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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Hester Ann Adams 1845-1904

Mar 18, 1885

Mrs. Adams, of Bird Station, came to town on Saturday and bought one of those pretty New Home Sewing machines.

 The above line in a previous blog prompted a reader to respond that the New Home Sewing Machine was made in Orange, Mass., a neighboring town to his home. We are always pleased to learn how interrelated Lawrence County history is to the rest of the world and always appreciative of readers who take the time to acknowledge this.

The subject of the blog post, Hester Adams is featured in our newest Book, Ladies of Lawrence.

Hester Ann Cook Adams   Milliner in Birds 1891

Hester Ann Cook, born April 19, 1845, was the daughter of Thomas and Susan (Mullens) in Lawrence County, Illinois. She married William H. Adams January 3, 1869 after his return from the Civil War. By 1870 Hester had given birth to a son David and two years later another son Cladius was born, followed by the birth of a daughter, Elsie in 1878 and another daughter Mary in 1880. On February 2, 1882, William died leaving her with four children under the age of 12 and her husband’s Civil War pension.  Despite her grief, she was determined to support herself and her children.  She opened a hat-making business and sold sewing supplies in Birds and was apparently not adverse in using sympathy to aid in the success of her business. 

The Vincennes Sunday Commercial published profiles of the merchants in Birds, Illinois in their November 8, 1891 edition.  This is what they published about Hester Ann:

Mrs. H. A. Adams, Millinery and Notions

Hester A (Cook) Adams “is the widow of the late William H. Adams, who died February 3, 1882, of disabilities contracted while on the battlefield defending his country.  He left his widow poor and needy, but Mrs. Adams, like her husband, when his country called for his help, has proven herself brave and gone to work with a vim to make her own living, and by her own industry and frugality, she has been enabled to lay in a fine large stock of fall millinery and notions, which she is selling at very low margins, and as she has a complete stock in her line, and being a soldier’s widow who is compelled to earn her own living, it is useless to believe that the good and fine people of Birds and surrounding country will not give her a liberal patronage, for where can be found one that would not give their patronage to her.  Mrs. Adams is industrious and is making every effort to succeed, and we believe she will succeed.  Remember when in need of anything in the millinery or notion line to give her a call at her place of business on Main Street, just east of the Hale House.  She will sell you goods as low as they can be sold at.”

Hester died of pneumonia in Vincennes, Indiana at age 59 on April 29, 1904.  

If you liked this story, then please purchase our book, The Ladies of Lawrence, featuring more stories about the exceptional women of Lawrence County. Click here to order by mail or in person at the Research Library, the Finishing Touch, or Fry's Landscaping and Country Shop.

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