ELBERT GARNETTE ADAMS
Although not a native Californian, the earliest recollections of Elbert Garnette Adams are associated with the scenes of his adopted State, in which all but the first three years of his life have been spent. The family is of English ancestry, for many generations residents of New England; the first emigrant was supposed to have settled in New Hampshire. The paternal grandfather, Charles W. Adams, was born in New Hampshire and was directly descended from John and John Quincy Adams, who later became Presidents of the United States. Charles W. Adams settled in central Illinois in 1840, and ten years later crossed the plains via the Oregon trail and settled in Sacramento, Cal., where he established a shop on Front Street and engaged in business as a carpenter and cabinet-maker.
He married Maria Henry, who is related to the Northern branch of the Patrick Henry family, and is a direct descendant of General Putnam, of Revolutionary fame. Charles W. Adams helped to build the first railroad in California from Sacramento to Placerville. Then he was employed on the Central Pacific Railroad, and still later he became a car-finisher for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. He died as a result of a fall in 1918, aged ninety years. His widow is still living at Berkeley, and has reached the advanced age of ninety-two years.
Charles Henry Adams, the father of our subject, was born, at Springfield, Ill., and was four years old when his parents came to California. His preliminary education was obtained in the common schools of Sacramento; and while still a young man he went to New York City and there studied law and shorthand. He then returned West, and at Denver, Colo., was married to Miss Mertie Dratt, born at Canton, Ohio, the daughter of David Dratt, a Civil War veteran. David Dratt lived to be seventy years old, and was one of the last survivors of the battle of Lookout Mountain, which was fought above the clouds.
Charles Henry Adams and his wife removed to Cripple Creek, Colo., where he was the first justice of the peace. Later, when they removed to San Francisco in 1892, he became a practicing lawyer and court reporter. He followed this profession at Santa Rosa, Auburn and Sacramento, being court reporter for the third appellate district court. Four children were born in the family: Benita, now the wife of H. N. Herrick, an engineer for the Standard Oil Co., residing at Berkeley, Cal.; Kenneth Clyde, who married Bernice Marshall and is a newspaper man residing in San Francisco; Elbert Garnette, our subject; and David Arden, assistant city editor of the Sacramento Bee, who married Phyllis Kramer and resides in Sacramento. The father passed away in Sacramento in 1921, aged sixty two years.
Elbert Garnette Adams was born at Elizabeth, Colo., August 11, 1889, and lived there until he was three years old, when he was brought by his parents to California. He grew up and attended school in Santa Rosa and Auburn. During his junior year in the Auburn High School he left school and went to Sacramento, where he found employment as a reporter on the Sacramento Star, remaining in that position for three years. Then he went to San Francisco and became pony telegraph editor for the United Press at that place. From 1910 to 1912 he was a reporter on the Fresno Herald. In 1912 be became a citizen of Merced County and worked for three years on the Merced Sun. In 1915 he purchased the Livingston Chronicle, a weekly newspaper of eight pages devoted to the news of this section of Merced County. Mr. Adams has succeeded in putting the Chronicle on a paying basis, and has given to the Livingston section a necessary adjunct to its future prosperity and development. This newspaper was established in 1909 by the late P. H. Higgins, who passed away in 1912. When Mr. Adams purchased it in 1915, everything was in a run-down condition; he equipped the plant with new machinery, thus enabling him to turn out any job of printing that may be demanded.
On October 25, 1911, Mr. Adams was married to Miss Mayme Hamlett, of Le Grand, Cal., daughter of E. W. Hamlett, an old settler and rancher who still lives at Le Grand. Her father married Lillie Turner, daughter of Marion F. Turner, familiarly known as "Rupe" Turner. He crossed the plains from Missouri in 1851 with his father, Nicholas Turner, and the family settled on Mariposa Creek near where Le Grand now stands. In 1855, when Merced County was formed from a part of Mariposa County, the first session of the district court of Merced County was held at the home of Nicholas Turner on Mariposa Creek. Mr. and Mrs. Adams are the parents of two children, Vernon and Udell.
Perhaps no citizen has been more active in the development of Livingston than Mr. Adams. He made the first motion, as director of the Merced County Farm Bureau, which later resulted in the organization of the Merced Irrigation District; he became the secretary of the organization committee, bonds were voted, and the district was established. Mr. Adams never for a moment relaxed his zeal in this undertaking, and appeared several times before the California legislature in its behalf. He is local registrar of vital statistics at Livingston, holding this office by appointment of the State Board of Health, since 1918, when the law creating it was passed. Mr. Adams is a director in the Livingston branch of the California Home Improvement Association, with headquarters at Oakland. The most outstanding community enterprise in which Mr. Adams was the prime mover is the Community Fund, which has given to this section the reputation of an exceptionally progressive community. Mr. Adams conceived the idea of the Community Fund, which is subscribed to in January of each year, practically every business house and other interest contributing a given sum monthly. The fund makes possible the maintenance of a thirty-piece community band, which renders weekly concerts from May to October each year; a winning baseball club; and an active booster club; and pays for all community enterprises, such as the community Christmas tree and a Raisin Day entry, and any other special undertaking. The Merchants' Association of Livingston is the director of this fund and designates how it shall be disbursed. Mr. Adams is the secretary of the Boosters' Club, successor to the old Board of Trade.
Becoming the candidate, in 1924, of the Democratic party for the forty-ninth California legislative district, comprising Merced and Madera Counties, Mr. Adams won out by the largest majority ever obtained by any candidate for the legislature in said district and that, too, in a Republican landslide year in a strongly Republican district. He has ably championed the interests of the producers of the State, having introduced and successfully passed Bill No. 225, known as the Commission Men's Regulation Bill. He has introduced several other bills and has especially sought to further the interests of the farm bureaus of the State. Four of his bills aimed at relief for the Delhi Land Settlement, one of which was introduced as a concurrent resolution calling for the appointment of a legislative investigating committee for the purpose of looking into the conditions at Delhi and resulted in giving substantial relief to the colonists. His influence is ever cast for the good of the people, according to true Jeffersonian doctrine. Both Mr. and Mrs. Adams are members of the St. Mark's Mission in Livingston. Fraternally, he is a member of the Fresno Camp, W. O. W.
History of Merced County, California: with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present.
By John Outcalt (1925), page: 607
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1925)
Contributed by: Carol Lackey