Charles H. Adams was born on September 13, 1836, in Avon Township, Oakland County, Michigan, the son of New York natives “Squire” Manley A. (1808-1875) and Ruthala (Carpenter, 1809-1888).
Manley (generally known as “Squire”) and Ruthala were married on February 22, 1828, in Manluis, New York. By 1836 they had left New York and moved west, eventually settling in Michigan. By 1840 Squire was living in Troy, Oakland County. By 1850 Charles was attending school with several of his siblings and living with his family on a farm in Watertown, Clinton County. His parents were still living in Watertown in 1860 and in 1870. His parents are buried in Eaton County.
Charles stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 24 years old and probably a carpenter living in Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan when he enlisted in Company G on May 13, 1861. (Company G, formerly the “Williams’ Rifles, was made up largely of men from the Lansing area.) By early July Charles was in the hospital suffering from “general debility,” and, in fact, he was admitted on July 19, 1861, to Columbian College hospital in Washington, DC, complaining of pneumonia, dysentery and typhoid fever. Charles remained at Columbian hospital for several months and by the third week of November was reported in hospital no. 3 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Frank Siverd of Company G wrote on March 17, 1862, that Adams had been left behind convalescing when the Regiment broke camp and began moving southward to join in the upcoming spring (Virginia “Peninsular”) campaign.
Charles was reported absent sick from April of 1862, and apparently still in the hospital in Annapolis as of April 13. According to Homer Thayer of Company G, by June 20 Adams had returned from the hospital in Annapolis where, Thayer claimed, he had been since January.
In August Charles was reportedly with the Regiment (although his service record reports him as a patient at St. Aloysius hospital in Washington as of August 21, 1862), but by October of 1862 he was again listed as absent sick in the general hospital since September 11. The records show only that he was admitted on October 14 to St. Aloysius hospital in Washington with acute rheumatism. In any event, he was discharged for chronic rheumatism at either Washington, DC (probably from St. Aloysius), or possibly the hospital at Annapolis, on December 11, 1862.
After his discharge from the army Charles returned to Lansing where he reentered the service in Company I, 11th Michigan Cavalry on November 11, 1863, for 3 years, crediting Lansing, and was mustered on November 24. The regiment was organized at Kalamazoo and Detroit between October 7 and December 10, 1863, and it moved to Lexington, Kentucky between December 10 and 22. It remained on duty in Lexington until April 28 when it began operations in eastern and then southern Kentucky where it operated through the summer. By late fall of 1864 it was operating in Tennessee and in southwestern Virginia by early 1865.
In May of 1864 Charles was on detached service at Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and was sick at Ashland, Kentucky from June 23 through July. He was present for duty in November and December of 1864, and probably participated with the regiment in its various raids into northeast Tennessee and (West) Virginia in November of 1864.
For reasons unknown he was reduced to the ranks from Corporal on June 11, 1865.
On June 24 the regiment moved to Pulaski, Tennessee where they remained on duty until July 20 when they were consolidated into the 8th Michigan cavalry. Charles was transferred to Company A, 8th Michigan cavalry on July 21, 1865, and the regiment participated in numerous scout and patrol duties until September. Charles was reported as a Corporal when he was mustered out with the regiment on September 25, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.
After the war Charles returned to Lansing where lived until 1891, working for many years as a carpenter. In 1866 he lost his left index finger while using a circular saw, and he also suffered from various chronic illnesses as well. In 1882, when he applied for a pension, the examining physician noted that Adams’ body was covered “with an eruptive [disease] which causes pits like small pox.” Adams told him “in the winter he has rheumatism all the time [and] can’t work at all in cold weather.” It was noted that Charles had a dagger tattoo on his left forearm.
Charles married Ohio native Julia A. (b. 1847) on November 30, 1867, and they had at least five children: John (b. 1870), Ella (b. 1871), Agnes (b. 1874), Oscar (b. 1878) and Allice.
By 1870 Charles was working as a laborer and living with his wife and son in Lansing’s 1st Ward, Ingham County. He was a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association and in September of 1886 joined Grand Army of the Republic Charles Foster Post No. 42 in Lansing (he was suspended from the post in December of 1892 but never reported as dropped).
He was reported as living in Lansing’s 5th Ward in 1890, and although listed as living in the 2nd Ward in 1894, he had in fact entered the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 1485) in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 14, 1891. He was discharged from the Home at his own request on February 1, 1892, and until 1909 was in and out of the home quite a few times: he was readmitted on May 9, 1892, discharged October 4; admitted November 6, 1892, and discharged May 9, 1893; admitted on June 7, 1893, and discharged on March 8, 1894; admitted on June 22, 1894, and discharged on March 11, 1898; admitted on April 28, 1898, and discharged on July 1, 1907; admitted on September 30, 1907, and discharged on February 20, 1908, admitted on November 24, 1908, and dropped on August 25, 1909.
Julia was also a member of the Home as well. She was living in Lansing’s 6th ward when she applied for admission in February of 1895. It appears that she died on July 2, 1899 and was buried in the Home cemetery: 2-13-6.
On June 11, 1908, Charles was a widower and living in Grand Rapids when he remarried to Indiana native Mrs. Mary J. Little (1840-1922).
Charles and Mary were living in Lake Odessa, Ionia County, Michigan from 1909 to 1920; in 1910 he was working as a carpenter and living with his wife Mary in Lake Odessa, and they were still living in Lake Odessa in 1920. Not long after Mary died Charles moved to Grand Rapids where he reentered the Home for the final time on October 25, 1922.
Charles received a veteran’s pension (1890, no. 483,295), drawing $4.00 per month in 1891, and eventually increased to $72.00 per month.
Charles was a widower (see below) when he died of carcinoma of the bladder on August 19, 1925, at the Soldier’s Home hospital, and Rev. Gardner conducted the funeral services at the Home. He was buried on Friday, August 21, at 2:00 p.m. in the Home cemetery: section 7 row 20 grave no. 8.
In November of 1925 a woman named Caroline Adams claiming to be Charles’ widow applied for a pension was filled (no. 1239069), but the certificate was never granted.