W.E. Adams

Tragedy struck the family again in June of 1925 when Alice traveled to California for the birth of Helen’s first child. Diagnosed with cancer, Alice had been ill for some time, but on June 6, she suddenly died at Helen’s home. Helen, distraught, went into labor and died the following day. The baby died soon afterward, and was buried in her mother’s arms. Within a period of 48 hours, W.E. had lost the remainder of his family. Adams laid them to rest at Mountain View Cemetery in Pasadena, California, where he had a mausoleum built. Lucile’s casket was moved from Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood to the family plot in California.

Adams returned to Deadwood where he wrote the following passage in his wife Alice’s bible:

I, W.E. Adams, who married Alice May Burnham, December 22, 1880, had hoped we would both live to celebrate our 50th anniversary, and now, after 45 years of married life, find myself deprived of my loving wife and both of my dear daughters. I feel like one forsaken and do not see ahead of me in this world much, if any, happiness. I do hope I shall have the physical and moral strength to follow the teachings of my dear mother, who passed from this earth in 1877 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and when I join my wife and daughters in the great unknown, I hope none may say with truth I did not keep the faith, for their memory is very dear to me.

He was destined to see light in his life again when serendipitous seating on a passenger train brought William and Mary Mastrovich Vicich together in 1926.

The youngest child of Ana and Eli Nozica Mastrovich, Mary was born on January 22, 1898, in “Slav Alley, “ Lead, SD’s Yugoslavian neighborhood. Her father, Homestake miner, was murdered when she was 16. Afterwards, her mother sent Mary to live in Pasadena, California. Mary wed California grocer Anthony Vicich, but was soon widowed when he died in the influenza epidemic of 1917.

A mistake in seating arrangements during a trip to visit her mother in Lead in the summer of 1926 found Mary across from Adams on the last leg of the trip from Denver to Deadwood. Adams courted Mary for the better part of a year, and they were married on June 30, 1927, at the Los Angeles Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Together, W.E. and Mary traveled extensively, founded charities and fostered beneficial projects, established several parks, and gifted the specially constructed Adams Memorial Museum to the City of Deadwood. Dedicated October 4, 1930, the Museum was a tribute to Adams’ first wife, his two daughters, and the preservation of the legacy of the pioneers in the Black Hills area. It is operated today by Adams Museum and House, Inc., a non-profit educational organization.

The May – December relationship between W.E. and Mary was considered scandalous by certain individuals, but their loving relationship continued for seven years. Adams suffered a stroke and died in June of 1934.

Mary Adams honored the memory of W.E until she died in 1993 at the age of 95. She kept the Adams House and its contents together for over 50 years, enabling it to become the beautifully restored structure that it is today. The house opened to the public as a museum on July 1, 2000. She established the Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation that continues the Adams’ memory and tradition of philanthropy through projects in Deadwood, Lead and Southern California. Organizations such as the Adams Museum and House, the Deadwood Hospital, and the Lead Opera House are grateful beneficiaries of her generosity and vision.

 

 

 

Sources:
Those Good Old Days in the Black Hills – George Moses Anne Rogers, Assistant Curator – Adams Museum and House, Deadwood, SD The Black Hills After Custer – Bob Lee The Lady of the House, 2002 – Deadwood Magazine Black Hills Pioneer – Deadwood, SD The Adams House Revealed: The Restoration of an Historic Home – Mary Kopco, 2006

 

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