About George Willison Adams
Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1799 to George Beal Adams and his wife Anna Turner, George Willison Adams (or G.W. as he was called) was one of thirteen children. His father was a plantation owner who gave up his land and home to move away from the slaveholding South. The family migrated to southeastern Ohio in 1808, freed their slaves and settled in Madison Township, Muskingum County near the town of Dresden, Ohio. Like his father, G. W. Adams became a strong abolitionist. He and his brother, Edward, ran an Underground Railroad "station" from their mill at what later became known as Adams Mills, Ohio.
G. W. Adams was once a member of the Ohio General Assembly and worked with John Augustus Roebling to build a bridge across the Muskingum River near Dresden.
Later in life, Adams was the President of the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad. He directed construction of the Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad. His land holdings totaled 14,500 acres (59 km2) with the Prospect Place Mansion in the center of his plantation.
G. W. Adams was an important figure in Ohio politics, the Underground Railroad and regional development of the southeastern Ohio area. His importance in these areas was a criterion used to include the Prospect Place Mansion on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Underground Railroad operation conducted by G. W. Adams and his brother, Edward, was a huge undertaking. The brothers operated a flouring mill on the Ohio and Erie Canal and owned warehouses, a boat yard and cooper shops in Dresden, Ohio. When men from the Adams company would take flour to New Orleans, Louisiana, they would return with refugees (runaway slaves) beneath the decks of their boats.