WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
ORSON BENNETT ADAMS
(engineer, miner, bishop)
BIOGRAPHYOrson Bennett Adams was born March 9, 1815 in New York.
Orson married Susannah "Susan" Smith in 1836 in Morgan, Illinois. They moved to Schyler, Illinois. They had three daughters and an adopted son. In 1840, the family was living in Brown, Illinois, and it was in that year that the family joined the Mormon Church. They moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Orson helped build the Mormon temple. In 1844, Orson and Susan, who had lost two babies, were given a baby boy whose mother had died, who they adopted and raised.
Orson was the second man to join the Mormon Battalion, enlisting on July 16, 1846. Susan also went as a laundress and nurse (she had been raised in the home of Dr. Priddy Meeks). Orson was discharged on December 16, 1847.
In 1859, Orson married Charlotte Elizabeth Gingell. Orson & Charlotte had two children, but then she left him and remarried in Wyoming.
In 1861 (spring of 1862?), Orson was called to settle at the confluence of Leeds and Quail Creeks. Nine families built the new settlement called Harrisburg. A small sandstone masonry house was built in 1863 for the family, and it is still standing. The family lived in this house until the early 1890s.
In 1869, Orson became presiding elder of Harrisburg (what would now be known as bishop). In 1874, he was made treasurer of the Leeds Ward United Order. He then served again as presiding elder in Harrisburg from 1876 to 1889 and as bishop of the Harrisburg Ward from 1889 to 1891 when meetings in Harrisburg were discontinued and people then attended meetings in Leeds.
During the winter of 1870, John Kemple stayed with their family and made the famous initial discovery of silver in the surrounding reefs. Orson was one of those who filed a mining claim under the Union Mining District formed by John Kemple. When the district was reorganized in 1874, Orson was the president of the new Harrisburg Mining District (which encompassed 144 square miles with the schoolhouse at its center).
Susan died in 1892, and Orson soon moved to his daughter's home in Leeds. He died on February 4, 1901 in Leeds, and is buried there.
REFERENCESOrson Bennett Adams
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.