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Adams-Snyder Family Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-BC5

Scope and Contents

The Adams-Snyder Family Papers, 1813-1989, consist of 14 cubic feet, 1 oversize folder and 10 oversize bound volumes of correspondence, diaries, legal and financial papers, cards, clippings, and brochures. The collection contains primarily records that illustrate aspects of the business and legal life of Springfield in the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. James Adams and his son Lucian were attorneys and contemporaries of Abraham Lincoln, although on the other side of the political fence. The private practices of attorneys, as well as the activities of a justice of the peace, are reflected in Lucian's papers. Fruit farming and truck gardening are another aspect of the Springfield economy illustrated by the papers of James L. Adams and Enoch Snyder. Both men had farms east of the city on Clear Lake Road. A variety of other business records including those of a grocer, dry goods dealers, a miller, a tinner, a tailor, an agricultural implement dealer, an insurance agent and real estate sales and rentals appear in various parts of the collection. Some records illustrate family business interests while other records were acquired in the course of Lucian's legal practice. Personal papers appear in later generations, especially for Mary Snyder and Laura Adams and her children, particularly Margery Adams.


  • Created: 1813-1989
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1982


Conditions Governing Access

Open for access.


14.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Family from Springfield, Illinois, consisting of lawyers and farmers. James Adams (1783-1843) was Springfield's first attorney. His son, Lucian B. (1816-1882) was also an attorney and a justice of the peace. Lucian married Margery A. Reed (1824-1890) and had four children: Harriet L., Enola A., Eldora J., and James L. (1848-1931). James L. was a fruit farmer and truck gardener. He had two children from his first wife, Florence Roe; and two children from his second wife, Laura Snyder (1861-1941). The youngest child, Margery Adams (1897-1983), was active in the Audubon Society and donated her property to them upon her death. Laura Snyder Adams's father, Enoch Snyder (1820-1899) was also a fruit farmer and truck gardener. Laura's sister, Mary Snyder (1851-1941) was a puzzler and word game writer.

Arrangement Note

There are two series in the Adams-Snyder Family collection: one for the Adams family and one for the Snyder family. The Adams family includes four generations, and the Snyder family includes two generations. SERIES I: The Adams Family Papers, 1813-1889, (Boxes 1-12) contain correspondence, legal and financial papers of James Adams, his son Lucian B. Adams, Lucian’s son, James L. Adams and his wife Laura Snyder Adams, and their children, James Jr., Roe Reed, John Quincy, and Margery. The James Adams Papers, 1813-1842 (Box 1) include papers dealing with James’s activities in the New York militia, his legal practice and other business interests in Illinois. Several volumes record his accounts for administering estates which were finished by his son Lucian after James’s death in 1843. Another volume contains his accounts and correspondence with the Protection Insurance Company. Other papers record his land holdings. The Lucian B. Adams Papers, 1835-1883 (Boxes 1-5), consist chiefly of legal and financial papers and correspondence dealing with Lucian’s law practice and his work as a justice of the peace and United States Commissioner. His settlement of his father’s estate, land dealings and business interests including a general store and mill are documented. Much of Lucian’s law practice consisted of settling business accounts for others. He accumulated the records of several different businesses including Josiah Broadwell and Morris Lindsay, dry goods; Richard Cobbs and Henry Clay Watson, clothiers; Lewis H. Converse and Fred Swannell, agricultural implements; George A. Lamb and George N. Miller, tinners; and Henry Yeakle, tailor. Personal and business notes were also turned over to Adams for collection. Lucian’s fee ledgers give insight into the costs of different services provided by attorneys. Adams-Snyder Family Page 5 Scope and Content The Lucian B. Adams Papers, 1835-1883 (Boxes 1-5)-cont.-Lucian served several terms as justice of the peace/police magistrate. His docket books are not in the collection. Various types of official documents have been arranged alphabetically by type and chronologically within each group. Order has been imposed by the processor. Included are affidavits, attachment notices, depositions, estray notices, executions, garnishee affidavits and forms, promissory notes, recognizance bonds, subpoenas, summons, and warrants. Adam’s docket book as United States Commissioner is also included. The collection offers few glimpses into the personal side of Lucian’s life. His personal papers included bank books, deeds, rental accounts, and household receipts. None of his personal correspondence appears in this collection. The James L. and Laura Snyder Adams and Family Papers, 1860-1942 (Boxes 5-10), contain correspondence, diaries, notebooks, financial records, plats, receipts, brochures, and clippings. Papers and accounts document James L.’s settlement of Lucian’s estate and that of his cousin J. Adams McGraw. The correspondence of James and family is a mix of business correspondence and personal letters to family and friends. Most of the personal letters are between Laura’s family and friends and some among James L., Jr., Roe, and John Quincy. Some Valentines and Christmas cards are exchanged among the children. James L. kept diaries primarily during the 1870s and 1880s that detail his trips while working for the railroad, his first marriage to Florence Roe, and the birth of their two sons, a trip to New Orleans, and real estate dealings. He also kept notebooks where he recorded list of crops and their location, freight rates, shorthand symbols, poetry, and quotes. The financial papers detail real estate transactions including sales, rentals, and platting of city lots. Income from farm crops and expenses for plants, labor, livestock and pasture rentals are included. Advertising brochures for such things as fireplaces, household receipts and clippings of poetry and items of interest are also included. The clippings, because of their poor physical condition, were copied onto acid free paper and discarded. The Margery Adams Papers, 1912-1989 (Boxes 10-13), consist of personal correspondence, business and charity correspondence, Springfield High School yearbooks, and clippings about fellow classmates, finances from the Laura L. Adams Trust, and Audubon Society records. Margery corresponded with many friends and relatives. Also documented are Margery’s poetry and songwriting experiences, and the many charitable organizations to which she donated. SERIES II: The Snyder Family Papers, 1846-1899 (Boxes 13-14), contain correspondence, diaries, and financial records of Enoch Snyder and his daughter Mary C. The Enoch Snyder Papers, 1846-1899 (Box 13), consist of diaries and accounts documenting Enoch’s life in New York as a farmer and the truck garden and fruit farm he established in Sangamon County in 1870. The diaries detail weather conditions, family life, and day-to-day farm operations. The Mary C. Snyder Papers, 1891-1940 (Boxes 13-14), consist of correspondence and financial papers. Much of the correspondence is between Mary and members of the Mystic Sisterhood and the Puzzlers’ League, two groups interested in designing and solving word games and puzzles. Financial papers discuss her investments and expenditures including a hospital stay.

Accruals and Additions

1990, 1991, 1994, 1996

Related Materials

One cubic foot of books and other published material was transferred out of the collection.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Cheryl Schnirring, John Lupton, Heather Lowe
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield IL 62701 US
(217) 558-8923