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The Adams Family
by Debra Staab

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When most people hear mention of the Adams Family, they conjure up images of Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, and cousin Itt, the creepy fictional Addams Family from TV and movie fame.  However, the pioneering Adams family of the Summit area was very real and made many contributions to the community.

Edward Francis Adams purchased some property in the Skyland area around 1880 from Professor Charles H. Allen, principal of the San Jose State Normal School (SJSNS). Adams’s other neighbor was H.B. Nortons, the vice-principal of SJSNS.  Edward was initially a textbook salesman who spent much time away from home and his family, including his second wife Delia and six children.  To ensure that they were well cared for Edward outfitted the ranch with two horses, a low-riding buckboard, a Jersey cow, two dogs, and planted fruit trees and grapes.

Edward forayed into the political arena long enough to help draft a new California state constitution and to help George C. Perkins win the governorship.  By 1892 Edward had retired from politics and quit his sales job with a plan to spend more time at home and start his own business. Sadly the national economic panic of 1893 restricted his ambitions and left the Adams family struggling to weather the hard times.

On the plus side, the rough economic patch also triggered Edward’s pioneering notion to collaborate with other fruit growers in the area, and together they developed the process of cooperative marketing of dried fruit. He helped establish the Santa Clara County Fruit Exchange and soon after the local Highland Grange.  The Grange was built on Adams's land and provided education and support for farmers in the Summit area.  Though the group was short-lived they exposed the devious works of the middlemen who manipulated prices and misused their power for personal gain. For example, in 1894, men were caught dumping hundreds of watermelons in the San Francisco Bay to increase prices.

In 1897, Edward took a job as Agriculture Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, closed the Grange and moved to San Francisco.  A few grange members formed a Farmer’s Union.  Edward went on to publish several books and to co-found the Commonwealth Club, a civic minded organization still in operation today.  Edward died in 1929 at age 89.  Adams Road and Adams Ridge were named after the Edward Francis Adams family.

SOURCE: A Trip through Time and the Santa Cruz Mountains, Jensen, 1998, pp. 95-98.

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