Saturday, October 20, 2012


Sepia Saturday #148

Sticking with the theme of policemen, here’s a Big Wig of 1880 or so: Samuel Gibson Adams (1825-1886), Boston, Massachusetts.

He was born in Brighton in November of 1825 to Milton and Esther Gibson Adams; his sister Roxanna was my great-great grandmother. They were two of five children, their mother died when they were very young, and they were farmed out to relatives and neighbors – a common practice at the time. While all of the other Adams children scattered, Samuel and Roxanna stayed in touch throughout their lives.

Samuel grew up in Brighton and Boston, and as an adult lived on Walnut Avenue in the city. He married twice (his first wife died) and had four children, one of whom – Samuel Gibson Adams, Jr. – died at 18 years of “inflammation of the lungs” (probably consumption).

He doesn’t look like a policeman in this photo – no brass buttons, no shield, no funny hat or billy club...but he wore a uniform when he started out as a Boston Police Department sergeant in 1861, a position that kept him out of the army – he managed to stay away from the battlegrounds of the Civil War. (He reminds me of Ulysses S. Grant in this photo, though!)

Sam was, apparently, pretty good at his job – appointed Captain of Station #7 in 1863 and, in 1878, became a Boston Police Superintendent, an office he held until 1885.

This photo was taken when he was a Suit, not a Uniform!
He was also good at keeping in touch with his sister. I have lots of old Christmas cards, Valentines, notes, etc., that he wrote to her over the years. I’ll post some of them later on. She notes in her diaries whenever “Sam” comes to call, usually with a basket of fruit (her favorite? Oranges), a bag of hard candy (which she loved) or some flowers. Sam and his family came to the family house in Newton Upper Falls for dinner often, and it was clearly a relationship that both he and Roxanna valued highly.

Samuel Gibson Adams died May 16, 1886.



  1. How could you not love a brother who brought you oranges when came to call?

    He sounds a successful and lovely man!

  2. What could go wrong with a policeman in the family even if he carried a 'bribe' when he came to call.

  3. What a perfect fit with the theme. I can see why he was such a successful policeman!

  4. He looks quite distinguished! And it sounds like he was a very loving brother.

  5. You see, I love those details about one's ancestors, the details you never find in archives. Sisters loving oranges and hard candy, things like that.
    In any case, Samuel sounds like a good cop!

  6. Kat, Bob, Liz, Jana, Peter....thank you all for stopping by (and to Liz for becoming my most recent follower). He probably had his downsides (don't we all?), but she certainly adored him. I'm going to be posting some of her diaries eventually...he was, Peter, definitely, a "good cop!"

  7. Hi Deb, your Uncle Sam is pleasing to the eyes. I enjoyed learning about him and your Grandmother Roxanna.

    How sad for the children to not only lose their mom, but also their whole family, just because she died.

    I didn't make a SS post this week, but I am visiting as many as I can. Have a great week!

    Kathy M.

  8. The picture looks like it has been carefully preserved. I bet the old cards are nice too.

  9. Some of those old cards are the fringed kind; some unfold (with little cord ties to hold the two sides together); graphics are amazing! I'll post some eventually! Thanks for your comment...

  10. This was a lovely little biography. I can picture him in uniform. It's really sweet that he and his sister were close. Oranges were considered quite a luxury, so lucky for her!

  11. What a lovely relationship, and how wonderful that you have all the memorabilia that brings the photo to life.

  12. Wendy, Joy -- I sometimes wondered aloud about that relationship; my father actually remembered Roxanna (she was his great-grandmother), said she was a little prune of a thing...but she was nice! Thanks for the visit.

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