William S. D. Adams Biography


This biography appears on pages 1029-1030 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915) and was scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger, mkrueger@iw.net.


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The name of William S. D. Adams is well known in newspaper circles throughout the northwest, for he is editor and owner of the Reporter and Farmer, published at Webster. He was born in Clinton, Illinois, March 26, 1862, and is a son of James C. and Elizabeth (Demon) Adams. The father, who was born in Virginia in 1841, died in November 1903, having for a number of years survived his wife, who passed away in 1885. She was born in Ireland in 1844 and they were married in Clinton, Illinois. James C. Adams had accompanied his parents to Clinton when he was a small child. His father was William W. Adams, who became a resident of Clinton at a very early day and there spent the remainder of his life, practicing medicine at that place for many years. The maternal grandfather, William S. Denton, was born in England, became a civil engineer and worked for the English government, being noted as a bridge builder, operating under the name of Denton & Childs. He made the first survey of the Chicago river. James C. Adams was educated in a Kentucky college and left school in order to enter the army at the time of the Civil war. He served in an Illinois regiment, being on active duty for three and a half years and after being wounded at the battle of Shiloh was in the hospital for some time. He was on duty with the ram fleet and was on the Queen of the West when it sank in front of Vicksburg but was among the number who escaped. When the war was over he went to Mississippi and published one of the three newspapers then issued in the state.


In connection with John B. Raymond and General H. R. Rees he stumped the state for the republican nominee for governor but the Ku Klux clan became antagonistic and took his printing outfit, which they sank in the Mississippi River. In 1871 Mr. Adams went to Iowa and established a paper at Avoca, which he called the Delta, conducting it with success until 1883, when he removed with his family to Webster, South Dakota, and purchased the Reporter and Farmer. He also established the Day County Daylight, which he issued on his claim, which was situated eighteen miles from a post office and thirty miles from a railroad, while it was a mile and a half to the home of his nearest neighbor. He and his son, William S. D. Adams, both took claims of one hundred and sixty acres and the son proved up his claim, after which he went to Britton and was the first postmaster of that place. James C. Adams sold his interest in the Farmer and Reporter in 1891 and purchased the Howard County Times at Cresco, Iowa, continuing its publication until his death in 1902.


By his first marriage he had seven children, of whom three are living: Maude, the wife of George H. Baker, a miller of Deer Park, Washington; Josiah J., a printer in his brother's office; and William S. D. After losing his first wife James C. Adams was married in 1887 to Mrs. Jessie G. White, who is now living at Lake Helen, Florida. For two years after her husband's death she conducted the paper which he had been issuing at Cresco, Iowa. She has been very prominent in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and in the equal franchise work and directed the last campaign for woman's suffrage in Florida. She is well known as a writer upon topics of vital interest and is a lady of broad and liberal education and culture. Mr. Adams was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, while the mother of William S. D. Adams belonged to the Episcopal Church. The father was connected with the blue lodge and the chapter in Masonry and with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and passed through all the chairs in those organizations His political allegiance was ever given to the republican party from its formation and at one time he served as state senator. He became a charter member and was also the president of the State Press Association for a number of years. William S. D. Adams pursued his education in the public schools of Avoca, Iowa, and in his youth took up newspaper work, which he has followed throughout his entire life. He engaged in business with his father in Iowa in 1881 and afterward came with him to South Dakota, since which time he has continued in newspaper publication in this state. He sold the Daylight in 1885, at which time the name of that paper was changed to the Marshall County Journal, under which title it has since been published. Mr. Adams still owns and publishes the Reporter and Farmer, which has a circulation of twelve hundred, and in addition he does a large job printing and book binding business. His office is well equipped and the work, which he turns out, is first class. He thoroughly understands the printing trade in every particular and is thus able to direct the labors of those whom he employs. Fraternally Mr. Adams is connected with the Masons, has passed through all of the chairs of the blue lodge and is connected with the Royal Arch Chapter. In politics he is a republican, believing firmly in the principles of the party, but he does not seek nor desire office, preferring to devote his entire attention to his newspaper interests.