While the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, the invariable law of destiny accords to tireless energy, industry and ability, a successful career. The truth of this assertion is abundantly verified in the life of Mr. Adams, who, though he has met many difficulties and obstacles, has overcome these by determined purpose and laudable endeavor, working his way steadily upward to success. He is now accounted one of the leading businessmen of Silver City, and has been prominently identified with the development of many of the leading business interests of Idaho since his arrival in the territory in 1868.
Mr. Adams was born in Clark County, Illinois, on the nth of April 1843, and his ancestors, who were of Scotch and German birth, were early settlers of Kentucky and Ohio. His father, Abner Adams, was born in Ohio, and in 1831 crossed the plains to California, engaging in mining at different camps in that state until i860, when he returned to his old home for his family. He had gone to the Golden state by way of the northern route, but took his family by the southern route, traveling through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Watsonville, Santa Cruz County, California, where he made a location. There his death occurred in 1882, at the age of seventy-one years, but his wife is still living and is now in her seventy-ninth year. Their children are Rebecca, deceased; Dave; Green, who resides in Silver City, Idaho; Amanda, Isabella, George and Albert, all residents of California.
Dave Adams received but limited educational advantages in his youth. He pursued his studies in a little log schoolhouse, but the instruction was of a primitive character, and in the school of experience most of the valuable lessons of his life have been learned. In 1857 he emigrated with his uncle to Pocahontas, Arkansas, and a year later went to Fort Smith, that state, where he was employed for a year or two as “devil” in a printing office. Subsequently he spent a short time in the Indian Territory and then located in Sherman, Texas, where he worked in a printing office until the 4th of March 1861. On the day on which the lamented Lincoln took the oath of office as president of the United States, he started to join his father and family, who were then en route for California. They were frequently attacked by Indians while in Arizona, and Mr. Adams accordingly learned something of the inhuman methods of warfare as practiced by the savages. Late in the fall, however, they reached their destination in safety, and the subject of this review soon secured a position in a printing office. Such establishments have often been termed “poor men’s colleges,” and such they were to Mr. Adams. While working at his trade he gained a broad, miscellaneous knowledge that has made him a well informed man, and he has ever maintained a deep interest in the living questions of the day and kept well informed thereon. In 1864, however, Mr. Adams gave up his position in the printing office in order to enter his country’s service as a member of Company A, Eighth Regiment of California Volunteers. It was expected that the command would be ordered to the front, but instead they were engaged in defending the coast until the close of hostilities. In the fall of 1865, at the Presidio, in San Francisco, Mr. Adams received an honorable discharge. He remained in California until the spring of 1866, and then, with a horse team, took a load of flour to Humboldt County, Nevada, where he engaged in various occupations, among which were operating pack trains and burning charcoal for smelting companies. In the spring of 1868, in company with seven or eight others, he walked from Humboldt County, Nevada, through a portion of Oregon to Silver City, Idaho, a distance of three hundred miles. That summer he was employed on the Ike Jennings ranch in Snake River valley, the place now known as Oreana, and in the autumn joined a government surveying party engaged in drawing township lines and subdividing the land on both sides of Snake River, between Walters’ Ferry and the mouth of the Bruneau River. Soon after his return to Silver City he accepted a position on the Tidal Wave, a newspaper then published by the Butler brothers, but in July 1869, he left that office to go on a prospecting tour in the Salmon River Mountains, in company with Henry Knapp, a printer and assayer. That fall the famous Loon Creek Placer Camp was discovered, and Mr. Adams and Mr. Knapp were the first men on the ground with the exception of the discoverers. They located several claims, and as a flourishing town soon sprang into existence, they admitted M. A. Wentworth to a partnership, built some houses, and on pack animals brought in a stock of general merchandise from Boise Basin and started in business. They also established an express line between Loon Creek and Idaho City, a distance of one hundred and forty miles, carrying mail and express, making the journey in summer on horseback, but in winter going on snow shoes. Flour sold as high as fifty cents per pound. The charge for carrying a letter either way was fifty cents; newspapers from fifty to seventy-five cents; magazines one dollar and small packages in proportion. The camp, however, proved to some extent a failure, the mineral deposit not turning out to be what was expected. The firm of Adams, Knapp and Went-worth had done much of their business on the credit system, and when the miners could not pay they in consequence suffered heavy losses. In the fall of 1870 Mr. Adams went to Boise, where he again worked in a printing office. In 1871 he returned to Silver City and engaged in mining on War Eagle mountain for a few months, when he secured a situation on the Avalanche, then published by W. J. Hill, continuing in that position until July, 1874. His health failing him, he then made a tour of the coast towns of California, and at San Francisco speculated unsuccessfully in mining stock. He returned to Silver City in July 1876, and a few days later went to Boise, where he secured the position of foreman on the Statesman, which was then published by Judge Milton Kelly. In 1877 again returned to Silver City and worked for a year on the Avalanche for Major Hay, but the following winter he engaged in mining on War Eagle mountain and met with losses in the venture. In 1879, however, he conducted a number of successful speculations at Silver City and surrounding places, and in October, 1880, in partnership with Guy Newcomb, purchased the Avalanche plant, conducting the paper until 1882, when he sold his interest to Charles AI. Hays. Mr. Adams then purchased the Silver City Iron Foundry, and in addition to its operation dealt in wood, conducted a number of speculations, and bought and sold real estate. In 1889 in connection with a partner he opened a furniture store, and three years later, closing out their furniture business, they put in a full line of general merchandise. The same year the partner absconded, but Mr. Adams continued the business, and such was the confidence of the people in him that he soon won a very large patronage, and carried on the store with excellent success, eventually having the largest trade in his line in the County. On the 1st of May, 1898, he sold out in order to give more of his time and attention to the conduct of a private banking business which he had previously established and which had grown to considerable proportions. In the year 1897 his operations in that line amounted to nearly two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the bank is considered a great convenience by the miners and business men of this section of the state. He still conducts a profitable banking business, and is regarded as one of the most reliable and trust-worthy men of the County. His success is certainly well merited, as it has been won entirely through his own well directed and honorable efforts.
In his political views Mr. Adams was long a Republican, voting for the men and measures of that party until 1896, when not favoring its stand on the money question he gave his support to W. J. Bryan, the Democratic candidate for president. He was elected to the territorial legislature in 1884, and therein labored with patriotic and untiring zeal for the adoption of many measures which he believed would advance Idaho’s best good. He is still the owner of extensive mining interests, and his business career is one of which he has every reason to be proud. Starting out in life in the humble capacity of errand boy in a printing office, he has been connected with many business interests and has ultimately not only won prosperity, but through all has maintained a reputation for honesty and integrity of character that is unassailable. His connection with the journalistic, mercantile, mining and banking interests of the state has gained him a wide acquaintance and all who know him speak of him in terms of the highest respect.