Charles Edward Adams, proprietor of a hay and feed store at Nos. 1108 and 1110 J street in Sacramento, was born in Randolph county, Illinois, on the 28th of March, 1841. He was seven years of age at the time of his parents’ removal to New Orleans, and in 1853 the family took passage on a steamer at that port bound for California. The family home was established in Sacramento, and there Mr. Adams continued to attend school for two years. In 1855 he returned to the east, going to Massachusetts in order to complete his education, and following his graduation he made his way to St. Louis, Missouri, where he entered the office of the Missouri Republican in order to learn the printing business. In 1859 he made his way to New Orleans, where he again spent six months, but in the fall of that year returned to California, this time by way of the isthmus and arriving in San Francisco early in 1860. He did not tarry at the Golden Gate, however, but at once continued his journey to Sacramento, and shortly after his return to the capital city entered the employ of James I. Felker, a grocer, with whom he remained until after war was declared between the north and the south in 1861.
At the outbreak of hostilities Mr. Adams enlisted in response to his country’s call for aid and became a member of Company F, Second California Volunteer Cavalry, for three years. He served as quartermaster sergeant under the command of Captain A. De Merritt, now deceased, and with part of his company was detailed to do provost duty in San Francisco, where he remained until mustered out on the 25th of November, 1864, at the expiration of his term of service. While he and his comrades were much disappointed in not seeing active service in the field Mr. Adams recalls many pleasant experiences and incidents of his military life. When he was mustered out the officers of the regiment signed a recommendation for a commission for him, but he considered the war practically at an end and did nothing toward securing the commission. Ten years later, however, he learned that he could have had the commission had he so desired.
At the end of his term of enlistment Mr. Adams went to Mazatlan, Mexico, where he opened a hotel. the place at that time was occupied by the French. Mr. Adams, however, was a loyal citizen of the United States and he had his wife make a large American flag, which he raised over his hotel on the 4th of July, 1865. This was the only American flag displayed in the town, and his courage and patriotism found ample justification in the universal respect paid to the stars and stripes. In December, 1865, he sold his hotel and made his way to a mining camp near Durango, where he opened a general store. There he had remained for a year, carrying on his business with fair success, when the clamor of war was raised and his fighting blood again manifested itself. He believed that he would be safer in the Mexican army than the disturbed condition of the country warranted as a civilian, and accordingly he made his way to Durango. American service was held at a premium and Mr. Adams was given a commission as captain of engineers. At that time the campaign against the French under Maximilian was being vigorously pushed. Shortly after receiving his commission orders were received to lay siege to the city of Queretaro, and after some bombardment and numerous engagements, which continued for two and a half months, Maximilian surrendered the city unconditionally on the 15th of May, 1867. The next move was toward the city of Mexico under the command of General Porfiro Diaz, the present president of the republic, and this city was forced to capitulate on the 21st of June, 1867. In his capacity as captain of engineers Mr. Adams came into very close contact with General Diaz and speaks of him in terms of highest praise. He remained with that general until the end of the year and then went to the state of Zacatecas, where he was engaged in mining until the spring of 1875, when he returned to California. After working for two seasons on a threshing machine he opened the hay and feed store which he has since successfully conducted, having built up a good business which returns to him a gratifying annual income.
In 1864 Captain Adams was united in marriage to Miss R. D. Hite, of Sacramento county, who accompanied him to Mexico, sharing with him in all the hardships and privations of a soldier’s life, as well as its dangers. She died in the fall of 1890, and her loss has been greatly mourned by her husband and many friends. By this marriage two sons and a daughter were born: Frank H. Adams, who is associated with his father in the hay and grain business, and married Mabel Southworth; Charles William Adams, who at the age of nineteen years is studying music in Boston, Massachusetts, and is organist of St. Mathew’s Protestant Episcopal church, of that city; and Elizabeth Mary, who is the wife of J. O. Hand, a locomotive engineer of Sacramento.
In his political views Mr. Adams is a stanch Republican, and he took a very active part in the work of the Lincoln campaign in 1860, although he was not old enough to vote at that time. He takes a great interest in the local government and municipal affairs, and has rendered his party valuable service, yet has never been an aspirant for political honors, preferring to do his duty as a private citizen. He is a prominent and influential member of the Grand Army post, having joined Sumner Post No. 3, in Sacramento in 1867. He has creditably filled all the positions in the post, including that of commander. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Knights of Honor, and in the latter order has been assistant grand dictator, while for a number of terms he has been treasurer of the local lodge. Mr. Adams owes his success in business to his strict integrity and careful attention to the wants of his customers. He is devotedly attached to Sacramento, its welfare and its progress, and although he has seen much of the world he has found no place more attractive than the one he has chosen for his home.
Source: Irvine, Leigh H. History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II, p. 573. New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.