Riley M. Adams and His Journal

By Frank D. Andrews

Riley M. Adams, for nearly thirty years a resident of Vineland, was born in Bristol, Vermont, January 19, 1808. His education was obtained at the common schools of his native town, a year and a half spent at Middlebury, followed by a course of study at the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy at Norwich, Vt.

He married March 4, 1829, Olivia, second daughter of Jessup and Ruth (Andrews) Morehouse, who was born in Baliston, N. Y., July 23, 1808. Their children were Henry P., born 1829, died in infancy; Nelson D., born April 6, 1831; Rebecca, born Nov. 27, 1834; Catherine B., born April 27, 1836. One daughter married Frank Dole of Burlington, the other living in Brooklyn, N. Y., married Benj. F. Dewey.

Mr. Adams, before coming to Vineland, resided in Burlington. He was the owner of the celebrated horse "Flying Morgan" foaled in June 1843 and sire of the famous trotting stallion "Ethan Allen." Flying Morgan was exhibited at State and County Fairs, attracting much attention and taking premiums for beauty, symmetry and speed.

Mr. Adams came to Vineland in 1865 and in the spring of 1866 purchased three lots of Charles K. Landis on Plum Street, on the North West corner of Seventh. On the Plum vStreet lots he erected a large double house, using the building blocks manufactured by Dr. James McClintock, On the corner lot he put up a frame building which he used as a gymnasium and for a time taught physical culture. He devoted much of his time to the study of spiritualism and writing for spiritual publications.

Mr. Adams was the founder, and first secretary of the Burial Reform Association, the first organization of its kind in the United States, regularly formed and chartered. Its object was to do away with the unnecessary expense and display of modern Funerals. True to his convictions, he left direction he should be buried in accordance with the principles of the Association. Mr. Adams died April 5, 1894 and on the 7th he was buried in a basket designed for that purpose.

Mrs. Adams died January 18, 1894. Many of the older residents of Vineland will remember Mr. Adams, who, in his later years, frequently called at their homes with a basket on his arm containing teas, spices and stove blacking, which he endeavored to sell. He carried a cane, an imitation of a snake, partly wound around his arm. He was active for his years, an earnest talker, a firm believer in spiritualism and much given to relating his wonderful experiences with mediums, who, it is feared sometimes imposed upon him.

The writer well remembers him and the picturesque figure he made, as with cane on one arm and a basket of his wares on the other he served his customers, perchance striving to interest them in his peculiar views or rehearsing some of the marvels of spiritual phenomena he had witnessed. It is not, however, of his life in Vineland that I desire to call attention. At the age of sixteen he became a cadet in the celebrated Military Academy at Norwich, Vermont. The Academy was founded by Capt. Alden Partridge in 1820 and became widely known through its efficient military training, drawing pupils from nearly every State in the Union, many of whom later became prominent soldiers and statesmen. Capt. Partridge removed the Academy to Middletown, Conn, in 1825, subsequently it was returned and became the Norwich University, with Capt. Partridge as its President.

While at this school, Mr. Adams kept a Journal, a portion of which, from August 17, to December 11, 1824, came into my possession a few years ago. As the Military Academy and its founder, Capt. Partridge, became so widely known and so many of the pupils attained prominence in our Country's history, it has been thought worth while to preserve the journal in print, covering as it does, an account of an excursion of the Cadets to the White Mountains, and giving us an insight of a student's life in the institution.