Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Newsletter - July 2000

Clayton ColeReunion 2000 - The Tradition Continues
The annual Hiram A. McAdams family reunion was held on Sunday, April 30, 2000 at the McAdamsReunion Grounds in Walker County. The Ruth McAdams Cole family hosted the event.

Family and guests started arriving at 9:00 A.M., and by the time the program began at 11:00, 140 members of the McAdams clan were present. The program consisted of a brief look at the genealogy of the McAdams family, going back to John McAdams, Sr., who was born in Ireland in 1779 and arrived in Texas in the early 1830’s.

After the usual reunion feast and much visiting, the focus moved across the road to the McAdams Cemetery where the Huntsville SAR chapter marked the grave of Kelly Edgar McAdams.

On the day before the reunion, two family members found and photographed the burial site and what is possibly the original home site of John McAdams, Sr. (See the related article in this issue.)

The picture above should be evidence enough that the reunion was a huge success. It just doesn’t get any better than corn, fried chicken, cold milk and a reunion nap!

John McAdams, Sr. Burial Site
By Thomas Hiram McAdams

John McAdams, Sr. and his family moved to Texas in February, 1834, after months of travel by ox wagon from Alabama. They settled on land in Shelby Municipality, Department of Nacogdoches. Shelby Municipality at that time contained all the land which now is Shelby, Harrison, Marion, Upshur, and Panola Counties. John McAdams Sr., and his oldest son, Joseph, were granted one and two-thirds League and Labor of land in Panola County. The family remained there until the fall of 1838, shortly after son John Jr. and Hester White were married, when they were attacked by rustlers and ruffians from the “Neutral Ground”, the lawless area between the new country of Texas and Louisiana. The son, James, was killed in the fight. John Sr. and his neighbor, the Robert White family – Hester’s family, gathered their remaining possessions and traveled by ox wagon to present Walker county. John Sr. settled on the Rube Allphin place on Roark Prairie, with Robert White, Hester’s father, setttling on an adjoining tract of land.

John Sr. lived on this land until February 1850 when he died at the age of 71. He was buried in a little grove of trees in an old field on the Rube Allphin place. Later, daughter Drucilla and her baby, and her husband, Hugh Stephenson, along with Hugh Roberts, a friend of the family, were buried by the side of John Sr. in that grove of trees. Two years after John’s death in Walker county, his wife, Martha, returned to Panola county to visit with her two daughters, Martha McAdams Ragsdale and Jane Evelina McAdams Smith. She became ill with pneumonia and died in 1852. Since transportation then was slow and crude, she was buried in an old cemetery in Jacksonville.

The small cemetery where John Sr. was buried was later neglected as the land passed on to other owners and the older members of the family who had knowledge of the site grew old and died. In the mid-1960’s, Kelly McAdams asked Joe Horn McAdams where his great-great grandfather, John Sr., was buried. Since Hiram McAdams had shown Joe the burial site when Joe was a young man, he was able to take Kelly to the site and point out the burial place. Kelly had a concrete slab and stone tombstone erected on the site in memory of John Sr. and his wife, Martha. Because the site was isolated and located on private property, Kelly later decided to move the tombstone marker to the McAdams cemetery in 1971. It is currently located at the main entrance of the McAdams cemetery. However, John Sr.’s body was not moved.

On Saturday, April 29, 2000, Jo Beth McAdams Stutts, communicated with the current owners of the land on which John Sr. is buried and arranged for a visit to the burial site. Charles Cole and Thomas McAdams traveled to the site on private property on Roberts road, a side road of FM1696. The current owners were very helpful and directed us to the burial site about ¾ mile into a cow pasture. The burial site is currently marked by the concrete slab that Kelly McAdams had poured in the middle 1960’s near three live oak trees. There is no indication of actual grave sites. Time, weather, and cows have removed any traces of the graves located there. It is a beautiful site. It is located in the middle of an open cow pasture under three oak trees.

The current owner mentioned that the 1/4 acre grave site has been reserved to the McAdams family in the many deed transactions that have occurred over the years.

Talking to the current owner, we inquired about any old home sites present in the area. He directed our attention to a lone tree on a hill site about ¼ mile west of the grave marker. We walked to the top of the hill and located several huge stones, the kind that were used as foundation stones for homes in the 19th century. We surmise that this location was the original home site of John Sr. and Martha McAdams in Walker county, and later was given to his daughter, Drucilla, for taking care of them in their declining years.

The old home site is very picturesque. It is located on the highest point in the surrounding countryside. You can see for long distances in each direction. It is a natural place to be selected for a home site because of its height, both for defensive purposes and for providing access to the cooling breezes of hot summer time. A lone, small tree was located at the home site among the foundation stones. Neither the owner or ourselves could identify the small tree. Later, from pictures of the tree, Alvin Stutts identified it as a “soap” tree, one that is rare in this area. We wondered if it was deliberately planted in this location by John Sr. or his daughter and where it originated.

It was a very meaningful visit to Charles and Thomas. Standing there by the burial site and at the old home site, it made us think back 160 years to the time that John Sr. and his family first settled in Walker county. That site was the start of the McAdams family in Walker county.

Burial 1Burial Site

Looking northeast - The burial site consists of about 1/4 acre underneath the three trees.

Burial 2Burial Site

Looking east - Note the concrete slab in the foreground where the marker was placed in the 1960's.

Burial 3Possible Original Home Site

Looking southeast - the burial site is about 1/4 mile in the background. Note the large foundation stone in the foreground.

Bedias Homecoming
By Thomas H. McAdams

On Saturday, June 3, 2000, the Bedias Homecoming 2000 occurred in Bedias, Texas, at the Civic Center. A large crowd of Bedias natives and friends gathered to enjoy the festivities and to reminisce about earlier days. Festivities began at 9:00 a.m. with a parade down the main street of Bedias.

There were several booths that sold art, crafts, antiques, jewelry, refreshments and books. Reprints of My Home Town and the new book, My Home Town, Too, were on sale by the Bedias Civic Club. A program of entertainment was presented under the pavilion. The Bedias Volunteer Fire Department sold Bar-B-Q lunches and the Bedias Women’s Club sold desserts, coffee and tea in the civic center building.

There was a reunion of the Williamson-McAdams families under the large oak tree next to the Post Office. Stuart and Beth Williamson planned and organized this effort. Members of the McAdams family present were: Cuyler Gayle Thompson and wife Donna, Dale and Marilyn McAdams Sibley, Ruth McAdams Ralston and her daughter Becky Ralston Dorn and family, Bob Dorn, Ralston Dorn, Christian Dorn, and son Robert Ralston and wife, Sherrie Ralston, with their son Garrett Ralston, Ray Sparks with daughters Kim Sparks Milner and Cynthia Sparks Zemanek, Anita Glynn McAdams Taylor, W. V. McAdams, Jr., Jo Beth McAdams Stutts, and Thomas McAdams.

The oldest Bedias native present at the reunion was Emory Barrett, the maternal uncle of Marilyn Sibley, Ruth Ralston and Dorothy Sparks. He rode in the parade in a car with Dale and Marilyn Sibley. Robert Ralston and son Garrett and Bob Dorn and sons Ralston and Christian rode on horseback during the parade. Emory Barrett is 98 years old and in wonderful physical and mental health. He drove himself from Brownwood on Friday to Dale and Marilyn Sibley’s home (4 hour drive), attended the reunion on Saturday, and drove himself back to Brownwood Saturday afternoon. What a living testament to good genes and careful living! He wore a hat with the insignia “Genuine Antique Person” to the reunion.

Emory graduated from Bedias High School in 1917, attended Sam Houston State Teachers College and obtained a First Class Teacher’s Certificate. He taught one year at Round Prairie in the early 1920’s in a small school located near Stuart and Beth Williamson’s place. He later held the office of County School Superintendent in Grimes County. He moved to Brownwood in 1940 and has lived there until the present. He married Willora Stuart of Bedias, sister to Nevada Stuart. Emory grew up in Bedias along with the McAdams family members. He knew all the Hiram McAdams children and many of the inhabitants of Bedias in the early part of the 20th century.

McAdams MenMcAdams Men in 1937

Front (from left): Floyd Roberts, Kelly McAdams, Emory Barrett, Edgar McAdams.

Rear (from left): G.B. McAdams (behind Floyd), Horace McAdams, Vernon McAdams, Joe McAdams.

East Texas Cattlemen Share Stories from Earlier Days
Reprinted from Livestock Weekly, page 4, March 18, 1999

(Editors note: This information was provided by Jo Beth McAdams Stutts. This article is about the Doyle McAdams ranch located on highway 75 between Huntsville and Madisonville. Doyle Frederick McAdams, Jr., is a descendant of Hiram McAdams’ older brother, William Francis McAdams.)

Huntsville – Doyle McAdams and Alvin Stutts have ridden many a mile together, roped more than their share of outlaw steers, and have wild tales to share for each and every escapade. The two have been friends since Stutts went to work for McAdams’ grandfather (James Washington McAdams) when he was about 14, and they’ve worked alongside each other on and off ever since.

Alvin Stutts was born right around the bend from the McAdams homestead and has lived in the area his whole life.

The McAdams family migrated to Southeast Texas following the Texas Revolution. They came from just east of Nacogdoches, in the area that many referred to as the “outlaw strip” between the Neches and Sabine rivers. Outlaws killed one or two of the young kids, so the family moved south and settled along Bedias creek (pronounced Bead-eye). The stream derives its name from the Bidai Indians, who inhabited land that is now in northern Grimes and southern Madison counties in the early 19th century.

Later, a McAdams, Texas, was established. The post office, opened in 1888, used to sit right where the McAdams homestead is today (east of the McAdams cemetery on FM1696). History books record that the town was likely named for John McAdams, Jr., who served as a member of the St. Augustine Volunteers under Captain Bradley in the Texas Revolutionary Army. The John McAdams home became the center of the rural community and the village soon supported a church and school. Sam Houston is reported to have been a frequent visitor in the McAdams home.

The Texas Gazetteer estimated the 1896 population of McAdams to be about 15; in 1914, the community has a population of 60, two cotton gins and three general stores. The post office closed in 1917. In 1935, a schoolhouse, a church and a cemetery remained. Today, only a cemetery still exists.

Doyle McAdams’ grandfather, James Washington McAdams, was the eldest boy of several children. His friends called him “Wash,” and he used J.W. for business. His mother died when he was seven and his father remarried. The young McAdams didn’t like his new setup, so he went to live with an uncle (Hiram McAdams).

The 12 Bar brand, which is still in the McAdams family today, originated with his grandfather along about 1877.

“They were working cattle one day. My grandfather was just a young boy. When they got through, his uncle (Hiram McAdams) said, “Wash, what’s your brand”? To which my grandfather replied that he didn’t have a brand because he didn’t have anything to brand. His uncle told him he had a heifer now, and took his “12” brand and used the “1” to put a bar underneath the 12.”

In those early days, East Texas was predominantly farm country and cattle were mostly a sideline. Farmers raised lots of cotton, some corn, peanuts, and a few other crops.

“Each family might have 40 acres, maybe less, depending on the number of boys they had,” McAdams says. “They’d farm a place until they burned it out.”

“My uncle used to say that he got pretty wealthy on a $6 cow and 30-cent cotton,” Stutts adds. “He bought quite a bit of land on a $6 cow.”

McAdams says his grandfather was always a farmer at heart. “He loved hogs and loved to farm and take care of the equipment,” he recalls. “My dad didn’t care for farming, so he tended to the cattle. He kind of kept pushing Papa to quit farming. When a field played out, it went to pasture.” The last field that went to pasture is marked symbolically with an old cultivator and planter.

The Gibbs Brothers, who came into the Huntsville area around 1835, were the biggest ranchers in the area at the time. Back then it was free range. The brothers had a mercantile store, and when farmers couldn’t pay their bill, the Gibbs brothers would take their land. They accumulated more than 200,000 acres in East Texas and had the largest bank in Huntsville. Early on, the Gibbs brothers concentrated on managing their land for timber.

McAdams’ father, Doyle Frederick McAdams, Sr., came back to the ranch in the mid-1930’s after teaching school for a couple of years. Shortly thereafter he began leasing up considerable acreage. He leased land from the Gibbs Brothers at Durden Bend. Durden Bend was located in Polk County, west of Livingston. Much of the 25,000 to 30,000 acres was Trinity River bottomland that was heavily infested with brush. He leased another 10,000 or 12,000 acres near the McAdams homestead from the Gibbs brothers.

During World War II, big steers were a hot commodity and McAdams took advantage of this and built a business from the ground up. He bought yearlings and two-year olds and kept them until they were four years old.

“In the fall we would buy all the three-year olds we could, because we had a bunch of country down on the coast around Hitchcock and Liverpool. It was just one big open country. The average weight of a four year-old steer, McAdams says, was close to 650 pounds. “You kind of just warehoused them. They would weigh 500 to 525 pounds when they came in as two year-olds.”

“They would do real well in the spring, but during the winter they had to make it on their own without any extra supplement. They’d be just as poor as rails when they came out of the winter,” McAdams recalls.

McAdams came home to Huntsville when he got out of the service in 1946, but he didn’t go back to cowboying full-time. Instead he worked in his dad’s dry goods store in town for a while. When he did come home to the ranch, his father was still running the big four year-old steers.

“One year we would work this country and get the steers out of here. The next year we would work down on the Trinity River at Durden Bend,” McAdams explains. “You had to always work the wind in your favor,” McAdams says, “try to be downwind. Those early cattle were like deer. You had to ride slow and easy and be quiet, and most important try to spot them before they spotted you.”

“Once you saw them, you stopped and waited until they kind of accepted you and then you pointed them in the general direction you wanted them to go, allowing them to graze along the way.”

McAdams bought a few steers out of auction barns, but in those days they didn’t have many auction barns. “I remember one in Madisonville that didn’t even have seats. You stood around a big round pen. The buyers would get up on the rail and others would peek through the cracks.”

Mostly McAdams depended on country traders who put together groups of 25 to 30 head at a time. “Those buyers would come through the country horseback, bunching them up by buying one or two here and there and then driving them on down to the next place where they bought more.”

The 66th John McAdams, Jr. Reunion
On Sunday, June 4, 2000, a number of descendants of John McAdams, Jr., gathered at the McAdams reunion grounds to visit, discuss association business, view a program and enjoy a noon meal.

Dale Sibley, Vice-President of the McAdams Cemetery Association board of trustees, presided over the meeting. Two board members were elected by the adults present at the meeting. Eddie McAdams, son of Louis Edward and Evelyn McAdams, was one of the new board members elected. Gus Schultz was elected to another term. Board member terms are 3 years in duration. The seven current members of the board of trustees of the McAdams Cemetery Association are: Dale Sibley, Vice-President and acting President, Carl Luther McAdams, President, John Hughes, Eddie McAdams, Gus Schultz, Jerry Woods, Frankie Davis.

This year the descendants of Mattie Ethel McAdams Roberts, the youngest child of John McAdams, Jr., and Mary Frances Bankhead, presented a program honoring the only two living grandchildren of John McAdams, Jr. They are Sally Roberts Zulch and Edward Lewis Roberts.

Next year the tradition of having descendants of each child of John McAdams, Jr. present a program will continue with the descendants of Margaret Annaliza McAdams responsible for the program.

It is our hope that all of you will be able to attend the meeting next year on the first Sunday in June, 2001, at the McAdams reunion grounds. You may send your contributions to the McAdams Cemetery Association to: McAdams Cemetery Association, 2321 Robinson Way, Huntsville, Tx. 77340-5526.