Biography of John B. Adams

John B. Adams is manager of the Security Abstract Company of Independence. This is the largest abstract firm in Montgomery County, and in many ways its business rivals in volums that of any similar concern in the entire state. Mr. Adams had had a very active business career, beginning in boyhood, and taking him into many fields of activity, and during his life in Southern Kansas he had seen Independence grow from a frontier town to one of the metropolitan centers of Kansas.

He comes of that same ancestry which, originally transplanted from England to the shores of Massachusetts, produced some of the great historical characters of the new nation. An uncle of his father was Charles Francis Adams, one of the ablest American statesmen during the early half of the last century and of the same stock which the two presidents of the United States belonged. Mr. Adams’ grandfather was Samuel Adams, who brought his family from Massachusetts into the wilds of Indiana early in the nineteenth century. He spent his life in that state.

John Quincy Adams, father of John B., was born in 1822 in that portion of Marion County, Indiana, which several years later, by official ensctment, became the capital of the state and is the present site of the city of Indianapolis. He was reared near that city, and in 1847 moved to Clayton County, Iowa, soon after the admission of Iowa to the Union. He was married in Iowa in 1848 to Phoebe Ann Ballow, who was born in Illinois in 1827. Her father, George Ballow, was a virginia gentleman who came west and lived in the states of Iowa, Illinois, and finally settled in Linn County, Missouri, where he died in 1894 at the venerable age of ninety-three. John Q. Adams in 1857 located in Greene County, Illinois, While there the war broke out and in 1861 he enlisted in Company E of the Sixty-first Illinois Infantry as a first sergeant. His service continued three years four months. He was in the great Battle of Shiloh, was with Grant through the siege of Vicksburg, with General Banks in the Red River expedition, and made a gallant and faithful record as a soldier. After the war he returned to his Illinois farm, but in 1869 became a pioneer in Montgomery County, Kansas. He was among the first to identify himself with the struggling young village of Independence. A carpenter and contractor by trade, he built the Caldwell House, one of the first hotels of Independence, and a number of other pioneer structures of the town. Some years later in 1875 he suffered a fall from one of the business buildings and died in 1875. He was reared a democrat but subsequently became a Lincoln republican. He was active in the Christian Church and belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His wife died at Independence in 1902. A record of their children is as follows: Charles H., a carpenter and builder at Independence; Eliza, who died in Clayton County, Iowa, in infancy; Mary E., who resided at Independence, widow of Willard Ives, who was a painter and decorator; John Ballow; Sue, wife of George McKnaughton, agent for the Wells Fargo & Company’s Express at Waterloo, Iowa; Stella, who died at Independence in 1902, first married Ogle McKee, a printer, and for her second husband Charles Joyce, who is now a druggist in Western Kansas; George Albert died in infancy; Frank G. is a laundryman and had not been heard of since he started for San Francisco about four years ago.

John Ballow Adams was born while his parents were living at Clayton City, Clayton County, Iowa, September 23, 1855. He was about two years of age when his parents moved to Greene County, Illinois, and finished his education in the public schools of Carrollton in that county. At the age of sixteen he left school and began learning the printer’s trade. Moving to Independence in 1871, he spent three years with the South Kansas Tribune, one of the pioneer papers of Southern Kansas, and afterwards was for seven years assistant postmaster and then for two years in the railway mail service, with a run between Kansas City and St. Louis. His next occupation was in the carpenter trade, which he followed until 1894, and varied that by two years of work as an insurance man and for four years was deputy clerk of the district court of Montgomery County.

With T. S. Salathiel as his partner Mr. Adams then established the Security Abstract Company, of which he now had the active management. This business covers all Montgomery County, and in the course of time the company had absorbed various other abstract companies and it is now the leader in its line. The offices are at 113 East Main Street. In one particular, in issuing blue prints and maps, it is the largest concern of the kind outside of Kansas City.

Mr. Adams is a member of the Kansas Abstractors Association and the National Title Men’s Association, is a democrat in politics, is a member and deacon of the Congregational Church, and is affiliated with Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Keystone Chapter No. 22, Royal Arch Masons.

In 1883 at Independence Mr. Adams married Miss Mary W. Grew. Her father, John W. Grew, was also a pioneer in Montgomery County, settling on a farm there in 1869, developing it from the wilderness into cultivated fields, and died there in 1902. Mrs. Adams died in 1901. Her children were: Lucile, wife of Mr. Howell, a mechanical engineer living at Los Angeles, California; Grace, who resided at Independence, the widow of Earl Miles, who was a telegraph operator, and her one child Paul is now a student in the public schools of Independence; Gladys is a stenographer and lives with her sister Lucile in Los Angeles. In 1906 at Independence Mr. Adams married for his present wife Miss Ethleen Berry, a daughter of Joseph and Mary Jane Berry. Her father died in February, 1915, and her mother in 1908. Her father was a well known farmer of Montgomery County.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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