William Withers Adams was the son of Thomas R. Adams (ca. 1814-1878), a Methodist minister in Petersburg, VA, and his wife, Elizabeth Withers (b. ca. 1816). Young Adams joined the Confederate army in the last year of the Civil War, at the age of 16. He served as a private in Martin’s Battery, Sturdevant’s Virginia Artillery in 1865.
He attended the University of Virginia in sessions 42-46 (1865-1870), where he won the orator’s medal. Upon graduation, Adams set up a law practice in Richmond, VA. Soon thereafter, he moved to Summers County, WV, and established himself as a lawyer in the town of Hinton, then in 1884, moved to Charleston, WV, where he was a partner in the firm Adams and Miller. He was the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Summers County. Adams was elected to the WV State Senate as a Democrat, and served in that body from 1878 to 1882.
Adams married Elizabeth Sherred Willcox (b. ca. 1847) and the couple had four children who survived to adulthood: Thomas Withers, James Wilcox, Sherred Willcox, and Elizabeth “Bessie” Adams. William Withers Adams died unexpectedly of heart disease at 45. Mrs. Adams died within a few years of her husband’s death, leaving Sherred Willcox Adams (b. Apr. 1877), the eldest child, to take care of her younger brothers and sister. Miss Adams became a teacher. She graduated from Teachers College in New York, and was the principal of Brush Hill School in Milton, MA, Oak Lane Country Day School in Philadelphia, PA, and Prospect Hill School in Trenton, NJ, among others. She also wrote a series of early readers called Five Little Friends.
- Adams, James, 9 Sep. 1885 birth certificate. West Virginia Births, 1853-1930. [online database] Familysearch.org. (Accessed 7/12/2011).
- Adams, Thomas R. death record. Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912. [online database] Familysearch.org (Accessed 7/13/2011).
- Adams, Thomas Withers death record. North Carolina Deaths, 1906-1930. [online database] Familysearch.org (Accessed 9/10/2011).
- Adams, William death certificate. West Virginia Deaths, 1853-1970. [online database] Familysearch.org (Accessed 7/12/2011).
- Adams, W. W. will. Kanawha County will book, v. 4, 1889-1998. p. 382-383. West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971. [online database] Familysearch.org. (Accessed 7/12/2011).
- “Alumni Activities: Appointments.” Teachers College Record (Teachers College, New York City), v. 18, no.1 (Jan. 1917), p. 103. (Accessed 9/10/2011).
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc.
- Atkinson, George W. and Alvaro F. Gibbens. Prominent men of West Virginia. Wheeling, WV, 1890. Accessed via books.google.com.
- [Ironside, C. N.] “Chi Phi in the Civil War. II.” Chi Phi Quarterly, v.14, no.4 (Nov. 1889), p. 159-170. Accessed via books.google.com.
- Miller, James H. History of Summers County, from the earliest settlement to the present time. Hinton, WV, 1908. Accessed via books.google.com.
- Trenton Historical Society. 1920 Trenton City Directory. http://trentonhistory.org/Directories/1920dir-NR.html (Accessed 9/10/2011).