|Birth: ||Feb. 5, 1815|
|Death: ||May 10, 1869|
A Republican member of Georgia's state senate during the troubled years of Post-Civil War Reconstruction (1865–77), Joseph Adkins was elected to his seat from Warren County. White Democrats in the region disliked Adkins for his "radical politics" such as support for black civil rights and allegiance to the Union victors in the recent Civil War. They called him a "scalawag", a negative term used to described Southerns who had loyal allegiance to the Union. Adkins further outraged white opinion in April 1868, when he posted a statutory bond for Sheriff John Norris, another Republican hated by this group and the night-riding Ku Klux Klan. Warren County was among the state's most violent areas of Georgia in those days.
Seeking help to restore peace in the county, Adkins led a delegation to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1869 requesting military support in the area until the violence could be suppressed. Sheriff Norris warned Adkins not to return, but Adkins ignored the many threats against his life. On May 10, 1869, a gang of racist thugs was waiting for him when Adkins disembarked from a train at Dearing, Georgia. Leaving Adkins to walk miles home, these armed thugs stole his horse and buggy. Along the way he was ambushed and mortally wounded by gunfire. His wife and daughter found him lying in the road. Adkins lived long enough to name at least one of the shooters, who had failed to don in the sheets of a Klansman disguise.
While Adkins's family refused to publicly identify the shooters, they informed military authorities that one had been Ellis Adams, a member of the gang that harassed Adkins at the Dearing railroad depot. Adams bore a special grudge against Adkins, since Adkins had reported him for stabbing a black man and other racist crimes. Adams was also a prime suspect in the murders of victim Perry Jeffers and his family near the Dearing station. Warren County Democrats initially tried to blame the murder on blacks, then claimed that Adkins had made improper advances to a young female relative of Adams, thereby transforming his act from a grudge killing or political assassination to a matter of "honor."
General Alfred Terry, based in Atlanta, sent two companies of infantry to Warren County on May 13, 1869. They camped outside Warrenton and tried to bring peace and order to the area. No charges were led against Ellis Adams but he died in a shoot-out the following December. Troops sought to arrest a second murder suspect in March 1870, but nothing became of it.
Newspapers printed articles on this unsolved murder with southern editors justifying it with grossly negative remarks about the Senator's character, while northern editors gave another view of one of the darkest day in American History. The Atlanta Journal had a long article and reported that Adkins died before his wife got to him. Earlier in the month Dr.Benjamin Ayer a member of the Georgia House of Representatives was murdered because of his political view point.
Macon Weekly Telegraph, Friday, 14, May 1869, page 5, column 4
Murder in Warren County
AUGUSTA, May 11. - Joseph Adkins, a Radical Senator from Warren county, was shot in the abdomen yesterday, P.M. by a man named Thompson. Reports assign the cause to a private difficulty growing out of a crim. con. case. It is believed that Adkins' wound will prove mortal.
Sallie J. Adkins (1814 - 1897)
Imogin Adkins Cason (1835 - 1874)*
John Daniel Adkins (1857 - 1901)*
HON. JOSEPH ADKINS
Senator of 19th District
Born Feb. 5th 1815,
Died May 10th
Aged 54 Years, 3 Months,
& 5 Days.
McGahee Family Cemetery
Maintained by: Linda Davis
Originally Created by: Michele Simmons Lewis
Record added: Aug 18, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 95559505