Friday, August 21, 2015

Sebastian C Adams - the Man who Charted the World

Adams Sebastian 2
In 1871, Presbyterian Sebastian C Adams produced an astonishing work of art. Entitled A Chronological Chart of Ancient and Modern Biblical History, it was a 20 foot long panorama of world history, exquisitely drawn by Adams himself, and reproduced for sale using the cutting-edge chromolithography printing technology of the time. Further editions would be published during Adams' life, and have been reprinted even recently. The chart starts with the Biblical Adam of Genesis (dated at 4004BC) and ends at 1878, with predictions as to what would happen up to 1900.

Adams was born into a Presbyterian family in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1825, the son of Captain Sebastian Adams (1789–1847) and his wife Eunice. They were from Vermont, and Captain Adams was a ship owner who "sailed on the lakes, meeting with many adventures and engaged in the War of 1812. He was a man of great nerve and courage". Captain Adams' father was Aaron Adams, who served in the 1776 Revolutionary War with the "Green Mountain Boys", a regiment based in Vermont.

Sebastian junior was the youngest son in the family and travelled across the United States in his early years, almost dying at one stage. Reaching Salem, Oregon, on the west coast in 1850, he met up with his brother William who had already been there for two years, and another brother Oliver. Here Sebastian Adams also met his future wife, Martha McBride, the daughter of Tennessee-born Dr James McBride, who had been a missionary in Hawaii. The McBrides said they were cousins of President Andrew Jackson (see here) so therefore were of Ulster extraction.

The chart is one of the most amazing visual artefacts I've ever seen. I am pretty sure a copy of it was once on display at the library of the Ulster-American Folk Park and may still be there.

• a zoomable version of the chart is online here at
• Here is a short biography in the Oregon Encyclopedia
• Here is another short biography on the North West College of the Bible website
• information on Dr James McBride is available here.