Biography of Philander Hamilton Adams

Philander Hamilton Adams. Ever since the year 1871, members of the Adams family have contributed to the good citizenship, progress and development of Shawnee County, their activities having invaded the fields of agriculture, merchandising, consulting engineering, education, religion, and public service. The founder of the family in this state was the late Jacob Clendenin Adams, and at present it is worthily represented at Topeka by Philander Hamilton Adams, who at this time is the owner of the original homestead, in addition to being a well known business man of the capital city.

Jacob Clendenin Adams was born in 1823 at Ossian, New York, and when a young man left the Empire State and turned his face toward the setting sun. His destination was near Richmond, Indiana, which he reached after a long and tedious journey; and there he was engaged in teaching in the early subscription schools for several years. In 1849, he was united in marriage with Miss Nancy McCoy Hamilton, of Decatur County, Indiana, a daughter of James Edward and Jane McCoy Hamilton, who were large land owners. Not long after that event, he turned his attention to farming, in which he continued to be successfully engaged in Indiana until 1871, which year saw his advent in Kansas. By this time, Mr. Adams was a settled farmer, and when he came to Shawnee County he had no other idea than to engage in his adopted calling. That, however, was one of the worst years in the agricultural history of Kansas, with a state-wide drouth, a financial panic, and a grasshopper plague, and Mr. Adams concluded that he could wait until conditions were more favorable. By 1875, matters were again running smoothly, with good crops and prices booming, and Mr. Adams accordingly purchased 160 acres of fine Kaw River bottom lands, three miles west of North Topeka, on the lower Silver Lake road, which property, with the exception of a small tract, has since remained in the family possession, and now belongs to Philander Hamilton Adams, of Topeka. When Jacob Clendenin Adams came to Kansas, he still retained his property in Indiana, and to this he returned after a short stay in Kansas. He died in 1881. He was the father of eight children, to whom he gave the advantage of college education. They are as follows: Florence, the wife of George C. Merrill, professor of mathematics in Andover College, Massachusetts, and later of Washburn College, Kansas. Philander Hamilton, the subject of this sketch. Mary, who married Robert B. Steele, of 1634 College Avenue, Topeka, son of Rev. John A. Steele, first Presbyterian minister in Topeka. Lillian, the wife of W. W. Mills, a well known dry goods merchant of Topeka. Luella, who is the wife of Charles W. Emery, of Philadelphia, who is a descendant of a New England family. Arthur Lincoln, consulting hydraulic engineer, an acknowledged authority, and otherwise prominent, now deceased; a graduate of the University of Kansas, who married Mary Gemmell, of a distinguished Kansas family. Anna Laurie, an exceptionally brilliant woman, twin of Arthur L., who married Rev. William Baird; went to Korea as a missionary with her husband, and there died, June 9, 1916, leaving three sons who are attending school in America. James Edward, a graduate of Washburn College and Johns Hopkins University, now a missionary in Korea, who married for his first wife Nellie Dick, daughter of a Kansas pioneer doctor; she died in Korea, the mother of three sons and one daughter. In 1912, he was married to Caroline Babcock, daughter of a family of prominence and wealth of Neenah, Wisconsin. To this union, there have been born two children, a son and a daughter.

Philander Hamilton Adams was born in Decatur County, Indiana, in 1852, and there received his early education; later, he attended college in Michigan. He left Indiana, with his parents, in 1871, and after attending school for one year in Kansas, began his career as a stock dealer, but one year later returned to Indiana with his parents. In 1875, he again came to Kansas, this time to reside permanently, and began farming on the 160-acre farm which had been purchased by his father and on which he continued to carry on operations for a quarter of a century. At the end of that time, he left his family in their home at Topeka, and went to New Mexico, where for three years he was engaged in the cattle business. In 1904 he returned to Topeka, where he has since been identified with the dry goods firm operating under the style of the Mills Company. Mr. Adams has had a successful career, as shown in the prosperity he has gained, as farmer, cattleman, and merchant. He is a man of strong character and sound judgment, and likewise known as a good and public-spirited citizen, and a supporter of beneficial civic movements. Mr. Adams was married first to Ada Metsker, of Shawnee County, a daughter of Judge D. C. Metsker, a pioneer of Kansas. Mrs. Adams died two years later, and in 1885 he was married to Nellie Quinton, of Denmark, Iowa, a singer of some note and daughter of Royal Bellows and Sarah Hornby Quinton, a most distinguished New England family of good old Revolutionary stock and fame. To this latter union there was born one son, Quinton, who is consulting electrical engineer for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, at New York and San Francisco. He has “made good” and is held in the highest esteem, being known as a young man of good morals, high ideals and aspirations, of unusual ability, backed by unlimited energy, and is of great promise.



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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