A Patriot’s Story- Private Daniel Adams

This is the flag that flies from my porch every day.  I fly this flag for many reasons, for my Father, my Father-in-law, for my Uncle, a WWII POW, for my Mother’s brothers, for the veteran that lives next door, and the one that drives down the street.  I fly it for Phineas, Daniel, Daniel, and Daniel- yes three Daniels!  I fly it for me because I love my country.

One of the Daniels mentioned above is Daniel Adams, my 5X Great Grandfather.  Daniel appears in my mind’s eye like an old, slightly out of focus black and white photograph.  To add color and try to capture what his life may have been like, I have to somehow peer back through the lens of time and piece together the facts I do know about him.

Daniel’s story begins with his great great great grandfather, Henry Adams.  Henry was the originator of our paternal line in America.  He left Barton St John, Somersetshire, England to start a new life in the colonies in 1632.  He brought his eight children with him and settled in what is now modern-day Quincy, MA.  He would go on to be blessed with 89 grandchildren, so it’s easy to see that by the time Daniel was born in 1750 there were a lot of Adams’ in Massachusetts.

Daniel and his cousins, John Adams and Samuel Adams, were all descended from sons of Henry.  I wonder what impact, if any that had on Daniel?  In such a large family, it’s possible they knew each other well and it’s also possible they didn’t know each other much at all.  It was a big family in a relatively small area so I have to believe he at least knew of his cousins, leaders of a country on the cusp of being born, a future President and Founders.  I imagine it made him just a bit more defensive of his home and his family, both of which the British wished to subdue.

Daniel, named for his Grandfather, was born April 20, 1750 in Medway, Massachusetts, 31 miles southwest of Lexington on today’s roads.  He was the oldest of at least 5 children born to Thomas Adams and Mary Partridge Adams. 

Daniel was a Minuteman in the Massachusetts Militia when the Lexington Alarm rang out on April 18th and 19th, 1775, 246 years ago today.  He was one day shy of his 25th birthday when he answered that call.

What was an Alarm? As early as 1676, the colonists had set up a system of signals and riders that were used to call volunteer militias to action when there was a need for defense. 

The Lexington Alarm began about 10:30 pm on April 18, 1775 when Paul Revere and William Dawes set out from Boston by separate routes to ride to Lexington about 10 miles away.  What a ride that must have been, on horseback, fast, through the dark night. Their mission was to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that British Regulars (soldiers) were on their way so they could avoid being captured.  As they rode, they alerted about 40 other riders who also set out to alarm more areas of the countryside.

Revere reached Lexington sometime after midnight. By 5 am, hundreds of British Regulars had arrived in Lexington and faced 77 militiamen that had gathered on Lexington Green.  The colonists were seriously outnumbered, but stood their ground.  No one knows who fired the first shot but at the end of the confrontation, 8 colonists were dead with 10 more wounded with no British casualties.  The British then marched on to Concord where they were met by a few hundred militiamen. It was there, at the North Bridge, where the first formal order was given to fire on the British.

Militiamen like Daniel came from far and wide, responding to the alarm riders and by the time the British columns began their march back to Boston they were met by at least 3,500 men. It appears everyone who was able and willing had responded to the call to arms!  I imagine the British were left a bit stunned by the show of force they likely did not expect to encounter that day.  They had lost 273 and the Americans had lost 95. The War for Independence had begun.

As a militiaman, Daniel served for 15 ½ days, from the alarm of April 18/19, 1775 to the first part of May.  Then, he enlisted in the Army. 

The 1770’s were a pivotal decade in Daniel’s life.  He married Martha Lucinda Watkins in January 1772, his first son was born later that year, followed by another son in 1774.  He was at war from April 1775 for some period of time, perhaps up to 8 months as his 3rd child was born in Sept 1776. 

The year 1778 was perhaps his worst year as his 3-year-old son, Thomas, and 1-year-old daughter, Abigail, passed away, a mere 12 days apart.

Many men served several enlistments and Daniel may have been called back to service as there was 3.5 years between the births of his 3rd (1776) and 4th children (1779). I think it’s fair to say he was no longer serving after 1780 as he and Martha would go on to have 3 more children between 1781 and 1785. 

Daniel and Martha had been married for 17 years when she passed away in 1789. He would go on to marry twice more, Sarah Alden in 1791 and Elizabeth Parmenter in 1809.

There is not a lot information, but there is enough that brings Daniel a bit more into focus.  He lived a long life it appears.  He maybe had the prominent Adams’ nose we see in the paintings of his more famous family.  In later records he is noted as “Deacon Daniel Adams”, so presumably he became involved in church life at some point.  He was a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather.  He was willing to answer a call for help and then to put his life on the line to defend his home and his people.

He passed away on December 17, 1832 in Rutland, Massachusetts, when he was 82 years old and is buried at Goose Hill Cemetery, Charnock Hill Road, Rutland, Worcester Co., MA.

Just like families, our country is not perfect.  There have been some hard things in our history and some hard things today.  Even so, I am thankful and proud to be an American; I hope one day we will be more united. 

On this day, I remember the names of my grandfathers, Daniel Adams, Daniel Roper, Daniel Walker, and Phineas Walker who all answered the call to serve in the Revolutionary War, alongside many other brave men and women.

They are not forgotten.

One comment

  1. Such a welcome reminder of who you are, who we all are, a bit of the history of freedom in America. When I see your flag, I see so much more, now!!! ❤🇺🇸


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