Chapter Five, Part Two of “The Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA” Searching for the Genealogy of Our Adam Family
Where were we?
As we were working on the various newspaper articles we had discovered regarding our elusive Gustav Adam and discussing one such article dated April 6, 1854, again in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) which gave us our first acknowledgement that “Prof. Rud Adam” had indeed been leader of the orchestra at the Atheneum Theater plus the added tidbit, which was the reason for the article, that “Prof. Rud Adam has been appointed to, and will occupy the Professorship of Music in the Cleveland Female Seminary on Kinsman street.”, which was a day and boarding school for girls, founded the same year as the article by Reverend Eli N. Sawtell when we were interrupted.
Our staff member had just stood up and excitedly suggested that we ‘rest’ our musical thoughts for a waltz or two and listen to her discoveries from the online databases she had been searching.
So we put our music discussion on pause and listened intently as she regaled us with the results of her research.
The Search is on for ‘our’ Adam Family
Our staffer had begun her research work with the 1850 United States Census. Poring over hundreds of records in that Census for Cleveland, Ohio and the adjoining areas, only one discovery was made and until the results of our musical research was discussed did she realize what her one and only discovery had been. In 1850 was one, and only one, Adam family that she could find who was from Bohemia and in Cleveland. The name was J. R. Adam! He was living in a boarding house with his wife and son. His age was listed as 33, so he was born about 1817. His wife, Barbara had a given age of 25, so she would have been born about 1825, and his son, Alfred, was listed as being 2 years old, so he would have been born about 1848. All three are listed as being born in Bohemia, although J. R. Adam’s occupation is listed as ‘laborer’.
Our staff member only got more excited when she explained her next discovery, which was in the 1860 U. S. Census, this time in Columbia, Tennessee. She had also placed this one in her ‘quite doubtful file’ since the surname was listed as Adams rather than Adam and the index listed the birth locations for the family as ‘Germany’. But she went on to explain when she looked at the entries, the location of the births were actually listed as “Bohemia Germany”, but had been transcribed erroneously as simply “Germany”. Also she noticed several items that tied nicely with Leopold Levy’s comments that Adam had left Cleveland for Tennessee for health reasons and it was after the death of his wife. She went on to show us that this time, not only was there one J. R. Adams, but now his employment was listed as ‘Music Teacher’. When she looked at this entry closer she found that now his wife was listed as M. J. Adams, age 45 (born about 1815), plus on the subsequent page was a son, A. Adams, aged 13, listed as being born in Bohemia. Ger., and a daughter, (M?, K?, H?), Adams, aged 6, and nicely, this child was stated to have been born in Ohio. As our staffer carefully searched these forms for more clues, she couldn’t help but notice this notation above J. R’s entry adjacent to the name of Mr. J. O. Church:
“President Tenn. Conference Female College The patronage of the M. E. Church South”
Next, we began to undertake research to see what we could discover about this school. It wasn’t long before we discovered there was, in Columbia, Tennessee at this time, a school by the name of “TennesseeConferenceFemaleCollege”. We also soon learned that as with many institutions and organizations of the 1850s and 1860s, the MethodistChurch (M. E. Church) was torn in two over the issue of slavery, with the largely southern segments of the M. E. Church breaking with its parent organization and forming an independent unit, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was this splinter organization that was the ‘patron’ of the TennesseeConferenceFemaleCollege and just as the U. S. Census stated, the school’s headmaster was J. O. Church, the gentleman listed just prior to J. R. Adams.
But could we say with certainty this was ‘our’ Professor Adam? While several indicators were promising (once we got past the errors in transcription, etc.) our staff member knew we needed more.
She continued her searching on this College in the hopes of finding some record that might indicate more about J. R. Adam. Her first discovery was courtesy of the Rootsweb Ancestry.com community for Maury County, Tennessee. There she discovered a letter, which on its first page held a brief history of the school along with two transcribed letters from student Fannie Church (daughter of the School head) to her friend and College alumna, Mollie Sneed. In the second of these letters, dated March 8th, 1859, is this sentence:
“We have an excellent Prof. of Music this session. Every person is delighted with him; but yields (sic) sometimes to terrible passions. About two months previous we gave two concerts under his instruction. Admission was 50 cents and the proceeds were given to Fire Companies No 1 and 2 of Columbia. If you are proud of your Alma Mater, ‘twould have made your very soul proud to have read the numberless puffs we received in each paper.
A nice connection since dear Fannie at least notes that her music teacher is male.
She continued on and it was then that, as she described it later on, she was able to break into her ‘Genealogy Happy Dance’!
While searching within the online records of The Tennessee Genealogical Society, she found that in 1989 some wonderful volunteer or staff member had transcribed and included, in Volume 36, No. 2 of the Ansearchin’ News, the magazine of that Society, a six page article titled “The Tennessee Conference Female College – Columbia, Tennessee”. This article was based on “A small, tattered and stained pamphlet” of 30 pages and published in 1860 and thankfully donated to the Society by Doris Tillman.
Columbia, Tennessee is located 45 miles south of Nashville, is the county seat of Maury County, and, as an aside, it also happens to be the birthplace of 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk.
There, in an early paragraph of the transcription, was the following sentence:
“Prof. J Rud Adam was Principal of the Music Department and Teacher of Vocal and Instrumental Music, assisted by his wife in the latter class.”
We now appeared to have linked our early 1860 U.S. Census discovery with the fact that the listed “J. R. Adams” was our fellow and seemed to be the passionate Professor of Music to whom Fannie Church had referred to in her letter.
What is to come next? Watch for the next chapter in the genealogy and history of the Adam family! One of the Bohemian originals! Posting will be later this week!