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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


Ira P. Adams






     IRA P. ADAMS is one of Manchester's first merchants. He has resided here more than a third of a century, during all of which time he has been actively engaged in business. In this record of the first settlers of Delaware county, his history finds an appropriate place. Mr. Adams is a native of Vermont, as were also his parents. He was born in Essex county.

      His father and mother were born in Windsor county. His father, Trumbull Adams, is still living, being a resident of Manchester. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Cynthia Tarbell, died in 1849. The father came West first in November, 1855, settling in Dubuque county, this state. After making a trip or two back and forth between this state and New York, he came in April, 1869, to Delaware county, settling in Prairie township, where, and in the town of Manchester, he has since resided. He has spent all his years in the peaceful pursuit of agriculture, having led the active, industrious and useful life common to his calling. He is now past his eighty fifth year, having been born on April 13, 1805. Mr. Adams' mother was born July 10, 1809. She was an industrious, frugal housewife, and, like most of her sex, very domestic in her tastes and greatly devoted to her family, illustrating in her daily life and conversation those many virtues of her sex which make the name of wife and mother so sacred.


     The issue of the marriage of Trumbull and Cynthia Adams was three sons, all of whom are now living, the eldest being Ira P., the subject of this biographical notice the second, Walter T., his partner in business, being also a resident of Manchester and the youngest, Lucius W., now living in Mitchell, Dak.

      Ira P. Adams was born January 1, 1832.  He was reared in Essex and Windsor counties, Vt., growing up on the farm and receiving a good common-school training dividing his time between his farm labor and the school-room. At the age of twenty he started out in the world to make his way, going in 1850 to Troy, N. Y., when he purchased a wagon, loaded it with tin ware and notions, and started out as a Yankee peddler. He plied his trade in industriously for six years, traveling extensively, and supplying the country folk and villages, far and near, with such commodities as he carried in his line. By industry, perseverance and economy he saved money from his earnings, and was enabled, at the end of six years so spent, to look out for other fields for the employment of his energies and capital. He fell in with the strong tide of emigration then steadily making for the great West, and came to Iowa taking up his residence on the present site of Manchester, in June 17, 1857. The town was called Burrington, afterward assumed the name it now bears, and as a commercial center it existed more at that date in contemplation, than it did in reality. There were two or three general stores, a frame hotel, a mill dam and a dozen dwelling houses; and this constituted the sum total of the future metropolis. Mr. Adams cast his fortunes with the new town and resolutely went to work to add his contribution to the common wealth of the place. He opened a small hardware store in connection with Ira U. Butler, under the firm name of Adams & Butler, it being the first hardware establishment of the town. At the same date he built a grain elevator and engaged in handling grain, this also being the first elevator in the new town and the first in the county. The country was new, trade was good, and his affairs in consequence prospered steadily from the beginning. He did a thriving business in hardware and grain, up to 1866. At that date he sold his interest in the elevator and has since been engaged solely in handling hardware. Mr. Adams has given his entire attention to business all his life, and in that line has devoted his time and energies to his own personal affairs. In so doing, he has given new point and practical force to the sound advice of the old Quaker: " Stick to thy business, my son, and they business will stick to thee." Starting out now near thirty years ago, with the meager earnings of a few years as a farm hand, he has steadily and industriously followed the one purpose of his life, and that being to develop himself and his interests along the way, blazed as it were by nature for him. Conscious as well of what he is not as of what he is, he has plied his utmost sense to labors of diligence, and in so doing has bettered his own condition and the condition of those around him, finding in this his chief pleasure as well as his highest reward. Of necessity, he has been called upon to fill some positions of a local kind in connection with the administration of the affairs of his town and vicinity. He has served on the school board and town council, bringing to the discharge of his duties in these capacities, the same zeal and fidelity that he has displayed in his attentions to his own personal matters. Possessing a clear judgment, a conservative disposition and habits of the strictest economy, he is alike officer says the weight of a strong personal example.

      Mr. Adams was a single man when he came to this county. He married January 5, 1858, taking to share his fortunes through life Miss Gracie Eastabrook, a native of New York, she having been born in Essex county, that state, November 5, 1830. After having borne him for more than twenty-two years the cherished companionship he sought with her hand, she passed to the unknown land, departing this life in July, 1880. She was the mother of twelve children, eight of whom are now living, these being three sons and five daughters, by name and in the order of their ages as follows: Alfred P., Orison T., Elmer P., Clara, Mary, Sarah, Grace and Bessie. Mrs. Adams was a zealous member of the Methodist church, and her life blossomed with the best fruits of the faith she professed. Mr. Adams has since remarried, taking to wife Miss Lucy Snyder, of this county, but a native of the State of New York.

      It has been stated that Mr. Adams never aspired to public life. He is not, however, without political convictions. He affiliates with the republican party, and is a stanch supporter of its doctrines and possesses a good range of information respecting its accomplishments, its teachings and traditions.  He belongs also to the Methodist church, and is active in the furtherance of the cause of his church and in promoting the good of his fellow men, regardless of religious beliefs.


~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 688-690; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson