Robert Adams of Merrick County, Nebraska

Robert Adams, son of David and Matilda Adams, was born in Ohio, the fourth in a family of nine children. He received his education mainly in Ohio schools, later moving with his parents to Bureau County, Illinois. Mr. Adams was united in marriage to Amanda J. Sill of Pennsylvania, and later of Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Adams, with three small children, came to Nebraska in a covered wagon, camping out along the way. They homesteaded 160 acres, as well as paying a good-sized sum for land in 14-15-7. A rather wide strip of land on the north side of this section was Pawnee Reservation. Out of fear, the Adams granted the Indians their every wish, be it chickens or what-have-you.

A small log house, one room above and one below, was their home for seven years. Upon returning from Fullerton one day, they saw their home in flames. Curtains used for room dividers upstairs were blown about the stove pipe, causing the loss. A frame house was then built.

Believing in progress, he helped to organize the first church in this locality and also provided three acres on which a schoolhouse was built. (The school building on the Merrick County Fairgrounds came from this place.) When the terrible blizzard hit in April, Mr. Adams went to the schoolhouse and, carrying the smallest child, taking the hand of the next in size, and making a continuous chain of some twenty or more with the teacher last, led all to their home until the blizzard subsided.

The three years following the blizzard, grasshoppers destroyed nearly all of their crops. They would even eat the clothes on the clothesline.

Probably one of their most valuable possessions in that day was a team and wagon. Mr. Adams was crossing the river one day when the wagon began going down. His only thought was to save his team. He took a knife from his pocket to cut the hame string loose to free them, and it is not known for sure if he dropped the knife or the blade came unriveted, but he lost all.

Cornmeal was their main sustenance in one form or another. They would have hot cornmeal mush for breakfast, and slice and fry the cold mush for their other meals. Some, if not all, of the girls never had a doll with the exception of one made from corn husks.

They had nine children: Nora, wife of Marshall Prutsman; Howard G.; Nellie, wife of O.E. Burton; Birdie, deceased in infancy; Eva (Mary Evelyn), wife of F. E. Wymer; Luella, wife of R. W. Wolcott; Alvin; Blanche, wife of G.M. Grimes and after his death Will Moore; and Elmer S.

Mrs. Adams continued on the farm eight years after the death of her husband, moving then to Central City where she built a nice home that is still in existence.

The Nebraska Pioneer Farm Award for continued ownership within the family of the same farm for 100 years or more, recognizing the Robert Adams Homestead, was given to a granddaughter, Onilee Wymer Newlon, the present owner.

(A grandson-in-law of the Adams’, in tracing the family tree, had no doubt that Robert Adams was a descendant of the two presidents, John and John Quincy Adams.)

Submitted by Onilee Wymer Newlon.


Persinger, C. E., A History of Merrick County, Nebraska: From “the Beginning” to 1895, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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