Daniel E Adams – Gunsmith, Soldier, Photographer, Attorney, Skunk Farmer

The Unbelievable Life of Daniel Adams

A gunsmith, soldier, photographer, attorney, and a skunk farmer – it sounds like the start of a joke where the next line should be they walked into the bar. Interestingly enough those are all job titles held at various times by Daniel E. Adams.

On the scale of interesting characters of genealogical research my third great grandfather, Daniel E. Adams, is a jackpot. For the last several weeks I have been slowly pecking away at research on him for this blog…but it seemed the more I dug the more I wanted to dig. His life took many turns that make him an intriguing research subject with countless sources.

Early Life

Daniel E. Adams was born in Canada on 23 February 1832. His parents, Erwin Adams and Charlotte Murray, were of American birth. Shortly after Daniel’s birth, the family moved back south to the United States. Over the next two decades, the family would reside in Illinois and Michigan where most of the family would settle for generations.

Daniel married his first wife, Rachel Hamilton, in Oakland County, Michigan on 23 Sept 1852. There are four known children born to the marriage Flora, Edward Dexter, Arthur Hamilton, and Elmer Eugene. Rachel passed away 5 July 1862 leaving Daniel a widower with four children under the age of 10.

After the death of Rachel, Daniel hired 17-year-old Sarah Ferguson to help care for his children. The two married on 20 September 1863 in Genesee County, Michigan.

American Civil War

On 7 September 1864, Daniel enlisted as a gunsmith in Company G 4th Michigan Infantry reorganized. According to information he provided at the time he was a veteran of the Mexican American War. During his term of enlistment, he would see combat action in skirmishes across northern Alabama.

On 14 May 1865 the train carrying Daniel’s unit derailed while traveling through Tennessee. The train car he was riding in became detached and jumped from the track. Daniel received injuries in the accident. The Army discharged him a month later in Nashville, Tennessee on 7 June 1865.

After the War

Daniel returned home to his family after his discharge from the Army. The 1870 census shows him at home with his young wife, Sarah, and their rapidly growing family. His profession at the time is listed as a photographer and records show he operated the first photograph gallery in Lapeer, Michigan. He would study law while operating the Mammoth Skylight Gallery. By 1872, he was a practicing attorney.

Daniel and Sarah continued to reside in southern Michigan and their family continued to grow. The two would have eight children together.

Eventually Daniel branched out from practicing law and started farming skunks.

Daniel passed away on 5 April 1906 in Genesee County, Michigan. He is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan.

Honor and Valor: Military Service as a Family Tradition

It’s Just a Family Tradition

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

All families seem to have their own set of traditions. In mine it seems to be military service.

My husband was in the military. My son is in the military. My son in law is in the military. My Grandfather was in the military. I had an uncle who was in the military. My husband’s Grandfather was in the military. He had an uncle who was in the military. It goes on and on.

I often joke that my ancestors showed up for every war. We don’t get along with anybody.

In reality, the reasons for military service have been various. For some of my relatives signing up for military service, even during times of conflict, was the safer alternative to the major industries in their hometowns. Coal mining I’m looking at you. Some I am sure were seeking adventure, while others were motivated by financial means. Others still were called to arms to support a vision of something bigger than they could imagine at the time in conflicts such as the American Revolution and Civil War.

A part of Something Bigger

Though the reasons were various, generation after generation, members of my family have been called to serve as part of something bigger.

With the approach of Veteran’s Day I thought I would take a look back at some of the relatives who have been called to serve.


Roll of Honor

In no particular order here is a list of some of the notable service members related to either me or my immediate family. For privacy issues it contains only deceased individuals.

Elden F. Shuck

Elden F. Shuck

Elden, my maternal Grandfather, was a Korean War Veteran of the United States Army. He served as a cook. The Shuck brothers were notable in their Korean War service because so many of the family signed up for service together. Elden signed up to look out for his younger brother who also joined to help appease his Mother. At one point in time 3 Shuck brothers were together in Korea at the same place and the same time, an event which was recorded in the newspaper of his hometown.

Coal mining was a main industry in the mountain region of West Virginia where he was born and raised. At the time it was safer to enlist in the military than it was to go to work in the coal mines. After the military Elden went onto work in the automotive industry in Flint, Michigan. He raised 6 children with his wife, Sally. Elden is buried in the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.


Fred Jacobs

Frederick Jacobs has the noteworthy distinction of having served in both World War II and the Korean War. Fred Jacobs was my husband’s maternal grandfather. Fred and his brother Charles “Bud” Jacobs both served.

Fred’s service record was lost in the records fire so there are more gaps than information about his years in the service. It is known beyond a doubt that Fred was injured in combat. He carried the scars of his injuries for the rest of his life. Legend and lore states he lay injured on a battlefield for days presumed dead before being rescued. Fred received 3 purple hearts during his service. He married and adopted one daughter. Fred is buried in Parkhill Cemetery in Paris, Michigan.


Leming “L.J.” Eckler

L.J. Eckler was a paternal 3x great grandfather. This ancestor of mine has made the blog roll in the past for the amazing things he had to survive during his service in the Army during the American Civil War. It would be a farce to not mention him on a military honor roll.

Leming served under the infamous George Armstrong Custer long before that fateful battle where the general made his fated last stand. L.J. survived the worst of the Confederate prison camps. He spent time at Andersonville Prison. Amazingly, L.J. survived the war and went onto live a long life. He has many descendants and is buried in the Almer Township Cemetery in Tuscola County, Michigan.


Daniel E. Adams

Daniel E. Adams was another of my 3x great grandfather on my father’s side. Daniel is noteworthy for the fact that he claimed to have served both under Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War and against Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. The claim is dubious. Some suspect it could even be a tall tale.

It is beyond question that Daniel served in the Civil War but questions remain about this service in the Mexican War. He would have been a child soldier if he did indeed serve in the Mexican War under Jefferson Davis. Daniel E. Adams is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Michigan.


Dexter Adams

While Dexter Adams was not a direct ancestor, he left no descendants and a significant bit of family lore. Dexter was the brother of Daniel E. Adams. One undisputed fact about Dexter Adams is that he was a musician who played the drums in the Army during the American Civil War. A second undisputed fact is that Dexter played the drums in the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln.

The more questioned information? Who has the drum sticks that Dexter used to play his drum during the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln. There are at least two different branches of the family that I have heard claim ownership of the drum sticks. Dexter is buried in the Aventine Cemetery in Flint, Michigan.


First Five

This list is the start of my military roll of honor. These are some of my favorite or more noteworthy past service members hanging around my family tree. My family has a long and remarkable tradition of military service.

Adams Family Update

Who can resist a skunk farming lawyer?

That was the thought on my mind when I originally set out to research my great great great grandfather Daniel E Adams. All the information I found on his life indicated he was a larger than life type of man and his story screamed to be shared.

As I was researching Daniel E Adams for my blog about him, a distant cousin contacted me. This cousin, Frank Poss III, had in his possession several old family photos of shared relations.

This brings me to my Adams family update. I received copies of photos that previously I had never seen.

Photography was a popular profession not just among the Adams family but also among the Hamilton family. Siblings, Daniel and Emma Adams, married siblings, Daniel and Rachel Hamilton. Daniel and Emma Adams Hamilton would spend a lifetime operating Hamilton photo studios and many of their photographs are still in existence. Several of these photos bear the mark of Hamilton studios.


Adams brothers
The 5 Adams brothers: Calvin, Daniel, Dexter, Eli, and Plumer. Photo taken sometime prior to 1889.

This photograph is of the five Adams brothers. I suspect it was taken sometime after the end of the Civil War, perhaps as late as when their father, Erwin Adams, died in Lapeer County, Michigan. The fifth brother, Plumer Adams, is not labeled in the photo.



The Family Matriarch

charlotte murray adams.jpg

This photo is of Charlotte Murray Adams, the mother of the Adams brothers. She died in 1890 and was buried in Mt Hope Cemetery in Lapeer County, Michigan next to her husband.

I will be adding further updates to this line as I continue researching the Adams family and trying to track them as they moved from Connecticut, to Vermont, onto Canada, out west to Iowa, split into separate fractions with some going west to establish Utah while others eventually settled for generations in Michigan. Stay tuned.