The Unbelievable Life of Daniel Adams
A gunsmith, soldier, photographer, attorney, and a skunk farmer – it sounds like the start of a joke where the next line should be they walked into the bar. Interestingly enough those are all job titles held at various times by Daniel E. Adams.
On the scale of interesting characters of genealogical research my third great grandfather, Daniel E. Adams, is a jackpot. For the last several weeks I have been slowly pecking away at research on him for this blog…but it seemed the more I dug the more I wanted to dig. His life took many turns that make him an intriguing research subject with countless sources.
Daniel E. Adams was born in Canada on 23 February 1832. His parents, Erwin Adams and Charlotte Murray, were of American birth. Shortly after Daniel’s birth, the family moved back south to the United States. Over the next two decades, the family would reside in Illinois and Michigan where most of the family would settle for generations.
Daniel married his first wife, Rachel Hamilton, in Oakland County, Michigan on 23 Sept 1852. There are four known children born to the marriage Flora, Edward Dexter, Arthur Hamilton, and Elmer Eugene. Rachel passed away 5 July 1862 leaving Daniel a widower with four children under the age of 10.
After the death of Rachel, Daniel hired 17-year-old Sarah Ferguson to help care for his children. The two married on 20 September 1863 in Genesee County, Michigan.
American Civil War
On 7 September 1864, Daniel enlisted as a gunsmith in Company G 4th Michigan Infantry reorganized. According to information he provided at the time he was a veteran of the Mexican American War. During his term of enlistment, he would see combat action in skirmishes across northern Alabama.
On 14 May 1865 the train carrying Daniel’s unit derailed while traveling through Tennessee. The train car he was riding in became detached and jumped from the track. Daniel received injuries in the accident. The Army discharged him a month later in Nashville, Tennessee on 7 June 1865.
After the War
Daniel returned home to his family after his discharge from the Army. The 1870 census shows him at home with his young wife, Sarah, and their rapidly growing family. His profession at the time is listed as a photographer and records show he operated the first photograph gallery in Lapeer, Michigan. He would study law while operating the Mammoth Skylight Gallery. By 1872, he was a practicing attorney.
Daniel and Sarah continued to reside in southern Michigan and their family continued to grow. The two would have eight children together.
Eventually Daniel branched out from practicing law and started farming skunks.
Daniel passed away on 5 April 1906 in Genesee County, Michigan. He is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan.
6 thoughts on “Daniel E Adams – Gunsmith, Soldier, Photographer, Attorney, Skunk Farmer”
It seems astonishing that he would have served in the Mexican conflict at the age of 15 or so. What a crazy variety of careers!
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I believe 16 was the age they were allowed to register for the Mexican conflict. He may have had to fib about his age just by a little. It is worth noting that currently I haven’t located a primary source document to verify the claim. Still a very interesting ancestor. I enjoyed researching him a lot.
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I always enjoy posts about Michigan. While reading I look for any connections to my family, who go back 3 generations in the Detroit area. I also had a family that owned a photography studio in Ohio. Love the pictures in all your posts.