Tag Archives: Charles Edwin Adams

Charles Edwin Adams, 1877-1922

While comparing the family non-resemblance photos yesterday, I realized that I had not gotten around to writing the life story of my maternal great grandfather, Charles Edwin Adams.

Charles Edwin Adams was born on 11 January 1877 in Calais, Washington, Maine, the first in his Loyalist ancestral family to be born in the United States since his great great grandfather, John Adams, was born c1740 in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

John Adams sailed to New Brunswick, Canada in the Fall 1783 fleet of ships heading from New York to their new home. In the intervening years, the family had lived in St. John and then on Adams Island and Deer Island in the West Isles of New Brunswick, off the coast of Maine.

Charles’ grandfather, Daniel Adams, moved the family back into the States in the mid-1850s.

Charles was the son of Calvin Segee Adams and Nellie F. Tarbox. Calvin had first married Martha Maria Tillinghast on 12 December 1869 in Bristol, Bristol, Rhode Island, where he was serving a boat building apprenticeship.

Calvin and Martha returned to Calais to live full time and on 8 July 1872, Martha gave birth to their daughter, Martha Lulu Adams, Charles’s half sister.

Lulu Adams
Source: My personal collection

Sadly, mother Martha died sometime between Lulu’s birth and 1 February 1875, when Calvin married Nellie F. Tarbox in Calais. I can find no death record, nor a gravestone for Martha, but I suspect she may have died giving birth.

Charles was ten years old when Calvin and Nellie had their second child, daughter Vera Pearl Adams, born 18 September 1887, also in Calais.

Charles and Pearl, c1890
Source: My personal collection

Thus, Charles grew up with two sisters in the household, although there was a wide span of years in between each of their ages.

Calvin Adams was well known in the Calais area, as he was a boat builder during Calais’s peak economic years.

The family moved several times as Charles was growing up, living first on Germain Street and then on Temperance street.

Eventually, the family was well enough off to afford a home on “The Avenue,” aka Calais Avenue, a pretty tree-lined street near the center of town.

Calvin and Nellie, sitting on the porch with visitors
Source: My personal collection

Lulu married Alton Payne on 24 April 1900 in Calais, so she was at home until she married at the relatively late (for the time) age of 30. Lulu and Alton had no children and she died on 14 April 1919 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts of endocarditis.

I have no information as to how Charles met his wife-to-be, Annie Maude Stuart, who lived in the nearby town of Meddybemps, nor do I know how long he may have courted her.

Annie Maude Stuart
Source: My personal collection

For the longest time, I couldn’t find their marriage record. It wasn’t in Calais and it wasn’t across the water in New Brunswick. I think it was my grandmother, Hazel, who told me they got married in Massachusetts.

Charles Adams, c1920 with Annie & son, Vernon
Source: My personal collection

I had no idea why they would go all the way to Worcester to marry, when both were of legal age, but my grandmother actually told me my grandfather was one of those “first baby can come any time, all the rest take 9 months” children. Sure enough, on 3 May 1899, Vernon Tarbox Adams, their only child, was born in Calais, Maine.

Charles had grown up in a blended household, which sometimes included extended family members, and after he and Annie married, they lived with Calvin, Nellie and Pearl.

In 1900, baby Vernon was enumerated with them and they even had a boarder, Florence Sprague, living with them. As far as I know, there are no Sprague relatives even in the extended family, so I think she really just was a boarder.

As mentioned earlier, Calvin was a successful boat builder in Calais, following in the footsteps of his own father, Daniel Adams. I don’t know if Charles was ever interested in his father’s business or not. In any case, both his 1898 marriage record and the 1900 census indicate that he worked in the Calais shoe factory as a cutter.

Calais Shoe Factory
Source: My personal postcard collection

In 1910, Charles and Annie were in their own home, but still with an extended family as Annie’s mother, Elida Stuart, was living with them and Vernon. Charles was still at the shoe factory.

By 1920, the Adams’s circumstances had changed a bit, in a good way.

My grandfather, Vernon, was out on his own and getting ready to marry my grandmother that summer. Calvin and Nellie were living with them, along with Clara Dwelley, who was one of my grandmother’s best friends. Clara worked in a hat shop, but it was the ladies’ store that Annie and Charles had opened. Remember, Annie had been a bookkeeper at the time they had married. Charles clearly preferred working in a business to boat building or, as his ancestors had done before him, farming or fishing.

Life was good as the 1920s began. All that changed literally overnight for Charles Edwin Adams.

There had always been what I thought was an odd saying in my family to “not pull out your nose hairs.” Apparently, that story came to be because Charles did just that one afternoon and quickly became ill. In fact, he was so ill so fast that he died a few days later.

Cause of death: Septicemia Strep – Charles died of a strep infection, seven years before the discovery of penicillin.

Source: My personal collection

Obituary #2
Source: My personal collection

His passing was a shock to family and friends. He was laid to rest in Calais Cemetery.

Annie survived him by 19 years, passing away on 10 September 1940 in Ridgewood, Bergen County, New Jersey, where she was living  with my grandparents.