Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Family Origin and History

The Origin and Hitory of the McAdams Family
Traced through the lineage of Horace A. McAdams
By: Brooke Allison Sibley (2006)
This paper was written under the direction of Baylor History Professor, Michael Parrish

Brooke Sibley is the daughter of Stuart Sibley, the granddaughter of Marilyn McAdams Sibley, the great-granddaughter of Horace McAdams and the great-great granddaughter of Hiram McAdams.

Arriving in Texas in 1836, the McAdams family settled into the state they would soon call home. As a descendent of the Scot-Irish, their rebellious nature combined with a deeply patriotic spirit helped define the direction of the entire nation. "They deserve more credit for the making of America than any other race of people—there would have been no United States without them," said an Ambassador of Scotland. To better understand and appreciate the McAdams clan, it is important to define the culture of their ancestry.

Originating in Lowland Scotland, the Scot-Irish were heavily involved in farming. They spread to the Ulster region of the country where they were pleased with the liberties they received. Under the rule of King William III, they established schools and churches with their civil and religious freedom. In 1702, William’s sister-in-law, Queen Anne came into power and passed a series of severe restrictions that limited their free will. They were forced to alter their Protestant faith during a time of extreme economic and environmental crisis. Conflicts erupted between the Irish Catholics and Anglican English that greatly soured the people of Ulster. Many Scot-Irish lost their jobs thanks to a recession in the textile industry. In addition, farming was complicated by years of drought, and landlords continually raised the cost of land. The desire for economic relief and freedom from discriminatory religious acts led many of the settlers to leave Ulster for the promise of the New World. In 1717, faith and freedom finally led the first group of people to leave Ulster on a ship named The Friends’ Goodwill.

They arrived in Boston and quickly spread their influence in America as they traveled to Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. They were rapidly reproduced, and easily dominated the places they choose to reside. By the American Revolution, nearly 400,000 protestant immigrants had fled Scotland, Ireland, and England. A Scot-Irish referred to his people as, "The descendents of a group of people who refused to be held hostage under the tyrants boots either monetarily or religiously. A group of people who endured many hardships and much suffering to bring them where they are today, and in so doing built for themselves a new home and a new nation." Often referred to as the Scot-Irish, Ulster Scots, and the Scotch-Irish, 95 percent of settlers lived in the Appalachian region before wandering south. The controversial term, "Scotch-Irish" or Scot-Irish, originated in America in the 1750’s to distinguish their descendents from non-protestant Irish immigrants in the colonies. Found on every continent in the world, over 27 million Americans claim their ancestry to be of Scot-Irish descent. Even now, the highest Scot-Irish population is in Pennsylvania, while Texas ranks 15th.

John McAdams was like most of the immigrants; he arrived in South Carolina, but soon discovered the South and Mid-Western portions of the United States held some of the most fertile farming land in the country. As he traveled, his family remained close to his side. Despite the rugged and robust exterior of McAdams, the love of family ran deep. They were known to be loyal to friends but relentless to enemies. This was most evident in the battle of the Alamo. Out of the 189 men fighting for freedom from Mexico, nine were born in the Ulster region. In addition, Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie were Scot-Irish descendents. Their heroism and courage came from their fore-fathers who weathered the religiously backed violence that still exists today in Northern Ireland. Physically, the Scot-Irish were built tall and strong for taming of the wilderness. They pioneered the construction of log cabins and mastered the art of farming in thin soil. For entertainment, settlers continued their rich traditions of singing, dancing, and storytelling. Many were used to poverty. They came with nothing, and expected little. The unwavering, "bottom-up" individualism led to the future successes of many Scot-Irish.

Although farming was their primary occupation, many great politicians emerged. Just before the Declaration of Independence, many Scot-Irish wanted to prove their allegiance to the United States by adopting the Mechlenburg Declaration. This document officially dissolved their political ties to their former country. Eight of 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence trace their origins to Ireland. Charles Thompson, the hand-writer of the declaration, also originated from the same area. It was in Tennessee that the foundation for political power finally gained national recognition. Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States, can be traced to the Carrickfergus, a county in Antrim, Ireland. Jackson was known as the "People’s President" who reached the majority of the vote based on his common-man campaign. Like many Scot-Irish, Jackson was fierce in his brawls and firm in his demands. Along with Jackson, at least 11 other presidents claim to be Scot-Irish descendents.

Some of the men included are Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and most recently, Bill Clinton. Like many Scot-Irish, Andrew Johnson drank plenty of alcohol. Although Scot-Irish immigrants were the core of the Christian evangelical movement, they struggled with self-indulgent ways. The practice of distilling illegal whiskey originated in Scotland, and was popularized during the prohibition of the 1920s. The daring adventures of the "moonshine runners" in the Appalachian Mountains gave rise to the American pastime. The Scot-Irish not only provided strong political leaders, but military as well. They comprised the majority of the Confederate Army and a good portion Union Army during the Civil War. Many of the great generals witnessed by this nation have claimed their heritage with the Scot-Irish—Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and George Patton are a few of the most widely-recognized leaders. In addition, Alvin York, David Hackwork, and Audie Murphy have the same relation. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II, was the son of poor Texas sharecropper who received every honor that this country had to offer.

Quite the contrast, others gained recognition for acting and writing. Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Ava Gardner, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Redford, and John Wayne were just a few of the well known Scot-Irish descendents who impacted the arts. Socially, even Rosa Parks represented her ancestry well by fighting for her entitled rights. As descendents of the Scot-Irish, the McAdams family stood up for their beliefs, labored for every penny they earned, and remained together as a family.

In Scotland, the McAdams were a part of the MacGregor clan. This clan was a combined group of 33 families that were unified by the motto "My blood is royal". A blue and red plaid pattern, also known as a tartan, distinguished the MacGregors among other Scots. Although the actually date of their arrival is unknown, the McAdams family was a part of the second wave that traveled to the United States. Sometime between 1700 and 1770 the family settled along the Atlantic coast. It is believed that they came from the Ayr region in Scotland to escape the turmoil and misfortune that plagued everyday life. In 1779, John McAdams Sr. was born in Abbeville, South Carolina to Captain John McAdams. His father, known as "Captain John McAdams, Esquire", fought in the Revolutionary War where he received the nickname "The Patriot." In his later years, he served as the Justices of the Courts in the Abbeville district. Thanks to his service in America’s battle for freedom, descendents of the McAdams family are eligible for membership into the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution. John McAdams Sr. was one of 12 children raised by the Captain and his wife, Sarah Webb. Education was important to the family; John learned to read and write, and his signature shows that he was a Methodist Circuit Rider Minister.

Webmaster/Editor note: For many years it was accepted that the Walker County McAdams family and the McAdams family from Abbeville, SC were related. The evidence now proves that this was not the fact. DNA evidence and other research indicates that the Walker County McAdams line is NOT descended from a Captain John McAdams, Esquire of Abbeville, SC. For more information, please see Origins of the McAdams Family by Marilyn McAdams Sibley and Who was the Father of John McAdams, Sr? by Charles M. Cole.

In 1802, John McAdams Sr. married Martha Rogers. While in South Carolina, they had four children. James, Elizabeth, Mary (Polly), and Joseph were born between 1802 and 1812. However, after the start of the War of 1812, John and his family traveled to Tennessee where he fought in a Militia Infantry Company led by Captain John Porter. John served in the war from October 4, 1813 until January 4, 1814. After his honorable discharge, they began the journey back to South Carolina. Along the way, Nancy, John Jr., and Martha McAdams were born. After returning home in 1818, they had four more children—Evaline, George, Drucilla, and Joseph. John eventually became Justice of the Peace in their hometown. By 1823, the McAdams family was on the move again. Like most Scot-Irish, they began expanding west. The prior arrival of English colonists in America forced many travelers from Scotland to work further inland. John McAdams and his family spent a short time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama were they continued to raise their many children. Finally in 1834, the family reached Texas. They settled in the East Texas region near the Shelby municipality.

This area was considered to be the neutral ground between the United States and Mexico, and often conflicts erupted over possession of the land. As a result, the Regulator-Moderator War began between residents of the Shelby and Harrison Counties. The feud started over disputes about the swindling property in these two regions. Charles W. Jackson and Charles W. Moorman were the principle organizers for the Regulators. They declared that their purpose was to protect citizens from the cattle rustling. The Moderators quickly created opposition. They felt that it was necessary to form a counter-organization to moderate the Regulators. Both of these groups were regarded as nothing more than border outlaws who sought to destroy what they could not control.

Sam Houston was quoted, "I think it advisable to declare Shelby County…free and independent governments, and let them fight it out." In October of 1837, twenty of these men assembled themselves in Sabine to assassinate five men and kidnap two others. Unfortunately for the McAdams, only one of the men crossed the path of the outlaws. James McAdams, the oldest son of John McAdams Sr., was shot six to seven times. He left behind his wife and three young children. In addition, these outlaws attacked the home of John McAdams. They injured a number of neighbors, and drove away all of their livestock. The family immediately gathered all of their remaining possessions and headed to the Eastern part of Walker County, where the family still remains today. Eventually President Houston ended the Regulator-Moderator War when he sent a militia to make peace in the area.

For John McAdams Sr., life had been difficult. Unfortunately all but one of his children died before having a family of their own. His namesake, John McAdams Jr., traveled with John Sr. and his remaining family to the small community located west of Highway 75 on Bedias Road. Like the Scot-Irish, John Sr. often resorted to heavy drinking to take away the sting of life. His abuse of alcohol resulted in descendents that were strongly opposed to liquor. After arriving in Walker County, John Jr., enlisted in the Army of Texas. It is believed that John traveled with a local militia to San Antonio where he helped secure the city for the Republic of Texas. After fighting, he quickly returned home to his family. Soon after, he received a letter informing him of an upcoming attack on San Jacinto, but before he could arrive, the battle took place.

It is also recorded that John later served three months in the company of the San Augustine Volunteers under the command of John M. Bradley. For his services, he received 320 acres of land from Captain William Scurlock of San Augustine. This land was deeded to him by Mirabeau B. Lamar, second President of the Republic of Texas. In 1838, John Jr. married Hester White, and purchased another 1000 acres of land. With his newly acquired land, John built a typical Texas double house. John and Hester had five children—Mary, William, Hiram, John, and James. One Sunday afternoon, John and Hester were walking down the farm market road near their home. Hester pointed to a spot on the ground and said, "John, when I die, bury me under this hickory tree." On January 16, 1849, Hester passed away, and John remembered her dying wish. Her grave marked the beginning of the McAdams Cemetery, and has been preserved to the present day. Her burial marker reads:

JUNE 10, 1818
JAN. 16, 1849

In November of the same year, John re-married Mary Frances Bankhead. John and Mary Frances proceeded to have eleven children—Sarah Frances, Hester, Loretta, George, Frank, Joseph, Edward, Eady Catherine, Alice Theodiocia, Margret, and Mattie Ethel. Out of their 16 children, seven of them were named after Johns’ brothers and sisters. This created confusion during the early phases of locating and tracking descendents of the John McAdams line.

After the Civil War ended in 1865, the end of slavery changed many things for the McAdams family. Instead of slaves, John employed tenant farmers on his property. Tenant farming was a viable option for those in the lowest economic bracket. The system allowed farmers who could not afford to purchase land to rent it for a monthly fee. Most of the time, farmers would provide a certain percentage of their crop to the plantation owner in return for the use of land. For the former slaves, it was a chance at stable labor throughout the growing and harvesting season. Moreover, little cash was needed, and the economic freedom appealed to the tenants. Many believed that their tenancy would eventually lead to farm ownership. The tenants on John’s property lived in little wooden cabins out behind the house. As the young men in the family matured, John allowed them to also take up residence in the cabins. There were at least 20 families that once worked on his land, but little information is known about the terms or time period of the tenants.

The bustling home of the John and Mary Frances became a rural community center comprised of many families. Socially, older women in the area formed quilting clubs, while the younger bunch preferred parties and cakewalks. Much of the community centered around a church and school as well. Because John believed education was important for his children, he physically and financially helped build the Wolf Hill School. Furthermore, the community center was eventually named McAdams, Texas. They continued to support the growing population by opening at post office on May 1, 1888. Mary Frances served as the postmistress for two years. Six others would go on to take the position at the post office; all of them were women from outside the McAdams family. In 1896, the Texas Gazetteer reported the population of McAdams to be about 15. By 1914, the estimated population had grown to 60 people, and two cotton gins and three county stores were supported in McAdams. Unfortunately the town couldn’t stand the test of time. The post office officially closed in 1917, and only a schoolhouse, church, and cemetery remained by 1936. In 1990, official records indicated the cemetery as the only remnant from the former town.

The third child of John McAdams Jr., Hiram Augustus was born September 8, 1845. Hiram, often referred to as Pop, was a hardy cattleman with a deep commitment to his faith. He owned and operated a saw mill within the immediate area that brought great prosperity to the family. In 1876 and 1884 he bought large plots of land with his earnings. In 1886, he sold the saw mill. Hiram also served with the Confederate Army as a Private in Company H of the 20th Texas Infantry. Under the authority of Captain Elmore, he faithfully supported the South’s cause. He was also an active member of the First Baptist Church of Bedias, and unlike most Scot-Irish, he was a proud supporter of prohibition. Beginning in the 1840’s, the prohibition movement started to influence political action in Texas and throughout the United States. The temperance movement, as it was called, began because of the wreckage created by the abuse of alcohol. Many families were destroyed by the effects of liquor. The age of prohibition sought to convince the citizens that freedom from this destruction was only reached through laws that outlawed the sale of liquor. The prohibition movement gained momentum in Texas because of the beliefs of the staunch Fundamentalists. They felt drinking was immoral and that public principles would be improved through the extension of state power.

For Hiram McAdams, prohibition was instilled at an early age. With a little help from Sam Houston, Hiram would become a dedicated Fundamentalist in favor of banning liquor. Although Houston is recognized as a courageous forefather of the Republic of Texas, historians do not deny his affinity for alcohol. His drinking was so heavy that he was allegedly given the nickname "Big Drunk". On one particular occasion, the McAdams family used this to their advantage. Family tradition states that the McAdams men surreptitiously intoxicated Houston to ask him why he divorced his first wife. In response, Houston said, "Can you keep a secret?" "Yes," they breathlessly responded. At which point he replied, "Well so can I." Although the friendship between Houston and the McAdams family never resulted in an answer to the previous question, he often stayed with the family on his many journals across the state of Texas. Unfortunately, the family home was short on beds. Nevertheless, Houston had no convictions about sharing a bed with the young Hiram McAdams. After a wild night of drinking, Houston stumbled into Hiram’s bed. At the age of eight, Hiram saw the individual and social problems associated with drinking. That night, He vowed to fight the abuse of alcohol. Hiram found the same stance on prohibition supported within his church. Together, the men of the First Baptist Church of Bedias loyally followed the Fundamentalist movement.

In 1874, Hiram married Jennie Robbins. Only twelve years after they married, Jennie died. She was buried in the McAdams Cemetery. Like many women in her time, life was difficult. Child bearing and recovery often resulted in a women’s death. Jennie and Hiram had six children together—Clara Augusta, Alice Cornelia, Carl Luther, Hiram Edgar, John Robbins, and James Franklin. On January 22, 1892, Hiram re-married. His bride, Alice Rebecca Williamson, was born in Crenshaw, Alabama, but had found her way to Texas. Alice and Hiram also had six children—Mary, Horace A., Era, Joe Horn, William Vernon, and Ruth. However, on December 18, 1918 Alice was a victim of the great flu epidemic that swept across the globe, killing an estimated 20 million people. In six-months, more people died from the deadly flu virus than the Black Death during the middle ages. Alice was buried in the Bedias County. For the next seventeen years, Hiram worked hard to support his twelve children. Every Saturday, the entire countryside would travel into Bedias to purchase the weekly goods. Hiram greatly enjoyed handing out nickels to the poor children running around the town square. Each week, the children patiently waited for Pop’s arrival. He often referred to the children as his "regular customers". They were very shy, and would never ask Hiram for a handout. Instead, Pop asked, "Would you like a cream?" In unison, the children scurried off to purchase their ice cream. They usually returned to Hiram’s side after purchasing their treat. They rarely had the courage to thank him, but they always smiled as they ate their cream. Finally in 1935, their beloved "Pop" passed away, and his body was placed next to Alice in the Bedias Cemetery. At his funeral the Pastor sited reference to the Bible when he said, "You will be missed because your place is empty." In 1985, a memorial was dedicated to Hiram Augustus in the McAdams Cemetery. It reads:

In the memory of
Hiram Augustus McAdams
1845 - 1935
Buried in Bedias Baptist Cemetery
Married 1874, Jennie Robbins, 1853 - 1886
Children: Clara, Alice, Carl
Edgar, John Robbins, and Frank..
Married 1892, Alice Williamson, 1868 - 1918
Children: Mary, Horace, Era
Joe, Vernon, And Ruth
Given by his daughter, Ruth Cole
and his descendants, July 1985

One of Hirims’ sons, Horace McAdams, often shared personal stories about his Pop with family members. Horace once recited a memory from a horseback journey across family land. To ensure the safety of his Pop, Horace liked to follow him home. After swimming the horses across a river together, Horace believed his father could safely make the rest of the trip alone. However, the stubborn Hiram McAdams would not allow his capable son to re-cross the river without proper supervision. By means of his father’s watchful eye, Horace headed back across the river toward his home. This was one of the many reason that Horace later added the middle initial "A" to his name. His father, Hiram Augustus McAdams had the initials "H.A.M". By adding the letter "A", he too would have the initials "H.A.M". Although it was nothing more than a letter, Horace believed it was an appropriate way to honor his father even in death.

Born on June 8, 1894, Horace A. McAdams loved life on the land. In fact, he constantly sought to purchase new land. He once told his children, "I like to buy land because they sure aren’t making any more of it." Horace was able to make smart business decisions with his land because of the education he received. When he attended Sam Houston State University in 1925, he learned the importance of diversification. During the Great Depression, Horace used his land to support cattle, corn, and cotton. Because each was a different entity, the McAdams family did not suffer like most rural farming families. Right before the onset of the depression, Horace set his sights on a large plot of land near his home. After saving $5000, Horace decided to make the investment. However, during 1931 to 1932, the value of the land dropped significantly, and Horace defaulted on his payments. As a result, he decided to give the land back to the original owner. Although he hated to relinquish the land, he believed that this was one of the best moves he ever made.

Another consequence of the Depression was the drastic drop in commodity prices. Farmers in Walker County continued to produce high quantities of cotton, corn, oil, cattle, and poultry. They believed that as long as they could go about producing these items, they would survive the effects of "Black Tuesday". Additionally, many thought that the business of the Northeast would have little effect on the farmers in the south; they viewed the great distance between New York and Texas as a cushion from the economic hardships felt in 1929. For a few years, they were probably right. In Texas, it wasn’t until the early 1930’s that the financial crisis rippled across the state. For Horace and his neighbors, they worked out a simply system for eliminating their cattle and crop. Each month, a different family would destroy their allotment. That family would then pass out all the "destroyed" goods among the neighbors. In doing so, the people of Walker County complied with the national regulation; however, they never had to fear going hungry.

In September 22, 1920, Horace married Nevada Stuart. Nevada received an education from Baylor Female College, which later became Mary Hardin Baylor. Horace and Nevada had only three children—Marilyn Alice, Ruth Janice, and Dorothy Sue. Horace had an interest in many areas such as politics, business, and education, but his primary focus was farming and ranching. During World War I, Horace was pulled away from his home to serve in the United States Army. Then in World War II, Horace discovered his fathers old saw mill; it had been abandoned years earlier. Even so, the rusted facility was salvageable. Horace gathered all the valuable items left in the mill and donated them to the war effort. Later, he was elected to the county school board as Superintendent, and his wife taught Sunday School at the 1st Baptist Church in Huntsville. Nevada Stuart was remembered by her relatives as a sweet, kind woman who remained strong even through the Depression. In her spare time, she enjoyed to paint. First she painted mostly watercolors, pastels, and oils. Much of her art work now hangs in the homes of the three daughters. After the death of her husband on June 16, 1950, Nevada moved into the city of Huntsville where she lived until her death. Both Horace and Nevada were buried in the McAdams Cemetery.

On September 5, 1935, the first ever McAdams reunion was held. J.W. McAdams put the occasion together because she believed that a family gathering was needed. Under her direction, the reunion was held at the home of John McAdams Jr. to recognize his only living son, Hiram Augustus, who died three month later. The first reunion was such a success that future reunions were scheduled. In 1937, the group voted to buy five acres of land that was directly across from the cemetery. The following year, officers were selected for the newly organized Cemetery and Reunion Association. J.W. McAdams served as the organization’s first president. By the fourth annual reunion, a rock pillar and an arch were erected over the gateway of the cemetery with the inscription "McAdams Cemetery 1849". A matching gate was eventually built over the entrance of the reunion grounds; it reads, "McAdams Reunion." Within the first few years, attendance at the reunion reached almost three hundred. Over the years, the reunions have had to split off into the children of John Jr. Starting in April and running till June, each family has a weekend at the reunion grounds. The Hiram McAdams group always gathers on the last Sunday of April. To conclude the reunion season, "The Big" reunion invites all members of the family that could not attend their individual family reunion. It is at the final meeting that all the business of the Cemetery and Reunion Association takes place. Family members over the age of 18 are eligible to vote in all the matters of business.

A number of improvements have been made to the cemetery and reunion property over the last 60 years including: additional space for the growth of the cemetery, a paved pavilion for reunion meetings, and construction of the McAdams Bicentennial Chapel. The cemetery is known as one of the oldest, well-maintained burial grounds in Walker County. No one is denied acceptance into the cemetery, and the burial lot is free. A marker was placed on the site of the Cemetery by the Texas State Historical Commission in 1984. It reads:

"John McAdams (1815 - 1892), a veteran of the Texas Revolution, came to what is now Walker County with his wife, Hester (White), about 1840. McAdams became a rancher, planter, and land speculator and later owned and operated a family cotton gin and sawmill. The community that grew up around his landholdings was named McAdams.

The cemetery at this site was established in 1849 with the burial of Hester McAdams. The second burial, which took place soon thereafter, was that of John McAdams' sister, Polly McAdams Price. Others interred here include John McAdams, his second wife, Mary Frances (Bankhead) (d. 1905) and many friends, relatives, and neighbors of the family. In addition, McAdams set aside a special section for the burial of his slaves.

Upon McAdams' death in 1892, five acres of his estate were reserved for the cemetery. Additional gifts of land have increased this acreage to nearly thirteen acres. Since 1937, the graves have been maintained by the McAdams Cemetery Association."

This historic cemetery stands as a reminder of the contributions of an early Walker County Family.

The oldest daughter of Horace McAdams, Marilyn Alice, married June Dale Sibley on June 24, 1944. Marilyn and Dale had three sons—David, Stuart, and Mark. Once again, education was a priority for the McAdams family. Marilyn received her Ph. D. in History from Rice University, and she later supported her three sons as they each attended Baylor University and Baylor Dental School in Dallas. Marilyn was a professor of History at Houston Baptist College, and later went on to serve as the head of the History Department. Dale was a pilot in the Navy during World War II. He flew a regular route from Florida to Bermuda to South America. Sometimes he also flew from San Francisco to Hawaii and then on to the South Pacific. He once flew a mission over Saipan just before the battle broke out. Another time he carried the famous "Singing Cowboy," Gene Autry, to visit the troops. After the war, he worked for a small company out of San Antonio, Frito Lay. In the last thirty years of his career, he worked as an agent for Allstate Insurance Company. In 1969, while Marilyn was visiting with one of her sisters, the son of Hiram Edgar McAdams dropped by the house.

Kelly Edgar had recently purchased the old home of John McAdams Jr. He had the home moved a quarter mile to the cemetery grounds, but was looking for a permanent place to lay the house. However, the sisters were unwilling to sell Kelly any of their land. Reluctantly, Kelly offered Marilyn the home. She remembered a conversation she once had with her husband—"Dale, some day I would really love to have that old house." Without much consideration, she told Kelly that she would accept his offer. In 1970, the family had the home placed on a tractor trailer and transported a few miles down the road. The house was built by hand in 1847 by John McAdams Jr. and his slaves. For wood, they harvested their own trees. They were chopped down with an axe and then sent to the plane to create boards. The plane, which hung in the air, swung a blade back and forth creating individual slats. To this day, the strokes of the plane are still visible in the some of the wood. During the 1840’s nails were hard to find. Because there were no steel works in Texas during that time period, each nail was made and imported from Galveston. Unfortunately, there were not enough nails available to finish the construction.

Instead, he was forced to use wooden pegs as a substitution. Many of those pegs still remain in the home. After his death, the house was sold to the Wells family who lived in it until the 1930’s. The house pasted through two more hands before Kelly Edgar re-purchased it for his family. He had it moved to the cemetery grounds, and hoped that family funds would support its restoration. Regrettably, the McAdams Cemetery and Reunion Association declined to help Kelly with the project. Luckily, Marilyn Sibley shared Kelly’s passion for the house. With the help of her family, the house was restored in just two short years. Once the home had been transported, the family realized the extent of their task. Many boards had fallen off the home during the move. Also, much of the wood had rotted away and needed to be replaced. When the house had originally been built, the kitchen was separated. Back then, the kitchens were incredible warm and the stove was very susceptible to fire. Thanks to the modern convenience of central air and heat, a kitchen and living room were added to the house. Plumbing and electricity were also necessary.

On top those improvements, a roof was needed as well. The upstairs had completely fallen apart, and intense reconstruction was necessary to restore the second level. The family paid great attention to the general architecture of the house. For example, great pains were taken to ensure that much of the original wood was incorporated into the rebuilt house. Even windows, doors, and closets were reconstructed in their original location to ensure the authenticity of the project. The fire places, front porch, and window panes had to be replaced. Nevertheless, many fixtures remain the same. The entry way and stairwell were in perfect condition. The bedrooms near the entrance were also relatively unharmed. In each of these rooms, evidence of the original construction is visible. Square nails can still be found in these rooms. The walls and flooring were intact, and the windowsills in each room were unaltered.

A family folklore says that while John Jr. lived in the home, a cattle stampede went right through the house. Back in those days, a front door was not necessary. In fact, most homes had a "dog trot" or a "breeze way", that was nothing more than a large opening. This was especially important for Texans during the hot summer months. The breeze way allowed wind into the house, thereby cooling the family. Conversely, the breeze way left a gaping hole for animal intruders. During a cattle drive, a cowboy ran into the house yelling, "Women and children upstairs!" Everyone hurried just in time to see the stampede below. The hoof prints from this event are still visible in the entry way. Yet more intriguing, is the mystery of the stairwell. There appears to be evidence that suggests the stairwell is not in its original location. Giant patches in the ceiling of the western bedroom led the family to be suspicious. This theory would coincide with the stampede as well. To protect the family from danger, the stairway was placed behind the door of a bedroom. That way, cattle could not harm the family’s only route to escape. However, no living family member has ever been able to testify to the stairwells original location. Therefore, it remains nothing more than speculation. In 1972, a marker was placed in front of the home by the Texas State Historical Commission. The marker reads:

John McAdams Jr. (1815-1892), a veteran of the Texas revolution and the republic of Texas army moved to present walker county from the Sabine district. He and his first wife Hester White (1818-1849) built this home in the 1840’s. He later wed Mary Frances Bankhead (1834-1905).

A land speculator, planter, and ranchers, he also ran a cotton gin and saw mill. The area around his land became known as McAdams community. A post office was located there from 1888 to 1917. The family cemetery is now a public burial ground. In 1968 the house was moved here from the original site.

In 1990, Marilyn and Dale Sibley decided to make "the farm," as it was called, their permanent home. They sold their house in suburban Houston, and headed for the wide open fields of Walker County. In that year, they added a few more sections of the house. A new wing was created off of the living room. The wing contained another living area, a master bedroom, an office, and two bathrooms. They also added a garage and porch. The porch is a glass-enclosed room at the back of the main living room that overlooks the vast McAdams land. Usually the farm is quiet; however, during family holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, the house is filled with the sounds of children’s play and dinner preparation.

In 1992, Marilyn’s youngest sister joined her on the land. Dorothy Sue McAdams Sparks moved her mother’s home, Nevada Stuart McAdams, out of Bedias County and onto the family property. The house, built in 1903 by her granddaddy Stuart, was believed to be one of 75,000 Sears Roebuck homes assembled in America. Dorothy and her family also undertook great reconstruction projects to see that the house was inhabitable once again. Within the next few years, Ruth Janice McAdams Ralston joined her sisters. This time, no family home remained unclaimed. To match her sisters, Ruth had a traditional country house built in 1994. The white house (Sibley), the Sparks house, and the red house (Ralston) form a triangle on Farm Market Road 1696, just one mile west of the Reunion and Cemetery grounds. With Ruth looking out on the homes of her two sisters, a sense of community, once like that of the old McAdams, TX, was established. Over the holidays, grandkids and cousins rushed next door for appetizers with the Sparks’. For the main course, everyone headed across the highway to the Ralston place. And finally, dessert was held at the white house. This was the definition of a true family Christmas.

On March 12, 2002, the McAdams Bicentennial Chapel was completely destroyed by a fire that ripped through the building over night. The fire began in the attic and spread quickly to the rest of the building. The chapel was built and dedicated in 1976 in honor of the McAdams Family and the American Bicentennial. It was most commonly used for weddings, funerals, and family gatherings. Often times, the annual reunion would be held in the chapel because of severe weather. After an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the case was dropped. No one was ever charged for the crime even though evidence pointed to foul play. A number of invaluable antiques and collectibles were lost in the blaze. June Dale Sibley, who was President of the Cemetery and Reunion Association at the time of the fire, believed it was necessary to rebuild the family symbol. As early as November 12, 2002, the family started construction on a new chapel. It was modeled just as the original; however, a metal frame replaced the once-wooden facility. The builder, John Bob Hughes said, "This time around, nothing will burn." Almost one year later, on November 1, 2003, the finished chapel was rededicated to the family.

In recent years, the family has invested much time and effort in researching their ancestry. In 1985, Ina May Ogletree McAdams wrote a short book entitled, The McAdams Family of Walker County, Texas. She contacted distant relatives to gain the information she needed in her research, and accessed a number of old government documents to trace the origin of her descendents. Moreover, other books have been written that include excerpts from some of the early settlers in the Walker County region. However, many of the sources leave much to be desired. Even a website was created by Charles Cole and Don Wafer to link family information over the internet. Although there is great interest in uncovering family information, no published text includes the entire story of the McAdams family.

Despite the passing of time, many elements of the Scot-Irish remain a part of the McAdams clan. Education, faith, hard work, and loyalty are at the core of McAdams’ descendents. A strong sense of patriotism was established right away, and it has been passed on to each generation since. Cicero, a recognized poet in 50 BC, once said, "History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity." His eloquent words written so many years ago still remain true. Similarly, understanding one’s family provides direction, peace about the future, and a true sense of belonging.