Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part II

Part I introduced our search for Alpheus’ parents. In Part II, let’s review the few sources providing any leads to Alpheus’s birth and lineage.

From his obituary, we know that Alpheus passed early Sunday morning, 3 Apr 1910 at his Hillside Farm in Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota, of liver cancer, his health having declined over his last two or three years. From newspaper notices in Mar 1910 and Apr 1910, we know that he was confined to his bed for the last few weeks of his life.

Regarding his lineage, we are told:

He was born in the state of Michigan in December 1846. His mother died when he was but a year old, when he was taken into the home of an uncle at Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. Here he grew up to young manhood and in 1867 was married to Ellen Jane, a daughter of the late Francis Hannah of this place.

Soon after this event the young couple settled near Manitowaning on Manitoulin Island [Ontario, Canada]. …

W. E. Adams of Hannah, and Geo. Adams of Crystal City, Man.[itoba] are half brothers of the deceased.

The funeral took place Monday afternoon. The service was conducted by Rev. Thos. Dyer, pastor of the M. E. church, who spoke words of comfort to these bereaved.

“Pioneer Departed, Alpheus Adams Passed to His Reward,” The Moon (Hannah, North Dakota), 8 Apr 1910, p. 1, col. 3.

We need to remember information contained in obituaries is usually provided by the family, often relating information they were told many years earlier. That information may or may not have been true when told, and the family’s memory may not be perfect.

The earliest sources we have for Alpheus are two records for his marriage. From the Ontario, Canada, County Marriage Registers, 1858–1869, we know that he married Jane Hannah on 12 Dec 1867 in Derby Township, Grey County. Listed in this record are:

  • Alpheus Adams, age 22, born in the United States
  • Jane Harnish [Hannah], age 20, born in Ireland
  • William Adams, father
  • Maria Adams, mother
  • Francis Harnish [Hannah], spouse’s father
  • Catherine Harnish [Hannah], spouse’s mother

A handwritten Matrimony Marriage License in the possession of a family member is more specific. They were married on that date in Owen Sound, Derby Township. John Brooks and Catherine Walker were witnesses. J. C. Tyler, Owen Sound, Methodist Minister, performed the ceremony.

We then have a variety of records, all issued after his marriage, and therefore dated more than 22 years after his birth. Some of these records list his year of birth, or age, and one lists his month and year of birth. As is usual in this era, the birthdate or implied year of birth from reported age is often not consistent between records. From these records, his birth year is between 1845 and 1847. The North Dakota Public Death Index, obviously recording his death in 1910, lists his birthdate as 15 Dec 1846.

No birth certificate. No census records for him prior to his marriage. That is it, not a lot to work with.

Let’s accomplish something today. Let’s dispense with his name. We have a single primary source, the 1881 Census of Canada, listing his name as James Adams.

The more than 30 other primary sources—including those for his marriage, US land patents, land patent maps, mortgages, his appointment as U. S. Postmaster of Hannah, newspaper articles mentioning him, his death, his obituary, and his probate—list him as Alpheus Adams.

Alpheus Adams land patent in Hannah, North Dakota; Section 33, SW1/4 (1890) and SE1/4 (1893).

In Part III, we will update our research for his paternal line.

Alpheus Adams (1845-1910) is 3rd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.