John Bunyan Adams

JOHN BUNYAN ADAMS was born in Butler County, Kansas. That county has been his home all his life and beginning there as a country school teacher and subsequently entering banking, he has achieved a reputation built up on constructive service that has made him widely known over the state as a legislator, banker and financier. He is a former president of the State Bankers' Association, and for years has been a recognized leader in his part of the state in the republican party.

His birth occurred on March 25, 1873, on his father's farm near Potwin in Butler County. He is a son of Amos and Nancy M. (Cain) Adams. He traces his ancestry back in the paternal line to Joshua Adams, who came from England in 1660 and settled at Braintree, Massachusetts. In the successive generations there have been soldiers in every war, beginning with the French and Indian, and through the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and the family has also been represented worthily in the industries, professions and business affairs and as pioneers in the making of new commonwealths in Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, Illinois and Kansas.

Mr. Adams' grandfather, William Adams, was born at Hagerstown, Maryland, 1801, and about 1840 he settled among the pioneers in Fulton County, Illinois. He was a substantial farmer, and a man of wide influence in his community. His brother Joseph Adams came to Kansas in 1859, locating on the Whitewater River three miles north of Potwin in Butler County, and was a pioneer among pioneers in that section.

Amos Adams, father of John B., was born at Vermont in Fulton County, Illinois, February 25, 1843. He grew up there, acquired a substantial education and as a young man did his part toward the preservation of the Union. He was mustered in February 23, 1865, as a member of Company D, One Hundred Fifty-First Illinois Infantry. This regiment was organized at Quincy and after a year of service was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, February 8, 1866.

Having heard much of Kansas, particularly through his uncle, whose pioneer settlement in Butler County has been noted, Amos Adams at the close of the war came out to the Sunflower state and took up a homestead on the Whitewater near Potwin. There he engaged in farming and went through all the vicissitudes and changing circumstances that made up the Kansas farmer's lot during the early times. He remained a resident of Butler County forty years. He showed a quiet courage and determination in the performance of his varied duties and responsibilities, and his influence and activities were commendable factors in the growth and development of the community. He acquired some of the finest farm land in the county, was also interested in banks and had real estate both in Potwin and El Dorado. Though he did what he could to upbuild and maintain the fortunes of the republican party in Kansas, he could never be prevailed upon to accept public office. He was one of the most generous supporters of the Christian Church in the county. Associated with the late N. F. Frazier, he became one of the organizers of the State Bank of El Dorado and for several years filled the office of vice president.

On April 18, 1866, a few weeks after he came home from the army, Amos Adams married Nancy M. Cain. Her father, Dr. Jesse Cain, was for many years a capable and useful physician in Fulton County, Illinois. Amos Adams and wife had seven children. Two daughters died in early childhood. Those who grew up were: John Bunyan; Myrtle., wife of Milo E. Ball, of Potwin, Kansas; Fern, who died February 11, 1915; Olive, who died November 30, 1911; and Rectina L. Johnson, of Potwin. The father of these children died April 26, 1904, and the mother on September 9, 1914.

While his individual interests and activities have lain in the field of business affairs, John B. Adams has always felt a deep sense of gratitude that his early environment was the wholesome atmosphere of a Kansas farm. He attended district schools in Butler County, and in 1890 became a teacher, teaching in his native county until 1894. In the meantime he was a student in the Salina Normal University at Salina, where he was graduated in 1893.

Aside from teaching his first important experience in business was as a newspaper man. In May, 1894, he founded the Leon Press at Leon in Butler County. In January, 1895, he removed his plant to Augusta and there conducted the Augusta Press until he sold out in September, 1896. After this comparatively brief excursion in the field of journalism Mr. Adams moved to El Dorado and became teller in the Farmers and Merchants National Bank. In banking he found himself in a congenial field, a work to which he could give every ounce of his energy and ail his enthusiasm, and for one whose experience covers only about twenty years he has attained conspicuous eminence in financial circles.

In July, 1899, Mr. Adams, in company with the late Nathan F. Frazier, founded the Citizens State Bank of El Dorado. He became cashier, and on the death of Mr. Frazier in 1907 became active manager, a position he continued until 1909. In that year he sold his interest in the Citizens State Bank and then organized the Butler County State Bank. This institution is now one of the strongest banks in Southern Kansas. It has a capital of $50,000.00, has surplus and profits of about $50,000.00 and its deposits aggregate $900,000.00. In very one of the eight years since it was established the bank has paid dividends. Mr. Adams is the controlling stockholder of the bank and is both president and managing executive.

He is also a stockholder and vice president of the State Bank of Douglass, Kansas. His talents as a banker were recognized almost as quickly outside his native county as in it. In 1903 he was elected vice president and in 1904 attained the honor of president of the Kansas Bankers' Association. Such a compliment has seldom been paid by Kansas bankers to so young a man.

The discovery of the great El Dorado oil field in October, 1915, found Mr. Adams in the possession of some valuable and productive land in the heart of the field and also the owner of some valuable leases. The rapid growth and enrichment of El Dorado produced a very large and rapid increase of deposits in the Butler County State Bank, in which Mr. Adams held a controlling interest. The deposits of this bank increased from $230,000.00 to $900,000.00 in one year's time. Enjoying such prosperity the bank built a beautiful $40,000.00 home in the year 1917, With one of the largest and strongest burglar proof vaults in the State of Kansas.

During his younger years in banking experience Mr. Adams found time to study law and in 1899 was admitted to the bar. He has never practiced, and his object in qualifying himself for the bar was only to furnish a highly desirable knowledge that would assist him in banking. Mr. Adams owns several tracts of valuable farming land in Kansas and Oklahoma, and manages for his wife a thousand acre farm situated twenty-live miles south of Kansas City, one of the most beautiful rural places in the State of Missouri. Mr. Adams has attained the Knight Templar and Scottish Rite degrees in Masonry and is a member of the Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wichita.

A paragraph should be devoted to his legislative and political experience. On the republican ticket he was elected a member of the Legislature in 1898 and re-elected in 1900 and 1902. He served six years, and during that time was one of the most capable members of the committee on banks and banking in the Lower House. He was both member and chairman of that body, was the author of several amendments and was instrumental in securing their incorporation in the statutes governing the banking institutions of Kansas. During the session of 1901 he was chairman of the committee on penal institutions, while in the session of 1903 he was chairman of the committee on banks and banking and a member of the judiciary committee. In 1904 Mr. Adams was chairman of the Republican State Convention of Kansas, and in the same year was nominated for the office of state senator. In 1912 he became a candidate for the republican nomination for Congress against Victor Murdock. He failed to get the nomination because he had arrayed himself against the Roosevelt sentiment of his district. In 1916 Mr. Adams was elected one of the two delegates from the Eighth District to the Republican National Convention at Chicago and gave loyal and enthusiastic support to the movement for nominating Charles E. Hughes as presidential candidate.

Mr. Adams and his family reside on Walnut Hill in El Dorado. Mr. and Mrs. Adams are both prominent socially and their home is a center of the cultured hospitality of the city. On November 29, 1905, he married Miss Edna Frazier. Mrs. Adams is the only daughter of the late Nathan F. Frazier of El Dorado. Two children have been born to their union: Frank Frazier, born October 10, 1907; and John Bunyan, Jr., born January 20, 1911.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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