The chronology of what
happened next is not very clear, but it is certain that he moved to
Florida, on April 4, 1839, and he served in the U.S. Army, likely as
a physician, during the Second Seminole War. The details are not
yet known, but it is suspected that he likely could have traveled to Florida with the
Louisiana Volunteers to the Second Seminole War in 1837, and ultimately brought
his family over to Whitesville by 1839. It appears he served at
Dr. Adamson had at least
three children by Frances:
Thomas Henry Adamson, born in February 1833, in London, England. Died circa
1844, in Whitesville, Duval (now Clay), East
Frances Adamson, born in 1839, in New York City, New
Adamson, born 1841, in New
On September 16, 1843, Mrs. Frances Adamson died in Whitesville.
As his son, Henry, was still alive at the time, it is presumed that he
died shortly thereafter, as it is known the son was dead before Dr. Adamson’s
removal to Georgia
The obituary of Mrs. Frances Adamson states:
“Departed this life, on the 16th September, 1843, at
Whitesville, East Florida, in the
29th year of her age, Mrs. Frances Adamson, wife of Dr. H.W.
Adamson. Sister A. attached herself to the M.E. Church on the 14th of May
last. Although her stay among us has been short, her departure has
afforded her bereaved husband and other surviving friends the clearest evidence
that their loss is her greatest gain. In full view of death, ‘she
endured as seeing him who is invisible,’ frequently spoke of her departure with
the utmost composure, and expressed an entire resignation to the will of
God. Although she left behind, an affectionate husband, and three
small children (who will long feel and mourn her loss,), who must have been
strong ties by which she was bound to earth, yet she met death like a good
soldier of the cross. Oh faith and grace of our Lord Jesus, for
life and for death, how blessed is thine influence! May the
fullness of its inspiration be ours. Then shall we too depart, as
departed our friend, challenging death for its sting, and the grave for its
In 1846, Henry took his two
surviving daughters to Georgia. He put them in
the Bethesda Orphanage in Savannah while he set
up his practice in the town of Reidsville,
Georgia, and he
also apparently purchased a farm nearby.
Life in the orphanage was
not satisfactory for Frances and Victoria. Several letters they
wrote to their father survive, pleading for him to return and bring them
home. These letters were handed down in the line of Victoria, to her
Henry returned to Savannah after 1850, to
pick up his girls to bring them home for good. The 1850 U.S.
Census has Henry living alone in Tattnall Co., 35 years old, a physician, (and
erroneously having been born in Scotland). His
daughters, Frances and Victoria, were still at the Bethesda Orphanage at the
He married, secondly,
Anna Brazell (1826-1887), sometimes spelled Annie Braswell, on July 23,
1851, in Tattnall Co., by Thomas S. L. Harwell, M.G. She was the
daughter of John Brazell and Elizabeth Burton. She was reportedly unusually attractive,
well known as the “prettiest girl in Reidsville.” They had the following
children; his last child was born shortly after his death:
Richard Adamson, born 1851, in Tattnall Co., Georgia.
Elizabeth Adamson, born 1853, in Tattnall Co.,
Emma Adamson, born 1855, in Tattnall Co.,
Joseph Adamson, born 1858, in Tattnall Co.,
Anna Elizabeth Adamson, born early 1862, in Tattnall Co., Georgia,
a few months after the death of her father.
There is another child who shows in the 1870 U.S.
Census as being born in 1868. His name is John
Adamson. His relationship to Henry is unknown..
Henry was small in stature and quite confident. He spoke with an
upper-class British accent, and was known to say, “I can’t, and I shan’t!”
(which was pronounced as “I cahn’t ahnd I shahn’t!”).
He also invested in
land around Tattnall County, and seemed quite smart with
financial matters. On January 5, 1858, Dr. Adamson purchased four
lots in Reidsville “with improvements” from the estate of fellow Englishman,
Alexander McRae, who had originally purchased the property in 1849, and built a
home on one of the lots. Ownership of the house transferred to Dr.
Adamson at that time.
Dr. Adamson had previously
joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Whitesville, East
Florida, in 1837. He became “licensed to exhort” in
the church in Reidsville in 1848. In 1859, he became “licensed to
preach,” to which he apparently devoted much energy. His preaching
style has been described as “instructive, plain, and pointed, and found its way
to the heart of the attentive hearer.” Dr. Adamson was a member of the Tattnall
County Rising Sun Lodge, Number 20, of the Grand Lodge of Georgia in
1854. They used to meet regularly on the first Saturday after the
full moon in each month.
Henry clearly fell
seriously ill around the summer of 1860, and he had to cease preaching during
that time, much to his dismay. That winter, he was rarely to be
seen outside his home. His friend, William J. Jordan, evidently
visited him frequently during that time. Henry had evidently taken
a turn for the worst by mid-April, for he wrote a will on April
13th. It is recorded in the Tattnall Co., Georgia,
A record of the last
will and testament of H.W. Adamson, Deceased.
In the name of God, Amen. I,
Henry W. Adamson of said state and county being in feeble health but of sound
and disposing mind and memory knowing that I must shortly depart this life deem
it right and proper both as respects my family and myself that I shall make a
disposition of the property with which a kind providence has blessed me I do
therefore make this my last will and testament hereby revoking and annulling all
others by me heretofore made.
First, I desire and direct that my body be
buried in a decent and Christian-like manner suitable to my circumstances and
condition in life, my soul I trust shall return to rest with God who gave it as
I hope for salvation through the merits and atonement of the blessed Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ.
Second, I desire and direct that all my just
debts be paid without delay by my executors herein after named and
Thirdly, I give, bequeath, and devise to my
beloved wife, Anna, my negro woman, Mary, and all my household and kitchen
furniture without limitation or reserve. Also, my gold
Fourthly, I give and bequeath to my two
daughters, Frances E. Tool and Victory Merriman in equal shares, my negro fellow
of every which I value at fifteen hundred dollars, the share of my daughter,
Frances E. Tool, I desire not to be subject to the debts liabilities of her
present husband, William J. Tool.
Fifthly, I give, bequeath, and devise to my
sons, Richard and Joseph, to my daughters, Elizabeth and Emma, and any other
that may be born hereafter, share and share alike my negro fellow, Jim, the
whole of my lands lying and being in the County and State aforesaid, also all of
my stock consisting of my horses, cattle, hogs, and sheep, likewise, all of my
farming utensils of every description.
Sixthly, I desire my wife, Anna, shall
retain the possession of all the property herein conveyed to my children in the
fifth item of this, my will, during her widowhood, and to manage and control the
same as she may think best for the support and education of my
Seventhly, I desire that my debts shall be
paid as follows to wit: By using what money I may be possessed of
notes and book accounts and if there be not an amount sufficient then my
executors hereinafter named to sell my wagon and
Eighthly, I desire all of my book and
surgical instruments to be sold only such as my wife, Anna, and two daughters,
Frances and Victoria, may desire to keep for their own use in that case they or
either of them may make such selection as they think proper and retain them and
appropriate the same to their own use.
Ninthly, I hereby constitute and appoint my
wife, Anna, Executrix and my son-in-law, George I. Merriman, Executor of this my
last will and testament this April 13, 1861.
Signed, sealed, declared, and published by
Dr. Henry W. Adamson as his last will and testament in the presence of us, the
undersigned, who subscribed our names hereto in the presence of said testator at
his special instance and request and in the presence of each other this April
wrote that, before he died, Dr. Adamson had difficulty worrying about how his
wife and children would fare without him, but that he ultimately decided that
God would take care of them. He quoted the dying Dr. Adamson, “I
have the victory over that I feel that if we must part, God will take care of
them, so I am now ready to go.” Mr. Jordan
wrote that Henry “…remained in that state of mind unto the last.
At about noon of the day he died, I went to see him, and found his mind
clear. All afternoon he seemed to think of nothing but heaven and
immortal glory, often exclaiming, “Bless the Lord, for that perfect peace I
feel. Among his last words were, ‘The best of all is, the Lord is
with me all the while.’”
Henry died on Tuesday, April
23, 1861, at his home in Reidsville, Tattnall, Georgia. His cause of
death was listed as “consumption,” which is an archaic medical term for
pulmonary tuberculosis. Dr. Adamson is buried under a large
obelisk in the Adamson Cemetery, now known as the Reidsville Cemetery in Reidsville. His
“The Rev. H.W.
Adamson died of consumption near Reidsville, Ga., on 23d April,
He was born in
November, 1811, reared by pious parents, both members of the Presbyterian
Church. He grew up a steady youth. In his
21st year he was married in his native land, and came to New York perhaps in
1833. In 1837, he went in to the Indian war in Florida; in 1844 lost his
wife, and about 1846 he located at Reidsville, and engaged in the practice of
medicine extensively and successfully. In 1851 he was married to
Miss Anna Brazell, of Reidsville, who is now with two little children, and two
daughters by the first marriage, left to mourn their loss. He
joined the M.E.
Church in 1837, and ever
after lived with an eye single to the glory of God. In 1848 he was
licensed to exhort; in 1859, to preach, to which high calling he devoted his
mind, strength, and energy. His preaching was instructive, plain,
and pointed, and found its way to the heart of the attentive hearer.
Some months before his death he was unable to preach, but he often wished
to get able to do so. Through the past winter he was out but
little, yet it was my privilege to visit him frequently, and ever found him
composed and happy in a Saviour’s love. He had a hard struggle on
account of his wife and children; but, said he, “I have the victory over that I
feel that if we must part, God will take care of them, so I am now ready to
go.” He remained in that state of mind unto the last.
About noon of the day he died I went to see him, and found his mind
clear. ‘I can’t stay here much longer; but what of that?
I am ready to depart and be at rest. Bless God for perfect
peace.’ All the afternoon he seemed to think of nothing but heaven
and immortal glory, often exclaiming “Bless the Lord, for that perfect peace I
feel.” Thus his heart was filled to overflowing, and among his
last words were, ‘The best of all is, the Lord is with me all the
his obituary, Tattnall Journal, April 1861.
 Port of New York, manifest of all the passengers
on board the Admiral Monson, arriving in the port on August 23, 1833.
 Whitesville was located in
Duval County, East Florida,
at the time. Florida did not
become a state until 1845, so East Florida was
a territory at that time. The location of Whitesville is now in
County, and was about two
miles from present-day Middleburg. Whitesville no longer exists,
and Middleburg was known back then as Garey’s Ferry.
 1850 U.S. Census, Savannah, Georgia (Bethesda Orphanage).
 The name Garey’s Ferry
changed to Middleburgh on May 1, 1851, and finally to Middleburg on September 8,
 A distant cousin
claims that “Adamson’s land was toward Glennville from Reidsville on the west
side of Shepherd’s bridge.”
Personal knowledge of Mrs. Mary Collins of Rockledge, Georgia, 2007. The
letters are now in the care of Mr. Stephen G. Merriman, Jr., in Savannah, Georgia. Mr. Merriman
is a descendant of Victoria Adamson and George
 John Brazell married Elizabeth Burton of Screven Co.,
Georgia, on July 28, 1825, and they moved to Tattnall Co., Georgia, circa
1832. John was a merchant and farmer in Tattnall County until 1867. John’s
last will and testament was probated in November 1867, but his place of burial
is unknown. They raised nine children, and two of their daughters
married into the Sharpe and Tippins families, and their sons fought in the Civil
War with the Tattnall Co. Rangers and Volunteers of the 61st Georgia
Regiment of the Confederate
Mrs. Mary Collins of Rockledge, Georgia, personal