Saturday, June 20, 2015

Grandfather's Champion Oak

Nathan Adams was my gggg grandfather. In genealogy speak, that is my fourth great grandfather. His great granddaughter, Sallie Adams, was my great grandmother.

Nathan Adam's Will -1820
Nathan Adams lived on the bank of the Newport River in Carteret County, North Carolina. I have been researching the family for a while, trying to find out what happened to his grandson, William H. Adams, who was Sallie's father.

Nathan Adams was born in 1760 in Carteret County and lived in what is now Morehead City. During the Revolutionary War he served at Fort Hancock on Cape Lookout in Captain Tillman's Company.

He first acquired land in 1783 when he leased 32 acres from his wife's step father Absalom Shepard. He continued to acquire land for farming and owned over 600 acres when he died.

All of it was near the Newport river and on Bogue Sound. He wrote his will on September 9, 1820 and it distributed his personal property and a Beaufort, NC town lot among his wife and seven daughters. In 1819 he had divided his farm and plantation house among his four sons.

When Nathan Adams died in 1830 he was buried in the family cemetery on the river. There is no marker for him now but at one time there were a number of wooden markers on the older graves. During the Depression, the WPA sent workers out to compile census records of graves in cemeteries. They did a census of Carteret County cemeteries in 1937 but missed this one, no doubt because it was small and on private property.

Nathan Adam's Will - 1820
Nathan Adam's oldest son Elijah Adams (1788-1854) was the father of William H. Adams and received  half of a 50 acre plot on the Newport river which was split with his brother Jesse.

William H. Adams was shown living with his father Elijah up through the 1850 census in the Bogue Sound area and after he died with his mother in the newly incorporated Carolina City, North Carolina. On October 4, 1868 he married Hope Jane Foreman and they were shown living in Newport on the 1870 census.

William H Adams doesn't appear on the 1880 census and his wife Hope is listed as a widow. She remarried a couple years later to Samuel Garner and moved to Perico Island in Manatee County, Florida. I assume William Adams died before 1880 in Newport but haven't found any records to prove it.

I was looking for him in the the Carteret County Wills and Probate records recently, page by page, since there is no index, and came across information about his grandfather Nathan and his land holdings. In checking the location of the properties I found that 175 years after he died he was recognized for having a Champion Live Oak tree on his farm.

Nathan Adam's Oak
In 2005 a local conservation group, the Carteret County Tree Awareness Group started a campaign to locate and identify the Champion Live Oak tree for the county.  They publicized the effort in the newspaper and TV and had over 50 trees nominated. The group then went out to look at all the trees, measured and estimated ages.

The winning tree, determined to be the largest and oldest was found on the former property of Nathan Adams, in the middle of the Adams Family Farm Cemetery.The cemetery is located on Crab Point Loop in Morehead City, North Carolina. At the time of the award a gggg granddaughter of Nathan Adams still owned the land around the cemetery.

The tree is estimated to be 310 years old with a date of planting in 1705. It is located very close to the bluff of the Newport River and it has survived an estimated 100 hurricanes over the last 300 years.  

The Champion Live Oak for North Carolina is located in Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, NC. It is estimated to be 470 years old.

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