Chapter Five, Part Three of “The Genealogy & History of the Original Bohemians (Czechs) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA” Searching for the Genealogy of Our Adam Family!
Continuing from Chapter Five, Part Two
We had just connected the Music Professor at TennesseeConferenceFemaleCollege as J. R. Adam and our staff member was explaining all of her discoveries that she found on various online databases.
As so often occurs in our genealogy and family history work, our discoveries don’t follow the calendar, but we take them in any order they are presented. Such was the case with our staffer who described her next discovery as ‘genealogy gold’ and was courtesy of the newspaper databases of Chronicling America, held by the Library of Congress. However what she found was not in Columbia, but in Nashville. Dated July 20, 1856 and in the Nashville Union and American (Nashville, TN) was an advertisement titled “Singing and piano lessons!” It begins:
“T. Rud Adam, from Bohemia, Europe, lately from Cleveland, Ohio, begs leave so (sic) inform the citizens of Nashville and vicinity, that he has permanently located in the city for the purpose of giving instruction in Singing and Piano playing.”
The article continues and includes the fact that he was residing in Room #18 at the Hotel St. Cloud.
Had we not seen the same exchange of the ‘T’ for ‘J’ in some of the listings for Prof. Adam’s early music, we might have been put off, but the notation of Bohemia and Cleveland were wonderful.
Later advertisements with similar wording appear several times in 1863, again in the Nashville Union and American and at this time report his residence as “No. 33 Vine street, opposite the Capital”, refer to him as J. Rud. Adam, and reference him as “Formerly Principal of the Musical Department of the FemaleCollege at Columbia.”
Our staffer then cautioned us to remember that things were about to get dicey in Tennessee with the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1864) and the fact that while Tennessee was the last State to secede from the Union, it also was the site of the second most battles in the war (surpassed only by the State of Virginia).
An advertisement in the Nashville Daily Union (Nashville, TN) dated June 24, 1863 running along side an entire column giving information about the progress of the War, held this tidbit “…now Teacher of Vocal Music at the St. Cecelia Academy at Nashville…” and then again in the Nashville Daily Union, but this time dated June 16, 1866 and headlined “Commencement Exercises of W. E. Ward’s Seminary” listed the following as part of the exercises: “The Law of God”, Cantata – composed for this occasion, by Prof. J. R. Adam…”
At this point our staffer asked a solid question of the group. “Do you not find it odd that this fellow taught at schools that were Methodist Episcopalian, Jewish, Catholic, Presbyterian, and perhaps even others?” My answer was that while, yes, while lots of folks might have issues or concerns with teaching within an environment that differs by religion; this most likely was not an issue to Prof. Adam. If we recall that Adam fled Bohemia after taking part in the failed 1848 insurrection and being, as Leopold Levy stated ‘an ardent nationalist’, it is almost a certainty that our Adam would have been a Freethinker, which eschewed all forms of religion, making it easier for him to operate within a variety of settings. Plus it was the War years, employment in Nashville must have been a challenge to find at times, and as we read the histories of these various institutions we see them all struggling financially, especially as the War dragged on.
Then our staffer showed us a new musical connection to our Prof. Adam. While working within the estimated years of his living in Nashville, she came across a site featuring Civil War music and humor. On this was the music for “The Contraband’s Hotel, A Comic Song for the Million” and there on the coversheet was “Composed by J. Rud Adam! Following this up, she also found an article from the Nashville Dispatch (Nashville, TN) dated October 24, 1862, which stated:
“The Contraband’s Hotel is the title of a comic song for the million, and set to music by Mr. J. Rud Adam. It will be sung, we understand, at the Theatre on Monday next, by Mr. Duffield, who will do ample justice to music and words, and make the song renowned. We will publish the words in a day or two, probably. The music and song can be had of the publisher, Mr. J. A. McClure.”
We won’t list the lyrics here, but we will note that you can find this musical score at the website of the libraries of Johns Hopkins University and its lyrics make it clear that Prof. Adam was writing this for sympathizers of the Confederacy. In his book, Civil War Humor, Cameron C. Nickels wrote:
“…’The Contraband’s Hotel’ did move into mainstream popular culture in different and curious ways that would seem to say something (but what?) about the dynamics of Civil War humor – who laughed and why.”
He goes on to explain that this music was copied by several other publishers and musicians over the ensuing years.
Beyond the Music
Our staff member then shared her findings that were beyond the musical realm. Her first discovery was a group of death records. The first one uncovered was from an index of extracted records of Tennessee deaths and burials from 1874-1955 and was for Barbara Adam. Now this one, she admitted also originally went into the ‘unlikely file’ at first, but she said it was, again, an excellent example of following each lead no matter what the index might say. In this case the name given in the death register was “Barbara Adams” (sic) and while she was accustomed to this variation, it was the next one that almost made her skip the record. It listed, under the column titled “Nativity” it listed Australia. She continued that she was about ready to abandon this record until she thought it odd that someone from Australia would be in Nashville in 1883, the date of the record, so she continued on. On the following page was the residence of the deceased. It was listed as “S. College”. This connected the dots! She explained that she had earlier been reading through City Directory listings for Nashville and had found an entry in the 1878 edition with the following listing:
“Adam, Barbara, wid J. R., r 419 S. College”
Another ‘key’ (hard to stay away from the musical puns) item in this record was the notation that Barbara Adam was interred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. This historic cemetery, founded in 1856, is a large one, covering 250 acres. It is still in use today, has seen more than 20,000 burials, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places based on both its architectural and historical significance, and is a recognized National Arboretum.
The next stop was at the finding aid for Mount Olivet Cemetery held by the Tennessee State Library and Archive (TSLA). This aid gives an excellent overview of the cemetery, its history, and explains that there are three key volumes that can help genealogists and family historians. They are two interment books (1855 to 1911 and 1912 to 1952) along with a plat book that while undated covers lots and sections up to some time in the 1970’s. After a call to the TSLA, our request for a look-up was in the mail. It was amazing to note that the cost was only $10.00, recently reduced from $20.00! Wow, who lowers prices these days?
It wasn’t long and our staff member had also discovered a death certificate for Alfred Adam, which was dated Nov 24, 1907, so was now on the standard form used by the City of Nashville and the County of Davidson, Tennessee. There were several key items on this document as well. First was the fact that the full given name was Alfred John, that he was born in Bohemia and was 60 at the time of his death. His death was attested to by “Miss M. Adam, 117 – 9th Ave. S. It noted that Alfred is also interred at Mt.OlivetCemetery and then, very nicely, it listed his father as John Adam, born in Bohemia and his mother as Barbara Kraus, of Bohemia.
Following up on this information, our staffer next found a death certificate dated just three years later in 1910 for Melaine Adam, with her ‘usual residence’ listed as 117 – 9th Ave, South, Nashville. It listed her father as John R. Adam and an unknown mother, but the form was filled out by someone living at the same address as Melaine, by the name of Ella Hyronemus. Disappointed that there was no maternal listing on the death certificate, she was pleased with her subsequent discovery. It was article in the March 28, 1872 edition of the Nashville Union and American (Nashville, TN) and contained this sentence under a headline of “County Court”: “Mrs. Barbara Adam was appointed and qualified as guardian of Melanie Adam.” This would seem to confirm the birth, from the 1860 U. S. Census that listed M. Adam as being born about 1856 and would place her under the age of emancipation.
Shortly after this our researcher found an additional discovery. First she explained that she came across a real estate sale notice in the Daily Union and American (Nashville, TN) dated September 15, 1866 with the following listing:
“Barbara Adam and J. R. Adam, trustee, to Tennessee Colonial Immigration Company, land in Williamson county, $1,050.”
Knowing that J. R. Adam doesn’t appear in U. S. Census records after 1860 and Barbara is listed as a widow in 1870 and seeing the ‘trustee’ designation after his name our staffer started working around the listed year of 1866. It wasn’t long and while conducting some creative searching by date and cemetery, she uncovered a most interesting listing on Find A Grave. Once again Adam was misspelled, but this time as Adama, but there was a burial listing, at Mount Olivet Cemetery, for a Rudd Adama, with a burial date of September 19, 1866, with an age of 50 and the notation that volunteers from the Cumberland Chapter of the D.A.R. had taken this information from ‘an old record book at Mt Olivet Cemetery”.
The dominos continued to fall as our staffer began the process of scrolling through the Tennessee probate record files at FamilySearch.com. In fair rapid order, or at least as rapid as it can be as you search and scroll through the hundreds of images from Davidson County, Tennessee, the wills of Melanie Adam and Barbara Adam along with an inventory for J. R. Adam, who had died intestate (with no will having been written).
As is usually the case, questions were answered, but some were not, and some new ones arose. Luckily for us, those answered outstrip the unanswered.
First we confirmed that, indeed, J. R. Adam did die in 1866, however, as we said, he died leaving no will. There was an inventory filed and here is what it said:
“The intestate left no personal property whatever.”
UH OH! What does this mean for our continued search? Nothing? Nothing ‘whatever’? What will we discover in our next Chapter? Coming later this week!