Chapter Six, Part One of “The Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA”: Reaching for our Goal of Discovering the Genealogy and Family History of our Next Czech Immigrant.
Let’s Catch Up.
We had just finished up the last chapter regarding the Adam family and the fact that while we had traced them to Nashville, Tennessee from Cleveland, Ohio, it seemed the family ended there. Then just as we were getting ready to move on to our Genealogy Dartboard, the office phone rang and it was from the 615 area code. We all realized at the same time this meant Nashville.
So Back to the Adam Family for a moment or two.
On that line was one of the Archivists from the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA). We had been told by some of the volunteers with the Tennessee State Genealogical Society that the entire staff at the TSLA were helpful and that the Library and Archives held an amazing quantity of records helpful in genealogy and family history. They were certainly correct in their praise.
The TSLA Archivist on the phone told us to expect a ‘very nice packet of information’ in response to our request for a review of any Adam family burial records they might hold. He went on to say they had been located by one of the TSLA ‘ace researchers’ and he wanted us to know it was going out in the mail immediately. As he signed off, he added ‘I think all you all won’t be disappointed.’
On the third day there it was in our postbox. As promised by the TSLA Archivist, it was an enticingly thick manila envelope.
We were not disappointed! We received copies of more than a dozen pages of burial records, cemetery maps, and obituaries. The obituaries were all from resources to which we did not have access, which made them especially valuable to us. We divided up the materials and began our review.
It is important to note again that the main, historic cemetery in Nashville is Mt.OlivetCemetery and we had seen from early death certificates that at least some of the Adam family members were interred there. Additionally we knew from the will of Melanie Adam that she had referenced a family gravestone or monument in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
Our first prized discovery was that the cemetery not only kept burial records by surname, but also by lot. As a result there was a copy of a burial card that featured every member of the Adam family who were interred in the family lot and right on the top line was Prof. John R. Adam, followed by Barbara, A. J., and Malaine. This inclusion reminded me to reinforce the fact that I often have made some wonderful and startling discoveries when I ask cemeteries to give me information based on the lot, section, etc. of an ancestor’s grave in addition to asking by surname. In this case the lot card gives us a much better picture since there are spellings and misspellings of the surname from Adam, to Adama, Adams, etc. and the given names also vary by record. All this makes the lot ownership/burial card all the more valuable.
The maps that were included were very detailed and specific. Everyone agreed that they wished every cemetery we encountered kept records that included this level of physical detail. The TSLA, in their thoroughness, sent maps from the specific Adam family lot up to the section, then beyond to give us an excellent perspective as to where in the cemetery the Adam lot was located.
An obituary was next in the stack. Published on September 19, 1866 in the Republican Banner (Nashville, TN) it was headlined “Death of Professor Adam”. Running for several paragraphs, this obituary erroneously reports that Professor Adam was German, but at the same time it supported many of our previous discoveries, such as his being in Tennessee since about 1850, having lived in Columbia and Franklin in addition to Nashville, as well as some new information. The obituary states that Prof. J. Rudd Adam “was stricken down by the disease which has already deprived this community of some of its most useful members” and that he was ‘a leading member of the Turner Society. We first discovered on the website of the National Institutes of Health that most likely the disease being referred to was one of the frequent outbreaks of The Black Cholera. The Turner Society, founded in Nashville in 1854, was an organization much like the Sokols of that time. They featured learning as well as physical training, especially in gymnastics.
While some of us were busy reviewing the materials from the TSLA, one of our staff contacted the Mt. Olivet Cemetery to see if they held any type of record of the gravestone/monument mentioned by Melanie Adam in her will. In only a couple of hours not only did we have our answer, but we even had photographs! It seems it was a beautiful spring day in Nashville at the time of our call and the staff member there was thrilled to have a reason to get outside into the spring weather and do it all in the name of genealogy and history.
We were all a bit surprised to see the photographs. As you can see below, there is indeed quite a monument in Mt. Olivet Cemetery for the Adam family. It also appears that Melanie’s last wish to have her name added with her brother and parents was kept. Topped with a shroud-draped urn, the Adam monument is a nicely sylized obelisk with a capital ‘A’ about midway down, and comes to earth in a larger oblong square with a base emblazoned with the Adam surname.
Just above the Adam surname on one side are the names, ages, and death dates of Professor John R. Adam and his wife, Barbara. Below Mrs. Adam, who nicely is not only referred to as Mrs. Barbara Adam, but also as wife of Prof. J. R. Adam, there are two lines of engraving, which we continue to try and decipher through the effects of age and lichen growth. On the opposite side are engraved the names and similar information for Alfred and Melanie. We all appreciated the work of the carver as well when we saw the nice ‘sweep’ he or she used rather than a simple straight line.
We were all pleased to see that the Adam family will not be forgotten. The only addition that would make there memorial complete would be if there were a plaque honoring their role as perhaps the very first Bohemians to immigrate to Cleveland, Ohio.
Back to the Genealogy Dartboard.
Now that we have completed our review of all the documentation, history, and genealogy of Professor Adam and his family and we were ready to return to our ‘Genealogy Dartboard’ in the offices of Onward To Our Past® to determine who our next research candidate would be.
It took us two tosses this time since our able (?) staffer who was chosen for this auspicious task completely missed the dartboard with his first throw. The second, however, hit its mark. There was an audible groan from everyone in the room. But the dart had spoken.
Why the groan? Where did the dart land? We will find out in the next chapter coming soon.