Edwin Tappan Adney

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Tappan Adney and Minnie Bell Sharp:
New Brunswick's Oddly Wonderful Couple

Minnie Bell Sharp

Tappan Adney

Edwin Tappan Adney (1868-1950) was an artist, a writer (The Klondike Stampede), a student of the language of the Maliseet peoples of New Brunswick, Canada, and the man credited with saving the art of birchbark canoe construction from oblivion. He constructed more than 100 one-fifth scale models of different types of canoes, which are now housed at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA. Here is a photo of one of them, MP45, a Beothuk canoe. Photo courtesy of The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA.

Mariners' Museum No. MP45, Beothuk model canoe by Tappan Adney

A new book by John Jennings has just been published by Firefly Books Ltd. that illustrates with beautiful photographs most of Adney's models at the Mariners' Museum. Here is the front of the jacket:

The book presents many details of Adney's life as well as descriptions of the models. It can be ordered from the publisher at and is also available through It is a beautiful book, and should be in the library of anybody interested in Adney or in birchbark canoes in general.

(More photos of canoe models have been posted on the Carleton County, New Brunswick website by Sharon Webb at Adney canoe models.)

Tappan Adney was married to Minnie Bell Sharp (1865-1937) of Woodstock, NB in 1899. She was the daughter of Francis Peabody Sharp, the famous horticulturist of New Brunswick. Minnie Bell was a pianist and singer, and operated the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia in the 1890s. She conducted the Woodstock School of Music for many years, and ran for Federal office in 1919.

I am in the process of preparing a biography of Tappan Adney (The Undiscovered Tappan Adney: So Much More Than Bark Canoes), and would like to hear from anybody who may have correspondence or other records, such as sketches or paintings. I am already aware of archives and collections at the University of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Museum, Dartmouth College, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Mariners' Museum, the Carleton County Historical Society, the York-Sunbury Historical Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Merle H. Deardorff Collection (Pennsylvania State Archives).

Please contact Jim Wheaton. Thanks.


The biography has progressed to the point where I can now post the Table of Contents. I am seeking a publisher for a print edition, but also am planning to produce the biography on CD-ROM. Please click on Biography Contents.


Many people are not familiar with Tappan Adney's work in the Native culture as a whole, especially his study of the languages. I presented a paper titled "Tappan Adney's Maliseet Studies: More Than Canoes" at the 34th Algonquian Conference in Kingston, Ontario at the end of October 2002. This paper, somewhat modified, is now available here: just click on Conference Paper.

"Paddle to the Sea" by Holling Clancy Holling (1941) Art by Edwin Tappan Adney

Adney Genealogy

For many years at the beginning of the 20th century, Tappan Adney researched the Adney family history, developing detailed information about the descendants of Thomas Adney: John (Ohio branch), Daniel (Indiana), William Alexander Dunn Adney (Arkansas), and Thomas (Tennessee).

He also investigated the family of John's son William, who founded the Adney family of Crawford County, Wisconsin, and adjacent areas of Iowa.

Based on Tappan Adney's original records, as corrected in 1941 by John R. Adney of Miles, Iowa, I have entered some of his data in genealogy software that has created HTML web pages. So far, I have posted here the following:

  1. The descendants of Thomas Adney, giving information about his children, but then concentrating on the family of William Adney, son of John, son of Thomas, the founder of the Wisconsin Adneys.
  2. The descendants of Daniel Adney and Anna Koger, his first wife;
  3. The descendants of Daniel Adney and Susan Alexander, his second wife;
I learned in March, 2000 that this material, with additional information, was submitted to the Church of Latter Day Saints and is available on five microfiche. I have been informed that the Fiche Number is Zlib7p105 Call number 6010568 #68, but I have not verified this. Also, the fiche can be ordered from the LDS library at a very low cost.

Updated March 10, 2005