Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Lucius McAdam: Baca County Pioneer and Confederate Veteran

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Lucius McAdam came to Las Animas County Colorado in 1886.  This was a couple years before Baca County was split off from Las Animas County and established as a county.  McAdam was born in Chariton County Missouri January 16, 1845.  He left Chariton County in 1884, spent a couple years in western Kansas before moving to Colorado.  The original McAdam homestead was a couple miles southwest of present day Walsh.  Chuck Wilson of Springfield is his great grandson and is who took me to see the remains of the McAdam homestead shown below:

The June 30, 1938, issue of the Baca County Democrat-Herald reports that McAdam, Baca County Pioneer and Confederate Veteran, (one of only 4 Civil War veterans in Colorado at the time) attended the 75th anniversary Gettysburg reunion. He was 93 at the time of the trip.  He was accompanied by his son Marion McAdam.

Karla Flook from one of our Baca County Facebook groups  tells us Lucius McAdam is listed in Baca County for 1900, 1910, and 1930 Census. But sometime in 1930 he moved to Texas and applied for a Confederate pension.  Confederate pensions were awarded by the state you resided in when the person applied, not by the state where a soldier served. He was denied because Texas law stated he had to have been living in Texas by 1928 to receive a pension. According to his pension application, McAdam served in Co. K, Major Craven’s Battalion, Smith’s Regiment, and Shelby’s Brigade, Cavalry.

McAdam Homestead
McAdam Homestead
McAdam Homestead looking northeast toward Walsh CO
McAdam Homestead looking northeast toward Walsh CO

The 1930 time frame also seems reasonable as his wife Annie McAdam died in 1930 and is buried in the Vilas Cemetery.  The two markers for Annie are shown below.   The one embedded with stones was made by their son Marion McAdam who created a frame wrapped it in chicken wire and then embedded the stones in cement to create the marker.   The gray granite marker was later placed by grandson Barney Wilson.   

The Democrat-Herald also reports he served  8 months when he was a member of the Company K, calvary regiment of Craven’s Battalion, Shelby’s brigade in General Sterling Prince’s army.   Another of the articles indicates he served immediately under the command of colorful cavalry officer Col Joe Shelby and never saw duty east of the Mississippi.   McAdam said in the Democrat-Herald,

Annie McAdam Grave Marker
Annie McAdam Grave Marker

“Their chief duties were to destroy Union supplies and prevent Kansas sympathizers from rendering aid.”  

Toward the end of the war, McAdam’s company was captured and taken to Ft Smith Arkansas.  When the war ended they were paroled and trudged home.  The going was hard.  They paid as much as a $20 bill in Confederate money for one meal.   McAdam also said,

“Tho they were disenfranchised.  The “poor white trash” then in power were afraid of the returned soldiers and appointed them in office.”

The Democrat-Herald also reported that despite his ninety-three years and an accident in which his hip was broken last fall (1937), McAdam is active and spry.  He gets about on a crutch and will soon be able to use a cane.  He reads anything without glasses and can hear any ordinary conversation.  McAdam’s is pictured below (center with the crutch) in a photo taken in front of the courthouse in Springfield.  I don’t believe he ever made it to using the cane as Chuck indicates that his dad Barney Wilson always talked about Lucius hobbling around on the crutch.  

September 27, 1938, Left to Right: Sam Collins, Unknown, Charley Woolley, Alfred Allen, Tom Allen, Crit Allen, Lucius McAdam, Unknown, Jim Bickford, Jake Dillinger, Alvin Wren
September 27, 1938, Left to Right: Sam Collins, Unknown, Charley Woolley, Alfred Allen, Tom Allen, Crit Allen, Lucius McAdam, Unknown, Jim Bickford, Jake Dillinger, Alvin Wren

There is a bit of discrepancy in the articles about the timing of the broken hip as the “Return From Gettysburg” article indicates he left for the reunion just one week after receiving treatment for a broken hip.   McAdam said of the trip,

I enjoyed myself very much.  Its magnificence was beyond description.   The visit was pleasant and agreeable as I have ever made to any city or town.  I met no one I knew, and I believe I was the only one from my old brigade who attended.  

It seemed when we entered the city that peace and quietude proved everything.  The cordiality extended was the greatest I have ever seen.  Each and every soldier who visited the reunion offers thanks to the president and the people of the nation for the best trip they ever had.

Byron "Barney" Wilson meets FDR
Byron “Barney” Wilson meets FDR. Source Baca County Museum.

This story begins with a few old 1938 news clippings from the Baca County Museum and is a pretty neat piece of Baca County history by itself, but gets even more interesting.  I shared the 1938 news clippings during a visit with Clyde Rogers from Campo.  He knew of  Marion McAdam and the connection to Barney Wilson as he remembered Barney calling Marion, Uncle Mac.  I contacted Chuck about his Great Granddad’s trip to Gettysburg in 1938 and about being accompanied by Lucius’ son Marion and he said had never seen the 1938 articles.  As we ate breakfast the next day at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Springfield and talked about Marion accompanying Lucius, traveling from Lamar, staying at the encampment as described in the 1938 news clippings,  Chuck said,   I don’t think that is right. Dad (Barney) went on a trip to a Confederate Veteran’s Reunion  with Grandpa Mac but they went on a southerly route. They stayed at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, not an encampment.  He also stated, Dad got on the train in Dalhart and met Granddad Mac in Austin TX.  He remembered his dad talking about crossing Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana where Barney thought they had reached the end of the earth since he had never seen so much water (sounds like a Baca County boy).  He remembered Barney saying he was worried because it was his older brother Vernon who was supposed to go and is who had been signed up for the trip,  Everything was in Vernon’s name from the train tickets to the registration for the reunion.  He remembered them staying at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC where a young Barney had to dress up to go to dinner every evening and he remembers a story of a young Barney getting to visit the Whitehouse and shake the hand of President Franklin D Roosevelt.

Chuck says that  FDR told Barney (aka Byron) in the news clipping below “Good work my boy, good work” as he was shaking his dad’s hand.  At the same time, Grandad Mac reached over and patted the back of FDR’s hand.  

However, Chuck was puzzled as he didn’t recall anything about Gettysburg or that Uncle Mac had traveled along.  It seems we had a bit of a mystery on our hands.  The more we talked the more confused we became as the stories didn’t seem to line up.  We even got to the point where Chuck indicated that Uncle Mac was sometimes known as a bit of a tale-teller.  We thought for sure there was some miscommunication somewhere.   Chuck said he would check out a box of memorabilia that contained Barney’s Coast Guard uniform and other souvenirs.   We reconvened about 30 minutes later and began sorting through  souvenirs and discovered that in fact,  Grandad Mac at age 93 had not only made the 1938 trip with Marion as the attended to the Gettysburg Encampment and Reunion but had also made a second trip at age 95 in 1940 with  Barney to what by all accounts was the last Confederate Veterans Reunion in Washington DC.  I am going to let the images below tell much of the tale of the Lucius McAdam and Barney Wilson trip to the last Confederate Reunion

One finally Civil War story that Chuck tells us is that both his Great Granddads were Civil war veterans. While Lucius fought for the confederacy, Great Granddad Wilson was a Union soldier.   When Barney was a kid they would sit around on the porch and argue over who was the best soldier.   There were often remarks such as,  

If you had been in my sights you wouldn’t be here.

Lucius McAdams, Civil War Veteran, and Baca County Pioneer  died in Texas on 1 Aug. 1944 – he was living in an Old Soldier’s Home and was 99 years old.   As for Barney, what an adventure for one of Baca County’s own young people.  Thanks to Chuck for sharing.   As noted by Greg Crane on our Baca County Facebook group,  Mr. McAdams was was born before the U.S. and Mexico were battling in the southwest, later served in the Civil War, and lived through the time of the D-Day Invasion. Truly remarkable.

July 28, 1938 Springfield Democrat Herald

Other related side stories:  

Per our Facebook discussion, Uncle Mac, Marion McAdams lived in Baca County (and is buried there). He spent 27 years in Canon City for cattle rustling and as an accomplice to an attempted murder as a one of the guys he was with who shot the rancher. The guy who fired the shot confessed on his deathbed.  Marion spent 15 years in Canon City and then walked away 3 months before he was to be released. When he was recaptured he spent the additional years in prison.   In prison, he became a  skilled spur maker.  Apparently Marion McAdam spurs fetch a premium price.   After that he live in a little tar paper covered house where the current (2016) Longhorn Steakhouse sits.  Helen Green tells me Marion was quite the gardener.  When it would snow he would scoop up buckets of snow and put them around his trees to provide extra moisture.   

Lucius daughter was Chuck’s grandma, Wanda Wilson.  The Wilson’s moved from Walsh to Springfield when she got the job as the coordinator of the first hot lunch program in Springfield which came about as one of FDRs 1930’s programs.  I think it is an interesting side note considering Barney’s encounter with FDR.

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One response to “Lucius McAdam: Baca County Pioneer and Confederate Veteran”

  1. I grew up across the street from “Mac”, Marion McAdams. Spent many hours listening to the tales he could tell.

    PS – The 2 men on the right in the title picture are Harvey McKinnis, my father, and Roy Mathews, a family friend for many years.

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