WILLARD W. ADAMS. Among the prominent representatives of old pioneer families of Southern Illinois today one of the best known and most influential is Mr. Willard W. Adams, whose ancestors were old South Carolinians who early migrated to this section of the country. Mr. Adams' grandfather, Gus Adams, came from South Carolina in an early day, located in Franklin county, where he purchased land, and remained here until his death. His son, Joseph Adams, was born in South Carolina in 1839 and came with the family to Illinois, where he married Eliza Murphy, a native daughter of Franklin county, and in this location they spent their long and useful lives. Mr. Adams operated a mill in Franklin county and was one of the most widely acquainted and highly esteemed men of the community. He was unfortunate in a business way in having his milling plant burn down twice, the fires being of supposed incendiary origin, but in spite of this he was most successful in the conduct of his affairs and was able to accumulate a considerable competence during his life. The ill will which engendered these destructive acts against him were doubtless inspired by Mr. Adams fearless expression of sympathy for the Union cause during the War of the Rebellion. In that great conflict he did his duty at the front in a four years campaign, he having been a captain in Company F, Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry. His demise, regretted by all, occurred in 1872. His wife survived him many years, her death having taken place on April 10, 1908. She was a consistent member of the Baptist church and a woman of many fine qualities, who was loved and revered by all who knew her. The Murphy family was a prominent one, and her father was one of the first settlers of Franklin county.
Of such sturdy and courageous ancestry was born Willard W. Adams on December 25, 1869, the place of his nativity being Mulkeytown, Franklin county. Until he was fourteen years of age he attended the common schools of that community and at that early age took up the burden of self support. His first work was at shoe shining or boot blacking, was then a delivery boy in a grocery store at Benton, but he soon rose to a clerkship and was so engaged for several years, for a time in the Hubbard Grocery Store and later in the general store of J. G. Mitchell and Company.
Mr. Adams' ambitions looked beyond that of merely working for someone else for a salary and in 1893 he went into business for himself, beginning with a small stock of second-hand clothing and furnishing goods and adding to his capacity as his trade grew until now he carries an exceedingly large assortment of clothing and does an immense business in that line of trade. He has at all times managed his financial affairs with great sagacity, invested his surplus resources with clear sighted judgment and has succeeded in amassing a considerable fortune, his property holdings being at the present time very extensive and including 1,400 acres of coal land and numerous valuable town properties. In a mercantile way he holds the distinction of having
conducted business under the same firm name longer than any other company in town.
In 1895 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Adams and Miss Kate Chenault, daughter of John T. Chenault, the well known president of the First National Bank of Benton. Mr. and Mrs. Adams are the proud parents of two children, Charles C. and Jane. They are members of the First Baptist church and take an active part in the activities of that organization.
Mr. Adams holds membership in the Masonic fraternity, a Knight Templar, a Shriner, and a Thirty-second Mason, belongs to the Consistory and is a past master of Benton Lodge, No. 64. Politically he is in sympathy with the Republican party principles, taking a leading part in its affairs, and he once served in the capacity of treasurer of the Republican county central committee and was elected mayor of Benton in 1902. He is a man of comprehensive talents, progressive impulses and large inherent powers for executive affairs and is one whose influence is constantly being felt in matters pertaining to the social, civic and commercial welfare of the community which claims him as one of its most valued citizens.
Since the compilation of the above Mr. Adams moved his family to Boulder, Colorado, in September, 1911, and expects to make Colorado his future home.