SKETCH OF THE LIVES OF
THOMAS J. ADAIR (1814-1890)
AND HIS WIFE
MARY VANCE ADAIR ( 1820-1918)


written by his daughter, Mary E. Adair Adams
(With endnotes by his granddaughter, Ann Adams Watts
and his third great-granddaughter, Cynthia B. Alldredge)

  

Thomas Jefferson Adair

Thomas Jefferson Adair was born in Alabama, May 31, 1814* to Thomas Jefferson and Rebecca Brown Adair. At the age of twenty-one he enlisted in the U.S. Army and went to Florida to fight the Seminole Indians. He had a very hard time while there and come very near losing his life many times.

He was married to Frances Rodgers and five children were born to them. He belonged to the Methodist Church and was one of their best singers in the church. When he heard the Mormon Elders preach he believed them and with his family was soon baptized into the Latter-day Saints Church. This so angered the workers of the Methodist Church that they sent their Elders to labor with him to get him back to their faith. When they found it of no use they sent him word they were coming to tar and feather him and ride him on a rail. He sent them word to come as he did not fear them. So at daybreak the next morning they came. He hastily dressed himself and taking his rifle and shotgun sat down in his door and told them to come on. He being a very good shot, which the mob knew, they did not come within range of his guns but come in calling distance. They swore at him and showed him the tar and feathers and rail. He told them to come get him but they did not come. He sat there till 12 o'clock at night. He didn't remain long at that place but started to move with the saints.

He went to Nauvoo and was in the company that was fed by quail. He with his family went to Mt. Pisgah and was there when the terrible sickness came upon the saints. He was bereft of his wife and 2 children and mother. Also many of his relatives were left there in the cemetery. There is a monument erected in 1888 in memory of the Saints left there. It has our grandmother, Rebecca Adair, 4 generations back names on it or Thomas J. Adair's mother and many other relatives. The Browns were her people so ours too.

Mary Vance Waggle Adair was born in Illinois Oct 27, 1820 to Adam and Catherine Penrod Vance (or Vancil.) Mary was a widow of Jacob Waggle. She married Jacob Waggle, had five children then he died. She lived a widow life at Garden Grove had a hard time to support her five children, having no help she did any kind of work she could get to help support her children. She married Thomas J. Adair and went with him to Mt. Pisgah.

Thomas J. and Mary V. Adair suffered many hardships while there. They crossed the plains the summer of 1852 in Jersey Stuart's company. They started across with 10 bushel of corn meal and one bushel of salt. They worked 2 cows in their ox teams all the way which gave them plenty of milk for supper and the mornings milk was put in a churn hauled all day and was churned by night so they had butter all the way. The Lord blessed them in many ways. Thomas J. was chosen hunter of the company and provided plenty of meat. They settled at Payson, Utah and at Nephi. They were general pioneers. He understood where water could be taken out of streams the easiest for irrigation purposes.

Elderly picture of Mary Vancil Adair 

They, with their families, were called by Brigham Young to settle in Dixie country and moved in April 1858 in this place where they met many hardships found it very hard to first year. On April 15, 1858 their daughter, Mary Elizabeth was born, the first white child born at Washington, Utah. The main crop was cotton. Mary V. corded and spun and weaved cloth enough to make a new suit of clothes each for a family of eleven before Christmas. She spun many a chip or spool of sewing thread for her neighbors. They were next called to Kanab then to help settle Arizona. They both spent their entire life in the pioneering of new country. They both served the Lord to the best of their ability, she had eleven children.
Thomas J. Adair Jr. died September 19, 1890 at the age of 76 years, 10 months old. Mary Vance Waggle Adair died June 16 1918 at the age of 97 years 10 months. They both died at Apache Co. Arizona having lived a life of service for the most.

 

*[this date and place are a change from the previous posting]

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Note 1: added by Ann A. Watts:

Thomas and Mary Vancel Adair's next to youngest child, Mary Elizabeth, was the first white child born in Washington, Washington County, Utah April 15, 1858. Mary Vance Adair was a nurse or midwife set apart by Brigham Young to nurse the sick back to health.
Thomas J. Adair was what was called a wheelwright. He made wagon wheels, barrels, chairs, and tables. Was a man that loved his neighbor as himself, tried to do right by everyone. Thomas J. Adair was a stern man and when he thought he was right he was very hard to change. He was a friend to the emigrants going to Mexico and other parts of Arizona. Also a friend to the Indians. He raised his second son's family, wife and 3 children after his son Abram lost his mind over religion and was taken off.
Grandfather died in 1890 of consumption which had bothered him for years. He was buried under a large plum tree on his homestead at Adairville on Showlow Creek, Apache not Navajo Co. Ariz. Afterwards they moved him to the cemetery on higher land.
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Note 2: added by Cynthia B. Alldredge:

The Thomas Adair family was among the ten families in the Sam Adair company that came from Payson, Utah and were the first to settle in Washington, Washington County, Utah. They arrived April 15, 1857 which was four years before the pioneers were called to settle St. George five miles to the west. All of these first settlers were from the southern states and were called to Southern Utah to cultivate cotton and other hot weather crops. They had a terrible time in this pioneering effort but they persevered. Their dam washed out every year, the soil was filled with alkali, and they caught malaria from the mosquitos and typhoid and dysentery from bad water. They spent the first year in wagon boxes or dugouts. Six years later in December 1861 when the group of pioneers going to St. George passed through Washington, the new pioneers were upset over how the pioneers of Washington appeared and were afraid that they were bringing their own families in to endure the same things that these poor malaria-plagued creatures in Washington had endured. One of the St. George pioneers, Robert Gardner, says in his journal:
"...here we found some of our old neighbors who received us very kind...but the appearance of these brethren and their wives and children rather discouraging, nearly all of them had the fever and ague or chills as they called it in this country. They had worked hard and had wore out their clothes and had replaced them from the cotton they had raised on their own lots and farms which their women had carded, spun and wove by hand. Colored with weeds, men's shirts, women's dresses and sunbonnets were all made of the same piece; and their clothes and their faces were of the same color, being a kind of blue as most everyone had the chills. This tried me more than anything I have seen in my Mormon experience. Thinking that my wives and children, from the nature of the climate, would have to look as sickly as those now around me..."
The Thomas Adair family and were called to settle many other rough new places in Utah and Arizona. Pioneering was a hard life and they endured much.

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