Biography of William E. Adamson

William E. Adamson has been a resident of Southeastern Kansas for thirty years, and his career in Neosho County has been marked by splendid service rendered as an educator and also as a civil engineer. For many years he has filled the office of county surveyor, and is still engaged in the official duties of that position with home at Erie.

The Adamson family originated in England, and this branch settled in Virginia in colonial days. Others of the family also located in Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Simon Adamson, was born in Virginia in 1763, and became one of the pioneer settlers of Western Indiana. He was a farmer in that state and he also saw some active service in the Indian border wars. His death occurred at Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1838.

Simon R. Adamson, father of William E., was born at Economy, Indiana, in 1830. In 1834, when the son Simon was four years of age, the family moved to Illinois, near Paris, and Simon Adamson was fourteen when he left there and returned to Economy, Indiana. He was married in his native town, learned the trade of hatter, but gave most of his time to farming. He was among the early settlers of Neosho County, Kansas, where he arrived in 1883, buying a farm of 160 acres five miles east of Erie. That farm is now owned by his son William. Simon R. Adamson died in Neosho County in 1906. He was a veteran of the Civil war, having enlisted in 1862 in the Sixty-ninth Indiana Regiment of Iafantry. After fourteen months of service he was mustered out on account of disability. In the meantime he had participated in part of the siege of Vicksburg under Sherman and at Richmond, Kentucky, he had been captured by Gen. Kirby Smith, but was afterwards paroled and exchanged. He was a member of the Grange while living in Indiana, was also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was a republican and had been brought up in the faith of the Quaker Church by his parents. Simon R. Adamson married Elizabeth J. Starbuck, who was born at Economy, Indiana, in 1828, and died on the old farm in Neosho County in 1904. Lydia Alice was their oldest child and she died in infancy. William E. Adamson was the second of their five children. Sarah E., who now lives at Eugene, Oregon, is the widow of John W. Gwinn, who served as a soldier in the Civil war and afterwards was a carpenter. Lillie A. married Cyrus A. Gwinn, a brother of John W. Gwinn, just mentioned, and they live at Salem, Oregon, Mr. Gwinn being a retired farmer. Charles A. died when four years of age.

William E. Adamson was born at Economy in Wayne County, Indiana, March 5, 1855. He grew up in that district, which was largely composed of thrifty settlers of the Quaker religion. He attended public school at Economy, graduated from high school, and was then appointed to a cadetship in West Point Military Academy, where he remained two years, but left in the spring of 1876 before graduating. After returning from the military academy he took up teaching in Indiana, and in 1886 came to Neosho County, where he continued his work in the schoolroom. Altogether Mr. Adamson taught for twenty-seven years. He had received a thorough training in civil engineering while at West Point, and he has practiced in that line for many years. Since 1906 his home has been at Erie. For upwards of twenty years he has been closely connected with the office of county surveyor. He was first elected county surveyor in 1899, serving two terms or five years. The two following years were spent as deputy surveyor and he was again elected for two successive terms or four years. Then came another interim in which he was a deputy, and in 1914 was elected to the office and is still serving.

He has also prospered in a material way. Besides the old homestead which he owns he owns his home on Neosho Street, another dwelling house in Erie, and a tract of six acres adjoining the town.

Mr. Adamson is a republican, and is a deacon and member of the Christian Church. Fraternally he is affiliated with Erie Camp No. 1101, Modern Woodmen of America, with Kansas Fraternal Citizens, with the Anti-Horse Thief Association, and he belonged to the Grange while living in Indiana.

In 1881, at Richmond, Indiana, he married Miss Lizzie E. Dunham. Her parents, James and Mary (Austin) Dunham, are both now deceased, her father having been a cabinetmaker.

Mr. and Mrs. Adamson have reared six children who do them credit, and most of them are highly educated and have been successful as teachers. The oldest, Louie, died in infancy. Charles R. Adamson, who was graduated from the State Normal School at Emporia in 1911 and is now a member of the senior class in the Agricultural College at Manhattan, lives at Erie and is a teacher. Jennie E., who lives with her parents, and teaches at St. Paul, Kansas, is a graduate of the Erie High School and has attended the State Normal School at Emporia. Virginia M., also a teacher at Erie, is a graduate of the local high school, holds a state teacher’s certificate and is a member of the senior class in the State Normal at Emporia. Nellie D., a graduate of the Erie High School and of the Emporia Normal, is a teacher at Muskogee, Oklahoma. Grace M., who graduated from the Erie High School, married H. J. Six, a jeweler at Erie. Ethel A., who taught two years in Walnut, Kansas, is now a senior in the State Normal at Emporia.



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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