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GEORGE HARNWELL ADAMS
GEORGE HARNWELL ADAMS
OVER ninety-three years were dissolved in the mists of time, embracing the major part of the most remarkable century in all the history of the race of mankind, during the span of time which marked the opening and closing of the life of the late honored and venerable subject of this memoir—George Harnwell Adams, the "grand old man of Masonry" as he was familiarly and widely known, and one of the pioneers of the city of Cleveland. Heaven bounteously lengthened out his life, rewarding him with an unusual span of years as a result of consistent and right living in his youth and active manhood, until, in the golden Indian summer of his career, surrounded by comfort and plenty as a result of industry and frugality, Mr. Adams was enabled to take a retrospective glance down the corridors of the relentless and irrevocable past, and feel that his had been an eminently useful, successful, and happy life, a life which had not been devoid of obstacles, and whose rose held many a thorn, but with indomitable courage be pressed onward with his face set in determination toward tile distant goal he so grandly won; a life of sunshine and shadow, of victory and defeat, according to the common lot of humanity since the world began, but nobly lived and worhily rewarded, as such lives always are by the Giver of all good and precious gifts, who gave Mr. Adams the longest span of years of any man in
Cleveland, holding membership in the Masonic Order, and who is reputed to have been the oldest Mason in the United States a great gift indeed, of which he was duly grateful, as was also his family and friends.
Mr. Adams was born at Redgrave, Suffolk County, England, June 24, 1821. He was the oldest of a family of thirteen children, and two brothers survive him, Walter Adams, of Holly, Michigan, and Arthur Adams, of East Cleveland, Ohio. Our subject was the son of George and Elizabeth (Harnwell) Adams. He spent his boyhood days in his native land and there received his early education, emigrating to America when about twenty years of age, with his uncle, Adam Harnwell. He first located in Geneva, New York. His first work was in the picture business. which he followed about five years,then he removed to Cleveland, Ohio, and began his trade of decorator, which he followed for a number of years, then bought a hardware store on Superior Street in the Crocker Block the firm being known as Adams and Hoynes. The business prospered, and five years later was moved to the corner of Vincent and Bond streets, where an ever-increasing trade was carried on for many years. Mr. Adams dealt honestly and courteously with his many customers and thus always enjoyed their confidence and good will, and he carried a large and well-selected stock of general hardware. He built up a very prosperous and lucrative business, which enabled him to retire from active life some twenty years before his death. However, he was not content to be idle, so spent much time among his vegetable beds, fruits, and flowers at his beautiful place, "The Harnwelcome," at Wickliffe, near Cleveland. Everything about his home denoted that a gentleman of taste, culture, and industry had its management in hand, and here the many friends of the family often delighted to gather. He was a lover of the beautiful in nature, took a delight in growing things, and was well informed on general horticultural and floricultural subjects, in fact, he was a great reader, and thus well informed on many subjects and current questions of the times. He was a broad-minded man and held liberal religious views, was a faithful attendant at the Episcopal Church, but was not a member of any sectarian church or follower of any man-made creed in religious affairs. He was an enthusiastic Mason, in which time-honored order he spent some seventy-three rears of his life, and all who knew him well, were of the opinion that he endeavored to carry the sublime precepts of this order into his daily life among his fellow men. His devotion to Masonic activities is best shown by his lodge pedigree. Joining the Blue Lodge in 1442 when about twenty years of age, soon after he came to Cleveland he was made
a life member of Eliadah Lodge of Perfection, fourteenth degree in 1859. In the same year he became a life member of Bahurim Council, Princes of Jerusalem, sixteenth degree, and Ariel Grand Chapter, Rose Croix, eighteenth degree. He became a thirty-second degree Mason, Valley of Cincinnati, in 1867. Mr. Adams served as master of Cleveland City Lodge, No. 15, in 1861, and continuously thereafter to 1873. In 1874, he served as first master of Concordia Lodge, No. 345. During 1869 and 1870, he was high priest of Webb Chapter, No. 14. Later he became eminent commander of Oriental Commandery, No. 12. In 1.885, he acted as one of the directors of the Masonic Temple organization. He was also a charter member of Cleveland Council, No. 36, Royal and Select Masters. As a young man, he was accustomed to attend lodge meetings six nights a week, but when age began its inroads, he was compelled to forego the pleasure of so frequent visits to the gatherings of his beloved fraternal brethren.
Mr. Adams was married on September 20, 1841, to Margaret Whipple, of Geneva, New York. To Mr. and Mrs. Adams the following children were born: Emma L. Adams, who married John J. Wightman, deceased, now lives with her son, Lewis J. Wight-man, In Sioux City, Iowa; Mary E. Adams, second child of our subject. married twice, first to William H. Dunham, and then to John White Fox, both of whom are deceased; two children were born to the first union, Mary Dunham, who married Edmond H. Clear, of Summit, New Jersey, and they have one daughter Frances Clear; George W. Dunham married Mary Clark, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and they reside in Detroit, Michigan, where he holds the very responsible position of vice president and consulting engineer of the Chalmers Motor Company: they have one daughter, Mary-Ellen Dunham; Mrs. John White Fox resides with A her son in Detroit. George Adams, third child of our subject, died when fifteen years of age. Anna M. Adams, our subscriber. and to whom we are indebted for this genealogy, was the fourth chiId in order of birth in this family; she married Charles F. Spencer, of Cleveland, one of the best-known citizens of that city, who is now living a retired life, after a successful business career as an oil man, having been identified with the Union Oil Company; their children are Florence Compton Spencer, who married Captain William Nesbitt, of the regular United States army, now stationed at Fork Crook, Nebraska, and who was with the troops under General Funston at Vera Cruz,
Mexico during the occupancy of that city by our troops in 1914. Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt have three children, namely, Katherine Spencer Nesbitt, John Spencer Nesbitt, and William Franklin Nesbitt, Jr. Lyman Monroe Spencer, who married Audessa Farmer, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lives in Cleveland, where he is identified with the Cleveland Stone Company. He has no children.
George H. Adams traveled a great deal during the latter part of his life, and greatly enjoyed each trip. He had a good memory and a highly-developed perceptive faculty, consequently he could always greatly interest one with narratives of his travels. He took his family to Europe six times during a period of twelve years. His wife passed away in 1897, and he was summoned to his eternal rest in July 12, 1914, quietly and without pain, merely falling into a peaceful sleep. The infirmities attendant upon old age had gradually fastened upon him and his death was not unexpected, although he was greatly missed, having been known in Cleveland by so many of her citizens during a period of over seventy years, or during practically the entire development of the city, for only a handful of people lived there when he first came, compared to the half-million souls who made this their home at the time of his death. His life was rounded in its beautiful simplicity, like a sheaf fully ripened for the harvest.
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