Wednesday, November 12, 2008

James Taylor Adams

The man who wrote the article about the dreams that Letty Adams had predicting deaths in the family wrote them in a column he wrote in the Kingsport Times called "Appalachian Tales." I wasn't all that impressed with the way he wrote that article. However, I found another that impressed me to the highest. I will print it tomorrow, but I wanted to find out more about the man.

I figured from the Adams name he was probably a relative, and he was. His father was Joseph Adams. He lost his father when he was young. When he was about 11 his mother remarried. Her second husband was Jesse "Colly Jesse" Adams. The article I will reprint is one that he tells about an encounter with Jesse when he was alone with him one day shortly after the wedding. You will find it fascinating.

In the meantime, I had started finding things about him and right in the middle of my research the computer died. The fan went out. It will not start again with the fan out to keep it from overheating. I have it in being repaired now. This backup computer is slow.

I googled Mr. Adams and found this on the Wise County Historical Society website which is

This is what they had to say about James:

James Taylor Adams was a prolific writer, a folklorist and a preserver of Appalachian culture. He wrote thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers of which only a few have been collected.

James Taylor Adams was born February 3, 1892, a son of Joseph and Mary Jane (Short) Adams. He was born in Letcher County, Kentucky and lived in Alum Cove, Little Colley and other small communities in Kentucky.

He moved to Wise County, Virginia while yet a young man. He married in 1908 to Dicy Roberts. They had a family of eight children. Among James Taylor's work was at the coke
ovens in Wise County, selling fruit trees; owned a grocery store; sold insurance, and owned and ran a print shop. He was a Notary and built houses to rent. He also established a post office at Big Laurel where he lived and was postmaster there. His wife Dicy also worked in the post-office. He built a Church house; built and ran a library to store his many books, manuscripts, and publications, and to distribute books for people to read. He also built a museum to collect and preserve antiques and old items.

James Taylor worked in the Works progress Association, (WPA). While working for the WPA he collected old songs and stories of the area and wrote them down to preserve. He became interested in family history and compiled the Adams Family history among others.

James Taylor only had a second grade education in the public schools but was a self educated man. He published several newspapers, some of which was The Vagabond Gazette, Adam's Weekly and The Cumberland Empire. He wrote columns for several newspapers, and Detective stories for Detective
magazines and wrote stories for some Canadian magazines under a pen name of Roland Rivers.

Among the books he wrote was one called "Death in the Dark," which is a collection of Factual Ballads of American Mine Disasters with historical notes. He also visited cemeteries of the area and compiled a book of the names and dates on the stones, with a short history of some of the people. The book is called, "Family Burying Grounds in Wise County, Virginia."

He and his wife and family moved to Arkansas to homestead land there, lived in Missouri, then back to West Virginia and finally settled on Rocky Fork at Big Laurel on Rocky Fork. He died in 1954 and is buried at the homeplace there.

James and I share a love of family history. We also share a birthday. I bought an Adams Family History back in the 70's. The name that comes to mind as an author was Dorothy Adams, but there was a man's name attached, too. I will have to get that book out to see if it were one of James'. I also bought the "Buryin' Book".

What an interesting man.

The story is a doozie about our g-g-g-g Grandfather Benjamin Webb.

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