Recently, I’ve had to scale way back on how much time I spend doing genealogy. This has been bittersweet: I’m grateful for this new chapter of my life, but I miss the hours looking for records and stories and connections. Amid some smaller projects, I came across Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Weeks of Ancestors. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to participate and I knew I wanted to share the adventure online. There’s always so much to do in Family History and these prompts seem like great starting points.
So, here is week 1. The topic is “Start.”
John Adams is my 7th great-grandfather. Not the John Adams you’re probably thinking of; my ancestor wasn’t the 2nd president of the United States. No, my John Adams lived in Ireland. He was born about 1742 and died on the 12th of August 1810 in County Antrim. He had a least 2 brothers and perhaps one sister. He married Elizabeth Boreland (1745-1824) about 1765 and they had 5 daughters: Mary (my 6th great grandmother), Elizabeth, Ann, Martha, and Jane. Mary married James Bones, Elizabeth married Reverend James Brown, and Jane married Reverend William John Staveley. Ann and Martha never married and record indicate that they were both blind.
John Adams is the oldest known ancestor on that family line. He had a farm at Balleyweaney. He was also a linen weaver, or employed people that spun, dyed and wove linen, including his son-in-law, James Bones (my 6th great-grandfather). He was the first in County Antrim to bring linen weavers together by having them come to a building on his property to do their work, instead of working in their homes. His home came to be known as Chequer Hall for the checkered blue and white cloth that was produced there. It was used mostly for window and bed curtains.
It was at Chequer Hall that his son-in-law, James Bones, hid in the bread closet to escape the British after the failed Irish Rebellion of 1798. All of the children of James and Mary (Adams) Bones are said to have been born at Chequer Hall.
After his death, linen production at Chequer Hall gradually ceased and the home was passed to Ann and Martha to live in with their mother. After their deaths, it was left to a nephew and then sold to another family around 1865.
John and Elizabeth (Boreland) Adams are buried at the Old Kilraughts Churchyard in Balleymoney, County Antrim, Ireland.
I find the little we know about John Adams extraordinary. He seems to have been a hard worker and well-respected in the community. There is more to know as there are several dozen records at PRONI that I’m patiently waiting to get my hands on. I’ll get there one day, I’m sure. It looks like there may be clues to his parents in those records, too.
A fun story about finding Chequer Hall. My parents and sister went to Ireland with my my mom’s brother and sister and their spouses. They didn’t have an address for the place and searches on this side of the ocean didn’t return exact results. When they got to general area in County Antrim, they started asking around. After a couple stops, a man mowing his lawn told them he thought it was down the road. They had chartered an 18-passenger van and the driver parked at the end of the suspected driveway. My parents attempted to walk up the drive but were scared off by a barking dog. As they reached the road, a car pulled into the drive and the woman asked my parents if she could help them. After telling her what they were looking for, the woman asked for the name of the family and upon telling her the names, she said this is the place. She invited everyone in and showed them around the first floor. My parents even got to hold some of the linen cloth that was produced there.