CAPT. JOHN M. ADAIR, Springfield, Ill., was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, May 11, 1840. When eight years of age his parents emigrated to Carroll county, Illinois; he was reared on a farm until seventeen years of age, when he was employed as a clerk, which occupation he followed till 1861; he then enlisted in the Forty-fifth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Company E, as a private; was mustered in at Mount Carroll, Illinois, September 14th, 1861; thence to Camp Washburn, Galena, Illinois; was promoted to First Sergeant November 22, 1861. Regiment moved to Camp Douglas, Chicago, where it remained until January 12, 1862; was promoted to Second Lieutenant, December 1, 1861; from Chicago went to Cairo, and February 3, 1862, left Cairo for Fort Henry, where they were to intercept the rebels; from Fort Henry he went to Fort Donalson, and participated in its capture; remained until March 4, 1862, when they broke camp and marched to the Tennessee river, where they took boats for Savannah; then to Pittsburg Landing, where his regiment was engaged both days; was also at the siege and capture of Corinth. During the summer of 1862, he was stationed at Jackson, Tennessee, and the regiment was detailed to guard the railroad company, being assigned to Toon's Station, twenty-two miles from Jackson. On the 29th day of August, Armstrong's cavalry raided the country in the vicinity of Jackson, and struck Toon's Station, where a severe scrimmage took place; November 2, broke camp at Jackson and participated in the Mississippi campaign to Oxford, under General Grant, and while on this move, the regiment had to subsist on ear corn (allowing three ears for a ration), for two weeks; they, in the meantime, constructed a mill to grind it into meal. The command returned to Memphis, remained in camp for a time, and then proceeded down the Mississippi river and participated in the capture of Vicksburg. While on the Mississippi campaign, Captain Adair was promoted to second Lieutenant November 4th, 1862, and soon thereafter to First Lieutenant.
During the Vicksburg campaign and the greater part of the time of the siege, he was in command of the company, as Fisk, captain of the company, was on detached duty.
During the siege of Vicksburg Captain Fisk was promoted to Major of his regiment, and Captain Adair received another promotion as his successor and earned his title of Captain during that memorable siege.
After the capture of Vicksburg and during the summer of 1863, Captain Adair was on detached service as Assistant Provost Marshal at Vicksburg, in charge of river transportation and general business of the city. In the fall of 1863 the regiment veteranized, and the following spring was given a veteran furlough for thirty days. Captain Adair was relieved as Assistant Provost Marshal, and returned to his home with the regiment. In April, 1864, he returned to duty, the Forty-fifth Regiment being attached to the Seventeenth Army Corps, when they participated in the Atlantic campaign.
Capt. Adair resigned on account of ill health and returned to his home in Mt. Carroll, in 1865. Shortly after was employed as Deputy Circuit Clerk of Carroll county, under Maj. Nase in Mt. Carroll, where he remained until 1868; during the term, and in the winter of 1867, was Assistant secretary of the State Senate; in the summer of 1868, bought the Carroll County Gazette, at Lanark, Illinois, and was associated with J. R. Howlett in its publication until the spring of 1871; in 1869, was elected chief enrolling and engrossing clerk of the Senate. After disposing of his interest in the Gazette, he became sole publisher and proprietor of the Mt. Carroll Mirror, which he conducted until 1874; in July of the same year he was appointed by Colonel Harlow, Secretary of State, to take charge of the department of indexes and archives in the office of the Secretary of State, which position he has held since, with the exception of the winter of 1881, when he was chief clerk of the Secretary of State. the work upon which Captain Adair has been engaged, is one of great importance to the public service, and to be fully appreciated it must be understood that until his appointment, the files of the State department were in utter confusion, and the records without the means of reference. Out of this disorder and confusion, system and order have been wrought, and it is doubtful if any State in the Union has a better system of indexes or a more ready means of reference to its files and records than Illinois, at least as far as the work has progressed, for it is proper to say that it is not yet complete. It was organized and systemized under the intelligent direction of Captain Adair, and perhaps no person in the State has so full a knowledge of facts and State Legislative history as he has, in consequence of his long and intimate association with the public business and the special business of the departments.
In 1878, Mr. Adair married Miss Rebecca T. Halderman, of Mt. Carroll, a daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Halderman.