Hon. Jewett William ADAMS. In the far-away days when California and other states of the Western Coast were in the processes of development, many were the opportunities for the acquirement of great wealth by men possessed of sufficient initiative and vision to stake their all upon an investment whose outcome to those less optimistic seemed decidedly problematical. One of those pioneers whose rewards were commensurate with the great risks he ran, and who won public commendation and high office, was the late Hon. Jewett William ADAMS, whose activities covered many fields and bore him to the gubernatorial chair of a great state.
Governor ADAMS was born on a farm in the vicinity of Burlington, Vermont, August 6, 1834, a son of William and Nancy (BOARDMAN) ADAMS, both of whom belonged to old and honored families in the East. After receiving an excellent education in his native state, Jewett William ADAMS came West, and arrived in California in 1852, where he entered the mines, and was fortunate to become a protege of General Fremont, and was engaged in working the Old Fremont grant.
Subsequently he was attracted to Nevada, where he went into the teaming business, and in connection with it laid the foundation of his great fortune. It was while building up this large enterprise that he invented and put to practical use the iron hub, which gave him the nickname he held throughout life, of “Ironhub” Adams. While this is the most important manifestation of his inventive genius, he produced a number of appliances, and took in this kind of work, especially in after life, a relaxation that was much needed. The cattle business next attracted him, and in partnership with Mr. MAGGILL, under the firm name of ADAMS & MAGGILL, built up one of the largest cattle industries in Nevada. This firm also handled sheep, but were best known as cattleman. Governor ADAMS was also the pioneer of the plaster business at San Francisco, and controlled the Empire Hardwall Plaster Company, which was a source of extensive profits. In fact, it would be difficult to mention anything with which he became interested that was not lucrative, for his was the genius which knew how to develop any business to paying proportions. Entering politics at Carson City, Nevada he became one of the dominating factors in the democratic party, and was elected lieutenant governor, under Governor BRADLEY, and really acting governor for practically all of the term, and was elected governor on his record.
On January 16, 1878, Governor ADAMS married Miss Emma E. LEE, a native of Philadelphia and a descendant of the Virginia LEEs. They had one daughter, Frances. She married George CORSE Jr., of San Francisco, and they have two children; Jean and Frances May. After years of great activity in varied lines Governor ADAMS and his contemporaries are no more. They have passed the torch of life to other and younger hands, but the results they accomplished remain. They were the empire builders of the West, who, while strenuously working to honestly and legitimately amass personal fortunes, created something so wonderful and overwhelming that posterity will continue to enshrine their names into the far-distant ages.
Transcribed by Deana Schultz.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 264-267 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Deana Schultz.
California Biography Project
San Francisco County
Golden Nugget Library