Adams was born in the Western Addition of San Francisco, California, to distinctly upper-class parents Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray Adams. He was an only child and was named after his uncle Ansel Easton. His mother's family came from Baltimore and his maternal grandfather had a successful freight-hauling business, but squandered his wealth in failed mining and real estate ventures in Nevada. The Adams family came from New England, having migrated from the north of Ireland in the early 18th century. His grandfather founded and built a prosperous lumber business, which his father later ran, though his father's natural talents lay more with sciences than with business. Later in life, Adams would condemn that very same industry for cutting down many of the great redwood forests.
In 1903, his family moved two miles west to a new home near the Seacliff neighborhood, just south of the Presidio Army Base. The home had a "splendid view" of the Golden Gate an ...
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