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A Moment in History The life of

Lewis McAdams

The account of Lewis McAdams’ death appears in The Springfield Republican, February 13, 1898:

“DIED OF HIS INJURIES. Lewis McAdams who was hurt at Valley Water Mill is dead. He is the aged colored man who was injured at the Valley Water Mills Thursday while attempting to throw a belt.

He was caught by the tumbling rod and his left arm fractured in three places. In addition to this, his shoulder was dislocated and he sustained other injuries.  Dr. James visited Mr. McAdams yesterday and found him in a dying condition. His patient survived until 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon (12 Feb. 1898), when death relieved him of his suffering. The deceased was the father of Prof W.H. McAdams, formerly principal of the Lincoln school, but now principal of the Douglas school. The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock at the home of the deceased, a few miles north of Springfield, and the interment will be at the Camp grave yard.”

 This respected gentleman was born in slavery and up to the age of35 could neither read nor write. He survived many difficulties and hardships, but managed to learn the harness and saddle business, becoming skilled in the trade. Following the Civil War he engaged in farming and moved to Jefferson City, Missouri around 1870. By 1881 he had returned to Greene County and bought property and later sold same for a profit. Then, in 1884, he purchased 200 acres and by working hard and paying close attention to business he prospered and was considered well to-do and successful.

 He was the father of seven children, six of whom he educated. Five later became teachers. He and his wife were members of the Gibson Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with Mr. McAdams serving as an elder and holding other offices.

The Federal Census of 1870 (Campbell Township) shows Lewis McAdams as a farmer, age 43, with wife, Margaret, age 41. Their children were: Henry, age 18; Julia, age 12; William, age 9; Celia, age 7; Maggie, age 6; Archie, age 3; and Peter, age 8 months.

According to the Springfield City Directory of Greene County Gazetteer of 1890-91, Lewis McAdams owned 93 acres in Section 4 of Campbell Township. The 1904 Greene County Missouri Plat Book reveals Lewis McAdams had property in Township 29, Range 21, Sections 4,5 (this is northeast of the Valley Water Mill Dam). Time has erased the burial site of Mr. McAdams. His grave might be one of those in the cemetery without a marker of any kind or it might have an old tombstone with lettering so dimmed by the elements that genealogists can no longer read the stone. His life, however, should be remembered and preserved in the pages of history.

Prepared by; Jean Gaffga Rayl, Member of the Greene County Historical Society Edited by: Mrs. Lea Etta McAdams of Springfield, MO, widow of Elwin McAdams, great-grandson of Lewis .McAdams, and by BryceMcAdams of Los Angeles, CA, great grandson of Lewis McAdams Resources: Pictorial and Genealogical Record of Greene Co., pp 281-282; Springfield City Directory & Greene Co. Gazetteer, 1890-91; Greene Co. Missouri 1870 Census, Campbell Township After researching the life of Mr. McAdams, a desire was created to know more about the mill that was once in operation at Valley Water Mill. It must have played a vibrant part in the lives of those living in the surrounding area. What happened to the Mill?

Added note by Cynthia Jeffries Davison – In searching for Civil War veterans in our burial list, Lewis McAdams is the only one  that appears to have served in the Civil War.