Biography - JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
For nearly three-score years the Adams family, now represented in Marseilles, LaSalle county, by the subject of this article and his brothers, have been prominently connected with the manufacturing interests of northern Illinois, and have a reputation which is world-wide, as the products of their business plant have gone to all parts of the earth.
The paternal grandfather of our subject was Samuel Adams, a native of Cayuga county. New York. The parents of John Q. were the Hon. Augustus and Lydia (Phelps) Adams, the latter a daughter of Joseph Phelps, of the Empire state. The father was born in Genoa, New York, May 10, 1806, and grew to manhood in his native state. In 1840 he removed with his family to Elgin, Illinois, where he speedily became a power in social, business and political circles. He occupied numerous responsible positions, was a member of the constitutional convention of the state in 1848, and served with honor in the house and senate. He was a warm personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, Judge David Davis and General John M. Palmer and many other famous and representative men. In 1857 he removed from Elgin to Sandwich, Illinois, where he organized the Sandwich Manufacturing Company, of which he was the president for many years. He possessed great mechanical ability and was the inventor of the celebrated Adams corn-sheller and other agricultural implements. In 1870 he became the president of the Marseilles Manufacturing Company, which was established here by his sons, and for twenty-two years he was connected with this enterprise, or until his death, in 1892. His wife, Lydia, born in Homer, Cortland county, New York, died at her home in Sandwich, in 1867, when in her fiftythird year. She was the mother of eight children, seven of whom were sons, and all but one of the number survive.
The birth of J. Q. Adams occurred in Greenwood, Steuben county, New York, July 23, 1839, and his youth was spent in Elgin, Illinois, where he was educated in the public schools and academy. He then learned the machinist's trade in his father's shop, and had just fairly started upon his mechanical career when the great civil war came on. He took a very active part in the Lincoln campaign of 1860, being a member of the celebrated Wide Awake Club.
In September, 1861, Mr. Adams enlisted in Company G, Fifty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Colonel Wilson. After being encamped at Geneva, Illinois, and at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, the regiment was placed on guard duty along the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, and later stationed in Kentucky, at Smithland, where Colonel T. W. Sweeny took command of the regiment. Arriving at Fort Donelson just after the surrender, the regiment was sent north to Camp Douglas, Chicago, with prisoners. Afterward, joining General Grant's army, the regiment took part in the battle of Shiloh and there met with heavy loss, as one hundred and seventy men were killed or wounded of the four hundred and fifty participating in the engagement. Mr. Adams fought in the thickest of the fray both days of the dreadful conflict, and later was engaged in the siege of Corinth under General Halleck, and on October 3 and 4, 1863, in the second battle of Corinth under Rosecrans, in which battle the division with which he was connected lost one thousand and four out of less than three thousand men. General Hackelman, commanding the First Brigade, was killed, and General Oglesby, commanding the Second Brigade, was badly wounded.
In January, 1864, Mr. Adams veteranized. In April of the same year the regiment joined Sherman's army and took part in nearly all the most important battles of the Atlanta campaign, after which they went with Sherman on his famous march to the sea, and later on his other great campaigns through the Carolinas, which included the burning of Columbia and the battle of Bentonville, ending with the capture of Raleigh and the march to Washington, where they took part in the grand review of the troops. He served with the rank of first lieutenant and regimental quartermaster during the last months of the war, and was discharged as such in July, 1865, when his services were no longer required.
Returning to the peaceful vocations of life, Mr. Adams joined his father and brothers, H. R. and O. R. Adams, in the Marseilles Manufacturing Company, and gradually advanced until he became president of the concern, as he is to-day. In this finely equipped factory all kinds of corn-shellers, horse-power pumps, plows, windmills and various implements required in modern farming are manufactured in immense quantities, and sold and shipped to all parts of this and foreign countries. The brothers have persevered through many long years in their ambitious endeavor to build up an extensive and remunerative trade, and have succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations. A large force of men are afforded employment, and in numerous ways the community reaps benefit from this thriving industry. In December, 1865, John Q. Adams and Miss Helen A. Beardsley, of Carlton, Orleans county, New York, were united in marriage, at Sandwich, DeKalb county, Illinois. They have a very handsome home, situated upon the bluffs overlooking the town and surrounding country. Mr. Adams, it is needless to say, is now, as he has always been, a firm friend to the principles of the Republican party. He has not been desirous of holding public office, but has served as a member of the town board of trustees. Ever since 1856 he has been a member of the Congregational denomination, and for the past thirty years has been treasurer of the Marseilles church. His life has been conspicuous for integrity, honor and nobility of word and deed; he has been faithful in the discharge of his duty toward his country, his family and to society in general.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 268-270.