Contents and Arrangement

Journal, 1855 July 30-1859 November 10

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Adams's final journal contains approximately 190 pages of dated entries and one sketch, and documents his life from July 1855 to November 1859, when he returned to Washington, D.C.

Adams left Fort Owen in Montana on July 30, 1855 to meet with Governor Stevens and Colonel Cumming, who was the superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Missouri District. After meeting with the governor and colonel, Adams was sent as a messenger to the Crow tribe whith the goal of asking them to attend the Council of local tribes. During his travels to the Crows, he learned of epidemics of smallpox and measles which were decimating the Crow population and causing the survivors to move to new locations. He traveled to the Judith River for the Council, without succeeding in his effort to bring members of the Crow Tribe.

From October 14 to 15, 1855, there were informal conferences between the Native Americans and the Commission before the Grand Council met on October 16, with representatives of the Blackfoot, North and South Piegans, Blood, Gros Ventres, Flatheads, Spokans, Coeur d'Alenes, Kootenay, Nez Perce, and Snake tribes. The treaty was signed on October 17, and shortly thereafter, Adams made topographical sketches of the new boundaries fixed by the treaty.

At the end of October, Adams traveled to Fort Owen where he heard that the Sioux and Yakima were at war with the white population. He remained at Fort Owen during the winter before traveling to Fort Benton and back to Fort Owen between March and April. By the end of April 1856 through 1859, Adams began working as a horse trader and traveled to Salt Lake City where he stayed with Mormon families and described the polygamous relationships; heard Brigham Young, Heber and George A. Smith make speeches; and detailed the speculations of the population on a war between the Mormons and the United States. During the years, he returned regularly to Fort Owen, focusing his efforts mostly on the horse trade, although he did, in fact, pan for and find some gold.

On November 10, 1859, Adams returned to Washington, D.C.


The journals are arranged chronologically, followed by the letter book.

Collection History


No items were removed during 2013 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Holly Mengel in 2013. Finding aid written by Holly Mengel in 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Journal; Thomas Adams Papers, C1452, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Box 1