulane
and became a physician.
The chronology of
what happened next is not very clear, but it is certain that he moved
to Whitesville, East Florida, on April 4, 1839,
and he served in the U.S. Army, likely as a physician, during the
Second Seminole War. The
details are not yet known, but it is suspected that he likely could
have traveled to Florida with
the Louisiana Volunteers to the Second Seminole War in 1837, and
ultimately brought his family over to Whitesville by 1839. It appears he served at
Dr. Adamson had at
least three children by Frances:
Thomas Henry Adamson, born in February 1833,
England. Died circa 1844, in
Whitesville, Duval (now Clay), East
Frances Adamson, born in 1839, in New York City,
Adamson, born 1841, in New Orleans,
1843, Mrs. Frances Adamson died in Whitesville.
As his son, Henry, was still alive at the time, it is
presumed that he died shortly thereafter, as it is known the son was
dead before Dr. Adamson’s removal to Georgia
obituary of Mrs. Frances Adamson states:
this life, on the 16th
September, 1843, at Whitesville, East
Florida, in the 29th year of
her age, Mrs. Frances Adamson, wife of Dr. H.W. Adamson. Sister A. attached herself
to the M.E.
on the 14th of May last.
Although her stay among us has been short, her departure
has afforded her bereaved husband and other surviving friends the
clearest evidence that their loss is her greatest gain.
In full view of death, ‘she endured as seeing
him who is invisible,’ frequently spoke of her departure with
the utmost composure, and expressed an entire resignation to the will
of God. Although
she left behind, an affectionate husband, and three small children (who
will long feel and mourn her loss,), who must have been strong ties by
which she was bound to earth, yet she met death like a good soldier of
the cross. Oh faith
and grace of our Lord Jesus, for life and for death, how blessed is
thine influence! May
the fullness of its inspiration be ours.
Then shall we too depart, as departed our friend,
challenging death for its sting, and the grave for its
In 1846, Henry took
his two surviving daughters to Georgia. He put them in the
Bethesda Orphanage in Savannah
while he set up his practice in the town of Reidsville,
and he also apparently purchased a farm nearby.
Life in the orphanage
was not satisfactory for Frances and Victoria.
Several letters they wrote to their father survive,
pleading for him to return and bring them home.
These letters were handed down in the line of Victoria,
to her great-great-great grandchildren.
Henry returned to Savannah
after 1850, to pick up his girls to bring them home for good. The 1850 U.S. Census has
Henry living alone in Tattnall Co., 35 years old, a physician, (and
erroneously having been born in Scotland). His daughters, Frances and
Victoria, were still at the Bethesda Orphanage at the time.
He married, secondly, Anna Brazell (1826-1887), sometimes
spelled Annie Braswell, on July 23, 1851, in Tattnall Co., by Thomas S.
L. Harwell, M.G. She
was the daughter of John Brazell and Elizabeth Burton.
She was reportedly unusually attractive, well known as the
“prettiest girl in Reidsville.” They had the following
children; his last child was born shortly after his death:
Richard Adamson, born 1851, in Tattnall Co., Georgia.
Elizabeth Adamson, born 1853, in Tattnall
Emma Adamson, born 1855, in Tattnall Co.,
Joseph Adamson, born 1858, in Tattnall Co.,
Anna Elizabeth Adamson, born early 1862, in
Tattnall Co., Georgia, a few months after the death of her father.
There is another
child who shows in the 1870 U.S. Census as being born in 1868. His name is John Adamson. His relationship to Henry
Apparently, Henry was small in stature and quite confident. He spoke with an
upper-class British accent, and was known to say, “I
can’t, and I shan’t!” (which was
pronounced as “I cahn’t ahnd I
invested in land around Tattnall County,
and seemed quite smart with financial matters.
On January 5, 1858, Dr. Adamson purchased four lots in
Reidsville “with improvements” from the estate of
fellow Englishman, Alexander McRae, who had originally purchased the
property in 1849, and built a home on one of the lots.
Ownership of the house transferred to Dr. Adamson at that
Dr. Adamson had
previously joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Whitesville, East Florida, in 1837. He became
“licensed to exhort” in the church in Reidsville in
1848. In 1859, he
became “licensed to preach,” to which he apparently
devoted much energy. His
preaching style has been described as “instructive, plain,
and pointed, and found its way to the heart of the attentive
Adamson was a member of the Tattnall County Rising Sun Lodge, Number
20, of the Grand Lodge of Georgia in 1854.
They used to meet regularly on the first Saturday after
the full moon in each month.
clearly fell seriously ill around the summer of 1860, and he had to
cease preaching during that time, much to his dismay.
That winter, he was rarely to be seen outside his home. His friend, William J.
Jordan, evidently visited him frequently during that time. Henry had evidently taken
a turn for the worst by mid-April, for he wrote a will on April 13th. It is recorded in the
Tattnall Co., Georgia,
A record of the last will and testament of H.W.
In the name of God, Amen.
I, Henry W. Adamson of said state and county being in
feeble health but of sound and disposing mind and memory knowing that I
must shortly depart this life deem it right and proper both as respects
my family and myself that I shall make a disposition of the property
with which a kind providence has blessed me I do therefore make this my
last will and testament hereby revoking and annulling all others by me
First, I desire and direct that my body be buried
in a decent and Christian-like manner suitable to my circumstances and
condition in life, my soul I trust shall return to rest with God who
gave it as I hope for salvation through the merits and atonement of the
blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Second, I desire and direct that all my just debts
be paid without delay by my executors herein after named and appointed.
Thirdly, I give, bequeath, and devise to my beloved
wife, Anna, my negro woman, Mary, and all my household and kitchen
furniture without limitation or reserve.
Also, my gold watch.
Fourthly, I give and bequeath to my two daughters,
Frances E. Tool and Victory Merriman in equal shares, my negro fellow
of every which I value at fifteen hundred dollars, the share of my
daughter, Frances E. Tool, I desire not to be subject to the debts
liabilities of her present husband, William J. Tool.
Fifthly, I give, bequeath, and devise to my sons,
Richard and Joseph, to my daughters, Elizabeth and Emma, and any other
that may be born hereafter, share and share alike my negro fellow, Jim,
the whole of my lands lying and being in the County and State
aforesaid, also all of my stock consisting of my horses, cattle, hogs,
and sheep, likewise, all of my farming utensils of every description.
Sixthly, I desire my wife, Anna, shall retain the
possession of all the property herein conveyed to my children in the
fifth item of this, my will, during her widowhood, and to manage and
control the same as she may think best for the support and education of
Seventhly, I desire that my debts shall be paid as
follows to wit: By
using what money I may be possessed of notes and book accounts and if
there be not an amount sufficient then my executors hereinafter named
to sell my wagon and horses.
Eighthly, I desire all of my book and surgical
instruments to be sold only such as my wife, Anna, and two daughters,
Frances and Victoria, may desire to keep for their own use in that case
they or either of them may make such selection as they think proper and
retain them and appropriate the same to their own use.
Ninthly, I hereby constitute and appoint my wife,
Anna, Executrix and my son-in-law, George I. Merriman, Executor of this
my last will and testament this April 13, 1861.
Signed, sealed, declared, and published by Dr.
Henry W. Adamson as his last will and testament in the presence of us,
the undersigned, who subscribed our names hereto in the presence of
said testator at his special instance and request and in the presence
of each other this April 13th, 1861.
wrote that, before he died, Dr. Adamson had difficulty worrying about
how his wife and children would fare without him, but that he
ultimately decided that God would take care of them.
He quoted the dying Dr. Adamson, “I have the
victory over that I feel that if we must part, God will take care of
them, so I am now ready to go.”
wrote that Henry “…remained in that state of mind
unto the last. At
about noon of the day he died, I went to see him, and found his mind
afternoon he seemed to think of nothing but heaven and immortal glory,
often exclaiming, “Bless the Lord, for that perfect peace I
feel. Among his
last words were, ‘The best of all is, the Lord is with me all
Henry died on
Tuesday, April 23, 1861, at his home in Reidsville, Tattnall,
Georgia. His cause of death was
listed as “consumption,” which is an archaic
medical term for pulmonary tuberculosis.
Dr. Adamson is buried under a large obelisk in the Adamson Cemetery, now known as the Reidsville
in Reidsville. His
“The Rev. H.W. Adamson died of
consumption near Reidsville, Ga., on 23d
He was born in London 22d
November, 1811, reared by pious parents, both members of the
Presbyterian Church. He
grew up a steady youth. In
his 21st year he was married in his native land,
and came to New
York perhaps in 1833. In 1837, he went in to the
Indian war in Florida;
in 1844 lost his wife, and about 1846 he located at Reidsville, and
engaged in the practice of medicine extensively and successfully. In 1851 he was married to
Miss Anna Brazell, of Reidsville, who is now with two little children,
and two daughters by the first marriage, left to mourn their loss. He joined the M.E.
in 1837, and ever after lived with an eye single to the glory of God. In 1848 he was licensed to
exhort; in 1859, to preach, to which high calling he devoted his mind,
strength, and energy. His
preaching was instructive, plain, and pointed, and found its way to the
heart of the attentive hearer. Some
months before his death he was unable to preach, but he often wished to
get able to do so. Through
the past winter he was out but little, yet it was my privilege to visit
him frequently, and ever found him composed and happy in a
Saviour’s love. He
had a hard struggle on account of his wife and children; but, said he,
“I have the victory over that I feel that if we must part,
God will take care of them, so I am now ready to go.” He remained in that state
of mind unto the last. About
noon of the day he died I went to see him, and found his mind clear. ‘I
can’t stay here much longer; but what of that? I am ready to depart and
be at rest. Bless
God for perfect peace.’
All the afternoon he seemed to think of nothing but heaven
and immortal glory, often exclaiming “Bless the Lord, for
that perfect peace I feel.” Thus
his heart was filled to overflowing, and among his last words were,
‘The best of all is, the Lord is with me all the
 From his
obituary, Tattnall Journal, April
of New York,
manifest of all the passengers on board the Admiral
Monson, arriving in the port on August 23, 1833.
 Whitesville was
located in Duval
County, East Florida, at the time. Florida
did not become a state until 1845, so East
Florida was a territory at that time.
The location of Whitesville is now in present-day Clay
and was about two miles from present-day Middleburg.
Whitesville no longer exists, and Middleburg was known
back then as Garey’s Ferry.
1850 U.S. Census, Savannah, Georgia (Bethesda