History of Prospect Place Dresden

Prospect Place wasa station on the "Underground Railroad" and was used to safelymove escaped slaves to freedom. The property is listed on the NationalHistoric Register as the "George Willison Adams House."

To use theNational Register search page enter "OH" in the state code, and"Muskingum" in the county.

African Americanrefugees who had escaped slavery in the South would be kept in thebasement of the mansion. They would be given food, lamps, blanketsand whatever they lacked for their trip further north along theUnderground Railroad.  Prospect Place was one of the largest stationson the Underground Railroad in the state of Ohio. Bounty huntersfrom thesouth regularly roamed the Ohio countryside looking for runaway slaves,the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made this legal, even though Ohio was afree state. It was a very risky business to be involved inliberating these people.

THE MAN BEHIND THE MANSION:

George Willison Adams 

'George W Adams and his father's family were among the earliest settlersof Muskingum County. Leaving the beautiful Virginia home in Fauquier (Fa-keer)County because of his strong abolition views and believing implicitly inthe doctrine "that all men are born free and equal" -- an ideawhich had few followers among Virginia slave holders of that day -- hegave his slaves their freedom and sought a new home in a state where menwere not held in bondage and where thought was free.

Faquier county today as seen fromInterstate 66

George WillisonAdams, the youngest of George Adams, came with his father to Ohio in 1808,being at that time nearly eight years of age. They settled in MadisonTownship and spent their remaining days in Muskingum County. About theyear 1828 George W Adams and his brother Edward built a large flouringmill at the place that became known as Adams Mills. This being the firstenterprise of that character in all that section of the country. A littlelater they built another large mill near the town of Dresden. These atonce proved of inestimable value to the people of that locality forhitherto they had to go very long distances in order to have their grainground into bread stuffs. The Adams brothers also engaged in merchandisingin those days according to the primitive methods of the time, going eastfor goods which they shipped by canal to Ohio for there were no railroadsin this part of the country. They also shipped grain and flour by flatboatto New Orleans, George W Adamsoften going himself by flatboats down the Ohio and the Mississippi riversand returning to the north with provisions which were needed in the newsettlement. 

During the Civil War, George W. Adams gave much of his means to help thecause of the north and to preserve the union of the states, for the unitedcountry was very dear to him and he rejoiced greatly inthe triumph of the Union Armies. Hispublic-spiritedness was also shown in the aid which he gave to therailroads, giving many miles of right of way to both the Panhandleand the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley railroad companies throughhis lands. He became a director of both railroad companies, acting in thatcapacity from the time of their building of their lines until his death.Together with several other prominent citizens he formed a stock companyto build a suspension bridge across the Muskingum River near Dresden. Whenthe other members of the company became fearful that the plan was notfeasible and that they would loose money, George W Adams built a bridge athis own expense, his nephew George Copeland, being the engineer. This wasconducted as a toll bridge for a number of years and then he sold it tothe county commissioners for one third of the original cost to him. Hegave most liberally to the Episcopal Church at Dresden, of which he wasfor many years a member. He gave the ground on which the church andrectory were built, besides contributing to the erection of the church. 

Mr. Adams was also prominent in political circles and at one time servedas a member of the General Assembly of Ohio. He was a man of markedinfluence, his fellow townsmen recognizing the fact that thewelfare of the county was very dear to him, and he also possessed asage judgment and keen discernment in all business matters and in affairsrelating to the progress and upbuilding of the county 

While actively concerned with many public interests Mr. Adams also capablyconducted his private business affairs and for a number of years was oneof the largest landowners and leading stock-raisers in central Ohio. Ashis financial resources increased he made judicious investment in land andhad large and valuable farms which increased in value owing to thecultivation bestowed upon them and because of the demand made for propertyby a constantly increasing population 

Mr. Adams was twice married and passed away August 31, 1879, survived byhis wife and seven children. The eldest, Anna, is now the wife of WilliamCox and resides upon the old homestead near Dresden . Mary Adams liveswith her sister Anna. Elizabeth is the wife of Mordecai T Endicott andresides in Washington, D.C., her husband being a rear admiral in theUnited States Navy and recently appointed by President Roosevelt to theposition of engineer on the Panama Canal commission. Sophia resides inZanesville with her mother. Charles W is living in St. Paul, Minnesota.Jessie is the wife of Frank E. Huggins of Columbus. John J. Adams, livingin Zanesville is a well known attorney, who formerly served on the bench.Mrs. Adams resides at No. 1146 Maple Avenue in Zanesville where she has abeautiful home and although seventy-three years of age is well preserved.The circle of her friends is extensive for like her husband she isesteemed by all who have known her. No history of Muskingum County wouldbe complete without mention of the Hon. George W. Adams, who was for manyyears a leading citizen of this part of the state. He was faultless inhonor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation and his life's worktouched many lines of activity that have proved of benefit in theupbuilding of the city and the county.' 

The following is an excerptfrom "History Past & Present of the City of Zanesville andMuskingum County Ohio"
published in 1909 and written by J Hope Sutor.

A HISTORY OF JOHN J ADAMS,SON OF GEORGE W ADAMS:

 John J. Adams ,Esq.


'John J. Adams, a practitioner at the Muskingum County bar and for sixyears judge of the Judicial Circuit of Ohio, was born on the 18th ofNovember, 1860, on his father's farm (Prospect Place) near Dresden, thisstate, his parents being the late George Willison and Mary J. R. Adams.His primary education was obtained in the district schools and wascontinued in the High School at Dresden and Zanesville, being graduatedfrom the latter institution with the class of June, 1875. His morespecifically literary education was acquired in Kenyon College, atGambier, Ohio, which he entered in the fall of 1875, completing the coursethere by graduation with the class of 1879. Through the succeeding threeyears he engaged in teaching in Harcourt Place Academy, at Gambier, Ohio,a private boarding school for boys, and in September, 1880, he enteredupon the study of law under the direction of the Honorable Moses M.Granger, of Zanesville. Following his careful preliminary reading he was admitted to the Ohio bar, January 2, 1883, entering upon the practice ofhis chosen profession in partnership with Colonel Gilbert D. Munson, underthe firm name of Munson and Adams, which relation was maintained from thespring of 1883 until November, 1893, when Colonel Munson was elected tothe Common pleas bench. 

The following year Mr. Adams received the Republican nomination for judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Ohio, and was elected in November by aplurality of eight thousand eight hundred and ninety-four. The fifthcircuit is composed of the counties of Ashland, Richland, Wayne, Stark,Morrow, Delaware, Licking, Knox, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Muskingum,Morgan, Fairfield and Perry. Judge Adams was the first Republican judgeelected to the circuit bench in this circuit, large Democratic majoritieshaving previously been given. He served on the bench for the full term ofsix years, from February 9, 1895, until February 9, 1901. The practice oflaw has been his real life work, and at the bar and on the bench he haswon distinction. A man of unimpeachable character, of unusual intellectualendowments, with a thorough understanding of the law, patience, urbanityand industry, Judge Adams took to the bench the very highestqualifications for this responsible position in the state government, and his record as a Judge has been in harmony with his record as a man and alawyer, distinguished by unswerving integrity and a masterful grasp ofevery problem which has presented itself for solution. 

On the 26th of October, 1892, Judge Adams was married to Miss Dora May Black, the only daughter of Thomas and Cornelia (Van Ham) Black. Mrs.Adams died October 27th, 1904. '

 

 

Like a mystery?  Click here to look for the missing William Cox

Click here to read a 1948 newspaper article about Prospect Place

Historic Buildings of the Area

 

Thecanal system in Ohio wasthe best way to get from place to place in Ohio before the time of therailroad.  Near Dresden/Trinway you will find evidence of this canalnetwork.  Right beside State Route 16 you will notice a large"ditch".  This ditch is, in fact, the remains of the Ohioand Erie canal.  A restored canal town, Roscoe Village, is located in Coshocton, just 15 minutes from ProspectPlace.  Dresden itself has the remains of a series of locks whichonce connected the Ohio & Erie canal to the Muskingum River.


Thebridge across the Muskingum River

Unfortunately, the bridgebuilt by G.W. Adams and designed by JohnAugustus Roebling ([1806-1869], creator of the Brooklyn Bridge), waswashed away in the flood of 1913.  Today, however, you can see thereplacement built in 1914.  It sits somewhat higher than itspredecessor but in the same location.  This steel link suspensionbridge is no longer in service but has been preserved as a historictreasure by the Village of Dresden.

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