William H. Adams
William H. Adams, one of the foremost members of the bar of Greene county and a lecturer of more than state wide reputation, belongs to that class of citizens who are laboring for the good of the community at large. While not without that laudable ambition which is an incentive for the best efforts in business life, he has, too, a realization of the obligations of man in his relations to his fellowmen, to his county, his state and his nation, and is neglectful of no duty along these lines. A native of Scotland, he was born in Flemington and was brought to America by his parents when but six years of age, the family home being established in Fairbury, Illinois, whence they afterward removed to Streator. Mr. Adams was a pupil in the public schools of both places prior to the age of twelve years, when he started out to make his own way in the world, working in the coal mines for the Chicago Wilmington Coal Company. During the years that he was engaged in that labor he was devoting all of his spare time to the improvement of his mind and attended the night school when it was in session. Throughout his entire life he has been a student of men and events and his reading has been of a wide and varied character, from which he has drawn his own conclusions, his opinions partaking of much that is original and individual.
After a few years devoted to coal mining in lllinois, Mr. Adams went to Nebraska, settling on a farm in the southeastern part of the state. The family became recognized as one of the most prosperous in the farming community of that section. W. H. Adams gave his time and energies to the development of the fields, but, still ambitious for further intellectual progress, he took up the study of law and entered Drake University at Des Moines, from which he was graduated in May, 1898, being admitted to the bar the same year. He paid his own way through college with funds gained from personal labor and the elemental strength of his character which he thus displayed has been manifest throughout his entire life. For ten years he has been a resident of Iowa, removing from Des Moines to Grand Junction about 1901. Here he opened an office for the practice of law and has since secured a liberal clientage that has connected him with much important litigation. He is very careful, painstaking and thorough in the preparation of his cases and his devotion to his clients’ interests is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. He is logical in argument and in his deductions, and he is always listened to with attention by court and counsel.
Mr. Adams, moreover, is well known because of his advocacy of many progressive measures in behalf of public progress and improvement. He is a student of government and of politics and has wielded a wide influence in political circles, although he is not a politician in the usually accepted sense of oflice seeking. In 1906, however, he was urged by his friends and admirers to become a candidate for the nomination for representative, in which connection the Rippey Register said, “Mr. Adams has always been loyal to the republican party, doing all within his power to further its interests and progress. In becoming a candidate he does not do so, however, on the claims of party service; neither is it because of the honor the position might afford nor for the pecuniary interests it may bring, but, because he believes it is his duty to allow himself to be placed where he can best serve his friends, the people of Greene county.” Mr. Adams has taken an active part in politics in the state in campaign speaking for a number of years, his first work along this line being under the direction of the state central committee during A. B. Cummins’ first campaign for governor. He always presents his cause with clearness and force and is listened to attentively.
Aside from his political work Mr. Adams is recognized as a lecturer of note, widely known in Iowa and beyond the borders of the state. He has addressed many audiences upon popular questions and aside from special addresses for special occasions he has spoken upon three subjects which have proven popular: “Capital and Labor,” “Trial of Christ from a Legal Standpoint,” and “How Can I Do Most for My Country, Not How Can I Get Most Out Of It.” He possesses superior oratorical power, with fine delivery and clear thought. He is a master of rhetoric and yet his fluency of speech is never used to enshroud his subject, but rather brings it strongly in the clear light of understanding. That he is actuated by the highest principles of patriotism is indicated by the following, culled from a speech delivered at the Chautauqua of Jefferson, where he said: “I would exalt the ideals of our people. I would level them up rather than level them down. I would have no submerged tenth, nowhere any line of demarkation, to distinguish class from class, except the line as it differentiates the worthy from the worthless, and even the latter class I would elevate by patient and untiring efforts of all the humanizing and civilizing influences at the command of the best citizens of the republic. We must respect and obey the laws and those who administer them - be, in plain words, law abiding citizens. We, the people, are sovereigns at last. No wrongdoing in high places, nay, more, no suspicious person can be tolerated, and our public servants must be made to know and feel that the eyes of an intelligent and vigilant people are eternally upon them. Public office should not be considered a private snap and a short cut to the public treasury, but a public trust to be honestly, fearlessly and faithfully administered in the fear of God and in obedience to the constitution and the laws. Patriotism should come before profit and goodness before gain. Duty should be held more sacred than glory, and the service of others overshadow the service of self.”
In 1893 W. H. Adams was married to Miss Effie Hanchett, who was born in Jefferson county, Nebraska, and was educated in the public schools of Fairbury, that state, after which she taught school for seven or eight years in Fairbury. They now have two children, Juva and Phillip. Both Mr. and Mrs. Adams are members of the Christian church. Judged from the standpoint of manhood, of citizenship and of professional ability, William H. Adams stands as a man among men, respected and honored wherever known but most of all where he is best known.
Transcribed from "Past and Present of Greene County, Iowa Together With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead,"
by E. B. Stillman assisted by an Advisory Board consisting of Paul E. Stillman, Gillum S. Toliver,
Benjamin F. Osborn, Mahlon Head, P. A. Smith and Lee B. Kinsey, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.
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