Thursday, September 23, 2021

W. L. Adams (1841-1926) of Tustin

Recently, Guy Ball sent me a copy of this photo (above) from the Tustin Area Historical Society’s collections, which was identified as “W. L. Adams home, Main and B Streets in Tustin, circa 1890.” He wondered what else I could learn about Adams. Here’s what I was able to glean from vital records, census, newspapers, directories, etc, over the course of a couple hours:

William Lawson Adams, Jr. was born in 1841 in Morrisville, New York. He married Clara Eliza Kellow in Omaha, Nebraska on Sept. 7, 1875.  They still lived in Omaha just prior to coming to California in the 1880s.

William Lawson Adams, Jr.
They lived in Tustin, near 4th and B Street, from at least early 1892 until at least 1904 and grew oranges. Along with D. H. Thomas and Paul Seeger, William was among the three men who drafted the constitution and by-laws of the Tustin Fruit Association in September 1893. It appears he also owned sizable pieces of property in New York and Tennessee. Mrs. Adams was a member of the Tustin Thimble Club.

In February 1907, the Adams sold six acres in Tustin to Mrs. H. F. Story of Highland. It’s unclear whether this transaction marked the family’s departure from Tustin, but by 1910 they were living in Los Angeles. Clara and their daughter, Helen Dunn, both died in 1911. By that point, their old Tustin property was owned by Orange County Supervisor Jasper Leck and his family. 

Clara Eliza (Kellow) Adams

William L. Adams died in Los Angeles at age 84 on February 7, 1926 and was buried at Fairhaven Cemetery in Santa Ana. He was survived by his daughters: Mrs. J.A. Koontz, Jr. (Gertrude Adams) and Mrs. A.J. Bridger (Mildred Adams). 

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