My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM ADAMSON, one of the leading farmers of Calvin Township, Cass County, was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, on the 7th of July, 1834, the son of John and Sarah (Erwin) Adamson. His father was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, in 1802, and was the son of James and Hannah (Heald) Adamson. This family is of English and Irish ancestry and was a prominent old Quaker family. Their history in this country dates back for many generations, but the exact date of their emigration hither or the names of the ancestors back of James, the grandfather of William, we have been unable to learn.

Grandfather Adamson followed the occupation of a farmer in Columbiana County, Ohio, whither he removed as early as 1800 and where he resided until death terminated his career. He had two sons and three daughters, of whom John, the father of our subject, was the youngest. He was a man of limited schooling, but possessed a good stock of natural ability, and through general reading and observation atoned to a large extent for his lack of early advantages. A hard worker and a good financier, he accumulated a moderate fortune, and, what was better than that, he gained the respect of all with whom he made acquaintance.

In Ohio he married Sarah Erwin, and for many years afterward continued to make his home in the Buckeye State. In 1853 he removed from Ohio to Michigan and made settlement in Calvin Township, Cass County, where he purchased a large tract of land. Coming here with perhaps $5,000, he added largely to this amount, and at the time of his death, which occurred in 1873, was numbered among the moneyed men of the county. He remained in the Society of Friends up to the age of forty-five years, but for some reason not known to the biographer, he at that age left the church of his forefathers and never afterward returned to its membership. His wife survived him three years and passed away at the old homestead in Calvin Township, during the month of February, 1876.

In a family of nine children, the subject of this sketch was the third in order of birth, and at this writing (1893) five of the entire number are living. William grew to manhood upon his father’s farm in Ohio, and had the advantage of excellent educational opportunities in early life. When about nineteen years old he came to Michigan with his father, but subsequently returned to Ohio, where he completed his education in a private school at New Salem. He then returned to Michigan, and in December, 1857, married Miss Mary Ann Norton. This lady was born in Jefferson Township, Cass County, in 1838, being the eldest daughter of Levi D. Norton, who was born in Champaign County, Ohio, in 1811, and came to Michigan in 1828, being one of the very early settlers of Cass County. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Adamson was Nathan Norton, a native of North Carolina.

Tradition says that long before the war for independence, three brothers by the name of Norton came from Ireland. One settled in North Carolina or Virginia, another went to Texas, and the third established his home in Maine. From the first-named this branch of the Norton family springs. The grandmother of Levi D. Norton, whose name was Dixon, was a member of an old and leading Quaker family. Mrs. Adamson had two brothers and two sisters. Her elder brother, Leonard R., enlisted in the defense of the Union in 1861, and served continuously until 1866. He married Annette Sheldon and is now a salesman for J. V. Farwell & Co., of Chicago, where he resides. Elizabeth became the wife of Thomas E. Shaw, a farmer of Michigan, and they have a family of five children. Jane married Constantine Baldwin, a farmer residing in Calvin Township. Samuel M. chose for his wife Miss Jessie Belden, by whom he has three children. Their home is in California.

Pleasant Norton, a brother of Levi D., was born in 1806, and in 1826 married Miss Rachael Fukery. Coming to Cass County, he became prominently connected with the development of this part of Michigan. For eight years he served as Supervisor of Jefferson Township, was Treasurer for a number of terms and served for two terms in the Michigan State Legislature. In his political belief he was a life-long Democrat. He died in Jefferson Township on the 12th of May, 1877, and his wife passed away on the 17th of March, 1887. Five children survive them. Levi D. Norton, father of Mrs. Adamson, resided for a number of years in Jefferson Township, and from there removed to Calvin Township, where he died on the 9th of November, 1872. He was a prominent member of the Christian Church and was an honorable, upright man, whom everyone respected. His wife, Martha (McIlvain) Norton, was born in Logan County, Ohio, November 26, 1812, and died on the 10th of January, 1883. Religiously, she was a devout member of the Baptist Church.

After their marriage, our subject and his wife settled on the place where they have ever since lived. He has cleared more than two hundred acres of land, and as a result of his industry and shrewd business investments, he gained a competency and is now counted among the leading and wealthy men of the township. He belongs to an old Whig family, and in former years was a Republican, but is now numbered in the ranks of Democracy. He has never sought or held office, with the exception of serving on the School Board and in some minor township offices. Mrs. Adamson is a member of the Baptist Church, active in all its good works, and foremost in every religious and benevolent enterprise.

Eight children have been born to brighten the home of our subject. Frank, who was born April 21, 1859, died on the 17th of August, the same year; Ross, who was born September 27, 1860, married Luna Leonard, and with his wife and child resides in Chippewa County, Mich.; Dell, a promising young man, lives with his parents; Bertha married A. G. Hull and they have three children; Lula died when three years old, and Nellie was called home at the same age; Estelle and Kittie are at home.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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