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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

Moses Adams

 Document proof of sale for Moses Adams, once prominent Negro Family here.

Springfield Leader & Press, January 2, 1936, page 2

"Postmaster C. W. Greenwade today received an ancient bill of sale for 'a certain negro boy named Moses' which jogged old timers' memories, brought forth reminiscences about one of Springfield's most prominent negro families.

"The document, more than 96 years old, was sent to Greenwade by John Q. Wolf of Batesville, Ark., whose family purchased the negro boy on October 1, 1839.

"'Mr. Wolf wrote me several months ago, wanting us to find Moses, who was supposed to be living here,' Greenwade recalled. ‘Mr. Wolf wanted to turn the bill of sale over to Moses or to some member of his family.  We were unable to find a trace of the family, but we asked Mr. Wolf to send the document anyway.  We'll probably turn it over to the public library.

"The Moses mentioned in the bill of sale was Moses Adams, one-time stone mason and quarry owner here, old timers recalled.  His brother, Alf, was the more prominent member of the family, however.

"'Alf ran a barber shop on South Street,' recalled W. Pat Magee, superintendent of mails here.  ‘He was quite a politician, and served two terms on the city council about 40 years ago.  He could swing the vote of all the Negroes and a lot of the white folks in Springfield.

"E. A. Barbour said he remembered Alf 'quite well,' but he was unable to recall the dates he served on the council.

"The bill of sale, despite its age, is well preserved and the ink on it is clearly legible. It reads:

State of Arkansas, County of Marion, I, Jesse Goodman, Clerk and Ex-officio Recorder for the County of Marion aforesaid do hereby certify that a bill of sale from James Adams to Thornton S. Adams for a certain negro Boy named Moses was duly and correctly recorded on page six and seven of Book A of the Records of Marion County aforesaid on the first day of October, A. D. 1839.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my private  seal (the seal of office being provided) this 1st day of October, A. D. 1839.

Jesse Goodman, Clerk and Ex-Officio Recorder, by Wm. Barrett, Deputy.

"In a letter which accompanied the document, Mr. Wolf said: ‘I cannot remember Mose, but my sister, who is living, does remember him well, since she is four years my senior, and she speaks of him in affectionate terms, for he almost worshiped her.  He was greatly beloved by our family and I am told that when he left, it was nearly like a funeral in the family.

"‘It is to be regretted that Moses has no son or grandson to whom I can give this document.  I hope your public library will find it interesting.  In the early fall of 1883 I was in Springfield and hunted up Mose and had dinner in his home. I also looked up his brother Alf.'

"Mr. Wolf is a former president of the Arkansas Bankers association. He is active in Masonic circles, and is now grand secretary."

Moses Adams seems to have died between 1901, when his daughter Susie died, and the 1910 census. There was not an obituary or a cemetery listing for him. Moses had a son, Nathan, that died in 1914. Nathan's obituary mentions his wife but no other family. Susie and Nathan are both buried in Hazelwood Cemetery.

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