Interview of W. P. Adamson

Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

Interview of W.P. Adamson by Ruby E. Wilson.
The interview was done on Nov. 14, 1938 at the home of Mr. Adamson.

INFORMANT: W. P. Adamson, East 6th Street, North Platte
Ancestry: Scotch [mixture?]
Place and date of birth: North Platte
Places lived: Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico
Occupations and accomplishments: Army man, U. S. marshall, railroader, writer and scholar
Special interests: railroad, historical books and research
Description of informant: Tall, middle age, not particularly [impressive?] and not a good conversationalist. Yet is very interesting.
Other points gained in interview: Mr. Adamson has been of [considerable?] assistance, it seems, to Mr. Shelton of State Historical and has documents in his possession of historical value and information.

Text of Interview

"I was born here. My father came here with the railroad. I was the baby of the family. My father was a writer. He had also learned the brass finishing trade at which he worked for the railroad. One book which he wrote was ____ .

Mr. Adamson served in the Army and by "hook or crook" managed to enter before he was 18, was in Company E, 2nd Nebraska.

After leaving the Army services he went to riding for the Warner Livestock Co, rode one year then was made U. S. Marshall in the capacity of stock detective during a stock war. He said he "lost his job because a man poked him in the ribs with a gun." A prisoner whom he had arrested and with whom he was compelled to travel a long distance alone, getting into a storm and stopping at a lone place for the night, managed to get his gun from him and took his boots from him and his horse and got away, over which Mr. Adamson was dismissed.

"While I was U. S. Marshall I rode in escort of Roosevelt from Laramie to Cheyenne. In the picture my back was turned, we were of course all mounted.

Roosevelt did a lot of riding, this was after the Spanish American War. He won on a political campaign. The party had visited the Van Tassel ranch.

Some of those old Senators were so saddle sore they had to be helped on their horses. I really felt sorry for them."

Mr Adamson worked in Cheyenne for the U. [P?]. as machinist then went to N. Mexico and worked in Dawson 7 years in a coke camp, a big mine explosion occurred and injured him from which he still suffers, chiefly an injury to the lungs. He came back to North Platte and has compiled historical material and considerable railroad material. His work is all free lance. A senators record which he would be willing to loan would be of considerable interest. Mr. Adamson has worked with the State Curator of History.

An old buffalo skull, remarkably well preserved was found by his brother who traps and hunts through the winters, upon the Dismal, a river north of here. It was the inspiration for an article by Mr. Adamson.

"In 1875 Stevenson wrote an account of his trip to Nebraska, He traveled from Omaha to North Platte in an immigrant car. He wrote very descriptively of the accomadations of the car and of his fellow passengers. He stayed 1 night in North Platte. Peg Leg Boyers grandfather ran the Hotel where Stevenson stayed. It was the only hotel as the Cedar Hotel had burnt down. The Sherman Hotel where the writer stayed stood where the Palace Hotel is now built."

"Ft. McPherson was to have been established on the highest bluff which was closest to the river. In January when the [Lietienant?] came to establish the Fort they found the hospitable comforts shown them by Chas. McDonald so inviting that they were induced to establish the Fort near by which helped bring trade to Mr. McDonald's store there on the old Oregon trail.

When the settlers were drouthed out and discouraged and starved out my father wrote a song he called Nebraska Land seeing the miserable outfits pass day after day some times with lettering on the patched canvass with axle grease "Going back home to live with the wife's folks."

Nebraska Land

We have reached the Land of drouth and heat
Where nothing grows for us to eat
For winds that blow with [scorching heat?]
Nebraska land is hard to beat.


O Nebraska Land'. Sweet Nebraska Land
While on her burning soil Island,
I look away across the Plains
And wonder why it never rains
T'll Gabriel doth his trumpet sound
They'll say the rain has passed around.
The farmer goes out in his corn--
He stands around and looks forlorn
It gives him such a shock
To see withered shoots but not a stalk.


We have no wheat, we have no oats
We have no corn to feed our shoats
Our chickens are too poor to eat
Our pigs go squealing through the streets


Our horses are of a bronco race--
Starvation stares them in the face--
We do not live, we only stay-- we are too poor to get away.

by Mr. A. R. Adamson, Written in 1895 and sung to the tune of Beulah Land.

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