Founder of Larned – Col. Wesley R. Adams – Larned Cemetery, Larned, Pawnee County, Kansas
Col. Adams was one of the founders of the city of Larned. He was also a prisoner of war in the Civil War. Being one of those early pioneers, his name is found quite frequently in public and religious affairs. Adams was the president of the first Board of Education, organized the first Sunday School, and was a real estate agent for 45 years.
Wesley Rowe Adams was born in Ross County, Ohio in 1838. He was the oldest of seven children. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Wesley enlisted in Co. A 27th OH Infantry. In just a matter of months, he was appointed sergeant of his company and then discharged to accept the captaincy of Co. K 89th OH Infantry.
The Battle of Chickamauga was fought from September 18-20, 1863. The battlefield was located along the Tennessee and Georgia borders. It was a Confederate victory. The total casualties and losses for the Union were 16,170 and the Confederacy 18,454. A total of 4,757 Union soldiers were captured or missing. Col. Wesley R. Adams was one of those men captured.
He and his comrades were sent to Libby Prison which was a Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia. Cpt. Adams spent four months and 20 days living in a rat-infested, overcrowded, and rampant diseased warehouse. The officers began digging a tunnel that would lead them out to a nearby vacant lot. The Libby Prison escape occurred in February 1864 and over 100 Union POWs escaped.
Cpt. Adams made it back to his regiment, but it had been disbanded. So he was sent to the 175th OH Infantry and made a colonel. Before he could join them, the regiment was destroyed by the Confederate military. The war was ending, so Col. Adams went back to his boyhood home.
He married Matilda Jane Sturdevant on December 20, 1866. Her parents were Charles and Sarah Sturdevant who came to Pawnee in 1870. Three years after their wedding, Wesley and Matilda moved to Olathe, Kansas and in 1873 they made Larned their home. They were blessed with nine children, however, only five reached adulthood.
In those beginning years, Col. Adams continued to be a promoter of Larned and Pawnee County. If there was a need for leadership, Col. Adams stepped in. He was appointed the first clerk of the district court and later served two terms as probate judge.
His beloved wife, Matilda “Jennie” passed away in 1914. The Colonel died in 1923 and the age of 85. They share the same headstone in Larned Cemetery.