George Willison Adams
Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1800 to George Beal Adams and his wife Anna Turner, George Willison Adams (or G.W. as he was called) was one of thirteen children. His father was a plantation owner who gave up his land and home to move away from the slaveholding South. The family migrated to southeastern Ohio in 1808, freed their slaves and settled in Madison Township, Muskingum County near the town of Dresden, Ohio.
Like his father, G. W. Adams became a strong abolitionist. He and his brother, Edward, ran an Underground Railroad "station" from their mill at what later became known as Adams Mills, Ohio.
G. W. Adams was once a member of the Ohio General Assembly.
Together with several other prominent citizens he formed a stock company to build a suspension bridge across the Muskingum river near Dresden. When the other members of the company became fearful that the plan was not feasible and that they would lose their money, Adams built the bridge at his own expense, his nephew, George Copeland, being the engineer. The bridge was conducted as a toll bridge for several years before Adams eventually sold the bridge to the county commissioners for one-third of the original building cost of the bridge.
Later in life, Adams was the President of the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad. He directed construction of the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad. His land holdings totaled 14,500 acres (59 km2) with the Prospect Place Mansion in the center of his plantation.
G. W. Adams was an important figure in Ohio politics, the Underground Railroad and regional development of the southeastern Ohio area. His importance in these areas was a criterion used to include the Prospect Place Mansion on the National Register of Historic Places.
G. W. Adams was married twice. He married Clarissa Hopkins Shaff (1824 - 1853) in 1845. They had four children together - Edward Adams, Anna T. Adams Cox, Mary Adams and Elizabeth Adams Endicott. After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Jane Robinson (1832 - 1915) in 1855. They had six children together - Sophia Adams, James R. Adams, John J. Adams, Charles W. Adams, Jessie Adams Huggins and Florence Adams. G. W. Adams died on August 31, 1879 at the age of 79. He is buried in Dresden Cemetery in Dresden, Muskingum County, Ohio.
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... Adams and his brother, Edward, was a huge undertaking ... When men from the Adams company would take flour to New Orleans, Louisiana, they would return with refugees (runaway slaves) beneath the decks of their boats ... It is also known that in 1856 Adams donoted money to the American Colonization Society ...
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