Henry Adams

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Vanishing Culture Project


The "Vanishing Culture Project" was a Florida Humanities Council grant to capture the oral histories of longtime residents of Cortez.   The project also produced several stations about the folkways of the fishermen of Cortez that are placed around the village and a mural painted on the side of a prominent fish house in the community.

Date of Interview
Principal Investigator

Henry Clayton Adams was born on August 27, 1921, in Cortez, Florida, to parents Willis Adams and Dora Jean Adams. He was one of nine siblings, with five brothers named Hugh, Leon, Howard, Cleve, and C.D., and three sisters named Pauline, Doris, and Mabel. Henry was married to Pauline Adams for 42 years and had one adopted son. Growing up during the Great Depression, Henry's early life was shaped by the challenges of the era. He pursued a career as a fisherman, a profession deeply rooted in his coastal upbringing. During World War II, Henry served in the military, participating in campaigns across Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. Despite the demands of his service, Henry maintained his love for fishing and maritime events, often sharing stories of his experiences, including the sinking of a molasses barge. He was deeply involved in the Cortez community, cherishing its strong sense of unity and familiarity.

Scope and Content Note
The oral history interview with Henry Clayton Adams, conducted as part of the "Vanishing Culture Project" funded by the Florida Humanities Council, offers a rich and insightful account of the life and culture of Cortez, Florida. Henry Clayton Adams provides a detailed narrative of his personal experiences, family history, and the unique maritime heritage of Cortez. Adams shares vivid recollections of his upbringing, including details about his parents, siblings, and early life in Cortez during the Great Depression. He delves into his career as a fisherman, offering valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of this occupation. Additionally, Adams reflects on his military service during World War II, recounting his involvement in campaigns across Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. The interview captures Adams' deep connection to Cortez, emphasizing the town's close-knit community, maritime traditions, and the impact of historical events on local residents. Adams also shares stories related to maritime incidents, such as the sinking of a molasses barge, providing a unique perspective on significant events in the area's history. Furthermore, the interview offers a glimpse into the changing dynamics of Cortez, with Adams discussing the evolving demographics of the community and the challenges associated with the loss of the older generation. His reflections shed light on the historical significance of property ownership and the efforts to maintain family ties within the community.

Please Note: The oral histories in this collection are protected by copyright and have been created for educational, research and personal use as described by the Fair Use Doctrine in the U.S. Copyright law. Please reach out  Voices@noaa.gov to let us know how these interviews are being used in your research, project, exhibit, etc.  The Voices staff can help provide other useful resources related to your inquiry. 

The NOAA mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. The Voices Oral History Archives offers public access to a wide range of accounts, including historical materials that are products of their particular times, and may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes.

Voices Oral History Archives does not verify the accuracy of materials submitted to us. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only. The interviews here have been made available to the public only after the interviewer has confirmed that they have obtained consent.