Jonathan Lawrence Adams (28 Sep.1851-13 Mar. 1889)

Jonathan L. Adams’s father was Abram B. Adams (b. 1818), a “warehouse and commission agent” (i.e., a cotton merchant); his mother was Henrietta Hollingsworth (1830-13 Sep. 1889). The family lived in Macon, Georgia. (1860-1880 U.S. Censuses) Abram Adams states in his request for amnesty after the Civil War that he did not support the Confederacy but took the job as government wool agent in Macon because he either had to do that or go into the army. (“Amnesty Papers.”)

Jonathan attended the University of Virginia in session 46 (1869-1870), where he studied Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. He went into the same business as his father, and by 1878, he was part of the firm A. B. Adams & Son. (Macon Telegraph and Messenger, 11 Aug. 1878) In the 1880 U.S. Census, Jonathan was single and living with his parents. From about 1885, Jonathan took primary charge of the Adams & Son cotton factoring business.

“On Friday, Feb. 15 [1889], about 11 o’clock at night Jonathan L. Adams was placed in the jail of Bibb county [Georgia] charged with the crime of forgery.—First a single charge, then another, then they came thick and fast.” His crime seems to have been forging notes (i.e., checks) drawn on the cotton accounts of Adams & Son’s customers. “But sensitive as was his nature, he had the fortitude to say that the fault was all his own and that no one save himself was responsible for any of the troubles that had befallen him and his people.” Undertaking a fast, he refused food for twenty-six days before he died of starvation. He left behind his parents, his siblings, and a life insurance policy for $18,000, which was fought over by his creditors. (Union Recorder (Milledgeville, GA), 19 Mar. 1889; Pittsburg dispatch (Pittsburg, PA), 15 Mar. 1889)

Abram, Henrietta, and Jonathan L. Adams are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, GA.

[Note: J. L. Adams’s birth date is from the U.Va. Matriculation books.—JLC]


  • Adams tombstones, Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, GA.
  • 1860-1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc.
  • “Abram B. Adams.” United States. Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (“Amnesty Papers”), 1865-67, record group 94. Publication M1003, roll 0016.
  • “Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Jun 2014), Abraham B. Adams and Henrietta Hollingsworth, 05 Nov 1850; citing Bibb, Georgia, United States; FHL microfilm 394102.
  • “The Long Fast Broken.” Union Recorder (Milledgeville, GA), 19 Mar. 1889, p. 1.
  • “Starved himself to death.” Murfreesboro Index (Murfreesboro, NC), 22 Mar. 1889, p. 4.
  • “Suicide by starvation.” Pittsburg dispatch (Pittsburg, PA), 15 Mar. 1889, p. 1
  • “To the planters and merchants of middle and southwest Georgia. [Advertisement]” Macon Telegraph and Messenger (Macon, GA), 11 Aug. 1878, p.1.
  • University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
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