Nelson James Adams (1850-1918)

Nelson James Adams was a younger brother of my 2X great grandfather, Calvin Segee Adams, born 2 June 1850 on Adams Island, in New Brunswick, Canada. Nelson was the sixth of nine children born to Daniel Adams and Sarah Ann Parker.

1851 Census of the Daniel Adams Family
Source: PANB

I think the census taker mixed up the birth order of Nelson and Caroline because all other records have them reversed in birth order.

In the late 1850s, Daniel Adams sold his property in Canada and moved to Calais, Maine, where his family was enumerated in 1860.

1860 Census in Calais
Source: FamilySearch

Nelson was still at home in 1870, although the census taker erred in recording his father’s name:

1870 Census in Calais

Nelson was heading into a career in boat building, which Daniel Adams had begun when he moved to Calais. Nelson’s brother, Calvin, also worked in the family trade. Later in life, the boat trade petered out in Calais and Nelson worked as a box manufacturer.

By 1880, Nelson was a newlywed living in Boston with wife Annie M. Stickney and his mother-in-law, Mary C. Stickney.

Nelson and Annie likely married in Calais, as intentions were filed there on 6 and 10 September 1875, although no marriage record has been found. Annie was born c1856, in Perry, Washington, Maine.

I don’t know a lot about Nelson’s life, but suspect it might have been somewhat sad. Having married Annie about 1875, they were childless in 1880, so it seems likely that they might have lost a baby or two. I have to also wonder if that might be why they were living in Boston at the time.

Nelson and Annie died experience some joy with the births of two children, Bertha and Ellery. However, their lives were also difficult.

Bertha Gladys was  born 20 April 1881 in  Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, but died on 27 February 1904 in Calais, Washington, Maine of pulmonary tuberculosis.

She was just 24 years old, unmarried and left no descendants.

Ellery D. Adams was born on 6 September 1884, by which time the family had returned to Calais. Ellery married Florence L. Doone on 14 October 1909 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, which is just across the water from Calais.

However, like sister Bertha, Ellery’s life was cut short, as he died on 4 March 1917 of pneumonia in both lungs.

Florence Adams married (2) Howard Dean Clerke on 1 September 1918, also in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. By 1920, this couple was living in Los Angeles, California, boarding at 545 1/2 South Fremont Avenue. They had no children, so it appears that Ellery and Florence didn’t have any children.

Nelson’s life story didn’t get any happier, either. His wife Annie predeceased both of her children, passing away on 28 April 1892 in Calais from a case of the flu.

Nelson was a widower in the 1900 census:

Nelson Adams Family, 1900

Bertha and Ellery were still at home. Nelson had a servant, Hannah Olive and her young son living in the household with them.

Nelson and Hannah (Graham) Olive eventually married on 21 September 1904 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada.

Nelson and Hannah are last found together in the 1910 census, living in Calais:

Nelson Adams’ Blended Family, 1910

After losing daughter Bertha in 1904, the birth of daughter Elizabeth N. in 1905 must have been a bright spot in Nelson’s life.

I have one memento of Nelson, Hannah and Elizabeth, although I’m not sure about one of the signatures. When my Aunt Pearl, Nelson’s niece, had her wedding reception at home, three of the guests were N.J. Adams, Mrs. N.J. Adams and right above their names is Elizabeth Adams. Elizabeth signed her own name, but I’m not sure who signed for her parents. Pearl married Perce E. Chadwick in June 1916 in Calais:

Nelson, wife and Elizabeth, Lines 5, 6, and 7

Nelson’s daughter, Elizabeth, grew to adulthood and moved to New York City, where she worked as a bank stenographer in 1930.

A couple of months later, on 29 June 1930, Elizabeth married William S. Johnston in Manhattan, New York, New York. William was born c1893 in Lemay, Missouri.

William and Elizabeth were the parents of one child, William Samuel Johnston, born c1936, but who died on 20 March 1939. The family lived at 20 Post Avenue, Manhattan at the time. His cause of death isn’t listed.

I haven’t found William or Elizabeth Johnston after the 1940 census, but they had no other children at home. It appears they had no surviving children.

William & Elizabeth Johnston, 1940, Queens, New York City, NY

The last record pertaining to the life of Nelson James Adams is his own death certificate.

Nelson J. Adams, Death Certificate, 1918

Nelson was one of the millions to die in the Pandemic of 1918, as he succumbed to influenza and pneumonia after a five week battle.





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