The Saintsí Roost
Museum is housed in the Adair Hospital, which was built by and named
for philanthropist and rancher Cornelia Adair.
Mrs. Adair was the
second of the six children of Gen. James Samuel and Mary Craig
Wadsworth, and was born on April 6, 1837, in Philadelphia. She spent
her early years at Hartford House, her father's country estate near
Geneseo, New York. In 1855 the family left for a two-year sojourn in
France and England. Soon after their return in 1857 Cornelia married
Montgomery Ritchie, a grandson of Harrison Otis of Boston. Two sons
were born to them. Her father and her husband died in 1864. The
widowed Cornelia took her two small sons to Paris, where the older
son died a few years later.
In 1867, while
attending a ball in New York City given in honor of Congressman J.
C. Hughes, Cornelia Ritchie met broker John G. Adair of Ireland.
They were married in 1869 and afterward divided their time between
America and their estates in England and Ireland. In the fall of
1874 they left Ireland to see the American West and to experience a
buffalo hunt along the South Platte River in Nebraska and
northeastern Colorado. Her brother had served as an aide to Philip
H. Sheridan, and Cornelia Adair probably used the general's
influence to obtain a military escort under Col. Richard Irving
Dodge to accompany the party, which departed from Sydney Barracks in
Nebraska Territory. She kept a detailed diary of the two-month
journey, which included attending a council of cavalry officers and
Oglala Sioux, near the South Platte. In 1918 she had it published.
In the summer of
1877, when her husband and Charles Goodnight formed a partnership to
found the JA Ranch, Cornelia accompanied the party from Pueblo,
Colorado, to the new ranch headquarters Goodnight had established in
Armstrong County, Texas. Because the Adairs lived at the ranch only
sporadically, Goodnight became its manager and, under orders from
Cornelia Adair, paid high salaries for experienced, law-abiding
ranchhands. After John Adair died in 1885, Cornelia became
Goodnight's partner. In 1887 she traded a second ranch for his
one-third interest in the JA, a share that comprised 336,000 acres,
48,000 cattle, assorted mules, horses, and equipment, and rights to
the JA brand.
Although she was a
naturalized British subject and spent most of her time in Ireland,
Cornelia Adair also maintained a home in Clarendon and contributed
generously to various civic projects in the vicinity of the JA
Ranch, which by 1917 covered half a million acres. She provided
funds to build the Adair Hospital and the first YMCA building in
Clarendon and strongly supported that community's Episcopal church.
She also vigorously promoted the Boy Scout movement since she knew
Lord Baden-Powell and many of its other British organizers.
Mrs. Adair died on
September 22, 1921, and was buried next to her husband in Ireland.
In 1984 the Adairs' Glenveagh Castle, which sheltered Belgian
refugees during World War I, became an Irish national park.
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