Michigan Transportation History

A. H. Adams

Public Detroit Business Person Bank Railroad

Alexander Hamilton Adams (1813-1883), who went most often by the name "A. H. Adams," was a banker in Detroit.


There is no biography of Adams in any of the Michigan County Histories. So, the first mention of A. H. Adams is when he comes to Detroit in 1836 as the secretary/treasurer of the Detroit & St. Joseph Railroad. Once the state took over the railroad, Adams was employed as the Collector of Tolls and weighmaster at Detroit.1

Adams then became involved in the reorganization of the Michigan State Bank with Henry P. Baldwin, Charles C. Trowbridge, Zachariah Chandler, Christian H. Buhl, Frederick Buhl, James F. Joy, Henry Ledyard, and George F. Porter in 1845. Adams became the cashier and remained there until the bank closed at the expiration of its charter in 1855.2 Adams was also a director for George B. Russel's Detroit & Lake Superior Iron Manufacturing Company.

In 1849, while he was still cashier at the Michigan State Bank, Adams joined with Elon Farnsworth? in the foundation of the Detroit Savings Fund Institute, which was less a bank and more of a mutual capital society modeled on colonial New England banks. But until 1855, the fund had no cashier. With the closing of the Michigan State Bank, Adams took on the position of the fund's cashier. The fund was the only banking institution in the city that took small deposits, mostly from laborers and working people, and the conservative policies of the bankers Farnsworth and Adams kept those deposits intact. Adams transformed the fund into a regular bank by chartering the Detroit Savings Bank in 1871 with Farnsworth as president and Adams as cashier. Farnsworth died in 1877, and Adams was elected president.3


Adams was treasurer of Detroit's Young Men's Benevolent Society until 1860, when the society disbanded.4

Adams married, but we don't know as yet the name of his wife. The family lived with at 207 E. Larned Street. He was an organizer (again with Trowbridge), warden, and vestryman of Christ Church. The Adams's had two daughters Mrs. M. B. Stevens and Fannie. Adams died of heart attack on December 1, 1883.5

By the end of the nineteenth century, Detroit's citizens remembered Adams as the "highly respected cashier of the old Detroit Savings Bank"6 who was "widely known and universally respected."7 The bank was located at the northeast corner of Griswold and Larned Streets.


1. Silas Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan (Detroit: Silas Farmer & Co., 1884), 897.

2. George B. Catlin, Local History of Detroit and Wayne County, volume 3 of Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society and Michigan Historical Commission, Historic Michigan, edited by George N. Fuller (Dayton, OH: National Historical Association, Inc, 1928), 175-177; and Wayne County Historical and Pioneer Society, Chronography of Notable Events in the History of the Northwest Territory and Wayne County (Detroit,: O. S. Gulley, Bornman & co., printers, 1890), 318.

3. Catlin, 175-177.

4. Silas Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan (Detroit: Silas Farmer & Co., 1884), 650.

5. Detroit Post and Tribune, December 2, 1883; Clarence M. Burton, William Stocking, and Gordon K. Miller, The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, vol. 2 (Detroit: S. J. Clarke, 1922), 1252.

6. George C. Bates, "The ByGones of Detroit," 349|349]].

7. Detroit Post and Tribune, December 2, 1883.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "A. H. Adams," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on April 14, 2020, at 09:29 AM EST

Page last modified on April 14, 2020, at 09:29 AM EST