Preserving, promoting history is her passion
CADIZ — Susan Morris Adams of Cadiz spends the present relishing the past.
And for that commitment exemplified in many ways, Adams has been selected as part of the 2020 Class of Community Stars, having been nominated by Dee Ann Horstman, curator of the Scio Historical Museum. Wrote Horstman of Adams in her nomination letter to the newspapers: “She is continually active in promoting and preserving Harrison County’s history and historic events in surrounding counties.”
Why is that?
Adams has always enjoyed history, and she’s a numbers person, too.
“History is numbers, so maybe that has something to do with it,” noted Adams, who idenitifed history as probably her best subject in school, not to mention that she liked visiting museums and battlefields and reading historical novels and books.
The middle child of nine, Adams tells people she received her “fetching up” in Belmont, Portage and Stark counties, attending schools in all three counties and ultimately graduating from Union Local High School in Belmont, Ohio. She earned a degree in applied business from Belmont College when it was Belmont Technical College and serves on the Belmont College Foundation Board.
“I came to Cadiz in 1969 when I was hired to work for Ohio Power Co.,” explained Adams, whose career with the company that would become American Electric Power spanned 41 years. “I was transferred to Steubenville, then to Cambridge, then to Zanesville and completed my last 13 years in the billing and accounts operations in Steubenville,” she noted.
She married “the love of her life,” John Adams, in 1971. “John was a barber across the street from the power company and lived in Deersville — thus, Deersville became my second home,” she said. “His parents had a farm there that we would go out to help with some of the jobs that needed done. We attended church there and had Sunday dinner with his parents every week. In 1973, John took a job for R&F Coal Co. and worked for them for 25 years as a blaster — one who puts off explosives to move the dirt to get to the coal — while he continued to barber and farm. I lost John in 2002 after his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease,” she added.
“I got interested in Harrison County history when I first came to Harrison County,” she explained. “Ernie Karr from Freeport, a retired meter reader for Ohio Power, asked me to retype all this Freeport history he had accumulated over the years because the news print was fading. I worked for hours retyping all those articles on an old manual typewriter.”
Because of that, Adams learned a lot but wanted to know more.
“I actually got my husband more interested in history, and he got involved in joining the Sons of the American Revolution. He helped do research for a series of books that they published on patriots who settled in this area. While I was helping him do that research on men who settled in Jefferson County, I stumbled upon all this information I remembered my father telling us about our relatives,” she noted.
“That got me into digging deeper into my family roots. My Huff’s and Doddridge’s were early settlers in Jefferson County. Philip Doddridge donated the ground where the town of Brilliant (originally Philipsburg) is today. William and Joseph Huff were both Indian scouts. In 2019 I was accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution based on William Huff’s service in the American Revolution. Joseph Huff received 640 acres of ground that was located just outside New Athens, Ohio, for his service to the government as an Indian scout. Joseph was hired by the government to provide meat to the surveyors who came to this area. His daughter, Charlotte, married John Morris, one of the men who came to this area from Brooke County, Va., in 1812 to work with the surveying crews when Harrison County was being formed out of Jefferson County. Having these connections made me want to know more about the area,” she continued.
“One of the first programs I put on at the Puskarich Public Library was a series of old pictures from Cadiz,” Morris said. “In the drawers of the historical society were old news articles that went with the pictures and by using that information, it brought life to the pictures.” The ultimate compliment came when an audience member “complained” the program wasn’t long enough.
“Since then, with the help of Pam Singhaus, we did a ‘Cadiz Then and Now’ using the pictures from the first presentation and adding current pictures. I then did a presentation on ‘Harrison County Using Pictures and Post Cards,’ ‘Harrison County Schools,’ the ‘Harrison County Fair,’ using a lot of information gathered from Dr. Scott Pendleton, ‘Notable Women of Harrison County’ and last year, ‘Forgotten Communities of Harrison County.’ Every day I learn something new about the area. Harrison County was a major crossroads for people going from Pittsburgh to Columbus and from Wheeling to Wooster,” she noted.
Adams provides a weekly picture for “Look at the Past” for the Harrison News Herald, providing a little history with it. “I have used pictures and information from my PowerPoint presentations for this weekly submission and posted them to Facebook in Growing Up in Harrison County and Old Pictures of Forgotten Ohio,” she said. “People seem to be hungry to hear about the past. The administrator of the Old Pictures of Forgotten Ohio told me one day that my pictures receive the most ‘Likes,’ have the most comments and the most shares,” she said.
“Having lived and worked in Belmont, Harrison and Guernsey counties and working in Jefferson County I have been exposed to the histories of the area and people,” Morris noted. “We have so much to be proud of and need to get that information out.”
Adams has an extensive roster of activity in history-related organizations.
She is the past president of the Harrison County Genealogical Society, having served for 15 years, and is now its secretary/treasurer and newsletter editor.
She is a member of the Harrison County Historical Society and uses the materials from the historical and genealogical societies to prepare the various presentations and for material for the “Look at the Past.” “I shared the information from the presentations with the high school to use for their local history class. I have helped do some research for the annual cemetery walk that Dr. Scott Pendleton does for the historical society. I volunteer in the genealogy research library helping people from all over the United States look for family connections, help go through records for book research and help locate information for road construction, information on stone quarries, burials in local cemeteries, etc.”
Morris is a member of the Moravian Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and has accepted the challenge to be its registrar — “the one who helps with the research for the linage.” She also is a member of the Belmont and Jefferson County Genealogical Societies; the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Society in Bellaire; the Custer Memorial Association in New Rumley; and is a life member of the Harrison and Jefferson County Historical Societies, the Ohio Genealogical Society and the Franklin Museum in New Athens.
Additionally, she is a member of the Harrison Coal Reclamation and Historical Park and the Deersville Improvement Historic Preservation Society, the purpose of which is to work with the Hall Board to maintain the Community Hall and Theater and preserve and promote the historic character of the village. “In 2018-19, Mary Jane Engler, her mother Charlotte “Sharkey” Bell and I restored the Homer Poulson house across from the Deersville General Store,” Adams explained. “Homer wrote the book ‘History of Deersville’ and owned and operated the Deersville General Store starting in 1899. All of the meetings for the building of the Community Hall were held in the living room of this house by his wife, Mary. The house was ready for the wrecking ball. We were glad to preserve this piece of Deersville history and keep one of the houses that is part of Deersville’s Main Street on the National Register of Historic Places. Our DIHPS group did a lot of work back in 2015 for the 200th anniversary of the founding of Deersville,” she added.
An active member of the Deersville United Methodist Church, Adams also is working with Jack Kibble of the Harrison County Historical Society on a program to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Nelms Mine disaster that happened on Nov. 29, 1940. The explosion killed 31 miners. “It is a powerful story, interesting and sad, and needs to be shared. The Harrison County Historical Society is working in conjunction with the Puskarich Public Library, which houses the Harrison County Coal Museum. The program will be at the newly acquired gymnasium in Scio sometime in late October,” she noted.
Adams’ community involvement also includes membership in the Unionport Chapter 360, Order of Eastern Star, the Deersville Community Garden Club and the Tappan Happy Hatters, formerly the Deersville Red Hat Mamma’s, and is the past president of the Cadiz Woman’s Civic Club.
“I have an antique car, a 1976 Grand Prix, that I haven’t had time to get out and go to car shows, but look forward to doing that next year,” she noted.
Adams was asked to share the two most interesting historical facts she has learned regarding Harrison County.
One involves Rhoda Greer Wise, who was born in Cadiz and is up for Sainthood in the Catholic Church. “Should she become a Saint, she will be only the fourth person from the United States to obtain that honor,” she said. “Her grandmother, Rachel Greer, with her husband, William, ran the Greer Brickworks in Cadiz. When they were building the courthouse in 1894-95, the brick layer was getting his bricks for them. (The brickworks was where Wendy’s is today.) He was charging the bricks and said he would pay her when E.M. Long paid him. She was afraid she would not get her money so she went and filed a mechanic’s lien against the new courthouse. E.M. Long could not transfer the courthouse to the county commissioners until Rachel Greer was paid,” she noted.
Another interesting note is that Harrison County is rich in connections to Abraham Lincoln, according to Morris.
“Edwin Stanton had practiced law in Cadiz and became Secretary of War. John A. Bingham was a Congressman and helped author the 14th Amendment that is in the news today with immigration reform. He also was the prosecutor of Lincoln’s assassins. He was the first ambassador to Japan. Gen. George A. Custer was one of the youngest generals under the Lincoln Administration. Bishop Matthew Simpson was chosen to preach the ‘Congressional Sermon’ for Lincoln’s second inauguration. Simpson was the most prominent bishops in America’s largest denomination (Methodist) and was a decisive force in both the political and religious life of Civil War America. He was Lincoln’s spiritual adviser and gave the final eulogy in Springfield, Ill., at Lincoln’s funeral,” she explained.
Asked what she would most like to get across to readers, Morris responded:
“E. M. Long, the man who built many wonderful buildings in Harrison County, including the court house, had a favorite saying — ‘True greatness is to serve.’ We all need to contribute to the betterment of the community where we live. We need to support the various organizations in many instances with our ‘time,’ sometimes with our money. Find something that you have an interest in and ‘give’ to help that group. Everyone has a talent or interest. By each of us contributing, we make our place a better place to live, work, play and raise a family. We need to make this area a place to be proud of and where people want to put down roots. This has to be one of the most beautiful parts of the state. I am proud to call it home. The people here have been good to me, accepted me, and it is my pleasure to give back and call it “home.”
Adam’s charity is the Harrison County Genealogical Society.