JOHN S. ADAMS 
(1844-1935)

 


SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF
JOHN SMITH (PAGE) ADAMS

Son of Lucinda Thorpe and J. Finley Page
Adopted son of Orson B. and Susann Smith Adams

I've taken this history from an account compiled from the story told by John S. Adams at two interviews in November 1933, from incidents and dates collected by some of his children through recent years, and I've added some incidents related in a history by his daughter, Ann Adams Watts also written in 1933.  -CBA

Forests were being cleared on Illinois townsites, two-story buildings were unusual, courthouses were being built, flatboats were floating down the rivers with their precious cargoes of English, Irish, and German immigrants. Illinois was becoming known as the land of opportunity when, on May 11, 1844 John Smith Page Adams was born. His parents were John Finley (Ann Adams Watts' history says that the father's name was James B. Finley Page) and Lucinda Thorpe Page. They lived at Macedonia, Hancock County, Illinois (now known as Webster). When the child was three weeks old his mother died. Four weeks later the father and grandmother, Rachel Page, took the child and his sister, Viola, to the home of Thoret and Mary Page Parsons at Quincy. At this home they met Orson Bennett Adams and his wife, Susann Smith Adams. This couple was childless, they were given the infant. Later, at Nauvoo, the child was blessed and given his name under the hands of Patriarch John Smith.

 

John S. Adams' Adoptive Parents

 

Orson Adams

Susanna Adams

They were good parents to him. John S. can remember being shown the jail where the prophet was so cruelly killed. He remembers seeing the buffalo as they crossed the plains and many other things for a child.

When the Mormons were compelled to leave Nauvoo, the Adams family, with Mrs. Adams' parents, Dr. Priddie Meeks and Sarah Mahonri (Smith) Meeks were among the first to go. Father and Mother Adams were enlisted in Battalion service. Mr. Adams as sergeant (hunter and guard) and his wife as a nurse (and laundrywoman.) The child was left with the grandparents at the age of three years and came on to the valley with mule team in Jedediah M. Grant's company. They reached Salt Lake City in the autumn of 1847. His parents arriving a few days before him.

Some recollections that he still carries at the age of ninety of the exodus are interesting to note. He recalls a Sunday service in an improvised chapel made of wagons drawn up in a double circle so close that the front wheel of one wagon locked with the rear wheel of the one ahead, and the tongue of one rested on the hub of the other. Here, secured as much as possible from the distracting influence of the outside, the Saints worshipped. John was the only child in the company and was the play-fellow of all. They taught him to dance and to sing -- songs for the entertainment of the camp.

When they arrived at Salt Lake City they pitched their camp in the shadow of the great cottonwood tree that harbored a great eagle nest and stood near the place on which the Eagle Gate now stands. He recalls climbing the tree to look in the great nest.

Father and Mother Adams, who came from Pueblo with detachment of sick of the battalion that came to the valley in the summer of 1847, built them a home out on Mill Creek near the great old cedar, the one tree of which the valley could boast. His father O.B. Adams put up the first sawmill on City Creek. Not far away along the same creek was another home that sheltered a little girl near his age, Emma Smith. These two were playmates. They spent much of their time together along the creek and by the mill pond, on which were launched the boats and rafts of fun-loving settlers. They often visited the Mill Creek school while still too young to be members. When the Adams family was called away she brought her pupils out to bid him goodbye. Tears fell down many little cheeks at the parting.

In the second summer of the settlement the crickets came and food was scarce. The soldiers wages were almost exhausted. He spent fifty dollars for a hundred pounds of flour and the same amount of shorts. One morning Orson Adams came in and announced to his wife his determination to go to the States for supplies. He asked for food enough for his first lunch. For the rest he had his gun and trusted to it and a kind providence for sustenance.
There were always the Indians to be reckoned with, and the pioneer women learned to use a gun to protect themselves and their children. One day, while Orson was away n this trip east Chief Walker and some of his braves had taken too much "fire water". They were tearing around the Mill Creek homestead, Mother Adams sat in the door of her little home all day with the gun across her knees and her children John and Betsy in the room behind her. Besides John she had taken into her home two orphaned children, John Henderson and Betsy Caddle.

When the express came in the fall, it brought a message from Orson Adams, telling his wife when she could expect him home if his team could hold out that long. The time came and passed and he didn't come. Mrs. Adams had a team of oxen yoked to a wagon and with John Henderson, only fourteen, she started to his relief. Being unable to manage the animals they never unyoked them from the wagon. For two nights the animals slept in their traces and with the first streak of dawn they were on their way. At the end of their third day, they met the husband whose team was almost exhausted.

In the early winter of 1851, the Adams family took their cattle and goods in response to call and went with George A. Smith and company to settle on Little Salt Lake, a colony known as Parowan. On the way out from where Beaver now is, they had to cross a ledge down which the hundred and fifty wagons and old brass cannon had to be lowered with ropes. The first company over the cliff moved on to Little Creek and made camp. The second made camp at Wheat Grass, while the third was still laboring over the ledge. Late in the evening the two camps were roused by a volley from the cannon and several rapid rifle shots. To the startled colonists it could mean but one thing -- Indians. Those who were able tumbled out, some even forgot to dress in the excitement, and rushed out into the snow to learn what it was all about. Mrs. Adams calmly advised one man to go back and dress so that "in case there was trouble he would be in shape to do something." Sam Hamilton, from the first camp and Sam Lewis from the second went out to reconnoiter. They found Company Three celebrating the safe descent from the ledge and the arrival into the valley.

The next day they moved on to the river where they found a quaking aspen pole standing, still bearing the remnant of the flag placed by some unknown hands. They camped by the flag pole on the south side of the river until the fort was built. After a short time at the fort, the Adams family moved to Red Creek where they took up a homestead.

"Times were hard in those first years at Parowan" says John Adams. "The beaver built dams in the creek and shut off the water supply. The men would go in the day and clear them out and in the night the beaver would put them in again. The wheat was beginning to head but it was burning. The people held a meeting and prayed for relief. That night it snowed about twelve inches. The people were disheartened. They had water but the wheat all lay flat. During the day the sun came out and melted the snow. The wheat straightened up and they had a good crop."

Late in the fall the Indians would come into town to glean in the grain fields. Indian children were the only playmates John Adams had while they lived on Red Creek. He learned their language and their temperaments and earned their friendship, an experience that served him well throughout his life.
In his fourteenth year he was left with his mother, while his father obeyed a call to a mission to the Spring Valley in the White Mountains of Nevada. This time Orson Adams undertook to prepare a home for his family before he moved them out. These Spring Valley settlers were attacked by Indians and lost all their horses and cattle. They were left empty handed with no animals for farm work. After two years, Adams returned to Parowan worn out and discouraged. His report induced the authorities to give up the mission. Express riders were to be sent to notify the settlers that they were released from the call. John Osborne and Orson Adams were asked to take the message but because of the illness of the elder Adams, John offered to go in his stead. The offer was accepted. This began a long period of service as express rider.

At Parowan John S. became a minuteman at 16 years of age to scout and locate the Indians. He rode many a night to warn settlers of Indians in their locality. He also rode Pony Express in many a dangerous places. At one time he rode from Beaver to Washington to warn Erastus Snow that was wanted others of St. George for polygamy. John S. made the trip in 19 hours on one mule. He knew a cutoff that shortened the road. At Washington he learned he was ahead of the men so he sent a boy on to St. George to Erastus Snow and when the officers got there all the men with more than one wife had left town. The officers went back without the St. George men.

In 1863 Orson B. Adams was called to Harrisburg to preside. Then the Blackhawk war broke out and there was a raid on Parowan. Parowan settlers sent a telegram to John asking him to come to their aid in defending the stock. They built a look-out tower thirty feet high on Little Creek. There he with three others stayed as picket guard. One man always was on the tower watching the country around. There were four other men whom they called "whisper in" who carried reports daily to the town. During this time, all community cattle were kept in a nearby forty acre meadow that was fenced. There was no more loss to the Indians.

It was while he was living at Harrisburg that John met Jane Averett of Long Valley, and married her May 3, 1866. In the following August he was called to go with Captain James Andrus and a company of sixty men to Green River to receive cattle stolen by Blackhawk and his band. They left Gould's Ranch on August 16th. Before leaving President Erastus Snow talked to them and said if there were any who were not called but were hired to go he advised them to stay at home, and he warned each member against going ten feet away from the camp fire without his gun. They went down to Pipe Spring where they trailed a bunch of ten head of wild cattle. They caught and killed five of them for beef. Adams had a place in line in the front rank, just behind Bugler Thomas. As the company advanced, they crossed an old log lying in the path, up came a swarm of hornets. One stung Bugler Thomas on the lip and there were no more bugle calls on the journey; which was fortunate, as the bugle sound would have been a signal announcing their location to any Indians in the vicinity. One group of about ten men tied their guns to their saddles and let their horses trail along, while they walked at ease behind, then the Indians attacked them. Only one, Hy Pollette, was able to retrieve his gun. Lize Everett, the only hired man of the company, was killed. Several were wounded but only the one of the company of sixty died on the trip. They were to have met a company from Sanpete but the two groups missed each other in the mountains. One party alone was not strong enough to attack the Indians so they spent some time in futile search for the lost cattle, then returned home. The settlements in turn, as they passed through greeted them with feasting and dancing. Sixty days were occupied on the trip. During this time, they discovered wild potatoes, named Bear Valley, and gave the name Dirty Devil to a small muddy stream that ran through quick-sandy bottoms. Blackhawk later told them that, at one time, they were within three miles of the cattle and the camp where the women and old men were left unprotected.

Reckless daring characterized the life of John S. Adams. The Indians knew him as "The Wildcat." He was a man of action with a keen sense of justice. He was not afraid to jeopardize his own security if he could help another, or if he could gain his aim against a foe. Above all he despised snobbery and prudishness. He had enemies and was criticized much. Certain persons had made threats against his life. Once he purchased from the church stock a horse, a young outlaw, which he named Old Blackhawk. He trained this horse so that none but himself could come near him. He was training the animal to obedience and endurance, with the idea in his mind of killing two or three men and using Blackhawk in his escape. Then came a crisis. One day Brother Erastus Snow and a Brother Birch were coming from the north to St. George. The Saints passed them along in relays from one settlement to the next along the way. They had reached Harrisburg and it became the duty of Orson Adams, as presiding Elder to convey them on the way to Washington. John was asked to take them. With this scheme of his in his mind, it took much persuasion to get him to consent. At that, he refused to let them ride in his new buggy but took them in the old wagon. He whipped his horses on to Washington. No one spoke during the whole ride. Arriving there, to their surprise they found no provisions made to take them on. Adams simply said, "Who the - --- wants their horses." and drove madly on to St. George to the home of Brother Snow. There he was invited to stay the night but refused, saying that it was not yet sundown and he would return to Harrisburg. Snow then asked him to take Birch home and then call back on his way out. When he returned, he found the gate open and Snow waiting to arrest him for cruelty to animals, thus he was persuaded to stay. The next morning he was out early, anxious to be off, but Snow did not appear. By nine o'clock he went to the house and left a message that he could wait no longer. Snow called from an inner room asking him in. To quote Adams account, "I went in. Brother Snow took my hand and just looked at the floor for several seconds. Then he raised his head looked at me and said, 'Don't do it.' I said, 'Don't do what?' 'You know,' he said, 'what you are planning. You have a black horse with a white cleft in his face.' And he described Old Blackhawk. 'He will do as you wish and your plan will succeed if you go ahead, but I say, don't do it!' I wondered how he found out about it. I had not breathed a hint of the plot to a soul, certainly not to him. I thought about it on the way home. And when I arrived I said, 'Ma, if you will fix me up some grub, I'll go down and work on the temple a few days.'"

The next important step in his life had its background in the mission of William Robb and the company to the Arapaho Indians. As they were returning, some Navajos attacked them and stole their horses. Three of the company, Ira Hatch, William Maxwell, and (probably) one McConnell, lost from their fellows were found by some Hopis who kept them hidden from Navajos all winter. Maxwell was a teacher and he gathered about him a number of Indian boys and organized a school. When they came home, Maxwell brought with him a youth named, Li, who lived with him a year in Spring Valley. When he returned, Maxwell accompanied him to the river and told him that if he was ever in trouble to call on Maxwell and his people for aid. Three years later, a Navajo band raided the Hopis and drove off all their horses and mules. Li wrote to Maxwell, saying "if the Mormons are friends to the Hopis, now is the time to show it." Maxwell sent the message through Erastus Snow to Brigham Young. The President sent back to the settlement asking those Saints who owed tithing to pay it in horses and mules, or any animals they had. These were collected and sent on to St. George. Capt. Andrus chose John Adams to go with the company to deliver the animals. He had no wish to go and protested strongly, but was finally influenced by Erastus Snow when he gave him the promise that if he should undertake that mission, his enemies would never have power to do him bodily harm. He consented to go, providing that the Bishop would give him a certain mule that he had seen in the church herd. For four days he searched the range before he found the little brown mule. He roped her and took her in. He had the blacksmith make shoes so that when she became gentle enough he could put them on her. He took the shoes and the mule and started with the Indians to the Hopi country. The first night they spent at a water hole dipping up water for the animals to drink. He named his mule Jeanne. This was his first trip through Navajo country, through which he was to ride Jeanne for nine years.

Three little girls came to the home of John Smith Adams and Jane Averett Adams, but they disagreed and separated in 1872. After a few months he secured custody of the two oldest, Lucinda Jane and Sarah Jerusha. When he was bringing them home they stopped at Pipe Spring. He turned his mules loose with the rope dragging. The sky was overcast and night came rapidly. When he went to bring in his team he couldn't find them. It was so dark that he could not tell mules from cactus. He continued the search through the night and late into the forenoon before he found them. Apparently they had been hidden by the Indians in the ravine. When he came back to camp he found his little girls excited. Cinda, aged five, told him of a big black dog that had tried to get in the wagon. He was up on the double-trees and she had thrown cobs of corn (brought along for mule feed) at him until she had driven him away. When the father looked he saw tracks of a monstrous bear that had visited camp. He took the little girls home to Mother Adams at Harrisburg, where they lived until they were grown. The little girl, Lucy, stayed with her mother.

Soon after this incident, John Adams was called to help build a fort and trading post at Lee's Ferry. One Sunday afternoon Wilmer Burgess and he went for a swim. They blistered their backs so they couldn't lift a rock. In consequence they were sent out to Short Creek on eight days extra guard duty. There they were for a week, with only such shelter from the burning sun as their saddles could give. On return, they could see Navajos at the fort. Then they saw some white men slip into the fort and they knew trouble was brewing. They found a flask on the trail and resolved a strategy. They partially filled the flask with water and acted as if they were drunk. Adams said to his companion "Watch me get the old chief's headdress and then see them do as I say." He rode through the crowd, snatching off the chief's feathers, and went on into the brush. Then as a bird flew from the roof of the fort past him he shot and down came a fluttering bunch of feathers. The Indians were calmed immediately. Then he rode up and entertained them by singing "The Little Brown Jug" until defense was made ready. These Indians said that Jacob Hamblin had promised them horses and they had come for them. Adams gave them nine head of his own, in order to pacify them. Hamblin had sent the horses but they were farther up the canyon.

When the fort was finished it was used as a trading station for cattle and other church property. The proceeds of what sales were made were turned to the building fund for the St. George Temple. Adams' mission here lasted three years. Part of the time he spent freighting supplies for the fort on mule trains from Cannonville, part from St. George. For three months he was alone at the fort. One day during this time some Navajos came. One wished to buy a rope. Adams was afraid there was a scheme on foot and said he could not open the store. But when the chief assured him they were good Indians, he went in for the rope. While he was looking for the rope, an Indian climbed over the half-door and Adams found him rummaging among the foods. He was startled and angered. He caught up the Indian and pitched him out over the door. He grabbed Old Betsy, the double-barreled shotgun, that stood near the door ready loaded with Navy bullets. The Indian picked himself up, his face somewhat skinned. The chief grinned and again avowed they were "good Injuns". He had learned that whatever an Indian does, if he smiles you may know that you are not in serious danger. And if the white man smiles, the Indian will take the ill- treatment good-naturedly. When it comes to physical combat, if hands are the only weapons, it will remain an individual affair, but if a weapon is used, be it ever so small, even a small stick, it is a signal for the friends to take up the fight.

While on this Navajo mission, John Adams had several startling adventures, the outcome of them he attributes to fulfillment of the promise given him by Pres. Young that he would always be protected.

The effect of the telling of these incidents is enhanced by the fact that Mr. Adams seems to be a hardy, practical man rather than one given to subjective visionary tendencies. At one time he was sent with a pack train to St. George for supplies. His trail led through a narrow canyon in Indian country. At the head of the canyon two men joined him and rode on either side of him through the mouth of the canyon. It was a dark night. I quote Mr. Adams. "I could not see a thing but those two fellows on either side of me; but I could hear the zing of arrows flying past. When I got out of the canyon where it was lighter, I looked to see if the mules were all there, and when I turned back the two men were gone and I never saw them again."
On another trip he was riding express to St. George. At Kanab, the Indians told him of a short-cut by which he could save fifteen or twenty miles. He was riding along through a clear flat looking ahead at the mountains. Suddenly a Paiute Indian hailed him, asked if he were not John Adams, and remarked that he could tell him "from way out there." He was an old playmate of Parowan days. He warned Adams that the Navajos were waiting for him down the trail where they had previously killed Joe Bays and his wife (probably what is locally called "Dead Man's Hollow'.) His only chance of escape lay in taking another route which led to a deep gorge crossed by a footbridge of two poles. To get to the bridge he must cross a sandstone ledge so narrow and steep that he could touch the mountain's side as he walked along. Into this rock was drilled two holes to hold the ends of the pole bridge. He could cross but he considered his mules never could. His Indian friend advised him to hide his saddles and equipment, and save himself. The Navajos would get his mules anyway. After delivering his warning, the Indian disappeared as suddenly as he came. About sunset John reached the bridge. He could not make up his mind to leave his faithful beasts. Several times he crossed the ledge to the poles and back. Finally he said, "Come on, Jeanne and Nellie, I'd rather have you at the bottom of the gorge than have the Indians get you." The mules followed him over the ledge and over the bridge. Jeanne crossed but just before reaching safety Nellie let one hind foot flip and she fell, but as she was tied to Jeanne they pulled her onto the bank, and they went on their way. Darkness came on, they were in strange country. He tried to find feed for his mules by the light of a match sheltered by his hat but still a good target for any lurking Indian. Not a stem could he find, so he rode on. Jeanne led the way. Finally they came in sight of a flickering light. It was a ranch house where an old lady was living alone with her granddaughter. The girl had gone to a dance in town. The light in the window was to guide her home. The woman refused to keep him but he begged that she did not send him on, for he and his animals were worn out. When she learned who was calling, she permitted him to stay, saying that she had heard of him and his work. When he left, she refused to accept pay for her hospitality.

While he was working at Lee's Ferry he went to Pahreah (Paria) Creek to a fourth of July dance and there met Mary E. Adair whom he married the next spring, May 17, 1876. For four years they lived on the Pahreah where two children were born. Then they moved back to Washington County and he began freighting for a living. On one of these trips, while he was driving an eight horse team, he met Erastus Snow, who told him his place was in Arizona. He then called John to go to the Apache country for eight years, after that he might go where he wished.

In 1883 with his family (wife and four little girls) he joined a company of ten other families and went to Pinetop, Arizona, a journey of four weeks. Water had to be hauled in barrels on the side of wagons and was often very poor water. The sand was deep and feed was poor. At Showlow they rested. Then came the startling news that a family at the Shumway Ranch, about ten miles away, had been killed by Apaches. A log fort had been built at the Edson Whipple ranch fifteen miles from the Apache Reservation. In one corner of the fort was a pump for water. Cord wood was piled high as the ceiling along one end to feed eight large "government stoves" so huge that they held a log four feet long. To this shelter all the people of the vicinity fled. When the beds were made on the floor they almost touched each other. Here they stayed for a week. The ranchers stayed in the town for a few days longer and the travelers went on their way. For nine years they stayed in Arizona doing various things and always making friends of the Indians.

While on this Navajo mission, John Adams had several startling adventures, the outcome of them he attributes to fulfillment of the promise given him by Pres. Young that he would always be protected.

The effect of the telling of these incidents is enhanced by the fact that Mr. Adams seems to be a hardy, practical man rather than one given to subjective visionary tendencies. At one time he was sent with a pack train to St. George for supplies. His trail led through a narrow canyon in Indian country. At the head of the canyon two men joined him and rode on either side of him through the mouth of the canyon. It was a dark night. I quote Mr. Adams. "I could not see a thing but those two fellows on either side of me; but I could hear the zing of arrows flying past. When I got out of the canyon where it was lighter, I looked to see if the mules were all there, and when I turned back the two men were gone and I never saw them again."

On another trip he was riding express to St. George. At Kanab, the Indians told him of a short-cut by which he could save fifteen or twenty miles. He was riding along through a clear flat looking ahead at the mountains. Suddenly a Paiute Indian hailed him, asked if he were not John Adams, and remarked that he could tell him "from way out there." He was an old playmate of Parowan days. He warned Adams that the Navajos were waiting for him down the trail where they had previously killed Joe Bays and his wife (probably what is locally called "Dead Man's Hollow'.) His only chance of escape lay in taking another route which led to a deep gorge crossed by a footbridge of two poles. To get to the bridge he must cross a sandstone ledge so narrow and steep that he could touch the mountain's side as he walked along. Into this rock was drilled two holes to hold the ends of the pole bridge. He could cross but he considered his mules never could. His Indian friend advised him to hide his saddles and equipment, and save himself. The Navajos would get his mules anyway. After delivering his warning, the Indian disappeared as suddenly as he came. About sunset John reached the bridge. He could not make up his mind to leave his faithful beasts. Several times he crossed the ledge to the poles and back. Finally he said, "Come on, Jeanne and Nellie, I'd rather have you at the bottom of the gorge than have the Indians get you." The mules followed him over the ledge and over the bridge. Jeanne crossed but just before reaching safety Nellie let one hind foot flip and she fell, but as she was tied to Jeanne they pulled her onto the bank, and they went on their way. Darkness came on, they were in strange country. He tried to find feed for his mules by the light of a match sheltered by his hat but still a good target for any lurking Indian. Not a stem could he find, so he rode on. Jeanne led the way. Finally they came in sight of a flickering light. It was a ranch house where an old lady was living alone with her granddaughter. The girl had gone to a dance in town. The light in the window was to guide her home. The woman refused to keep him but he begged that she did not send him on, for he and his animals were worn out. When she learned who was calling, she permitted him to stay, saying that she had heard of him and his work. When he left, she refused to accept pay for her hospitality.

While he was working at Lee's Ferry he went to Pahreah (Paria) Creek to a fourth of July dance and there met Mary E. Adair whom he married the next spring, May 17, 1876. For four years they lived on the Pahreah where two children were born. Then they moved back to Washington County and he began freighting for a living. On one of these trips, while he was driving an eight horse team, he met Erastus Snow, who told him his place was in Arizona. He then called John to go to the Apache country for eight years, after that he might go where he wished.

In 1883 with his family (wife and four little girls) he joined a company of ten other families and went to Pinetop, Arizona, a journey of four weeks. Water had to be hauled in barrels on the side of wagons and was often very poor water. The sand was deep and feed was poor. At Showlow they rested. Then came the startling news that a family at the Shumway Ranch, about ten miles away, had been killed by Apaches. A log fort had been built at the Edson Whipple ranch fifteen miles from the Apache Reservation. In one corner of the fort was a pump for water. Cord wood was piled high as the ceiling along one end to feed eight large "government stoves" so huge that they held a log four feet long. To this shelter all the people of the vicinity fled. When the beds were made on the floor they almost touched each other. Here they stayed for a week. The ranchers stayed in the town for a few days longer and the travelers went on their way. For nine years they stayed in Arizona doing various things and always making friends of the Indians.

Mr. Adams built two houses for the Chief of the Apaches, who had two families. He hauled freight to the soldier camp on the reservation. On one occasion when he was working on a cattle ranch at roundup time he had occasion to save the life of Jesse N. Smith. Smith was a polygamist but besides that the sheriff had a personal grudge against him. The sheriff and his company stopped a the ranch overnight. Adams also had reason to complain of some deeds n which Smith was implicated. He freely aired his grievance and in doing so, gained the confidence of that arm of the law, who presented his plans to take Smith and start for St. Johns. It was the scheme to kill him and deliver the body with the report that he resisted them. In the night after all were asleep, he crept out, after fixing his bed so it looked as if he were still in it, and leaving his hat, he rode fourteen miles to warn Smith of the plot. As he came back, dawn was breaking. He rubbed down his horse with sand to remove perspiration and dry him off. When, hiding his saddle, he rode into the corral just as the officer came out of the house. He made a careless comment about getting out early and the incident was passed over. Smith was able to escape their capture.

 

John S. Adams and his wife Mary

As so often happened, an Indian boy drove off one of Adams' horses. He went to the Indian camp and asked the lad's older brother for the horse. The man was defiant and threatened Adams. Just then a squaw came to the door of her hogan. She turned and spoke to someone within. Again to quote Mr. Adams: "Soon I saw a man draw on his moccasins and come out. He brought his gun and laid it by mine across my horse. Then he gave a yell and Indians came from everywhere. They persuaded the man to admit that he had the horse but he demanded pay for going to bring him in. I told him I've got nothing to pay you with but my cartridges and they won't fit your gun, but you can have them. Finally he went for the horse. Then the squaw said to me, 'Don't you know me?' I told her I did not. She said, pointing to the man who had defended me, 'Don't you know him?' I said,' I've seen him before but I don't know him.' Then she reminded me of a day three years before when on a stormy day an Indian couple came to our house. They were sick. [My wife] Mary fixed them a bed on some horse-blankets out in a back room, and doctored them for three days. When they were better they went on. She and her man were those two. I'd have been finished if it had not been for them."

In 1892 Mr. Adams was in poor health. The doctor advised him to go to a warmer climate. Then they left Pinetop, having out-stayed their mission call one year, and came back to their former home in Utah. By this time there were nine children, eight girls and one little boy. The chief incident of interest on the return journey happened as they were coming down the Little Colorado. They took the wrong fork of the road. When they learned their error they cut across on untraveled sagebrush country to the other road. By evening they could see the trees at the spring by the road, they should have taken. The horses were tired. So were the people. They made a dry camp. Mr. Adams and little Ben took the horses and canteen and went to the spring. The family ate a cold supper and made up the beds without a light, in fear of Indians, for they had seen a band of about sixty Navajos drunk and yelling, on the road from Flagstaff. The Adams family consider their getting on the wrong road a providential deliverance, for the savages came whooping down past the spring. Mr. Adams and Ben were able to hide themselves in the willows while they passed. They got back to camp at eleven that night.

John's daughter Ann tells of the rest of the journey: "We went on next morning. Got to an Indian trading post, got supplies, went on without any trouble from Indians. We got to Moenkopi Wash there the only water we could get was out of an Indian well. An Indian woman went down steps, got the water in jugs, carried it up steps for us. They wouldn't allow us to go down to the water. Father filled a barrel on the side of the wagon, watered the team, gave the squaw some sugar, went on up a very steep hill. We kept the horses tied to the wagon after dark with a good feeder of oats as we found the Indians (Navajos) would drive them off. We next went to Tuba City where we were held five days on account of an Indian hostility. A white cowboy had whipped a Navajo Indian with his quirt. The Indians were sure angry. They came in large group and searched every house in town. Our wagon was searched to try and find the cowboy. They quieted down, the Indians left town. We were [there for] eight days. We were [finally] allowed to go on to Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River, a two day drive. When we got to the ferry the water was so high we had to go over a mountain called Lee's Backbone, then wait three days for the water to lower till timber quit coming down. So J. S. took his family down the river to see Grand Canyon or the head [of it] while we waited for the water to lower. We saw large trees sucked under the water as they started through the narrows at the head of Grand Canyon. We went over Lee's Backbone Mountain to the upper ferry. One place around a dugway we could look down at the river three hundred feet over the cliff to the water. Years ago an ox team and wagon with everything in except the family had gone over the cliff. We had to lead mother around the cliff dugway, it sure looked scary. We reached the flat at the ferry after making lots of road where it had been washed out. We stayed there two nights then crossed the river in small boats after taking the wagon to pieces. The horses were swam across. We just got across when ten wagons came down the hill. The man that whipped the Indian was in one of the wagons. We were sure afraid the Indians would soon be there. Our family went on before the others got across. They caught up with us next day. It was a long, tiresome trip from the Ferry to Washington County Utah. A trip of 32 days in all."

A tiresome, hazardous journey, consuming twenty-eight days, brought them to Harrisburg where they stayed with John's parents for a while.
Two years later, they went to Washington where the girls worked in the cotton factory managed by Thomas Judd. There all the family had measles and a little son, William Alford, died. Mrs. Adams was in the hospital seven months. There James Augustus was born. Mr. Adams left his family in Washington and went out to the White Hills of Nevada where he worked at cutting Joshua cactus for wood for the mines. His foreman drew his pay, then carried it off with him, supposedly to California, leaving John empty-handed and with his family coming out to him. They stayed in the White Hills two years and came back to Utah, living at Panguitch and later at Annabella.

John S. and family moved to Panguitch and worked at the Indian school for the government. While there John S. was paid by the government for 60 head of horses and cattle stolen in early days by Indians. John S. told his daughter, Ann, when she asked him where he got the horses and cattle for the Indians to steal that he and an Earl boy had from the time they were small boys in Parowan and later Harrisburg showed emigrants where good water and grass was and if there was a give-out calf or colt the emigrants gave it to the boys. When they got older they would go to meet the emmigrant companies and help them over the Black Ridge. This was a bad hill to get over. The boys' calves and colts increased till they both had a large bunch of horses and cattle. The horses and cattle were not all taken at once by the Indians.
 

John S. Adams' home at Annabella

When the government paid him for sixty head of cattle driven off by the Indians and gave him an Indian War Veteran's pension he purchased a home at Annabella. In 1920 they came to Richfield to live, where his wife died in 1926. Since then he has lived with various children. At the age of eighty-nine he lives with his daughter Mary Elder in Richfield. He is quite active physically and mentally. His memory of the early days is very accurate.

There are twelve living children:

Sarah Jerusha Adams Jenkins
Ann Adams Watts
Mary Adams Elder
Arminta Adams Hathaway
Lillie Dale Adams Barnhurst
Rebecca Adams Dickenson
Susan Adams Roberts
Ben Adams
Ada Adams Reed
Viola Adams Lambert
James Augustus Adams
Hyrum Loy Adams

He has had 16 children, 4 boys and 12 girls, 82 grandchildren, 70 great grandchildren, and 4 great great grandchildren (up to 1933). John S. has spent a lonesome life the last 8 years since his wife died. He lives first with one then another of his children. There are 9 girls and 3 boys living.

John Smith (Page) Adams died at his son, Hyrum's home in Sigurd, Sevier County, Utah, in April 1935 at age 91. He was buried in Annabella next to his wife, Mary Elizabeth Adair Adams.

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