Muscatine County, Iowa



Family story compiled and submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, February 3, 2011

         William Elias Adams was born 1 May 1902 at Adams Station in Pike township, Muscatine county, Iowa. The post office was at Nichols, Iowa. His parents were Frank Albert “Bert” Adams and his wife Alvina/Alice “Allie” Wilhelmina Mills Adams.
         His sister, Erma Gladis Adams, was born 4 December 1899 at Adams Station. A younger brother, Earl Franklin Adams, was born 2 May 1905 there and died 14 January 1909. He is buried in the Nichols cemetery.
         The 1910 federal census, Pike township, Muscatine county, Iowa, shows Willie Adams, age 7 years living in household No. 114-114 with his father Frank A. Adams, age 30; mother Allie Adams, age 28, and sister Erma Adams, age 10.
         Allie W. Adams, the mother, died 14 December 1912. She is buried in the Nichols cemetery. She left a small inheritance to her children. Bill was 10; Erma was 13 years old.
         December 1914, Erma had become 14 years old, and she and her father petitioned the court for Frank to become the legal guardian of her brother and herself. Frank paid all their expenses so they would have some money from their mother’s estate when they became adults.
         By February 1918, Frank reported to the court that this estate amounted to $1134.41. He reported that Erma had reached the age of 18 years and was entitled to her share, which was $567.20. Since William had not reached his majority, Frank (as father and guardian) got permission from the court to invest his share in Thrift War Savings Stamps. Again, Frank paid all their living expenses so their small estate would grow.
         Erma Adams graduated from Nichols high school in 1918, and William Adams was a member of the Class of 1919. Nichols had a three-year high school at that time, so both of the Adams children attended their fourth year at West Liberty, Iowa – Erma in the Class of 1919 and William in the Class of 1920.
         The father, Frank Albert Adams, remarried in 1919. His second wife was Clara Goss O’Brien. Clara was the divorced wife of a neighbor, Joe O’Brien. Both Frank Adams and his second wife, Clara, died on 1 April 1920. Frank is buried in the Nichols cemetery beside his first wife, Allie, and son, Earl, and Clara Goss O’Brien Adams is buried in Oakland cemetery in Iowa City.
         At the time of Frank’s death, Erma was teaching in a country school west of Nichols, and William was a senior at the high school in West Liberty.
         After Frank’s death, William petitioned the court to appoint as his guardian Dr. Virgil O. Muench. William inherited an undivided one-third interest in 319 acres in Pike township, Muscatine county, Iowa, 43 acres in Pike township, and an undivided one-half interest in notes. Dr. Muench was appointed William’s guardian 13 April 1920.
         Elias William Adams was a brother of William’s father, Frank Albert Adams. Erma and William both went to live with Uncle Elias and Aunt Lizzie Mills Adams. Elias and Lizzie had no children of their own, so they helped raise other members of the extended family. Erma and William were included in that family.
         After William “Bill” Adams graduated from West Liberty high school in 1920, he went on to attend the State University of Iowa at Iowa City. His college expenses were paid from the fund that was set up by his father and continued by his guardian, Dr. V. O. Muench.
         William Elias Adams became twenty-one years of age on 1 May 1923 and was entitled to possession of his money and property. This enabled him to continue his education. He received an M. D. degree and a B. S. degree in June of 1926 with a major of Liberal Arts and Medicine. At that time, many doctors did not receive both the MD and BS degrees.
         In the 1926 Hawkeye, yearbook from the University of Iowa, Huberta M. Livingstone was shown as the secretary-treasurer of the freshman class (page 155). She is listed as a member of the Sophomore Medicine class in the 1927 Hawkeye (page 129).
         The 1927 Hawkeye lists William E. Adams as a member of the Senior Medicine class (page 127). It also shows him as an active senior member of Alpha Kappa Kappa, a medical fraternity (page 438).
         After William Adams received his M.D. degree, he spent the following year in an internship in surgery; then he was employed as an assistant in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Iowa.
         In the 1928 Hawkeye, Huberta Livingstone is shown in the medical Class of Twenty Eight (page 94). On 23 May 1928, the Muscatine Journal reports that Dr. William Adams of Iowa City spent Sunday with relatives in Nichols (page 12).
         William E. Adams and Huberta Livingstone were married on 9 June 1928 at Hopkinton, Iowa, at the home of the bride’s parents. It was reported in the Muscatine Journal on 13 June 1928 that Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Nichols, Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Ryan, Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Adams and E. W. Adams, all of Nichols, attended the wedding of Dr. William Adams of Iowa City and Miss Huberta Livingstone in Hopkinton (page 8). The next week, Dr. and Mrs. William Adams were calling on relatives and friends in Nichols before going to Chicago where they will spend the coming year in the surgery department of the University of Chicago college of medicine (Muscatine Journal, 20 June 1928, page 4).
         July 1, 1928, it was announced that Dr. and Mrs. William Adams became members of the faculty at the University of Chicago medical college. He came to the University of Chicago as a fellow in surgery.
         The federal census taken on 5 April 1930 in Chicago, Cook county, Illinois, 5th ward, block 101 showed William Adams, age 27 years, and his wife Huberta Adams, age 24 years, living in an apartment at East 58th Street in Chicago.
         Highlights of his career include:
        1931 - William Adams appointed Instructor of Surgery at University of Chicago.
5 April 1933 - Assisted Dr. Evarts Graham at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, in the first successful operation for the removal of an entire lung for cancer during a six-month leave of absence from Chicago.
        1935 - Dr. Adams spent a year at the famous Chairte Hospital in Berlin, Germany, where he worked as surgical assistant to Ferdinand Sauerbruch, whose clinic at that time was the mecca of thoracic surgery.
        1936 - William Adams appointed assistant professor in Surgery at U of Chicago.
26 January 1938 Dr. Adams and the late Dr. Dallas B. Phemister at the University of Chicago performed the first one-step operation for the removal of the esophagus for cancer and the reestablishment of continuity of the digestive tract.
        1940 - William Adams appointed associate professor of Surgery at U of Chicago.
        24 April 1946 - Thomas Mann surgery: see note at end.
        1947 - William Adams appointed professor of Surgery at U of Chicago.
        1954 - William Adams became James Nelson and Anna Louise Raymond Professor of Surgery at U of Chicago.

From Muscatine (Iowa) Journal, 18 August 1959, page 7:

Former Nichols Man Named to Head Chicago University Surgery Dept.
         Dr. William E. Adams, an internationally known chest surgeon who was born May 1, 1902, at Nichols, Iowa, has been appointed chairman of the University of Chicago Department of Surgery.
         A faculty member at the University of Chicago for 31 years, Dr. Adams is also senior consulting surgeon at the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Chicago; the Suburban Cook County Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Hinsdale, Ill.; and the Great Lakes Naval Training Station hospital.
         Dr. Adams, 57, is widely known for his development of new techniques in thoracic surgery. He conducted experiments to show that patients have a good chance of survival even without 50 to 60 per cent of lung tissue. He also has developed tests for lung efficiency for estimating safety margins in lung surgery.
         Dr. Adams began his study of pulmonary hypertension when it was found that some patients were unable to withstand pneumonectomy, or removal of one complete lung…..

         About 1967, he retired from the chairmanship of the surgery department at the University of Chicago as James Nelson and Anna Louise Raymond Professor Emeritus. Then he joined the staff of American College of Surgeons, where he served as assistant director for six years until 1973.
         September 1, 1973 Dr. and Mrs. Adams retired to Hopkinton, Delaware, Iowa. On November 26, 1973 William E. Adams died at University of Iowa hospital, Iowa City, Johnson, Iowa. He was buried November 28, 1973 at Hopkinton cemetery, Delaware county, Iowa.

His obituary from the Monticello (Iowa) Express, 29 November 1973, page A-14, follows:
         Hopkinton – Funeral services for Dr. William E. Adams, 71, were held at 2 p.m. Nov. 28 at First Presbyterian church, Hopkinton, with interment in the Hopkinton cemetery.
         Dr. Adams died Nov. 25 at University of Iowa hospital, Iowa City. He was born May 1, 1902 at Nichols, son of Frank and Allie Mills Adams.
         He graduated from State University of Iowa college of medicine in 1926, where he remained for two years as surgical intern and instructor in anatomy.
         In July 1928, he became a member of the faculty of University of Chicago medical school, where he served for over 40 years, retiring from the chairmanship of the surgery department as Raymond Professor Emeritus.
         Dr. Adams then joined the staff of American college of surgeons, where he served as assistant director for six years until his retirement Sept. 1 of this year.
         A general and thoracic surgeon, Dr. Adams became internationally known for his part in two historic cancer operations. He was the recipient of many high honors, including honorary or guest professorships in numerous universities around the world. He was an active member of many professional organizations. He was also a member of Fourth Presbyterian church, Chapter and Commandery, and Medina Shrine temple, all at Chicago.
         Dr. Adams is survived by his wife, Dr. Huberta Livingstone of Hopkinton; one daughter, Diana Morgan of Chicago and a sister, Mrs. Donald Mosher of Ontario, California.

        April 14, 1978. Dr. William Adams’ sister, Erma Adams Mosher, died at San Bernardino, California. Her husband, Donald Mosher died 5 December 1951 at Los Angeles, California.

        June 30,1980. Dr. Huberta Livingstone Adams died at University of Iowa hospital, Iowa City. She was buried on July 3, 1980 in Hopkinton cemetery.

Her obituary from the Monticello (Iowa) Express, 9 July 1980, follows:
         The funeral of Dr. Huberta Livingstone Adams, 74, Hopkinton, was held July 3 at the First United Presbyterian church of Hopkinton. Burial was in the Hopkinton cemetery. Dr. Adams died at the University of Iowa hospital, Iowa City, June 30. She had been admitted to the hospital a few hours previous to her death.
         Dr. Livingstone was born August 1, 1905, at Hopkinton. She was the daughter of Dr. Hugh and Hattie Steward Livingstone. She had received her early education in the Hopkinton schools and was a graduate of the Hopkinton high school and also a graduate of Lenox College, Hopkinton. She continued her education at the University of Iowa and was a graduate of the medical school in 1928.
         She was married to Dr. William E. Adams in Hopkinton June 9, 1928. Following their marriage the couple lived in Chicago, Ill., where both were affiliated with the University of Chicago Medical School, he with the department of surgery, and she with the department of anesthesiology. She later became chairman of the department of anesthesiology.
         The couple retired to Hopkinton to make their home Sept. 1, 1973.
         She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Houston (Diana) Stokes, Chicago, Ill., and a sister, Mrs. Harriet Green, Sutherland.
         She was a member of the First United Presbyterian church of Hopkinton and the Fourth Presbyterian church of Chicago, Ill. She was also active in the American Heart Association, the Crerar Library Associates and several medical societies including the American Society of Anesthesiology, the Illinois State Society of Anesthesiology, the Iowa Society of Anesthesiology, the Sigma Xi Medical fraternity and the American Retired Physicians.
         She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband.

        April 24, 1946 -- Excerpts from article “William E. Adams: Thomas Mann and ‘The Magic Mountain’” by Andreas P. Naef, MD, University of Lausanne Medical School, Pully-Lausanne, Switzerland from Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Vol. 65, No. 1 (January 1998), pp. 285-287.
         Half a century ago, on April 24, 1946, at the Billings Hospital in Chicago, Doctor William E. Adams performed a right lower and middle lobectomy for cancer on Thomas Mann, author of the classic novel The Magic Mountain. The operation brought together a famous patient, one of the important authors of 20th century literature; his surgeon, a recognized pioneer among the early specialized thoracic surgeons; and a classic novel translated in many languages.
         The Magic Mountain, first published in 1924, is of particular interest for thoracic surgery because pulmonary resection for tuberculosis during the late 1940s and 1950s was the foundation for the explosive development of modern thoracic surgery at a time when operations for carcinoma were rare and cardiac surgery did not exist.
         During 1944 to 1945, Mann’s medical history indicated a slow-growing lung cancer. It is interesting to speculate why the 70-year-old important patient residing in Pacific Palisades, California, was sent to Chicago for treatment. Apparently the decision was made by the writer’s family, mainly because one of his daughters lived in Chicago. She was referred to Dr. Adams. At a time when first-class thoracic surgery was not yet generalized, the fact speaks for Dr. Adams’ justified reputation as one of the best thoracic surgeons in the United States.
         The operation took place on April 24, 1946. It lasted only one hour 52 minutes, a fairly short time for a pulmonary resection in those days. Dr. Adams and his wife and anesthesist Huberta Livingston-Adams performed the surgery with only a tight-fitting face mask.
         Thomas Mann survived the operation without complications, to be discharged one month later, on May 21. He survived nine years without local recurrence or distant metastasis.
         Dr. Adams was involved in a number of important developments in the early history of thoracic surgery. He became interested in thoracic surgery during his internship at the University of Iowa and continued this interest at the University of Chicago, remaining there all through his professional life.
         William Adams should be remembered as an important member of our past, a man of exceptional scientific honesty and devotion to his patients and pupils. As a surgeon he must have been an excellent technician, fast and accurate, yet “evaluating his operations by the outcome not by the time required.” He liked to present “the façade of the Iowa farm boy” and was affectionately referred to as “Uncle Willie.” Devoted to surgical education, he played an important role in many professional organizations. In The American Association of Thoracic Surgery he served many years as treasurer, establishing educational fellowships, and he was the Association’s president in 1960. He was one of the founders of the Board of Thoracic Surgery, was on the editorial Board of the Journal of Thoracic Surgery, and served on several educational committees of the American College of Surgeons, whose Assistant Director he became after retiring from active surgery. All in all, his life was devoted to his profession.

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