Whether it be any number of festivals, some magnificent parks and historic buildings or even the "HUGE" Fuccillo Auto Mall, the Town of Adams has been drawing people in for more than 200 years and some of the those people have done amazing things for our nation. In this edition of "Your Hometown", Brian Dwyer and photojournalist RD White bring us to the small town in Southern Jefferson County and give us a taste of how it got so popular.
ADAMS, N.Y. -- It's just something in the air, the Town of Adams here in Jefferson County, it's just fresh. Of course that could be because the Village of Adams is known as the Arbor Day Village which makes this a great time for us to be here this Arbor Day weekend, but as for how that came about and everything else, let's check it out.
"1802 was when we had Adams established. Of course you had settlers like you had everywhere. Good place to settle because the creek was there. Sandy Creek,” said Sue Herse, Town of Adams historian.
Over the next few decades feeds mills, lumber mills and even a cheese plant led the way and Adams was thriving, but in the late 1800's an interesting invention to help cure a serious injury took off.
Invented by a man named William Collings, a company based on a harness for hernias was sold to one of his employees, William Rice. Rice took the device nationwide.
"When we're talking about Rice's we talk about trusses and what it was because you didn't have the surgeons that operated for hernias that we have today. So people wore these garments that would hold a hernia in and that was a big business,” said Herse.
Also a big draw was something Adams had that most didn't, a school for higher education. In fact, it was only one of two in Jefferson County.
"It was called the Hungerford Collegiate Institute. They had a training school there for teachers for many, many years. They even kept residents for the people that were from away. It sort of resembled what you have today at Oswego or Potsdam or the places that are teacher colleges,” said Herse.
But as important as these products and schools were, Adams boasts some individual importance as well. People from the small town who created big things.
"Melvil Dewey was born in Adams Center in 1851. He lived there for about 17 years,” said Ed Blankman, former South Jeff High librarian.
A student at the Hungerford Collegiate Institute, Dewey became extremely interested in education, especially reforming it. He did so at the library.
"He wanted to classify the information so that all the philosophy books would be in one area and all of the literature books would be in one area,” said Blankman.
And that's how we got the Dewey Decimal System. Because it's a funny system... Because while most everyone has heard of it, how many really know how it works?
Of course now days everything is computerized and card catalogs are no longer used. In fact the system itself is slowly fading out as well, but another man born in Adams created something that will likely stand the test of time. His name was J. Sterling Morton and he's a big part of the reason people stop to take in the air.
"He was born in Adams and moved to Nebraska in his early childhood. He became the governor out there and he was very much into the trees. Especially flowering trees. They started the idea of a day to plant trees,” said Herse.
And born was Arbor Day, but also coming to life was a friendly battle between Adams and Nebraska City. Who can claim the day for its own?
"We can say he was born here, but they say he lived there. So they don't really acknowledge his birthplace I guess,” said Connie Elliott, Arbor Day events organizer.
But that hasn't stopped Adams from honoring Morton and Arbor Day every year for the last 25, hosting a big ceremony and even planting some trees.
"I think everybody looks forward to it every year. We get a lot of people calling from other parts of New York State as far as coming to be crafters. It's just an event we hope all the villages will come out and enjoy,” said Elliott.
Something the proud folks here say they'll do because after all, it's history and a future they want to preserve.
The Village of Adams also offers a walking tour of some of its historic homes.