Sunday, April 17, 2011

Major Adams

Major Alden Joseph Adams was quite a colorful character in the history of Manatee County Florida. He has a cemetery named for him, due to donating the land. It was because of the cemetery that I discovered he was a relative.

My great grandparents, Benjamin and Ida Wilson are buried in Major Adams Cemetery and I have been there a couple times. I took photos of many of the graves and put them online at findagrave. I recognized a couple of the names on the markers but didn't see any relatives other than those I already knew about.

Major Adams was born in 1843 and received his rank after enlisting in the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment on August 29, 1862. He served during the Civil War as a clerk, never in combat. He is listed in the military records as being discharged as a private, but somehow, I guess because he claimed family connections to two US Presidents also named Adams, he was called Major after the war. It didn't hurt that he was on he winning side.

After the war he became a writer and traveled to Europe doing stories for newspapers. Adams is better known for his land development than his military career. He bought a 400 acre plot on the Manatee River in south Florida in 1876 and started to build his home there. Well he went
a little beyond the scope of a home or anything folks in the area had ever seen before. His Villa Zanza or Adams Castle as some called it had 16 rooms, three stories and was made of concrete, He finished it around 1882 and then bought thousands of additional acres in the area. Adams collected wild and exotic animals and raised horses long before middle Florida ever dreamed of having a Derby winner.He built a citrus grove that was reported to have over 8000 trees.

Major Adams became senile in his old age and was committed to the mental ward of the DeSoto Sanatorium in Jacksonville, Florida where he died in 1915.

The family connection? His second wife Maude M. Davis was the daughter of Charles Luke Davis who was a third cousin and Mary C. Bishop who was a 4th cousin. Both the Davis and Bishop family came from Carteret County North Carolina.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Maude Davis was the son of Luke A. Davis from Franklin, Vermont. The Luke Davis family moved to Florida when he became sick with a lung disease after working on the stone industry. He died about 1886 in Manatee County and his wife re-married Asa Pillsbury. The Luke Davis family line is all from Vermont and Quebec.

Charles Lee Davis (Not "Charles Luke") married Mary Bishop and they had a son named George Corlette Davis, who married Maud Davis Adams' daughter, Tekla. Charles Lee Davis was a descendent of the Davises of Carteret North Carolina.

Alden Joseph Adams was indeed an Adams decendant. He was a cousin to the Adams Presidents, since they share a multi-great grandfather in Henry Adams of Braintree. Henry Adams came from England with his 7 sons. It was his son Joseph who was the patriarch of the John Adlams line..and Henry's son John, who was the patriarch of the Joseph line. (English tradition was to name your oldest son after your brother.)

I saw you finda-a-grave updates..they are great. I also see you found some of my photos from, so hopefully my tree info can help you get things straight. All these Davises can drive you crazy. You are still a counsin though...maybe a 4th cousin twice removed from my husband!
Have a great day!- Kathy