S. DOUGLAS ADAMS, thirty years a resident of Meade County, has had a range of experience such as few men ever enjoy. He has been claim taker and homesteader, farmer, clerk, real estate agent, liveryman and for the past fifteen years has been a hotel proprietor and has contributed accommodation and comfort to the traveling public. He has also filled some of the important county offices and offices of the city, and for years has officiated as mayor of Meade.
Mr. Adams was born in Ogle County, Illinois, August 27, 1858. His grandfather, Jacob Adams, spent his life in Washington County, Maryland. Some of his children moved westward to Illinois, including Stephen, Daniel, Adam and Jacob. Stephen Adams, father of S. Douglas Adams, was born in Washington County, Maryland, in August, 1823, and about the time he reached his majority, in 1844, he moved westward to Illinois and took up Government land in Ogle County. He was both a farmer and carpenter, and for a number of years was a coal merchant at Polo, Illinois, where he died at the age of eighty years. He was a member of the Lutheran Church and in politics voted as a democrat. Stephen Adams married Isabel Miller, daughter of Jacob Miller, of Washington County, Maryland, and of German ancestry. Mrs. Stephen Adams died at the age of eighty-one. Their three children are: Mrs. F. A. Geeting of Polo, Illinois; Stephen Douglas; and Samuel O. of Polo.
S. Douglas Adams had a common school education at Polo, Illinois, and during his early years learned the carpenter's trade. Leaving his old home locality he came to Kansas, traveling by railroad to Dodge City and from there took the stage to Meade. He arrived in the spring of 1887, being at the time a young man not yet thirty years old and a bachelor. He was attracted here by the prospects of getting new lands and entered as a claim the southwest quarter of section 29, township 33, range 26. His homestead was seventeen miles from town and he lived there for a year alone in a bachelor shack 8x1O feet. This house was rough inside and out, and the meagerness of his comfort and fare and the isolation did not comprise an altogether pleasant experience. He was in partnership with a neighbor in the ownership of a team and during that year he broke out thirty acres, planted it to corn but got no crop. He commuted his claim, abandoned farming and moved into town.
At that time Meade was a prosperous and thriving place of about 1,200 population. Mr. Adams worked here with C. W. Winslow & Company, lumber merchants, but in the following January became deputy district clerk under D. B. Stutsman. He was four years in the district clerk's office, and then entered the real estate business with W. H. Young. For a year he had charge of renting and managing the large tract of land owned by the Loan Company and also sold much land on the extended payment plan. In the fall of 1893 Mr. Adams was promoted to the office of county sheriff, succeeding A. J. Byrns. He was re-elected two years later. Mr. Adams went into the sheriff's office on the democratic ticket, an evidence of his personal popularity, since the political complexion of the county at that time was not democratic. His terms as sheriff were marked by some unusual incidents, chiefly an epidemic of cattle thieving. He contributed to breaking up the nefarious practice, and had the unpleasant duty of arresting and taking to Leavenworth the men who were the leaders in the industry, one of them especially well known among the prominent families of the county. It was also his unpleasant duty as sheriff to handle many matters connected with the numerous foreclosures of the time, and a sheriff's sale was almost a daily occurrence.
Leaving the courthouse, Mr. Adams entered the livery business and conducted it for ten years, until the automobile threatened to supplant the supremacy of the horse. During that time he also engaged in the hotel business, succeeding to the proprietorship of the National Hotel, which he has since conducted. This hotel was opened originally by T. C. Baxter in a part of the old Meade State Bank Building. This building under Mr. Adams' ownership has been extended and remodeled, furnishing a house of twenty-three rooms and thoroughly modern, with hot water heat. In later years Mr. Adams has also extended his duties to farm lands, and under his supervision a number of acres have been broken out and developed as a grain farm and modest stock farm.
His first public service for the town came when he was elected to the City Council of Meade. In 1903 he was chosen mayor and has been re-elected every subsequent two years, a fact significant of his high standing in the business and civic community. Most of the improvements by which Meade has attained a standard among the progressive towns of Western Kansas have been effected since he became mayor. Permanent city waterworks were constructed at a cost of $20,000, six miles of concrete sidewalk laid, the other highways and streets of the town graded, and the street equipment of the electric light plant was purchased.
Mr. Adams has always been active in county politics. He was a delegate to various state and congressional conventions. In 1900 he was chosen to represent Meade County in the Legislature, succeeding George W. Wiley. During the following session Mr. Barker of Lawrence was speaker of the House. Mr. Adams served on the committee of charitable and penal institutions. In 1906 he was again elected to the Legislature, succeeding George B. Cones. During the session in which Speaker Simmons presided over the House he was a member of several committees including penal institutions and federal relations, and he sought vainly to secure the passage of legislation for the reapportionment of the legislative districts in this part of Kansas. He supported the two-cent fare legislation, the bill abolishing the railroad pass evil and also the primary election law. Mr. Adams has been active in the Knights of Pythias, is past chancellor and is also past consul and has represented his camp of Modern Woodmen of America in state camps.
On January 27, 1898, at Meade, Mr. Adams married Mrs. Belle M. (McGaffin) Peed. Mrs. Adams was born at Poughkeepsie, New York, and when a young lady moved with her parents to Waterloo, Iowa, and from there to Indiana, where she married Mat B. Peed. By her first husband she had two children: Ralph, of San Diego, California, and Julia, a teacher in the public schools of Hutchinson, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Adams have three daughters, Alice, Helen and Catherine. Alice is now a student in the Kansas State University.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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