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  Magoffin County Historical Society 
"Preserving Our Past for the Future"

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This article, written by Todd Preston, president of the Magoffin County Historical Society, was taken from the
May 12, 2016  issue of THE SALYERSVILLE INDEPENDENT newspaper.

The Salyersville Independent , a weekly newspaper. P. O. Box 29, Salyersville, KY 41465. Telephone (606) 349-2915.  Yearly subscription rates are $24.00 in Kentucky and $32.00 per year out of state.

Our primary purpose for organizing the Magoffin County Historical Society in April of 1978 was to share information and help people search for family history in our local area. With Todd Preston at the helm and with the help and ideas of many people we extended our original plans to a much greater level. We took on such formidable tasks as printing local genealogy and sponsoring a county celebration that we called "Founder’s Day".

The very first of these undertakings for our historical society was centered on the Adams family, a family name we chose to honor because of the visit of an Oklahoma couple, Joe and Yvona Mason, who were in our area searching for material about her ancestor William "Uncle Billy" Adams. While helping the Mason family find information and visiting sites associated with Yvona’s ancestor, we remembered former Salyersville Independent newspaper editor, Albert K. Moore’s desire to have a lasting monument dedicated to William Adams. The town of Salyersville had been known as "Adamsville" prior to 1860 and was a part of Morgan County, KY.

Through the efforts of William Adams and many citizens of the area, including Samuel Salyer who lived at the mouth of Oakley Creek (then a part of Floyd County) a plan was put into place to create a new county with a county seat more accessible to its citizens. Samuel, without the education and vast experience of his opponent, entered and won the race for House of Representatives against lawyer James E. Stewart. As a legislator, Samuel Salyer finally achieved his goal of getting a new county formed. Magoffin became a new county in 1860 with the county seat being renamed Salyersville in honor of Samuel.

Our Fall Journal of 2015 recounts the story of our first Magoffin County Founders Days event in 1979 and the subsequent tributes to our early Adams family settlers and their descendants. In 1979 we had the honor of having Dorothy Amburgey Griffith of St. Louis, MO and Clayton R. Cox of Lexington, KY among our guests for the first Founders Day. Ms. Griffith was the author of the Adams Addenda genealogy journal. Mr. Cox had resumed printing the East Kentuckian genealogy journal after the death of noted researcher Henry P. Scalf of Harold, Floyd County, KY. All were also noted authors with well-respected books of genealogy still in authoritative use today.

In addition to our first printing venture in 1979, the Adams family book, we have printed various articles through the years in our Journals on the family. We have been fortunate in having many people contributed material including N. Baxter Jenkins who has published material on the families of Letcher Co. KY. Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Griffith both acclaimed the work done by James Taylor Adams who was born in Letcher County and who built an Adams library in Big Laurel, VA. Mr. Adams amassed a huge collection of Adams material. He died in 1954 and his materials were stored in Clinch Valley College in Wise, VA. Several of our Magoffin County people corresponded with him.

Our historical society continues to receive a good number of queries from people about their Adams ancestry. The latest was from Caitlyn Bradsher of Baltimore, Maryland. Her great-great grandfather was General Sherman Adams, a son of Randall or Randolph Adams, sometimes seen as "Rannel" in various records.

We were able to help Ms. Bradsher with her questions through the help of Dorothy Cochran of Indiana who contributed a comprehensive listing of the Daniel Adams family to us.

Sherman Adams was the oldest child of Randolph "Rannel" Adams and Polly Jane Cooper who were married in Magoffin County in 1873 at Tom Cooper’s home. Randolph/Randall was the son of Jackson Adams and Galathia Reffitt. He was born in 1851 and died 24 Sep 1926 in Ashland, Boyd Co. KY.

Sherman Adams’ siblings were (1) Celia Adams m. John C. Layne, (2) Rhoda m. Farrish Williams, (3) Oliver Adams b. 1879, (4) Flora Adams m. Add Salyer, (5) Curtie Adams died in 1904, (6) Kelly Adams m. Rosa Lee Adams, (7) Donlan Adams m. Bessie Patrick, (8) Joseph R. Adams b. 1891, (9) Gracie Adams m. Jones Reffitt and (10) Charles Adams b. 1899.

If anyone is related to this family, please write to the Magoffin County Historical Society, PO Box 222, Salyersville, KY 41465 (email: as Ms. Bradsher is planning to make a trip to visit us this summer and we would like for her to meet some of her kinsmen.

Randolph Adams’ wife was Polly Jane Cooper, dau of Thomas R. Cooper and Mary Jane Bayes.

Randolph’s father Jackson Adams was born between 1816 and 1820 in Letcher Co. KY or possibly in North Carolina. He died in 1897 Magoffin County, KY. Jackson was first married in 1837 Floyd Co. KY to Nancy Cooper, a daughter of William Cooper. Nancy died between 1845 and 1846. Jackson married secondly on 13 May 1847 Floyd Co. KY to Galathia Reffitt, a dau of Daniel Reffitt. She died in 1890 and both are buried in the Jackson Adams Cemetery on Brushy Fork of Lick Creek here in Magoffin County. This cemetery was copied for us in 1979 by James H. Adams, Deed Adams and Bobby Joe Hunley. At the time they also found a few graves with no markers.

Jackson Adams was a son of Daniel Adams and his first wife Jane Stone. Jane was a daughter of Cudbeth Stone and Sally. Daniel Adams married second to Matilda Kilgore who was previously married to a Collinsworth.

Daniel Adams was born 16 Jul 1799 and d. 9 Jan 1885, a son of Stephen Adams. Stephen Adams and other family members, including his son William "Uncle Billy" Adams are buried in the Christian Churchyard in Salyersville.

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