W.L. ADAMS, A.M., M.D. – The subject of this biography, a pioneer who drove his own ox team across the plains in 1848, is one of the most unique of western characters; and history entitles him to be placed in the catalog of the illustrious men who bore prominent parts in settling Oregon, and in molding public sentiment. To give a full history of his life would require a large book; but our limited space would require a large book; but our limited space forbids anything but a rapid glance at a few waymarks along the road traveled for nearly sixty-nine years by one of the most original and energetic of men. The writer has known him well more than forty years, and has learned from his family and acquaintances enough of incidents and peculiarities to make a very readable biography. He was born in Painesville, Granger county, Ohio, February 5, 1821. His father was born in Vermont, as was his mother; and both emigrated to the “Western Reserve” when it was a wilderness. His father was a strong Whig, as were his relatives, the noted Adams family of Massachusetts, and a devoted friend of General Harrison, with whom he served in all of his Indian campaigns. His mother was an Allen, – a descendant of Ethan Allen, the “Hero of Ticonderoga.” Her mother and William
Slade’s mother were sisters. Slade for many years was a leading free-soil member of the United States Senate, and afterwards Governor of Vermont. The whole family on both sides have ever been the unswerving foes of slavery and despotism. In 1823, his father removed to Huron county, and settled on a farm near the Lake Erie shore. Here W.L. worked on the farm summers and attended school winters till he was fourteen years of age. In school he was always a favorite with his teachers, and at the close of each term received the highest reward as the best scholar and best-behaved boy in school. In 1835, his father removed to Jonesville, Hillsdale county, Michigan, but soon after sent his son back to Milan, Ohio, to attend the Milan Academy. His father often wrote to him and sent him money, none of which ever reached him, the mails having been robbed for the money. The postmaster, Jones, after whom Jonesville was named, was finally detected in robbing the mails, and sent to the penitentiary. Young Adams’ father was engaged in the lumbering business, in general merchandise and in land speculations.
The reverses that swept the country in 1836-37 broke up the banks; and “Wild-cat money,” the only currency of the country, was not worth anything. Millions of acres of land which had been bought by speculators at $1.25 per acre were sold under the hammer for ten cents an acre. Young Adams’ father went down with the general crash, and had only three hundred dollars worth of property left. He then determined to emigrate to Illinois. At the end of a year, young Adams concluded to visit his parents and make arrangements to prosecute his studies. He took deck passage on a steamboat at Huron, and reached Toledo, eighty miles up the lake, just at daylight next morning. Here there was a railroad to Adrian, thirty-three miles on his route. The cars would not be ready to start for two hours; and Adams concluded he could beat the cars to Adrian on foot, and started out on the railroad track. The cars (the first he had ever seen in motion) overtook him three miles out of Adrian at two o’clock P.M. Passing through Adrian, he stopped for the night at a farmhouse, weary and sick. He took of bowl of bread and milk for his supper, and before sunrise next morning was on his journey, reaching Jonesville, eighty miles from Toledo, at two o’clock P.M. He bore letters to his father from friends in Milan saying he was a boy of much promise, and that they were willing to send him to Yale College to complete his education; but his mother insisted that he should go with them to Illinois, and try to find some college there. Hearing there was a new college about to open in Canton, Fulton county Illinois, he concluded to start out immediately so as to be there at commencement. His parents insisted that he had better wait and go with them, as they would move in about six weeks. “No,” he said, “I will go now and start with my class.” He tied his effects in a cotton handkerchief, and taking a five-dollar bill handed him by his father, stowed it away in his pocket alongside of twenty-five cents he already had of his own money, and after many a kiss and “God bless you” from his mother, started on foot and alone to make his journey of three hundred and fifty miles to Canton. He was so small for his age that most people on the road took him for a boy of not more than eight or nine years of age.
The walk so fatigued and fevered him that he ate but little on the entire journey. He always offered to pay; but, whether stopping at taverns or farmhouses, only two people on the way accepted money. When he reached Canton he had $4.75 left. At a camp-meeting he saw a poor orphan boy who admired his cotton handkerchief, and wished for one like it. Adams gave him twenty-five cents and told him he could buy a new one for that. When the Canton College opened, there was but one student, – Adams. The professor, a young graduate of Dartmouth College, soon acknowledged that he was not able to instruct his pupil who really knew more of mathematics that he did. Adams started for Galesburg to enter Knox College. He carried the same cotton handkerchief he brought with him, wrapped around a cotton shirt, pair of socks and a Greek and Latin grammar, with Day’s algebra and one or two other books. He met a hearty welcome by the faculty, and entered the first freshman class with Martin Gay, Ed, Holyoke and Henry Hitchcock. He supported himself by teaching school and working in the harvest field. He finally went to Bethany College, Virginia, was warmly received by Alexander Campbell, President, taken into his house, and trusted for his books and board. Out of seventeen dollars he earned in the harvest field, he reached Bethany College with twenty-five cents in money and a cheap suit of clothes. He took the highest honors as a scholar, and was called the best writer in the college. “The American Literary Institute,” a chartered society connected with the college, knowing his poverty, and anxious to have him become a member, suspended the rules requiring a $2.50 initiation fee, and sent a committee to Adams requesting him to become a member. They were informed that, while he much desired to become a member, it was impossible, owing to reasons he did not care to mention. He was informed that the society, knowing his embarrassment, had suspended the rules, and that no initiation fee would be required. This society had the privilege of electing one of its members to represent the American Literary Institute in an oration on commencement day to the vast crowds who came there from all parts of the union to witness the exercises and hear Alexander Campbell, who, Henry clay said, was the “greatest man on the American continent.” There were several candidates for the honor of representing the society, – all young men of talent, whose parents were wealthy, and who wore the finest broadcloth. Adams who too modest to aspire to that position, not having decent clothes in which to appear in public, and never dreaming that he would be elected if he had. Much to his astonishment, he was chosen on the first ballot by more than a two-thirds vote.
During the college term, he studied on an average seventeen hours a day. After his lessons were all mastered, he made it a rule to snatch up his pen at twelve o’clock at night and write some facetious article for a paper published at Bethany, for which he generally received a dollar. The money he secured in this way served to bridge his way over many a financial chasm. His fame as a satirist rose high when it leaked out that he was the author of the articles which depicted well-known characters. When any important committee was to be appointed by the president to draft constitutions or by-laws for new societies. Campbell always but Adams at the head. He has often told us that he was petted and praised more than he deserved. His incessant hard study broke down his health and impaired his eyesight, so as to compel him to leave college a month before he was to graduate. He studied three weeks with a bandage over one eye, when the faculty advised him to quit to avoid total blindness. On leaving Bethany, Campbell appointed him his book agent for Illinois and Indiana. On reaching Illinois, he was taken down with the measles, took cold and was sick all summer. He managed, however, to sell enough books to realize seventeen dollars, his per cent. In the fall (1844) he married Frances Olivia Goodell, to whom he had been engaged for two years. She had laid up fifteen dollars, – savings from her pay as school-teacher. This enabled the two to start with a joint-stock capital of thirty-two dollars. Adams stood up to be married in a suit of Kentucky jeans worn thread-bare. His friends ridiculed him for not waiting till he procured fine clothes; he said, “I will marry now, and buy my wedding suit when I am able to get it without going in debt. ” With his thirty-two dollars, he went to St. Louis, three hundred miles down the Mississippi river, taking deck passage and helping to wood at every wood yard where the steamer stopped. Here he bought his outfit for housekeeping, – a bolt of domestic, three tablespoons, six teaspoons, set knives and forks, a coffee-mill, a few dishes and tinware, groceries, etc., to make up the amount he had in his purse.
The fall of 1845 he took a school in Henderson county, where he taught fifteen months by the scholar, making thirty dollars a month when the common price of teaching in the country was ten dollars a month. The school-house was a log cabin with a huge fireplace; and the benches were slabs set up on logs. The neighbors rolled up a log cabin for Adams to live in, and let him have it free of rent. His fame as a scholar soon spread through the country; and all sorts of puzzles and difficult problems were sent him to solve by teachers and scholars far and near, all of which he readily mastered, and returned the statements and answers. He bought two cows, and in the fall bought all the calves he could get, which he wintered on corn he raised himself and hay he cut on the prairie during the July vacation, and hauled and stacked with the help of some of his scholars. In the spring he sold his stock, doubling his money on them. In the winter of 1846-47, he was offered five years employment at a good salary to take charge of the university in the city of Jacksonville, Illinois; but, having made up his mind to emigrate to Oregon, he declined the offer. He bought his steers and broke them himself, making his own ox-yokes. In March, 1847, he was ready to cross the plains, having paid up all his college debts, and possessing eight yoke of cattle, two wagons, three guns, and all necessary outfit. His father died a few days before he was ready to start; and he concluded to wait another year, in hopes of inducing his father’s family to come with him. In March, 1848, he sold one of his teams to William Bristow, who was also coming to Oregon. Adams started in March, his friends declining to brave the dangers of the journey for a country about which they knew so little. On his wagon cover was painted a large “American eagle, and under it in large letters, “HIC TRANSIT!” “Westward the Star of Empire takes its way.” His friends thought he was a reckless visionary; and Alexander Campbell wrote to discourage him. He said, “Is there not land enough, and are there not people enough in Illinois for your talent and enterprise without burying yourself and family in a wilderness among savages?” The reply that Adams made was: “Illinois is not big enough or good enough for me. My soul hungers for something Illinois cannot give. In Oregon I expect to find what I desire.” And so he did. The last Sunday he visited the Christian church, to which he belonged, the congregation tried to sing the parting song:
“My christian friends in bonds of love.
Whose hearts the sweetest union prove;
But pilgrims in a foreign land,
We oft must take the parting hand.”
The whole audience gathered around him shook his hand and embraced him and sobbed aloud.
He left Galesburg in March with four yoke of oxen and two yoke of cows hitched to his wagon, and camped every night on the road till he reached St. Joseph, Missouri. He had two children, Inez Eugenia and Helen Elizabeth, the former two years and the latter four months of age. He camped near St. Joseph two weeks to dry his books and clothing, which had become water-soaked in fording rivers in Missouri, where the water ran over the top of the wagon-bed. May 2d he crossed the Missouri river, and, with a company of forty other wagons, started on the trail for Oregon. They forded all the rivers (except Green river, where there was a ferry), many of which were deep and dangerous. Their way led through bands of hostile Indians; and the company guarded their train day and night. Their route led over mountains so rocky and precipitous that, in places, the wagons had to be let down with ropes. Adams was considered the most daring and dauntless spirit in the crowd. He never seemed so cool and happy as when facing danger. Some in the company called him “a regular dare-devil.” In crossing Snake river, he came near losing his team and family. Des Chutes was the most dangerous stream, they forded on the route. It was forded a few hundred yards above its junction with the Columbia. The bottom was full of huge boulders. The water was deep enough to swim the small cattle in the team. The Indians rode in and showed the immigrants how deep it was. The company was afraid to venture. Adams hired the Indians to pilot them over, giving them a shirt for each team in the company. The wagon-beds were propped up nearly to the tops of the standard. Adams volunteered to take the lead. The waters roared over the rocks so as to drown an ordinary voice. In crossing, the water ran near to the tops of the wagon-beds; and the frightened women covered their heads with bed-clothing and screamed. Here the company met a man from the Willamette valley, who gave them the news of the discovery of the gold mines in California.
Before reaching Barlow’s gate, – a toll gate at the entrance of the road cut over the Cascade Mountains by S.K. Barlow, – the company had split up into many squads. Their teams were weak and jaded, and reduced almost to skeletons. The faces of the immigrants were peeled and sealed by the alkali of the sage plains. Here lay before them the hardest part of the trip. The rain had rendered the road almost impassable. The whole route was lined with dead horses and cattle lost by immigrants who had gone before. Adams concluded to make the trip across the mountains by himself. He was ten days in making it to Foster’s,- the first house he had seen in six months. The mud up many mountains was knee deep; and the cattle were barely able to get on with the empty wagon. He and his wife carried the babes and the entire load up several mountains, wading through mud nearly knee deep, reaching Foster’s they camped to rest. Foster, on learning that he had no money, generously gave him a peck of potatoes, and offered him every accommodation for the winter if he would stop there and teach school. Adams did not like the country, and concluded to push farther on. In Oregon City he was met by friends, who invited his family to dinner and at night put his cattle in a yard and ordered a load of oats and fed them gratuitously. Being out of money, he borrowed two dollars to pay his ferriage over the Willamette river. He swam all the cattle except those which were too weak to swim. When he settled his ferriage, he had ten cents left, and lost that through a hole in his pocket during the winter. On reaching Yamhill he traded his wagon for ten wild Spanish cows which ran with a band of four hundred on Burton Prairie. This band of cows with this increase kept him in beef for several years.
In the winter of 1848-49, the women in the neighborhood and the few men left who had not gone to the gold mines were anxious to have Adams teach school. He first built an addition to James Fulton’s log cabin, with the roof sloping one way and a mud chimney in the corner. The hut smoked terribly, but its occupants were happy. They boiled peas for breakfast, dinner and supper, and browned them for coffee, which they drank without sugar or milk. They ate in tin dishes, as the entire stock of crockery for sale in Oregon was one set of cups and saucers at Oregon City, – price $2.50. He and the neighbors soon rolled up a log hut for a schoolhouse, with a fireplace that took in a common fence rail. The winter of 1848-49 was an uncommonly cold one for Oregon. The thermometer went at one time to six degrees below zero. Snow lay on the ground over a week at a time three different times during the winter. His boy scholars generally dressed in buckskin, and wore moccasins. His girl pupils dressed in shirting colored with tea-grounds; and most of them went to school barefoot. Of his boy scholars, one afterwards became the editor of a medical journal, one became the superintendent of public instruction for Oregon, one went to Congress, and was appointed by Lincoln as chief justice of Idaho, while another was elected governor of Oregon, and was subsequently appointed governor of Utah. He ranked among the best stump speakers of the nation.
In 1852, Adams gained his first great notoriety. He was a strong Whig, while the territory was overwhelmingly Democratic. After the legislature passed the Location act removing the seat of government from Oregon City to Salem, a majority of the supreme court, Nelson and Strong, Whigs, refused to recognize the validity of the law, and held court in Oregon City, declaring the Location act null and void. A minority of the legislature convened at Oregon City; wile a majority followed Judge Pratt to Salem. Pratt’s partly had two party organs, – the Oregon Statesman and the Vox Populi. Through these papers they rained the most unstinted abuse upon Governor Gaines and all the other Whig, officials who had been commissioned by President Fillmore. The Whigs were terribly excited; and, not being satisfied with Dryer’s defence of them in the Oregonian, felt as though they wanted revenge. A series of articles written for the Oregonian, signed “Junius,” defending the officials and excoriating the Democrats, came from Adams’ log cabin in Yamhill, and attracted much attention on account of their ability and pungent sarcasm. These articles were followed by the Melodrama entitled, “treason, stratagem and Spoils, in five acts, by Breakspear.” It was written in rhyme and blank verse, and contained cuts of the leading Democrats who followed Pratt’s leadership. This work caused great excitement throughout the territory. Crowds flocked to every postoffice to get a copy and read it, till half the people of Oregon had committed most of it to memory. When Governor Gaines and the Whig officials learned that Adams was the author of “Junius” and “Breakspear” they conditionally bought the Spectator press and offered it to him as a present if he would start a Whig paper, offering to give him all the patronage at their disposal. The offer was declined for fear of injuring the Whig paper at Portland.
While on his farm in Yamhill, Adams was noted for his reckless daring. Out of hundreds, two incidents must suffice. He with several neighbors, on going to la Fayette six miles distant, found the next morning the whole country flooded with water, the snow twenty inches deep having all melted the night before with heavy, constant, warm rain. On rising in the morning, Yamhill river was a sea of water half a mile wide. Adams started out, his friends asking him where he was going. He replied, “going home.” They said: “You must be crazy. we would like to know how you are going to get over the river.” The reply was: “Bonaparte crossed the Alps; and I don’t propose to stop for that little puddle of water.” Half a mile up the bank he came to Chick Smith’s house, where he saw a trough about five feet long which Smith used for scalding pigs. It was square at both ends, and had a crack the whole length of the bottom through which a man could run his fingers. He asked Smith if he would yoke up his steers and haul it down to the river. Smith said, ” What are you going to do with it?” Adams replied, “Going to cross the river.” Smith said, “Why, you must be crazy.” He was answered, “I propose to take the chances myself. I don’t propose to sell you a ticket as a steerage or cabin passenger.” Rags were procured from Mrs. Smith to cork up the trough; and, after making a paddle of a “shake,” the trough was hauled down and launched and then tied to a bush. Adams pulled off his coat, boots and hat, and put them in the trough ready for a swim if necessary. The water was as cold as ice, and ran like a mill-tail. He got into the trough resting on his feet and knees. The bank of the stream was lined with thick brush a rod or more out into the water, which made it doubtful if one could gain the bank through the brush if the trough foundered. Smith stood on the bank white with fear; and, as Adams knelt in the hog trough, he shouted, “Can you swim?” The answer was, “yes.” Smith replied, “Go it then;” and, not having nerve enough to see a man drown, he started back as fast as he could go. When the trough was untied it darted down stream with great rapidity. It was barely able to hold the passenger and float, the water coming to within half an inch of the top. A rod or two below, the trough struck an alder broadside half filled with water, and clearing itself shot ahead into the middle of the stream. Adams thought that then was the time for swimming; but seeing the trough still floating, he said to himself, “While you can float I will ride.” A hundred yards below there was an opening through the brush out to the bottom lands, over which the water was seven feet deep. To pass through this opening was the only chance for his life. Being well up to handling a canoe, which he had learned while hunting with the Indians in Michigan, he thought he could handle the trough. But the hog trough, square at both ends, would not steer. It was rapidly passing the opening through the brush. By shifting his paddle through the gap, and, staking the trough at the foothills, went home, much to the astonishment of the neighbors.
In 1849, the nearest mill and postoffice were at Oregon City, thirty-five miles distant. The roads to Oregon City were almost impassable. The only feasible route was by the Yamhill and Willamette rivers in a canoe. Being out of flour, Adams yoked up his cattle, with which he had been hauling his family three miles to meeting every Sunday on a sled in the summer and winter, and hauled his wheat to Dayton, ten miles distant. here he hired a canoe and started down the river for Oregon City. He slept at night on the bank of the river, the rain falling in torrents. He ran the rapids at Rock Island, a passage now considered dangerous fro a large bateau. At Oregon City he let his canoe down past the falls into the mill by means of a rope, getting his wheat ground and exchanging two bushels with Doctor McLaughlin for a little sugar, which his family had not tasted for months. He returned home, walking from Dayton and bringing back a yoke of oxen to haul home his precious loud. In the spring of 1849, he concluded to go to the gold mines of California. He had already bought the land claim of Miles Carey for eight hundred dollars, paying down a colt for three hundred dollars and a smoothbore rifle at fifty dollars, and giving his note for the balance. At Oregon City, finding no way to reach Astoria, from which the ship Jeanette was advertised to sail soon with lumber, he and two others built a small skiff and started down the river for Astoria. At Cathlamet Bay, ten miles above Astoria, they all came near being drowned, as the water was too rough for their frail bark. Visiting the mines, he returned in August with enough gold dust to pay off all his indebtedness. In 1852, he went overland to Yreka, California, to dig more gold, passing through the Rogue river valley, which was infested with hostile savages. He, with eight others, fought their way through and back, returning with a large quantity of gold dust.
His son, Judge W.H. Adams, city attorney for Portland, was born one week before his father started for Yreka. In 1850, the Whigs nominated Adams for probate judge in Yamhill. The Democrats had a majority of two hundred and fifty in the county; that, after a thorough canvass, Adams beat his competitor, a lawyer of ability, eighty-two votes. In 1856, the Republicans of Clackamas county nominated him, much against his will, for state senator. The Democrats had a majority of four hundred in the county, and ran against him a man of talent, an old settler, and well and favorably known; yet, after a thorough canvass of the county, Adams beat him thirteen votes, though he was considered the roughest stump speaker they had ever heard.
In 1855, a dark pro-slavery cloud hung over Oregon. The South, ambitious to secure more slave states to keep a balance of power in the Senate, had employed a leading Democrat as their tool to make Oregon a slave state. Adams, who was a strong free-soiler, having learned that this gentleman had turned many other of the leading Democrats to vote and work for slavery, and fearing that such a party would generally follow their lead, concluded to enter the field against them, as the few free-soilers in the territory seemed to be silent, while the emissaries of the “Slaveocracy” were very busy. He unyoked his cattle, left his plow standing in the furrow and went to Oregon City where he bought the Spectator press of D.J. Schnebly for twelve hundred dollars, and started the Oregon Argus. For about nine years he edited this paper, which took the lead as a Republican journal. As a writer, his equal was not to be found on the coast for ability, pungency and audacity. He stumped the state, writing his editorials on his knee, armed with two revolvers and a bowie knife, as the “Slaveocrats” were everywhere threatening his life. He said: “I never knew what it was to fear a face of clay. All I ask of them is to meet me like a man, and not shoot me in the back.” In drafting addresses to the people, and in suggesting measures of public policy, Adams was always looked up to as the leader. He called the first republican convention ever held in Oregon, when other prominent Whigs were afraid. Republicanism was “too impracticable to win.” Hence, he is known to-day as “The Father of the Republican Party in Oregon.” Through the Argus, with D.W. Craig as his foreman and right-hand man, he overthrew all opposition, dismantled their guns, licked the Republican party into shape, and laid the foundation for free Oregon, one of the brightest stars in the galaxy of sovereign states. For this he deserves immortal honors; and we are proud to be able to hand his name down to posterity through this biography.
As a conversationalist, he is enchanting. His eccentricities and blunt way of speaking interests everybody and excites their risibles. We have heard many men and women say,” I would rather hear Adams talk than visit a theater.” He seems to love to bore scrubs for the “hollow horn,” and has the most sovereign contempt for wealthy, pretentious, theological fraud and quackery in medicine, which fattens upon ignorance. He never betrayed a friend, or failed to forgive an enemy who confessed his wrong and promised to do better. His house has been a free resort for the poor, sick, lazy and infirm for the last forty years. His credit is good for all he asks; and his word, as Judge Pratt said, ‘is as good as any other man’s oath.” Yet he is too apt to think everyone is honest and truthful because he is. Tis blind faith has cost him thousands of dollars. His memory is astounding. He seems to remember everything that has occurred in Oregon for over forty years. He knows every man, woman and child he met forty years ago, and can relate many interesting incidents connected with their history. He can repeat word for word whole sentences from noted speeches and sermons he heard over fifty years ago. He can tell of nearly every incident that transpired in Painesville (then a place of five or six houses) before he was two years old. A great lover of truth, he scorns a liar and a dishonest man. If there is one thing he abhors above all others, it is the wretch who will betray a friend. he never betrayed confidence reposed in him by a professed friend, though that person afterwards turned out his enemy. He is a good friend, and not a bad enemy. As bitter as gall in denunciation, his breast is always full of the milk of human kindness. Those who knew him best love him most. All good people love, respect and honor him; it is only the lowclass who ever speak against him.
Lincoln, who read the Argus, was his admirer as a writer. Some of the editors of leading Eastern journals wrote him testifying their admiration of his ability as a writer. In six weeks after Lincoln was inaugurated, he appointed Adams as collector of customs for the district of Oregon. This was the first appointment made by Lincoln in Oregon. Lincoln proposed to prepare for conquering the Rebellion by removing their treasonable sympathizers and putting in men who would never haul down the stars and stripes at the behest of Jeff Davis. Adams soon satisfied himself that the officers of the California Steamship Company were engaged in smuggling merchandise from Victoria, and making vast sums of money. He appointed detectives to watch them, and soon seized several of their steamships, putting the captains and crews ashore. He shortly had as forfeitures in the Bank of California $345,000. This excited the animosity of the steamship company, while the Oregon legislature passed a set of resolutions complimenting him for his efficiency as an officer. Secretary McCulloch told a member of Congress that “Adams was the best Treasury officer on the Pacific coast.” In 1866, he was ordered by the Treasury Department to carry in person the money on hand, amounting to some sixty or eighty thousand dollars. He took passage on one of the company’s steamers, and on the way down his trunk was broken open and $20,500 of the money was stolen while he was at breakfast. He spent three thousand dollars in catching the thieves, and recovered eleven thousand dollars of the money. Twenty years afterwards the administration under Cleveland sued him for the money stolen, with interest amounting to over thirty thousand dollars. Adams beat the government in every suit, and is now free from the indebtedness. He has two commissions from Lincoln and two from Johnson.
In 1867, he resigned his office owing to failing health, and moved back to his farm in Yamhill. In May, 1868, he went to Washington City to settle his accounts as collector and attend to business for the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. While in Washington he became acquainted with President Johnson, Charles and Jessie Fremont, and all the prominent members of Congress and of the Senate. He was treated with the highest consideration; and many senators expressed their regret that he had not come from Oregon as a senator-elect in place of one of the two who were then serving. President Johnson, on learning that he was on the way to South America for his health, said: “You ought to have an office down there. You go to Seward; and, if there is any vacancy as Minister resident in any South American Republic, I will be glad to appoint you to the position. He was answered: “You have no office at your disposal that I would take. I would not accept the office you hold yourself. I have had enough of office, enough of glory and enough of fame.” Johnson said, “I am glad to see one man in Washington who is not an office-seeker.” Adams concluded to go to New Orleans and take the steamer for Havana, where he could catch the steamer from New York to Aspinwall. Finding that
owing to the Cuban rebellion, he would not be permitted to land in Cuba, he concluded to pass through the Gulf of Mexico and coast along Central America. He was three months in making the trip from New Orleans to Aspinwall, meeting with many adventures and facing many dangers too numerous to mention in this chapter. Visiting Peru, Bolivia and Chili, where he remained for several months, he returned to Boston, where he began a series of lectures which he delivered throughout New England on “Oregon and the Pacific Coast.” In Boston as elsewhere he was highly indorsed as a lecturer by the public press. In the winter of 1869, he returned to Oregon after nearly two years of travel, and had two dollars and a half left out of four thousand, six hundred dollars he started with.
In 1873, he went to Philadelphia to add to his previous knowledge of the healing art. Here he acquired a knowledge of the most recent discoveries of all the schools of medicine. He received the degree of A.M. from Christian College, Oregon, that of M.D. from the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania, as also the degree of L.L.,D. from the American University of Pennsylvania. In addition to these honors, he was awarded a handsome gold medal for “eminent attainments in medical science.” He practiced medicine in Philadelphia and Boston with marked success, having generally the most prominent people as his patients. In 1874, he opened a medical office in Portland, which was soon thronged with patients from San Francisco, Oregon and Washington Territory. In 1877, Doctor Adams removed to Hood river, where he had bought a beautiful place on the banks of the Columbia river as a home in which to rest from his many years of toil. Here he now resides, and is “as happy as a clam thirty feet under water.”
October 29, 1881, he married M. Sue Mosier at Walla Walla, Washington Territory. By her he has a son now five years old. He has seven grown children by his first wife, – all living, – all educated, honorable, and an ornament to society.
In 1888 he published the most remarkable book of the age, – “A History of Medicine and Surgery” from Moses down to the present time. It exposes all frauds, medical, theological and political, by which kingcraft and priestcraft have fattened on ignorance in the world’s history. To read it is to produce an admiration for its author. If any man deserves mention in this history it is Doctor W.L. Adams. he is without doubt one of the most able, eccentric and honorable of all the pioneers whose names are by their deeds rendered immortal. A prominent man in the Treasury Department said to the Governor of Idaho, “I have seen all the Presidents, Ministers resident, Senators and great men in Washington City for ten years; and people generally agreed with me that Adams was fully equal in ability to any man who had every visited the Capitol.”